Posts Tagged ‘Bharati Vishnuvardhan’

What does the great gold obsession say about us?

5 November 2012

The Punjabification of southern celebrityhood attains new heights—or plumbs new depths—with each passing day. Notions of austerity and simple living and high thinking are passe; flaunt it if you have it is the new mantra as “stars” exploit every ounce of their stardom, or what is left of it, for a few rupees more.

With Deepavali round the corner, it is habba for filmi folk.

Three generations of actors—from left, Bharati VishnuvardhanTara, Jayanthi and Padmaja Rao—pose for the camerasat an antique jewellery mela as part of the Deepavali festival celebrations organised by a jewel firm in Bangalore on Monday. Like, celebrating the festival of lights with anything less is a crime.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: All that glitters is a gold scam about to burst?


The commodification of women portfolio

RamyaOne more example of commodification of women

RamyaAnother example of commodification of women

Anu PrabhakarAnother example of commodification of examinations

RamyaLike, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

RamyaNow, what will those fools do with these kids?

Aindrita RaySurely all that glitters is more than just gold

Jennifer KotwalThe best ice-candy melts before nice eye-candy

RamyaWhat it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Nicole FariaDenims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

Priyanka TrivediSee, a brand ambassador always gets good press

RoopashreeObjects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Gul PanagYou are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’

RamyaDon’t ask us what it is, but it sure costs a bomb

Mandira BediIt ain’t so easy to woo an iPhone4 user, sister

Tejaswini Prakash: As if we didn’t have traffic diversions already

Pooja Gandhi: Why Vodafone subscribers experience call drops

Raveena Tandon: From a flower of stones to a stone of flowers

Sameera Reddy: Finally, some ‘commodification’ we are OK with

When Mr Ambarish did a better job than Mr Bidari

31 December 2009

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: I love Karnataka.

I love Kannada, I love Kannadigas.

I love Bangalore, I love Mysore.

I loved Raj Kumar, I loved Vishnuvardhan.

But I have to say this on the morning after: I don’t love Bangalore Police.

Like the rest of the film-loving humanity, I sat glued watching Vishnuvardhan’s funeral procession and cremation on television yesterday. And, after seeing the clumsy, chaotic and disgraceful send-off to a graceful and gentle man, it gives me no joy to report that Karnataka Police advertised their incompetence, ineptitude and inefficiency to the world.

Yet again.

We had seen it before, of course, after Raj Kumar’s death: When the so-called top cops of Bangalore, the fat cats—Ajay Kumar Singh, Bipin Gopalakrishna et al—were captured on camera looking like circus buffoons who had been run over by a Reva.

Four years down the line, if you thought the new lot would have learnt their lesson from that experience, well, think again.

From what I could gather from the TV images, the scene at Abhiman Studio when Vishnuvardhan’s mortal remains arrived, was no better than what it is when the early-morning vegetable trucks arrive at Kalasipalya.

Only, this time, there was a different set of fat cats presiding over the sad spectacle: chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and his flunkeys, and Bangalore police commissioner, Shankar Bidari.

Make no mistake, the police had to counter surging crowds and all the attendant troubles from early morning. And all through the funeral procession, they had to counter the stonethrowing, the vandalism, the arson, etc.

The inability of the police to counter the mobs in these circumstances, I could somehow understand. Because there was no way the police could have sanitised the entire route. Because excessive use of force can result in even worse damage.

As S.V. Rajendra Singh Babu’, the director of such fine films as Bandhana and Muttina Haara, said on TV: “Civilised behaviour somehow seems to be far beyond us on occasions like these,” and there was little the police could do to retrieve it.

What I could not and cannot understand for the life of me is how poorly prepared, how utterly unprepared the police and other authorities were at the cremation ground, where they had all the time in the world before the body arrived.

Especially after the Raj Kumar experience.

# There was no clearly demarcated area for the family to conduct the final rites or watch the proceedigs.

# There were no barricades to segregate different sections of the crowd—VIPs, Press, general spectators—from each other.

# There were clearly not enough policemen to keep nuisance makers and gatecrashers at bay.

# And there was absolutely no leadership at the very top as the situation developed.

Obviously, crowd management is not as easy as sitting in front of a computer and banging a few words in anger. But to see the CM and the top cops making a show of “personally inspecting” the funeral preparations and then to see such a mockery in the end was a shame.

