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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.”

After closing the year with films such as PAA and 3 IDIOTS, the year 2010 sure looks bigger and brighter for Reliance BIG Pictures with a mixed bag of films ranging from mainstream and masala to regional and art house.

With maverick directors such as Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Basu, Shaji N Karun, Rituparno Ghosh and Buddhadeb Dasgupta bringing the best out of Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Mamootty, Boman Irani, Jishu Sengupta, Indraneil Sengupta, Kangana Ranaut amongst many others the Reliance BIG Pictures slate is sure to watch out for!

Have a sneak peek into Reliance BIG Pictures’ slate of films for the year 2010:

view KITES movie stills
KITES

KITES:

A truly international film KITES tells the story of a young con-man who lives ‘life’ in Las Vegas, always ready to make fast money in any way possible, always looking for the big score. Directed by Anurag Basu and produced by Rakesh Roshan the film stars Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut and Kabir Bedi. It is shot in Mumbai, New Mexico, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The film will have and Indian and international version which will release simultaneously. Brett Ratner, best known for the RUSH HOUR series, FAMILY MAN starring Nicholas Cage and X-MEN THE LAST STAND is currently at work on the English version of KITES and tailoring it to appeal it to an international audience.

view WELL DONE ABBA movie stills
WELL DONE ABBA

WELL DONE ABBA:

WELL DONE ABBA is the story of Armaan Ali, a driver working in Mumbai. He takes leave for a month to find a husband for his teenage daughter, who lives in a small locality close to Hyderabad. Armaan Ali returns to work only after 3 months. His young employer wants to sack him but is persuaded to listen to the reason why Armaan got so delayed.

Directed by Shyam Benegal stars Boman Irani, Minissha Lamba, Sammir Dattani, Ila Arun, Sonali Kulkarni, Ravi Kishen, Rajit Kapur, Ravi Jhankal and Yashpal Sharma.

RAAVAN:

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan come on screen together in Mani Ratnam’s RAAVAN – a modern day adaption of the epic Ramayan, being readied in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

MIRCH:

Directed by Vinay Shukla MIRCH revolves around the protagonist Maanav, a committed struggling filmmaker whose girlfriend Ruchi, a successful film editor, arranges for him to meet film producer Nitin, who is not very convinced about Maanav’s script. Maanav then suggests four stories on infidelity, woven together by a common story.

The film stars Konkana Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Shahana Goswami, Shreyas Talpade, Rajpal Yadav, Boman Irani, Sushant Singh, Arunoday Singh and Prem Chopra with special appearances by Saurabh Shukla & Tisca Chopra.

view CHALOO MOVIE movie stills
CHALOO MOVIE

CHALOO MOVIE:

The police raid a theatre where movie tickets of a very successful film are being sold in black. When Police Inspector Sher Khan interrogates Khoji, a man in his 20s, he claims that he is the director of the very film whose tickets he is selling in black. The cynical Sher Khan puts Khoji behind bars after which he receives two phone calls – one from the Police Commissioner and another from the dreaded don ‘WC’, both of whom support Khoji’s detention. A hilarious turn of events reveal who Khoji is, whether he is really the film’s director, why is he selling his film’s tickets in black and what do the Police Commissioner and don ‘WC’ want from Khoji.

Starring Rajpal Yadav, Shekhar Suman, Divya Dutta, Hrishta Bhatt and Sayali Bhagat, CHALOO MOVIE is directed by Vinod Pande.

Reliance BIG Pictures, the most committed motion picture company producing regional films in 8 Indian languages is working persistently towards taking them beyond the conventional Diaspora

The slate of films includes:

KUTTY SRANK: Shaji Karun’s Malayalam film KUTTY SRANK starring Mamooty, Kamilini Mukherjee, Padmapriya and Meenakumari brings out three distinct personalities of a dead boat-man from the perspective of three women each of whom claims to be his wife.

ABOHOMAAN
ABOHOMAAN

ABOHOMAAN: Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali film ABOHOMAAN starring Dipankar De, Mamata Shankar, Ananya Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta and Ria Sen brings to the screen a sensational relationship between a film-director, a young actress and a wife who swears to ruin her husband’s life and career and a son who gets caught in the cross-fire in this extravagant drama.

JANALA: Buddhabed Dasgupta’s Bengali film JANALA starring Tapas Paul, Swastika Mukherjee and Indraneil Sengupta is the journey of a solitary man against the wrath of circumstances when he decides to pursue his little impulsive dream.

IJJODU: by the maestro M S Sathyu is a film about a photo journalist who finds an interesting girl who has been exploited on the name of religion. He succeeds in breaking her blind belief but fails to accept her to give her an alternative life. This Kannada flick stars Meera Jasmine and Anirudh.

GLAMSHAM.COM