Bangalore, April 11 (IANS) South Indian film industry's well known stunt master Shyam Sundar Shetty died in a private nursing home here, family sources said Saturday. He was 96.
Shetty breathed his last Friday evening. He leaves behind his son Divakar Shetty, owner of a group of hotels in the US, and four daughters. Shetty had lost his wife a few months ago.
'He complained of pain in hip joint and legs a week ago. He was admitted to the hospital. The end came at around 6.30 p.m,' Divakar told IANS.
Shetty has worked in more than 220 films in all south Indian languages and also in Hindi. He has the distinction of working in over 120 Tamil films with legendary actor M.G. Ramachandran or MGR as he was popularly known.
'Rickshawkaran', 'Anbevaa', 'Kudiyirundha Koyil' were some of the films with MGR that made Shetty a big name in the the Tamil film industry.
Shetty joined the then Madras-based Gemini Studios as a sound recordist but later became a stunt director.
MGR was impressed with the work of Shetty and wanted him to continue as a stunt director. Shetty perfected the art of rope fighting, horse stunts, sword fighting, boxing and other forms of fights.
Though Shetty hailed from Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, he worked only in a few films in Kannada.
His first film was 'Vijayanagarada Veeraputhra' directed and produced by legendary actor R. Nagendra Rao. He worked in Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh starrer 'Nagarahaavu' directed by Puttanna Kanagal.
'It is a big loss to the film industry. Shyam Sundar (Shetty) remained an inspiration to several stunt masters from the south. Many of his assistants went to Mumbai to make a big mark in Bollywood. Despite achieving big things as a stunt director, Shyam Sundar remained very simple and friendly,'said Dwarakish.
Shetty had worked in many Kannada films produced by Dwarakish including 'Kulla Agent 000', 'Cowboy Kulla', 'Kittu Puttu', 'Singapooradhalli Raja Kulla' and many others.
'After 'Vijayanagarada Veeraputhra' he had not worked in any Kannada film. I saw his work in MGR's 'Rickshawkaran' and pleaded with him to work in my Kannada film 'Kulla Agent 000'. Though he was close to hugely popular legendary actor like MGR, Shyam Sundar did not show any airs. I saw him working in films even at the age of 70. His best work as a stunt master came after he attained 50 years of age,' said Dwarakish.
Shetty worked in many Hindi films including block busters like 'Chandralekha', 'Insaaniyaat' and 'Suraj' which were produced under Gemini Productions banner.
He also worked as a stunt director in Rajesh Khanna-starrer 'Haathi Mere Saathi' produced by Devar Films.
Shetty had laid the foundation of the Stunt Master's Association in Chennai and Bangalore.
Raghu, President of the Karnataka Stunt Artists Association, said that Shetty had remained a pillar of strength to the association and had even trained some of the stunt artists till a decade ago.
'He had some problems in his hip after a fall some 15 years ago. But he was able to cope with problems of health and still remained active. We will be losing his guidance now,' said Raghu.