|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
18 September 1950
Mysore, Mysore State, India
|Died||30 December 2009
Mysore, Karnataka, India
|Other names||Sahasasimha, Abhinaya Bargava, Kotigobba, Kaladaiva, Bhavashilpi, Karnataka Samrat, Mysore Ratna, Karnataka King.|
|Height||5 ft 7 in|
Sampath Kumar (18 September 1950 – 30 December 2009), popularly known as Dr. Vishnuvardhan, was a prominent Indian film actor. He was called "The Phoenix of Indian Cinema". He has acted in over 200 Kannada, five Hindi, five Telugu, nine Malayalam and three Tamil films. He was very instrumental in shaping the Kannada identity. He adopted the name Vishnuvardhan at the insistence of Puttanna Kanagal, who directed his maiden film, Naagarahaavu that gave him the recognition of the 'angry young man of Kannada cinema'. He proved to be extremely versatile by playing variety of roles, be it the character of an Action Star or The Romantic Hero, Comedy roles or the serious ones, name it and he has done it all. He could handle all the roles with great ease. He was a Martial Art expert and in an interview to The Hindu, he had said that it was the era of Bruce Lee and it was only Kamal Haasan and himself who had learnt Martial Arts in his generation.
A poll conducted in Karnataka by the very popular English News Channel CNN-IBN in 2008 revealed that 'Dr.Vishnuvardhan was the most popular star, the Kannada Film Industry has ever seen' and this was in the 36th year of Vishnu's career in the industry which proved that he rubbed shoulders with the new generation actors and still was considered as an actor who had no competition whatsoever. The poll also revealed that Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi and Mohanlal were the most popular stars of the Tamil, Telugu and the Malayalam film industries respectively.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Recognition
- 4 Association with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
- 5 Other collaborations
- 6 As singer
- 7 Later years and death
- 8 Condolences
- 9 Personal life
- 10 Filmography
- 11 Filmography in other languages
- 12 Awards
- 13 References
- 14 External links
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
Vishnuvardhan was born in Mysore to H. L.Narayan Rao and Kamakshamma. His father was an artist, music composer and a scriptwriter. who was known for his collection of musical instruments. His sister Rama Ramachandra, was a Kathak dancer at the Mysore Palace. He had six siblings.He was educated first in Mysore's Gopalswamy School and then at Bangalore's Kannada ModelHigh School. He attended high school and obtained a degree from National College, Basavanagudi, Bangalore.
Vishnuvardhan started his career with the National Award-winning movie Vamshavruksha (1972) directed by Girish Karnad based on the novel written by S. L. Bhyrappa. His first lead role in Naagarahaavu, directed by Puttanna Kanagal and based on a novel by T. R. Subba Rao. It was the first movie in Kannada film history to complete 100 days in 3 main theatres of Bangalore. In his thirty-five-year career, he played a variety of roles in more than 220 films.
In Sahasa Simha, it was reported that he had done all his stunts himself without any doubles or dupes.
While shooting for Muthina Haara, Vishnu performed a dangerous parachute dive without a double and narrowly escaped death. He ventured into parallel cinema and acted in movies like Harakeya Kuri (based on Chandrashekar Kambar's novel with same title).
He appeared on television for the first time in the 1980s. Shankar Nag directed Malgudi Days and introduced Vishnuvardhan as the main character Venkat Rao, in an episode called "Rupees Forty-five a Month". Here his co-star was Gayatri Anant Nag.
- As an acknowledgement to his service to Indian cinema, the state government also decided to name its annual lifetime achievement award to long-serving film personalities after Vishnuvardhan, renaming it as the Karnataka State Dr. Vishnuvardhan Lifetime Achievement Award.
- He has appeared on postage stamps issued by the Government of India.
- The State Government has named various roads and parks in the capital city Bengaluru after him. A park in Jayanagar, Bengaluru has also been named as 'Dr.Vishnuvardhan Park'.
- The government of Karnataka has also decided to build a film city in the name of Dr.Vishnuvardhan. It will be similar to the model of Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. Sources indicate that once the film city comes up, all Kannada films related work will be done under a single roof.
- The Karnataka Assembly also showed respect to the Star by praying for his soul to rest in peace for a minutes time and after that the election of the Speaker was held under chaotic circumstances as the Opposition parties wanted the elections to be postponed due to this shocking and unexpected incident.
- There are also various statues erected in his honour, especially in Bengaluru. A 7 feet (2.1 m) high statue in Gowri Palya on 1 March 2012, Laggere on 4 March 2012, Kengeri on 9 October 2011, KP Agrahara in Vijayanagar on 11 March 2012 and in other places of Bengaluru and Karnataka were unveiled.