“So what, no one died,” you might say.

Well, yes, no one died but that wasn’t because of the police.

No one died because Vishnuvardhan’s great friend, Ambarish, showed what a truly great friend he was by picking up the microphone and driving some sense into the skulls of frenzied fans.

As for our police, they were too busy sucking up to the VIPs to bother with Bharati Vishnuvardhan or her daughters, or Vishnuvardhan’s close friends and relatives.

Or, they were just content to watch the stars like awestruck spectators, like they do at one-day international matches at the KSCA.

Shame, I say.

If pictures of the widow and family having to fight their way through crowds doesn’t make you angry, if pictures of ‘Rockline’ Venkatesh and Shivaram having to shoulder bystanders to pour ghee on the funeral pyre doesn’t make you angry, I would say we deserve the kind of police we get.

Maybe, organising star funerals is not the raison d’etre of the police. Maybe they shouldn’t be judged by how smoothly a funeral procession goes. Then again, if Karnataka Police can’t handle a funeral procession properly, I can well understand why Veerappan was so far beyond their reach.

And for so long.

Photograph: ‘Rockline’ Venkatesh (second from left) staves off bystanders while the chief minister’s “parliamentary secretary”, A.Ramadas, stations himself strategically for the cameras, as Bharati Vishnuvardhan bids a final goodbye to her departed husband (Karnataka Photo News)

Brother, father, son. Leader, protector, nice guy.

30 December 2009

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: I woke up, like the rest of Karnataka and the rest of the world, to the news of the sudden demise of a man Kannada filmdom and Kannada film buffs were so used to knowing as Vishnuvardhan.

The name on his passport, though, would have actually read: Mysore Narayan Rao Sampath Kumar.

Born 1950, Mysore.

Vidyaranyapuram, if I may add.

As I sit down to pen my thoughts on the man whom I had liked, admired and enjoyed watching on screen right from the 1970s, there comes a visage so handsome and smart that I yearn to see it all over again.


Kanagal Puttanna, a futuristic director of mingboggling vision and range that the Kannada film industry has never been able to replace even to this day, was the one who triggered the entry of 23-year-old Sampath onto celluloid in 1973, after rechristening him Vishnuvardhan.

The film was Nagarahavu based on a novel by the legendary author, Ta Ra Su. A story set amidst the glorious ruins of historic Chitradurga, about a boy named Ramachari belonging to a traditional Madhwa Brahmin family.

A rebellious, haughty, hot headed, turbulent and emotional boy, but with a heart of gold which yearned to be understood and loved.

The boy falls in love with his classmate’s sister, a role essayed by another Mysorean, Aarti. The affair is short-lived since the girl’s parents are simply against the alliance, because Ramachari is not a nice guy in whose hands the future and fate of their daughter cannot be entrusted.

Ramachari and his father-like benefactor, guide and teacher, the venerable and extremely caring Chamayya meshtru, a character the illustrious Ashwath from good old Saraswathipuram played to such wonderful perfection that it brings tears of poignancy to my eyes even to this day,  their tender relationship, the rules of  which were seemingly unwritten.

The much-maligned Ramachari finally commits suicide by jumping off a cliff along with his old class mate and new found beau, Margaret. An act of sheer mutiny against the iron-clad brahminical religiosity of those times.

The portrayal was stunning.

Actor Vishuvardhan was born.

The song, “Haavina Dwesha, Hanneradu Varusha…..” still lingered on in memory long after the curtains came down at theatres across the State.

Then came the famous Gandhada Gudi, set in the beautiful jungles of Kakanakote. The great master, Raj Kumar, was a range forest officer and Vishnuvardhan, his lost brother, kidnapped and reared by the criminal Venkatappa Naika, who grows up to be his bete noire.


As the years rolled by and Vishnuvardhan began to get into the consciousness of Kannada cinema, it began to emerge that he had class and a style that many of his contemporaries could not match.

