About the film:
Vishwanath's musical hit, Sankarabharanam (The Jewel of Shiva), is often presented as the film that transformed the Telugu film industry in 1980s. It borrows extensively from the classical Carnatic music to tell the story of a relationship between a Carnatic guru and a prostitute.
The prostitute Ratna Prabha (Bhargavi) runs away from home and is reluctantly accepted as a student, which brings the guru Sankara Sastry into a social disrepute. When Ratna Prabha was forced to return to her ancestral vocation, she murders her customer but nevertheless finds herself pregnant. She give birth to son (Tulasi), who now studies under the guru though they are ostracized. Eventually Ratna Prabha becomes rich and she builds an auditorium in the name of her guru. During the opening performance, he has a heart attack and the son replaces the guru on stage, extending the tradition.
It is the first Telugu film to attempt the redefinition of mass culture, using calendar-art aesthetics in several garish dance sequences by Manju Bhargavi - many in front of temples - and classical music (the guru out-shouts the rock music created by his detractors).
This film is successful mainly for it's anti-Tamil and anti-North view of an indigenist Telugu classicism, spawning a whole genre: Bapu's Thyagayya(1981), Dasari Narayana Rao's Megha Sandesam (1982), Singeetam Srinivasa Rao's 'Sangeeta Samrat (1984), Vams's Sitara (1984), and Viswanath's own sequel Sagara Sangamam (1983) and Swathi Muthyam (1985).
JV Somayajulu later played many roles, his presence being enough to invoke the Sankarabharanam legacy. Viswanath remade his Telugu film in Hindi as Sur Sangam (1985) with Girish Karnad and Jaya Prada.