- Vishnuvardhan was cremated at the Ambhimaan Studios, in the outskirts of Bengaluru on 30 Dec 2009 with full state honors. Almost all the leading politicians and actors were present there.
- A 14.3 km-long stretch of road between the Banashankari Temple and Kengeri in Bengaluru has been named after the superstar on his 63rd birthday by his excellency, the Governor of Karnataka State Dr.Hansraj Bhardwaj.
Association with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
S. P. Balasubrahmanyam is record-holder for having sung more than 45,000 songs in various Indian languages including Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi. SPB's voice perfectly suited Vishnuvardhan and people felt it was a perfect combination. He started singing for Vishnuvardhan in the 1972 film Naagarahaavu. Balasubrahmanyam as music director, composed all the songs for Vishnuvardhan's film Sowbhagyalakshmi. In every film of the actor, he had to sing couple of songs and Vishnu would insist. Balasubrahmanyam has sung all the five songs in his last Kannada film. Aptharakshaka and was awarded the Best Playback Singer Filmfare Award for the song Gharane Ghara Gharane. He dedicated his award to Vishnuvardhan.. After Vishnuvardhan's death, Balasubrahmanyam paid tribute to him in musical nights and one such show happened in Bengaluru.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2014)|
- With Dwarakish: After a series of entry into films, Actor/Producer Dwarakish approached him with a project. Vishnu and Dwarakish acted together in several movies and the last one being Apthamithra that ran for a year. Vishnuvardhan-Dwarakish Starrer Singapoorinalli Raja Kulla was the first Kannada movie which was shot outside India. Dwarakish was the producer of these movies and the Vishnu-Dwarakish Jodi helped him establish his production unit. Their combination started in the year 1974 with the film Kalla Kulla directed by KSR Das produced by Dwarakish himself. After that, they acted together in many films like Galate Samsaara, Kittu Puttu, Singapore Nalli Raaja Kulla, Guru Shishyaru, Avala Hejje, Pedda Gedda, Indina Ramayana, Prachanda Kulla, Maduve Madu Thamashe Nodu mostly under his production. Vishnu insisted Dwarakish to direct films and henceforth Dwarakish became the director for films like Nee Bareda Kadambari, Nee thanda Kaanike starring the actor. Dwarakish, after the 1985 film Nee thanda kaanike chose to direct and produce films without the actor. He requested Vishnu to act in a film under his direction and production in 1993 film Rayaru Bandaru Mavana Manege. He tried entering politics and introducing his sons to the industry. He tried Shashikumar in a film named Hosa Kalla Hale Kulla. He was in debts and was in a situation of losing all his properties. He approached and requested him to act in his film Aaptha Mithra in 2004. Vishnu agreed and the film created records and ran for a whole year.
- With Director Bhargava: The actor's combination with Director Bhargava was very well received by the audience and hence this combination ended up doing almost 24 films together. Their combination started in the year 1979 in the film Asaadhya Aliya and after that they made films like Guru Shishyaru, Avala Hejje, Pedda Gedda, Onde Guri, Gandugali Rama, Jeevana Chakra, Karna, Krishna Nee Begane Baaro, Soubhagyalakshmi, Karunamayi, Shubha Milana, Nammora Raja, Jananayaka, Krishna Rukmini, Hrudaya Geethe, Shiva Shankar, Mathe Haadithu Kogile, Jagadeka Veera, Raajadhiraaja, Nanna Shathru, Bangarada Kalasha, Janani Janmabhoomi and more. This was a milestone in Bhargava's lifetime too.
- With Actor Suhasini Maniratnam: Vishnu-Suhasini Combination is considered as one of the best combinations of South India. Their films Bandhana directed by Rajendra Singh Babu and Suprabhatha directed by Dinesh Babu ran for a whole year in the theatres and created history. Muthina Haara, Himapatha, Hendthig Helthini, Maathaad Maathaadu Mallige, School Mater and others were the films they were seen in. This was a big break for Suhasini's career too since two out of the four film fare awards that she has won in Kannada is for films with the actor. They have been close friends from years. Suhasini was close to his family too. Suhasini, wife of India's greatest director Manirathnam, recently at a press meet in Bengaluru said she was all set to direct her first movie in Kannada. She also said that the actor and close friend Vishnu had always told her to take up direction and the actor who was never a producer had told her that he would produce the film. "People who are close to me know I have a funny side. Vishnuji was one of those people. He was also great at comedy", is what Suhasini said. She was also seen shedding tears in Bengaluru when her close friend died. In her interview with rediff.com, she said "Working with an actor like Vishnuji was such a great pleasure because it's such a learning experience. He would take great pains to get into the skin oif the characters. I learnt so much from him, especially while working in Mathaad Mathaad Mallige. There are many unforgettable moments that I would always cherish while working with him like the way he handled the comedy sequences in a film like Hendthige Helthini, or his super cool reactions in Mathaad Mathaad Mallige".