An endearing mannerism on screen punctuated by the slight shrug of the shoulders with the index finger pointing ahead, and a walk all his own with one side of his body slightly bent to a side, either while approaching his lady love or making a stern point to the villain before embarking on the smashing up of the bad man’s face.

As for his dialogue delivery, it was impeccable and unambiguous with the exact intonation and clarity; a voice not so resonating but undoubtedly impressive. His words were uttered with the right mixture of a pause and a flow depending on the mood of the scene and the situation at hand.

Vishnu, in his heyday, was perhaps the most handsome of them all; the thick mop of wavy hair beneath which lay two extremely expressive eyes and an aquiline nose. The smile was so endearing and the gait so apt, although he was not extremely tall or even athletic.

Only Anant Nag came close with his dashing looks. But then, he belonged to a completely different genre of acting.


The 1970s and ’80s saw some highly entertaining films made. And Vishnu invariably featured in most of them including the critically acclaimed off-beat Vamsha Vruksha.

# Singapore Nalli Raja Kulla, the first-ever Kannada film to be shot in a foreign locale.

# Nagarahole, S.V. Rajendra Singh “Babu”’s first film as director, with Vishnu too just then married to the famous star Bharati.

# Sose Thanda Sowbhagya,  a film made by a man called called Ankalagi and his friends, men who made films with a social theme and message in those days.

# Bhootaiyana Maga Aiyyu, that made a telling impact too came about.

# Naaniruvude Ninagaagi, Asadhya Aliya, Guru Shishayaru, the most expensive Kannada film of its time with a budget of twenty-five lakhs.

# The highly successful Bandhana.

There was a time in the industry when director Bhargava, cinematographer Raja Ram and Vishnuvardhan combined as a team to make a series of films that captured the imagination.

As many as 25 films in fact: Jana Nayaka, Karunmayi, Ondagi Baalu, Dr. Krishna, Bangarda Kalasa and Hrudayavanta as I can recall.

Not epochal by any stretch of imagination but then, those were times when the entire family went out to watch a film in a theatre in a celebratory mood on a holiday perhaps, and never came back disappointed.

No blood, no gore, no dubious dialogues, no double entendre.

Simple plain story telling with a message thrown in somewhere.

The good son, the sacrificing brother, the concerned village leader, the protector and saviour of women’s dignity.

The nice guy around the block, if you will.

Directors Tiptur Raghu, K.S.R. Das and Joe Simon swore by Vishnu. Naga Kala Bhairava, Kalla Kulla, Khaidi, Rudra Naga, Sahasa Simha, Nanna Rosha Nooru Varusha, Simha Jodi; they all helped make Vishnuvardhan a name that cannot be forgotten.

Then there was Muttina Haara, a story much ahead of its time, of the futility of war, made by Rajendra Singh Babu. It unfortunately did not do too well at the box office although it was lavishly mounted and shot in exotic locales in the Himalayas.

It was a measure of Vishnu’s concern for the plight of the producer that he agreed to star in a film called Neenu Nakkare Haalu Sakkare. Directed by Dorai-Bhagawan, it went on to rake in the monies for the same producer who had lost quite a bit of it with Muttina Haara.

Vishnuvardhan, like his legendary contemporary Raj Kumar, studiously kept himself away from the lure of politics.

There was a time in the early 1980s when R. Gundu Rao as chief minister and Jeevaraj Alva as the minister of Kannada and Culture were after Vishnu. Vishnu refused. The story goes that it was mainly Ambarish among others who dissuaded him from getting into the murky world of politicking.

Another icon of the Kannada film world, Dwarkish, and Vishnu had a roller-coaster ride as far as their personal and professional relationship went.

One of the biggest producers of his time apart from being a famous comedian, Dwarkish made films like Indina Ramayana and Rayaru Bandaru Maavana Manege with Vishnu, as I recollect through the fogginess of my memory. They also acted in tens of films together right from the 1970s.

But strangely their relations were not consistent. It is said that the souring of the partnership would happen every now and then because of the more voluble Dwarkish making statements to the media about his displeasure of Vishnu’s association with certain producers in the industry.

KobriManju, Soorappa Babu and Rehman, all producers, made a lot of films with Vishnu at various times. Was this the reason, one does not know. Eventually the patch up would happen. The most-famous Aptha Mitra too came into existence.

