Noted Kannada film director and lyricist ‘Geethapriya’ (Lakshman Rao Mohite) breathed his last on 17 January 2016. With his death an excellent era of Kannada cinema came to an end. In his long decade career he directed 40 films and penned over 250 songs for Kannada films. Recipient of Puttanna Kanagal Award, Karnataka State Film Award, he was undoubtedly one of the doyens of Kannada cinema.
Born on 15 June 1932 as Lakshman Rao Mohite, Geethapriya was brought up in Karnataka. His father worked for the cavalry regiment of Mysore State Troops - Mysore Lancers, which was stationed in Bangalore. Influence of local culture was visible on him since from his childhood days when he showed interest in learning Kannada though Marathi his mother tongue. Subsequently he was sent to Kannada-medium school to pursue his studies. He was highly influenced by the works of poet P. T. Narasimhachar, K. Shivaram Karanth, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, T. R. Subba Rao and A. N. Krishna Rao. An ardent learner he started writing quite early and often sent his poems and short stories to magazines like Thaayinaadu, Ramarajya. After CA intermediate he joined Cubbon Park restaurant, Bangalore as a clerk earning Rs.35 per month.
Career in Film Industry
Geethapriya forayed into the filmdom in the mid-1960 and soon after he took to direction. As a lyricist his first song was for the film Sri Rama Pooja(1954). Soon he relocated to Madras and wrote dialogues and songs for Y. V. Rao upcoming movie Bhagya Chakra (1956). Christened 'Geethapriya' meaning 'lover of songs' he gained fame with "Jagadishanaduva Jagave Natakaranga" from Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddha (1963). In years to come the success saga continued with beautiful lyrics like "Aadutiruva Modagale" for the film Bettada Huli (1965). His "Neenelli Nadeve Doora" from Onde Balliya Hoogalu (1967) is the only song sung by Mohammed Rafi for a Kannada film.
Mannina Maga(1968) starring Rajkumar and Kalpana marked his directorial debut that went on to win a national award for best Kannada film. Known for making women-oriented films he earned accolades for taking up untouched issues of real life. His famous directorial films are Yaava Janmada Maithri (1972), Beluvalada Madilalli (1975), Besuge (1976), Putani Agent 123 (1979) and Mouna Geethe (1985) etc. Shravana Sambhrama was his last movie in 2003. Apart from Kannada he also directed three Tulu films and one Hindi film, Anmol Sitaare.
Awards and Honours
1968 – National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada – Mannina Maga
1986 – Puttanna Kanagal Award from Karnataka Government
2012 – Saroja Devi Award
2012 – Sandesha Award
Apart from these he was also recipient of Karnataka Rajyotsava award.
Illness and Death
Suffering from throat cancer he died on 17 Jan 2016 in Bengaluru in the presence of his near and dear ones. His death was mourned by many of his fans and colleagues.
Friends and Family Members
(FAN OF Shri LAKSHMAN RAO MOHITE 'GEETHAPRIYA')
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