- With Actor, MP Dr.Ambareesh : Vishnu & Ambareesh debuted together in Nagarahavu under Putanna's direction. From then they both have been larger than life friends. Though Ambareesh was a villain in many films after Naagarahavu and Vishnu was already a star, their friendship remained the same and even when Ambareesh rose to fame as a hero, though they were on two parallel tracks, they never considered each other as competition and neither did they have any ego problems. When Vishnu departed in 2009, Ambarish was seen handling every bit of his close friend's funeral. From coordinating with the stars, to coordinating with the government, from shifting the body to managing crowds, he did every thing that the Police and the Government had to do. At one point he even picked up the microphone in the funeral place and shouted at a few frenzied fans and took situation into control. Ambareesh's wife and Vishnuvardhan's good friend, co-star Sumalatha Ambareesh says that she has never seen this kind of friendship in any other Industry between two actors in the peak who remained closest of closest friends throughout their life. They went on to act in Snehitara sawaal,Maha Prachandaru & Avala Hejje in the 80"s. Again they came together in Diggajaru in 2000 and this film is remembered by both their fans as their Best. It also had the memorable hit "Kuchikku, Kuchikku", a song about friendship featuring the two.
- With Actor Rajinikanth: Vishnuvardhan and rajinikanth has worked together in many movies such as Sahodarara Savaal, Kiladi Kittu, Galate Samsara, sri raghavendra, viduthalai. Paying tributes to Kannada film veteran Vishnuvardhan who passed away recently, Tamil actor Rajinikanth said it was the late actor who encouraged him to take up initial offers in Tamil films, which subsequently paved the path for his stardom in Kollywood. Rajnikanth told reporters, “Once I got an offer from Tamil film producer and also from a Kannada producer simultaneously. I was in a dilemma, which offer to choose. It was Vishnu who advised me to take up the Tamil film offer.” “He advised me that I should achieve something there and should go there and excel,” he said. “I cannot explain the value of our friendship. Our friendship was one that could be enjoyed, not one that could be expressed in words,” said Rajinikanth. He called on Vishnuvardhan’s wife Bharati at her residence here and offered his condolences and recounted his close association with Vishnuvardhan. He also apologised for being unable to attend the funeral of his “old and dear” friend owing to his hectic schedule.
He started singing in movies occasionally and later went on to singing devotional songs for albums. The first song he sang was in the movie Nagarahole. The first devotional album sung by him was on Lord Ayappa and the title of the album was Jyothiroopa Ayappa. His other albums were "Thayi Bhanashankari" (on goddess Banashankari) and Vishwapremi Ayappa. He also sang devotional songs on Dharmastala's Lord Manjunathaswamy, Malemadeshwara and Ranachandi Chamundi.
Some of his songs are:
- "Hegiddharu Neene Chenna" (Sahasa Simha)
- "Shashiya Kandu Moda Helithu" (Sirithanakke Savaal)
- "Thuthu Anna Thinnoke" (Jimmi Gallu)
- "Beda Annoro Unte" (Sididedda Sahodara)
- "Kannadave Nammamma" (Mojugara Sogusugara)
- "Abhimani Gale Nanna Pranaa" (Vishnu Sena)
- "Ee Notake" (Naagarahole)
- "Madilalli" (Kiladi Kittu)
- "Aasegala THota" (Hanthakana Sanchu)
- "Naguve Swarga" (Naaga Kaala Bhirava)
- "Olavina jodi" (Kallu Veene Nudiyithu)
- "Vayyari Nee" (Gandugali Rama)
- "Savi Maathanu" (Chinnadantha Maga)
- "Cheluvina Chenniga" (Rudra Naga)
- "Muthe Maniye" (Khaidi)
- "Nammora Beediyali" (Benki Birugali)
- "Kannalli Nee Bandu" (Simha Gharjane)
- "Kandaddu Kandahaage" (Huli Hejje)
Later years and death
Fans came to pay tribute at the National College Grounds near Basavangudi, Bengaluru where his body was placed for public view. A grand procession arrangement was made to pay tribute to the actor.