Vishnu through all this never uttered a word.

Like when he was almost persecuted by ‘fans’ of Raj Kumar during the early part of his career when an innocuous incident concerning a rifle during the making of Gandhada Gudi was held so seriously against the young Vishnu.

His posters were torn to pieces, cow dung splashed on them at most places, vicious attacks on him in the press, the maligning of his reputation, the bitterness with he was perceived by certain sections of the industry, the loneliness of battling all these forces of vice and wickedness.

Vishnu had gone through this all. And the point is, he not only survived but made a mark as a fine actor and a man too.

Not once did he call a press conference or shout or rail or complain in public about the unjustness of it all. All he did in his characteristic style was to point a hand heavenwards every time a journalist asked him for his reactions. And press the same hand to his heart.

One can imagine the anguish and discouragement, the disillusionment and pain that could have come about his way during those hard times when the state was made to believe by vested interests in the film industry that he had attempted to ‘kill’ Raj Kumar during that infamous incident up on Masale Betta in the Kakankote jungles during the making of Gandhada Gudi.

Although the two men met in public at various functions, with Vishnu even touching Raj Kumar’s feet in reverential acceptance of his seniority, I’m sure the wedge could never be removed from his heart.

I heard that Vishnuvardhan had taken to the pursuit of adhyatma. Long sessions with Bannanje Govindacharya of Udupi and all that. Why, he himself had begun to look like a Sufi saint, clothed in flowing white robes with a white cloth covering his head and a string of large beads running down his neck.

Maybe there was an inner calling in him to make an attempt to understand the unknown; to delve into the dark depths of spirituality and convince himself of the reason for his existence.

To endeavour to unravel the mystery of life and feel it.

As a man and as an actor.

By then, The Great Director up in the skies high above had come to the end of his script for Vishnuvardhan. He decided to write the final line of the story of a man who came from one of the bylanes of Vidyaranyapuram in Mysore to go on to become one of the most famous men of Karnataka.

When Vishnuvardhan breathed his last early today, his time had come to meet up with Him, strobe lights and all.

Photograph: Family, friends and relatives pay their last respects to actor Vishnuvardhan at his J.P. Nagar residence in Bangalore. His wife Bharati is at fourth from left, standing. (Karnataka Photo News).

Before the Sahasa Simha received Honoris Causa

30 December 2009

Vishnuvardhan‘s long and happy marriage with the actress Bharati was one of Kannada cinema’s warm and wonderful stories; the couple one of the industry’s most dignified, on and off screen.

In this 2005 file photo, the wife helps the husband with the gown before he proceeds to receive the honorary doctorate at the 41st convocation of Bangalore University from the hands of then governor T.N. Chaturvedi.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Press Trust of India obituary

NDTV: What did Vishnu mean for Karnataka?

Vishnuvardhan, the Decent Star, is no more. RIP.

30 December 2009

churumuri records with deep regret the passing away of the Mysore-born Kannada superstar H.N. Sampath Kumar, known to the world as Vishnuvardhan, following a heart attack in his home-town on Wednesday morning.

He was 59 years old, and is survived by his wife Bharati and their adopted daughters, Keerthi and Chandana.

Like Rahul Dravid who has always had to play under the shadow of Sachin Tendulkar, Vishnuvardhan’s career coincided with that of the gigantic Dr Raj Kumar, although the two starred together only once.

But, to Vishnuvardhan’s credit, he carved his own niche and won popular and critical appeal with a range of stellar performances in Vamshavrusksha, Nagara Haavu, Muthina Haara, Bandhana, Suprabhatha, Nagara Hole, Nishkarsha and Aaptamitra.

Unlike most Kannada stars, lef-hander Vishnuvardhan bravely tested his star value  in other languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi, acting alongside Sivaji Ganesan, Rajnikanth and Mammootty. And like his good friend Gundappa Vishwanath, he brought grace, style and an essential decency to the acting (and living) crease.

In an industry filled with all kinds of self-appointed stars, to Vishnuvardhan goes the worthy and weighty title, “Decent Star”.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Passion for Cinema: Dr Vishnuvardhan passes away