'Angry young man' of Sandalwood bids adieu

Fans go berserk in South Bangalore; Vishnu cremated with state honours

'Angry young man' of Sandalwood bids adieu

 The funeral procession of actor Vishnuvardhan being taken out from the  National College, Basavanagudi, in Bangalore. DH Photo/Vishwanath suvarnaThe 59-year-old actor breathed his last in the wee hours of Wednesday, following a massive heart attack in a Mysore hospital. His body was consigned to flames at Abhiman Studios in Uttarahalli, Bangalore, around 8 pm.

The death of the star, who often advocated non-violence, however, triggered widespread rioting in the City. Arson, stone-pelting and mischief mongering left a trail of destruction.

At least 10 people were injured, 78 BMTC buses damaged and three media vehicles and a police van torched. Southern Bangalore bore the brunt of the violence.

Vishnuvardhan was under medical observation at Vikram Hospital in Mysore for several days. Doctors, who examined him on Tuesday evening, had said his condition was stable. But early on Wednesday morning, he complained of chest pain and breathed his last while being taken to hospital.

Two ‘eyes’

Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan were considered as the two eyes of the Kannada film world. Vishnu had acted in over 200 films and two of them are yet to be released. He is survived by his actor-wife Bharati, two daughters and a grandson, four sisters and a brother.

The State government declared mourning on Wednesday. The last rites of the star were performed at the Abhimaan Studios, amid tight police security. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and a galaxy of film stars and politicians were present.

Vishnuvardhan was given a three volley salute by the Karnataka State Reserve Police. His brother Ravi lit the funeral pyre.

The superstar had always tried to remain non-controversial. He had also advocated solving crises both in public life and the film world, through talks. Unfortunately, his last journey to the cremation ground was marred by ugly incidents.

The City virtually enforced a voluntary bundh, downing shutters. Shops, commercial establishments, theatres and multiplexes remained closed. Vehicular traffic too was conspicuously low.

Attaining stardom

Sampath Kumar was rechristened Vishnuvardhan by the late film director Puttanna Kanagal. It was a coincidence that his end also came in Mysore, where he was born in 1950. His growth was impressive from Ramachari in “Nagarahavu” in 1972 to “Yajamaana” in 2000.

His last movie “Bellary Naga” was released this year. He won seven State awards and seven filmfare awards. He was conferred with an honourary doctorate by Bangalore University.

Vishnuvardhan, who was also a singer, starred in movies in five languages. “Tuttu Anna Thinnokke, Bogase Neeru Kudiyoke...” was one of his songs.

Vishnu acted with Rajkumar only in one film, “Gandhada Gudi”. The industry tried to dub Vishnu as a rival to Rajkumar. But Vishnu never thought so.

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