Earlier this week, the Kannada film industry united to elicit an apology from Telugu actor Vijay Rangaraju, whose comments against Kannada thespian Dr Vishnuvardhan had triggered a controversy.
In an interview with a Telugu YouTube channel, Rangaraju, who played villain roles in the ’90s, claimed Vishnuvardhan had a roving eye. He even said he had caught Vishnuvardhan by the collar on the sets of 'Mutthaide Bhagya' (1983).
Vishnu Sena Smiti, a fan club based in Bengaluru, registered a complaint at the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, urging it to act against Rangaraju.
Soon, the A-listers of the Kannada film industry spoke out against Rangaraju. The most important quality for an artist to possess is to respect and love fellow artists, irrespective of where they are from, said Puneeth Rajkumar. “Defaming one of our senior-most artists Dr Vishnuvardhan was uncalled for. We want the concerned person to provide an unconditional apology for his act. The entire film industry stands united. Let us be human first," he tweeted.
Sudeep said to speak ill of a senior actor after his passing was not right. "We are witnessing great unity among all film industries. Rangaraju, your comments shouldn't cause any rift between industries. Vishnuvardhan has inspired crores of people. All of us stand by him. Take back your words," said Sudeep in a video.
Actor-turned-politician Sumalatha Ambareesh, wife of the Kannada avijactor Ambareesh, slammed Rangaraju's chatter. "People who seek cheap publicity speak bad about famous people. We must ignore such people," she said in a lengthy post on social media.
Yash, Darshan, Jaggesh, Dhananjaya and Anirudh Jatkar, who is also Vishnuvardhan's son-in-law, demanded an apology.
Soon after his comments kicked up a row, a tearful Rangaraju apologised on a video recording. "I have realised I have made a huge mistake. To all the people of Karnataka, I am extremely sorry for my words and I beg you to forgive me. I sincerely apologise to Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, the late actor's wife," he said. Rangaraju ended the video by going down on his knees in tears.
Vishnuvardhan, who passed away on December 30, 2009, has acted in more than 200 films across multiple languages.
A versatile performer whose powerful screen presence and dialogue delivery made him a matinee idol, Vishnuvardhan is a winner of eight State awards and other prestigious honours.