Fenil and Bollywood

Vishnuvardhan passes away

Posted on: December 31, 2009

Kannada matinee idol Vishnuvardhan, passed away of cardiac arrest yesterday

By S Shyam Prasad \ Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 31, 2009)


At the age of 22, H N Sampath Kumar was rechristened Vishnuvardhan by legendary director Puttanna Kanagala and he had fame and popularity literally seeking him out overnight. The Mysore-born actor would often call his entry into films as dynamic and expressed a desire to have a graceful exit. It turned out to be an unexpected exit in the early hours of December 30; and not just from films.

At 59, none of his fans, friends or family expected him to perish. The late actor was suffering from diabetes and had developed cardiac problems during his last days. He is survived by his wife, Bharati and two adopted daughters.

Vishnuvardhan made his film debut with a small role in Vamshavriksha directed by Girish Karnad in 1972. In the same year, he appeared in Puttanna Kanagala’s magnum opus Naagarahaavu, where he played the protagonist Ramachari, which remains a much-liked character to date.

A polyglot who could speak six languages, his life changed when films beckoned him. As Vishnuvardhan would recall later in life, he had neither enthusiasm nor love for films. “I was not a hard worker, but a sincere worker,” he summed up his film career. When his first photograph appeared in Chitradeepa magazine after his film debut, what the young Vishnuvardhan aspired was to be recognised by girls as he walked around Gandhi Bazaar.

At the time Vishnuvardhan married actress Bharati, she was a bigger star than him. Their marriage lasted for a lifetime but the couple was childless. They adopted two girls. But the actor never spoke about this aspect of life.

Vishnuvardhan Akshay Kumar

In the last few years, Vishnuvardhan had become a disciple of Bannanje Govindacharya and taken up vows of silence from time to time. He would avoid public platforms that would necessitate him to make tough statements or take stands. However, he held on to his beliefs and would never waver from his somewhat radical views.

Akshay Kumar, who is holidaying with his wife and son in Goa, expressed his shock about the superstar’s death. Akshay says, “I worked with him in Ashaant (1993) and I think, that is the only Hindi film that Vishnuji did. We shot it in his home town Bangalore, and he was so popular! Men, women and children came to him to be touched by him. He was like God. Newly-born babies were named after him.”

Akshay remembers the good times that they had while shooting the film. “Vishnuji was disciplined, focused and hard working. I have learnt a lot from him. We did a Hindi and a Kannada version of Ashaant. The Kannada version was a super hit. The Hindi version was a flop. I guess he was a much bigger star than I could ever be. As I speak about him now all the memories of shooting during that film flash through my mind. I met him in Bangalore much later. He was warm and very friendly. Was he just 60? That’s no age to go.”

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