Vishnuvardhan, as family saw him

Vishnuvardhan, as family saw him

Ahead of the legendary actor’s birth anniversary on September 18, his family comes together at his Jayanagar home to share fond memories

Standing from left: Harshavardhan, Ujjwala, Padmashree Dr Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, Shloka, Keerthi, Anirudh and Jyestavardhan DH PHOTOs BY srikanta sharma r

‘He was possessive about me’

Bharathi Vishnuvardhan

Padmashree Dr Bharathi Vishnuvardhan: Well-known actor and wife of Vishnuvardhan,

Bharathi, who had essayed many roles before she married Vishnuvardhan, never cries because he had said she should never shed tears.

In this interview with Metrolife, she also reveals how possessive he was about her.

How was the superstar Vishnuvardhan at home?

He never mixed his personal and professional lives. We wouldn’t discuss movies too much. After watching a film, he would ask me for my comments. If I thought a portion was not right, I would tell him. He would remember my comments and work on it the next time.

Was he choosy with projects?

He would choose a project after thinking about it both from the producer’s and the fans’ perspectives. If a movie didn’t do well, he would offer to work for the same team on another script. He was large-hearted.

We hear Vishnuvardhan was good at mimicry?

His mimicry was spontaneous. He could imitate just about everybody. I used to imitate him, but after marriage, I stopped and he took over. When he was at home it was like having a hundred people over. He was a live wire. He imitated girls well. His college mates still remember his antics.

How would you describe yourselves as a couple?

He would never express his love but I could see it in his eyes. He would never tell me anything directly, but would talk about me to his friends, who would in turn come and tell me. Today, most people don’t know that real love is indeed beautiful.

He would help people a lot?

Vishnu was always concerned about the well-being of other people and helped those in need without a second thought.

Did he have many friends in other film industries?

If he met you once, he’d never forget you. He was close to Mammootty and Prem Nazir in Malayalam, Akshay Kumar in Hindi, Rajnikanth and Kamala Hasaan and directors Sridhar and Vijay Kumar in Tamil. And in the Kannada film industry he was close to Ambareesh.  

You were known as the golden couple. Tell us about it.

He was very possessive about me and I liked that. At social gatherings, when people came too close and spoke to me, he would observe them from a distance and slowly walk towards me and put his arms around my shoulder. I used to feel proud about that.

They say he was short tempered…

He was short-tempered but he would cool off in minutes. When he was upset I would stay quiet. I wouldn’t confront him or say anything that would upset him further. There were no arguments or ego problems between us.

Vishnu devoted time on his birthday to his fans…

From six in the morning to six in the evening, his fans would throng our home. He made it a point to greet them. He would say he didn’t know how to reciprocate their love. He would call upon his fans to not spend money to take care of the elderly in their families, educate their children and try to lead a good life. He had fans the world over.

He loved sweets?

I used to make 'gajar ka halwa' for him.

He was crazy about cars and bikes...

The first car he bought was a Herald. He always made the driver sit beside him and drove. He loved his bikes but never let me sit on any of them (laughs).

Which are your favourites among his hit movies?

Naagarahaavu, Yajamana, Simhadriya Simha, Lion Jagapathi Rao, Surya Vamsha... they’re all special.

What gives you strength today?

I believe in God. Vishnu was particular he never wanted to see tears in my eyes. So that’s why I never cry or feel sad. I always feel his presence with us.

Keerthi with Anirudh Jatkar

‘My college friends said I had a handsome dad’

Vishnuvardhan’s daughter

Keerthi, younger of Vishnuvardhan’s two daughters, says he made her grow up grounded.

How was Vishnuvardhan as a father?

He was protective and possessive. He wouldn’t sit with us to do the homework but he would sit in front of us, which made us nervous. When away at work, he would call on the landline to check if we were at home studying. He would wake us up at five in the morning and ask us to study. He and I shared our birthdays. There was really nothing that he and I haven’t discussed.

No star kid tantrums?

