The Film Adi Shankaracharya

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Mon Jun 1 15:30:36 UTC 2009

Jonathan Silk schreef:
> Dear Colleagues,
> I've just run across, entirely by accident, the feature film Adi
> Shankaracharya, which boasts that it is the first (maybe only?) feature film
> in Sanskrit. Has this film been discussed somewhere by indologists, or
> others especially from the point of view of the Sanskrit? I confess I only
> watched a few minutes of it, and while there's a lot of chanting of
> classical texts, there is also some speaking ("conversational Sanskrit?") as
> well (is this the place to confess?--thank goodness for the subtitles!). I
> am also curious whether the film-makers tried to get the cultural contexts
> right....

This of course depends on what one considers 'right'. G.V. Iyer was not 
a historian but a traditionalist and a cinematographic artist, and his 
intention was not to do Western-style historical research. I know that 
it was a tremendous hit in brahminical circles in Karnataka (it was 
screened by many a 'brāhmaṇa saṃgha' in various towns). Iyer first had 
the dialogues written by one pandita in Bangalore, but he was not quite 
pleased with what he thought was the 'naturalness' of the quality fo the 
language, and then he requested Bannanje Govindacharya of Udupi, the 
leading Mādhva scholar, to rewrite the dialogues - which Govindacharya 
did on the condition that a similar film would be made later on Madhva 
also, to which Iyer happily agreed. Govindacharya also participated in 
writing the scripts for the Madhvacharya and Bhagavadgita films by Iyer. 
(By the way, an interview done by me with Govindacharya - of course in 
Sanskrit, but about his Sanskrit writings, not about the films - is due 
to appear in the maiden issue of the Münchener Indologische Zeitschrift, 
which hopefully may appear in another month or two.)


Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
Department fuer Asienstudien - Institut fuer Indologie und Tibetologie
Universitaet Muenchen
Tel. (+49-89-) 2180-5782
Fax  (+49-89-) 2180-5827

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