There are a few actors who bypass all the boundaries and get closer to hearts in a way that they stay with us forever even after their physical exit. Kannada film industry had witnessed one such legendary actor who loomed on his own roots to become the face of South-Indian cinema and there is no exaggeration to it. Words really fall short to celebrate his legacy, however, we have tried to put a few things about Dr. Vishnuvardhan, the one and only Sahasasimha of KFI.
Vishnuvardhan was called as The Pheonix of Indian Cinema
He made his debut in the 1972 film, Vamsha Vriksha (National Award Winning Movie), in a supporting role. It took a decent flight, however, Puttanna Kangal’s Nagarahavu gave him all the recognition and fame. Nagarahavu was the first from the Kannada Film industry to complete 100 days in the three main theatres of Bangalore. Vishnu’s awe-inspiring performance in the movie paved the way of opportunities to him in a way that he never had to look back.
220 Films Across Languages
The actor has appeared in over 220 films across all the languages from Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam. As a testament to his acting prowess and stardom, in 2008, CNN IBN listed Vishnuvardhan as the most popular star in the Kannada film industry.
Puttanna Kanagal named him as Vishnuvardhan
It is known to many that the original name of Vishnuvardhan is Sampath Kumar. During the shooting time of Naagarahaavu, the director Puttanna Kanagal named him as ‘Vishnuvardhan’. It was Puttanna’s vision for Sampath Kumar to see him as the King of Indian Cinema.
Behind the Scenes Of Bandhana
Today, we have known Bandhana as one of the successful films of KFI but when it was written, Vishnu was not a part of the movie. Till Bandhana, Vishnu was typecasted as an actor suitable for action roles. When Rajendra Babu decided to cast Vishnuvardhan for a love story like Bandhana, the industry exhaled the air of doubt. But the director’s faith in the actor and the way Vishnu managed the role of Dr.Harish in the movie changed his image in the industry.
Vishnuvardhan’s Pairing with Bhargava
This actor-director duo is considered one of the best and the most successful ones in the industry. Vishnu’s first film with Bhargava was Asaadhya Aliya and the journey continued for a total of 23 films. With an impeccable success rate, this pairing gave some of the memorable movies for us to enjoy. A few to name are Guru Sishyaru, Jeevana Chakra, Jana Nayaka, Karna, Hrudaya Geethe, and many others.
Vishnuvardhan in Malgudi Days
Shankar’s project Malgudi Days had started off in full swing. It is one of the highly-rated tele-cinema in the Indian television industry. Dr.Vishnuvardhan being a star of KFI appeared on television for the very first time in the 1980s. He played the character called Venkat Rao, in an episode called “Rupees Forty-Five a Month”.
SPB and Vishnuvardhan
As P.B Srinivas became the voice of Dr.Raj for more than 2-3 decades, the same goes for SPB for Dr.Vishnuvardhan. The singer had sung for him in Naagarahavvu and the journey continued till Aptharakshaka, so was the bond. Vishnu never used to miss the birthday of SPB and he always insisted that Balasubramanyam has to sing for him, no one else should.
Other Aspects of Vishnu
Vishnuvardhan was a trained Martial Artist. In an interview with The Hindu, he had said that it was the era of Bruce Lee and it was only Kamal Haasan and himself who had learned martial art in his generation.
Vishnu has also penned a story for 1997 released movie Ganesha I Love You, directed by Pani Ramachandra. He was also a singer and has recorded some of the hit numbers like Hegiddaru Neene Channa, Thuttu Anna Tinnoke, Naguve Swarga, and many others.
Favorites of Vishnuvardhan
Vishnu in his off-camera life was a very simple and down-to-earth person. In Ambareesh’s words, he was the funniest guy, and at the same time, the most reserved one too. He was fond of Dogs and loved watching Bruno and Arnold’s movies. Interestingly, Vishnuvardhan’s favorite actors were Dr.Rajkumar, Marlin Monroe, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Sharmila Tagore, Helen, and others. Among the directors, Vishnu loved Shubhash Gai and William Wilar.
The Longest Road in Asia is named after Dr.Vishnuvardhan
A road stretching 14.5 km from Banashankari temple to Kengeri in Bengaluru is named after the Kannada superstar. It is the longest road in Asia to be named after a celebrity; that’s Vishnuvardhan for you.
As an actor, Vishnuvardhan has no match. If you look at his performances in movies say Bandhana, Muttina Haara, Laali, and Yajamana; you will agree to it. Here is the list of awards and received by Vishnuvardhan.
Filmfare Award for Best Kannada Actor
- Naagarahaavu – 1973 (Special award)
- Bandana – 1984 (Special award)
- Suprabhatha – 1988 (Best Actor)
- Haalunda Tavaru – 1994 (Best Actor)
- Yajamana – 2000 (Best Actor)
- Apthamitra – 2004 (Best Actor)
- Filmfare lifetime achievement award – 2002
- Honorable Doctorate by Bangalore University in 2005.
- Aragini Reader’s Award
- Tarangini Berkley Award
- Indira Pratishtana National Award
- Kaladevi Award (Chennai)
- Madras Films Association Award
So, this was about Vishnuvardhan, an actor par excellence. This is a small tribute to the actor on his 68th Birthday. Happy Birthday, Dada. We miss you.
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