Protests erupted at National College Grounds in large scale as the fan's grief soon turned to anger because the venue for the display of the his body was changed a couple of times and people flooded to take the last glimpse of him and the anger of the fans burst out when his body was lifted from the grounds because people kept coming even in the late evenings. Several policemen were injured and at least 40 vehicles were damaged after the police resorted to lathi charge.
Police had to fire four rounds of tear gas shells and resort to lathi charge at the National College Grounds in Bangalore as frenzied fans tried to barge in to get a glimpse of him. Most of the cities in Karnataka were shut voluntarily to show respect to great human being. As the situation slipped out of control, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa appealed for calm and called for an emergency cabinet meeting. The actor's wife Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, appealed for calm on TV and said that her late husband was a peace-loving man and that fans should allow him to rest in peace. He was cremated with full state honours.
Condolences poured in from throughout the world. While Bollywood Super Star Amitabh Bachchan and Actor-Politician Shatrughan Sinha expressed their shock, Super Star Akshay Kumar who had worked with Dr.Vishnu in 2 films said “I worked in Ashaant in 1993 with Vishnuji. We shot it in his home town Bengaluru, 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. 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 then realized 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. That’s no age to go.” Another Super Star Aamir Khan said "The untimely demise of super star Vishnuvardhanji has shocked me. Mr Vishnuvardhan who is a huge star in Karnataka and has had a prolific career was only 59. Our condolences to his family, to all those who love him, and to all of Karnataka for whom he is such an icon. May his soul rest in peace." Super Star of Tamil Cinema Rajinikanth visited the late actor's family and said "Vishnu Sir helped me to get stardom and it was him, who encouraged me to take up initial offers in Tamil films. I cannot explain the value of our friendship. Our friendship was one that could be enjoyed, not one that could be expressed in words. I have no words to convey the sense of loss" while Mega Star Chiranjeevi said, "The suddenness of Vishnuji's death has come as a shock. May God give his family the courage, strength and support". World class cricketer Anil Kumble said "I have grown up watching his films. I have been Vishnu sir's ardent fan. It's the end of an era.". Cricketer Gundappa Viswanath said "We used to ride pillion on a bicycle to reach the ground to play cricket. He was my best buddy. It is a big loss to the country". The whole of Kannada film Industry was present there. Celebrity friends of Dr.Vishnu who flew down from neighboring states like Prakash Rai, Suhasini Maniratnam, Dr.S. P. Balasubrahmanyam were all found shedding tears., while Tamil Stars Sarath Kumar, Raadhika Sarathkumar, Director P.Vasu were also present. Other stars such as Mammooty, Mohanlal, Kamal Hassan, Dr.B Saroja Devi and politicians like B. S. Yeddyurappa, R. Ashok, H. D. Kumaraswamy, H. D. Deve Gowda, Governor of Karnataka state Hansraj Bhardwaj (at the time of the demise) and many other celebrities and politicians mourned to his death.
The following is a list of Vishnuvardhan's films.
Filmography in other languages
- Ek Naya Itihas (1984)
- Inspector Dhanush (1991)
- Khaaki Vardi
- Ashaant (1993)
- Zaalim (1994)
- Bada Beta (2006)
- Alaigal (1973)
- Mazhalai Pattaalam (1980)
- Sri Raghavendra (1985)
- Eeti (1985)
- Viduthalai (1986)
- Paruva Ragam (1987)
- Marudhanayagam (1997)- Movie with Kamal Hassan that is yet to be released.
- Okkadu Chaalu (1996)
- Pillade Bomma
- Sardar Dharmanna
- Muggu Kathanayakalu
- Lakshmi Nirdushi
- Bandhana - 1984
- Suprabhata - 1988
- Muthina Haara - 1990
- Nishkarsha - 1984
- Yajamana - 2000
- Apthamitra - 2004
- Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award - 2002.
- Karnataka State Film Awards
- Naagarahaavu – 1972
- Hombisilu – 1982
- Bandhana – 1984
- Suprabhata – 1988
- Lion Jagapathi Rao – 1991
- Laali – 1997
- Veerappa Nayaka – 1998
- Aaptha Rakshaka – 2009 (Posthumously)
- Lifetime achievement Award Dr. Rajkumar State Award - 2008
- Other awards
- Honorary Doctorate awarded by Bangalore University in 2005
- Aragini Reader's Award
- Cinema Express Awards
- Tarangini Berkley Award
- Indira Pratishtana National Award
- Kaladevi Award (Chennai)
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- Vishnuvardhan: The silent superstar
- Muralidhara Khajane, The Hindu : Kartanaka / Mysore News: Spiritualism gave him solace
- An official website on VishnuVardhan