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Prolific Indian director Kunnesseri Shankar died of cardiac arrest in Chennai on March 5. He was 79.

Shankar directed over 80 films in the Sinhalese, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam and Telugu languages.

He directed successful actors N.T. Rama Rao, M.G. Ramachandran, and J. Jayalalitha.

Born in Malabar, Kerala, he began his career as an editor with the Chennai-based AVM studios. He made his directorial debut with Sinhalese-language “Doctor” and later moved to Tamil with “Or irvavu” (One Night, 1956).

His foray into Bollywood turned out moneyspinners like “Jhoola” (Swing 1962) “Bharosa” (Faith, 1963) “Raaj Kumar”(1964) “Sachai” (Truth, 1969) and “Rickshawala” (Riksha Driver, 1973).

Returning to Tamil-language cinema, Shankar went on to make religious films including “Thai Mookambigai” (1982) –a genre he had visited early in his career with the blockbuster “Bhookailas” (1958).

Among his notable works are “Gowri kalyanam” (1966) and “Adimaipen” (1969). His directorial touch was last seen in the Malayalam-language “Nakshathra tharattu” (Star’s Lullaby, 1998).

He is survived by his wife and six children.