Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘hard working

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.”

BOLLYWOOD CALLING: Sir Ben Kingsley
Looking like Gandhi, eager to be Shah Jehan, but happy to discuss his role in Ambika Hinduja’s film with Big B

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 3, 2009)

Sir Ben Kingsley is in town, still looking like Attenborough’s Gandhi of a quarter century ago, though now with a natty little French beard that’s taken away the Mahatma’s air of benevolence and given him a hawk-like, quizzical expression. This, I think, is his look of Teen Patti, young Ambika Hinduja’s February 2010 release in which Sir Ben plays Perci Trachtenberg, the world’s greatest living mathematician, opposite Amitabh Bachchan. He was in Goa earlier this week, the star guest at the International Film Festival of India in Panaji, from where he air-dashed to Delhi and then to Mumbai. But because his publicist in LA could not get him to meet me here, Sir Ben made a phone call from Goa.

“I love India,” said Sir Ben who’s been here quite a few times since Gandhi, “it’s always been a happy experience for me. But this time I’m not here as a tourist, I’ve come as an actor, to work, and it feels tremendously good to be given the kind of lovely welcome I was…” He’s thrilled that people here still identify him with Gandhi. “Isn’t it unusual to be recognised and appreciated by a whole sub-continent,” he asked. “It puts a responsibility on me, it’s a humbling and steadying experience, and I believe this is unique for any actor.” But, yes, along with that, is Sir Ben now concerned how Indian audiences will react to his new character in Teen Patti? “I’m afraid I’ll be booed off screen,” he laughed, pleased at his own joke. Whether he likes it or not, people talk to him about
Gandhi, they ask him if this was his best role. “I was privileged to play Gandhi,” Sir Ben admitted, “but I’ve done 60 films since then, and I’m equally proud of all of them. I understand people here have seen about five of my films, and if they like Gandhi best — fair enough, but that’s not all my work. I’ve also done films like Sexy Beast, Fifty Dead Men Walking and Elegy in which I play extremely different people. The range I’ve been offered in my films is extraordinary, the variety is my joy, my new dream now is to play Emperor Shah Jehan in Taj Mahal, a film which I see as a struggle for love… rather than a straightforward love story. I hope to raise finance for it and begin shooting in autumn 2010.”

He talked about Teen Patti, a film he was excited about even when he read the script, and for which he shot in a private casino in London and at the St. John’s College, Cambridge University. The film is described as being an emotionally-rivetting and razor-sharp thriller about greed, deception and giant feelings of imagination. “It was a sweet ride,” Sir Ben explained, “of a storyteller, a listener, a forgiver… I’m not quite an outsider in the film, more like an observer. I’ve used my screen time skillfully to act as a constant thread through the film.” He has no Hindi dialogue in the film, which is fortunate, because Sir Ben knows no Hindi. But he knew of Amitabh Bachchan even before he met the great actor.

“He’s very hard working, charming, and a lovely actor,” Sir Ben said of Bachchan, “but what I liked best is that he’s vulnerable… I mean vulnerable in a good way, he’s not closed off, he doesn’t live within the walls of his own ego.” Ambika Hinduja, who is industrialist Ashok Hinduja’s filmmaking daughter, described Sir Ben as being very friendly and down-toearth. “He was patient and calm, a nice person, absolutely professional, and he thought our Indian crew worked four times as hard as any Hollywood crew,” revealed Ambika. “On the sets, everybody addressed him as Sir Ben, including Mr. Bachchan. But in the credits of the film, he wanted to be known simply as Ben Kingsley.”