We never felt like star kids. My sister and I had to walk to the bus stand. We had five cars but we had to travel by bus and get our bus passes done. We got monthly pocket money of Rs 150 each. Sometimes he used to surprise us by suddenly coming to college. My friends would go gaga over him and tell me I had a handsome father. He believed his children must learn to lead a simple life. He taught us the value of money and made us understand the hard work that went into earning that.


‘I told him I was middle class’

Anirudh Jatkar
Husband of Vishnu’s daughter Keerthi

Anirudh Jatkar, Vishnuvardhan’s son-in-law entered the film industry after a remarkable stint in theatre. He remembers Vishnu as a friend, philosopher and guide.

He dedicated his life to cinema...

We used to have plenty of discussions about movies. He was a big fan of Sivaji Ganesan and he introduced me to his movies. He was also good at imitating other actors. I was always awestruck at his talent.

Any dialogue from his movies that has stayed with you?

He used to say, ‘Naane bere, nanna style bere.’ He once told me his father made him stay away from the family in the outhouse because he was difficult to handle. That was because he was short tempered. That’s why he would say ‘Naane bere, nanna style bere’. That’s precisely why that dialogue was apt for him. He mellowed down after his children’s wedding, especially after his grandchildren were born.

Which of his songs made an impact on you?

‘Haavina dwesha’ from ‘Naagarahaavu’ is a favourite.

How has he influenced you?

He was my friend, philosopher and guide. We talked a lot and had differences too. He was a generous soul. We didn’t know how many people he had helped until they came and told us.

Is there an unforgettable incident that you would like to tell us?

Long time ago, Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggadeji put a gold chain around Appa’s (Vishnuvardhan) neck. Appa accepted it as a blessing from Lord Manjunatha. I was standing behind him. Appa immediately turned around, took the chain off and put it on me saying that he wanted me to receive the blessings as well.

How was it to marry Vishnuvardhan’s daughter?

I am a middle class person and as we see in movies, a rich man’s daughter has wardrobes of clothes and jewellery. I told him I may not be able to provide her with that kind of luxurious lifestyle. He said, “Don’t worry, we don’t see how much money you have in your pocket, we only see how big a heart you have.” We were all open and spoke our mind. This helped strengthen our relationship.

According to Anirudh, these are top seven movies of Vishnuvardhan:

* Naagarahaavu

* Sahasa simha

* Bandhana

* Krishna nee begene baro

* Suprabhatha

* Veerappa Nayaka

* Yajamana

‘Stunned by his family’s down-to-earth ways’

Ujjwala and Harshavardhan Jatkar
Vishnuvardhan’s son-in-law Anirudh’s parents

Ujjwala and Harshavardhan Jatkar are Anirudh’s parents. They had lived most of their life in Dharwad, and now live in J P Nagar in Bengaluru. They came over to Vishnuvardhan’s house when Metrolife suggested a family get-together.

Unforgettable moments with Vishnuvardhan?

Ujjwala: When our grandson Jyestavardhan was born he was in Hyderabad and flew in just to see him. He was very close to our grandson. I would love to watch them playing together. It was almost as if Vishnuvardhan was reliving his childhood.

How did you address each other?

Harshavardhan: We tried calling each other our first names but that didn’t work. Finally, we decided to call each other what our children called us. I use to call him ‘appa’ and he used to call me ‘baba.’ It was perfect.

How did your family become related?

Harshavardhan: The proposal came from Vishnuvardhan’s side. His brother Ravi directed a play called ‘Hayavadana’ and Anirudh played the protagonist in it. That was watched by Vishnuvardhan and his family. He was impressed with Anirudh’s performance. That’s how the families met for the first time. Much later, Ravi asked Anirudh to come over and meet him. That’s when the marriage proposal was broached. When our son told us about it, I asked him whether he was marrying Keerti because she is Vishnuvardhan’s daughter or because did he really liked her. He told us that he liked her for her simplicity and beautiful smile. And we were happy for him.

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