indian cinema heritage foundation

Shankar Nag

  • Born: 09/11/ 1954 (Mallapur)
  • Died: 30/09/1990 (Devanagere, Karnataka)
  • Primary Cinema: Kannada
  • Parents: Anandi Nagarkatte, Sadanand Nagarkatte
  • Spouse: Arundhati Nag

Shankar Nagarakatte (9th November, 1954 – 30th September, 1990) was an Indian actor, screenwriter, director, and producer known for his work in Kannada cinema and television. He directed and acted in the teleserial, Malgudi Days, based on celebrated novelist R. K. Narayan's short stories.

Shankar Nag received the inaugural IFFI Best Actor Award (Male): Silver Peacock Award at the 7th International Film Festival of India for his work in the film Ondanondu Kaladalli (1978). He co-wrote 22 June 1897, an Indian national award-winning Marathi film. He is the younger brother of actor Anant Nag.

Born on 9th November 1954 in Mallapur (Uttara Kannada District, Honnavar taluk), his parents were Anandi and Sadanand Nagarkatte. His Konkani-speaking family settled in Shirali, a village near Bhatkal in Uttara Kannada of Karnataka state. He had an elder sister, Shyamala, and an elder brother, actor Anant Nag. After completing his formal education, Shankar moved to Mumbai. In Mumbai, he was attracted to Marathi theatre and immersed himself in theatrical activities. Incidentally, he met his future wife, Arundhati during a drama rehearsal.

Nag then shifted base to Karnataka. His elder brother Anant had already established himself as an actor and urged Shankar to act in films. He was offered the role of a mercenary by Girish Karnad in the epic film Ondanondu Kaladalli (1978). He played Gandugali, a mercenary who earns a position in a rival army after he rescues a few wounded soldiers. He wishes to get even with his rival brother, whom he considers his enemy. He went on to direct films like Minchina Ota (1981) (a pioneering example of a heist movie in Kannada), Janma Janmada Anubandha (1980) and Geetha (1981) (both of which had music by South Indian maestro Ilaiyaraaja). 

Shankar began his directorial with Minchina Ota. The film won him seven state awards, including Best Film. And then came a series of films directed by him. Janma Janmada Anubandha, Geetha, Accident (1965) (which won many state and national awards), Ondu Muttina Kathe (1987) (with Rajkumar in the lead – loosely based on John Steinbeck's novel The Pearl), Nodi Swamy Navirodu Hige (1983) (which has music by the legendary composer G.K. Venkatesh), Lalach (1983) and Hosa Theerpu (1983) (remake of Dushman – his only directorial remake in Kannada). His film Accident has been treated as a landmark and revolutionary in Indian cinema.

Shankar did not limit his efforts to cinema. He was equally immersed in theatre and television. Malgudi Days is the best example of Shankar's oeuvre on television. Prior to globalisation, Doordarshan was the only broadcaster in India. In addition to programme production, Doordarshan used to invite private producers to produce television serials. Shankar accepted the offer and directed Malgudi Days, based on the collection of short stories by R.K. Narayan in 1987, under the banner of Padam Rag Films. Well, known actors, Vishnuvardhan and Anant Nag appeared in the serial. Master Manjunath, who played the role of the impish Swami, became a household name. The music, accompanied by the nasal twang "Tananaa tana na naa" was composed by L. Vaidyanathan. The teleserial was shot in Agumbe, Shimoga district, Karnataka. Shankar went on to direct another teleserial, titled Swami in the same year. Malgudi Days has been rated as one of the finest serials ever to be made in the history of Indian television.

He anchored the Parichaya program on DD1-Kannada, in its starting days. Shankar retained an interest in theatre. His brother Anant Nag and he founded SANKET, an amateur theatre group, which still produces plays. His first ever directorial effort in Kannada was Anju Mallige by Girish Karnad. He continued with productions like Barrister, Sandhya Chhaya. Sometime here he was joined by T N Narasimhan who wrote and co-directed Nodi Swamy Navirodu Hige which had, apart from himself, his wife Arundhati Nag and Ramesh Bhat in the cast.


  • Filmography (1)