Screenplay-writer and director, R S Junnarkar is among the early filmmakers of Hindi and Marathi cinema. A multi-faceted talent, he has to his credit directorials such as Bahurani (1940), Sangam (1941), Tuzach (1942), Pahili Mangalagaur (1942), Pundlik (1944), Sant Bahinabai (1953), Shashe (1954), and Bebi (1954). He also penned the screenplay for films Vilasi Ishwar (1935), Nigah-e-Nafrat (1935), Chhaya (1936), Dharmaveer (1937), Jwala (1938), and Pandhrich Patil (1949). Having produced and directed Neera Aur Nanda (1946), he also penned the lyrics for songs of the film Taqrar (1944), besides editing the films Premveer (1937), Vilasi Ishwar, Dharmaveer, Birha Ki Raat, and Bazooband (1954).
Born Raghunath Shankar Junnarkar on 19 March, 1911 in Bijapur, North Gujarat, he entered the film industry in the year 1931 as a laboratory technician with Zarina Pictures. Moving on to work with Kohinoor and United Artistes, he further joined Kohinoor Cinetone as a scriptwriter and editor in 1934. When Hauns Pictures was established in 1936, he joined the company as scriptwriter and editor. His directorial Sangam in 1941 depicted how the haves and the have-nots can come together to fight societal evils. Written by V S Khandekar, the message was portrayed via the point of view of a couple in love, who are faced with hurdles in their path.
For Navayug, he directed the films Pahili Mangalagaur, Tuzhach, and Pundlik—the company ceased to exist thereafter.
His Marathi directorial Tuzach was made under the aegis of the studio Navyug Chitrapat. Written by V S Khandekar and cinematographed by Annasaheb Gune, it had music by Dada Chandekar and lyrics by V S Khandekar, Yashwant, and Baburao Gokhale. A social by genre, the cast comprised Raja Paranjpe, Snehaprabha Pradhan, Vatsala Kumthekar, Leela Achrekar, Dada Salvi, Vishnupant Jog, Damuanna Malvankar, Vijay, Gopinath Savkar, Bargir, Athane, Amar Shaikh, Devne, and Sharada. It revolved around the tale of a wayward millionaire husband who strays from his wife, only to discover that he was just a passing fancy for his young girlfriend. The film went on to be dubbed into Hindi as Main Tera Hoon.
Navyug Chitrapat’s Pahili Mangalagour, another Marathi directorial by him, had a cast that included Vishnupant Jog, Sudha Apte, Lata Mangeshkar making her debut, Shahu Modak, and Snehprabha Pradhan. It had music by Dada Chandekar, with lyrics penned by Baburao Gokhale and songs rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Snehprabha. The film was a comedy about arranged marriages. It started as a Vinayak production, and was completed by Junnarkar after Vinayak left Navyug. The story revolved around the events surrounding a handsome doctor Sadashiv (Modak) setting up a new clinic in Pune. He faces a lack of patients but is inundated with marriage proposals. He is tricked by Chintu (Jog), son of the patriarch, into coming home to examine his sister Sarala (Pradhan), who is supposedly ill. A key scene of the film depicts a loaded conversation as the doctor Sadashiv asks medical questions even as he is simultaneously examined by her father as a prospective son-in-law. All seems well as Sarala and Sadashiv are wed; however, the sudden return of Sadashiv’s old girlfriend Lily, who is related to the local village gossip, throws a spanner in the works. Snappy dialogue, with is the hallmark of all Huns-Navyug films, marked this film as well, which also included kissing scenes. The film is also remembered for being Lata Mangeshkar’s debut – her first as actress and singer.
His directorial Pundalik was based on the mythological tale, which had inspired many cinematic recreations. A central figure in the legends of the Hindu God Vithoba, Pundalik is credited to have brought Vithoba to Pandharpur, and is also perceived to be the historical founder of the Varkari sect. This 1944 film featured Sudha Apte, Raja Paranjpe, Chandrakant Gokhale and others. It was written by Roy Kinnikar.
Bahurani, which he co-directed with Mubarak for Kishore Sahu Productions, starred Kishore Sahu, Rose, Anuradha, Mubarak, Madhurika, and Nana Palsikar. The music of this family drama film was composed by Rafiqe Ghaznavi. His directorial Sangam starred Master Vinayak, Vatsala Kumthekar, Dada Salve, Malti Gupte and others. Sant Bahinabai saw him directing Madhu Apte and Lalita Pawar in this devotional film.
Sources: Marathi Cinema: In Retrospect – Sanjit Narwekar