Prolific director, editor and screenplay writer Kannan Shankar was born on 17 March, 1926 in Madras. He began his career in 1939 as assistant editor with Central Studios, Coimbatore. Moving on to Pakshiraja Studios, and then to AVM, he served as a successful editor before he made his debut as director. Directing films in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada, he also helmed Hindi films such as Jhoola (1962), Bharosa (1963), Rajkumar (1964), Sachaai (1969), Parde Ke Peechey (1971), Bandagi (1972), Shehzada (1972), Chhote Sarkar (1974), and Raja (1975). The bulk of his work was in the South film industries, where he directed innumerable movies such as Thambi Thanga Kambi (1988), Meenatchi Thiruvilaiyadal (1989), going back to his earlier films such as Adiperaku (1952), Kairasi (1960), Patha Kaanikkai (1962), Adimai Pen (1969), and Naan Yen Pirandhen (1972). He directed approximately 80 films in the course of his career. He also edited most of the films that he directed.
K Shankar won the Tamil Nadu state film award for Best Film for Adimai Penn (1969). The film told the story of an evil man who kills Vengaiyan’s father and enslaves his people. While Vengaiyan is ignorant, Jeeva helps him evolve into a valiant and wise man, who swears to do right by his people. The film proved to be a significant turning point for M G Ramachandran’s career. Aandavan Kattalai (1964), Kudiyirundha Koyil (1968) and Indru Pol Endrum Vaazhga (1977) were also box office successes. His Kalangarai Vilakkam (1965) was the remake of the Hitchcock thriller Vertigo (1958), while Chandhrodhayam (1966) was inspired by It Happened One Night (1934).
Shankar’s Hindi directorials such as Rajkumar (1964) and Sachaai (1969) were super hits. Rajkumar, starring Shammi Kapoor, Sandhya, and Prithviraj Kapoor, revolved around a Maharaja, who is eager to see his foreign-returned son, Bhanu Pratap, who will take over the reign of the region. Shankar’s Sachaai was produced by M.C. Ramamurthy, nephew of M G Ramachandran. It stars Shammi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar and Sadhana in pivotal roles. The film, a remake of the Telugu film Manchi Mitrulu (1969), ran successfully at the box office and is considered among the prominent hits of Shammi Kapoor. While his Jhoola was a black-and-white romance film starring Vyjayanthimala and Sunil Dutt in the lead, Pardey Ke Peeche was a drama starring Vinod Mehra and Yogita Bali, and Bharosa is remembered for its music and songs, including the Lata Mangeshkar-rendered number, Woh dil kahan se laun.
K Shankar passed away at his residence on 5 March, 2006 due to a heart attack. Aged 80, he was survived by his wife and six children.