Vishnuvardhan (actor)

Dr.Vishnuvardhan (18 September 1950 – 30 December 2009), born Sampath Kumar, was an Indian film actor known for his predominantly in Kannada cinema.[2] He appeared in over 220 films in Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam.[3] He was called 'The Phoenix of Indian Cinema'.[4][5][6] He made his debut in the 1972 film, Vamsha Vriksha, in a supporting role. The same year he played the lead role in Puttanna Kanagal's Naagarahaavu, and was recognized as 'The Angry Young Man of Kannada Cinema'.[7] He has played a variety of roles in different genres.[8][9][10][11]

Sampath Kumar

(1950-09-18)18 September 1950
Mysore, India
Died30 December 2009(2009-12-30) (aged 59) [1]
OccupationActor, Singer
Years active1972–2009
RelativesAniruddha Jatkar
(son in law)

In 2008, a poll conducted by CNN-IBN listed Vishnuvardhan as the most popular star in the Kannada Film Industry.[12] A road stretching 14.5 km from Banashankari Temple to Kengeri in Bengaluru has been named after the superstar. It is the longest road in Asia to be named after a celebrity.[13][14] He was a 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 learnt martial arts in his generation.[15] He was also the story writer of the 1997 movie Ganesha I Love You directed by Phani Ramachandra.

He was also fondly called as Sahasasimha and Abhinava Bhargava by the people of Karnataka.[16]

Early lifeEdit

Vishnuvardhan was born in Mysore to H. L. Narayana Rao and Kamakshamma. His ancestors are from Hallegere, Mandya district of Karnataka. His father was an artist, music composer and a screenwriter who was known for his collection of musical instruments. He had six siblings. His sister Rama was a Kathak dancer at the Mysore Palace, and brother Ravi was a child actor who appeared in the 1955 Tamil language and Kannada bilingual film Modala Thedi.[17] Vishnuvardhan was educated first in Mysore's Gopalswamy School and then at Bangalore's Kannada Model High School. He attended high school and obtained a degree from National College, Basavanagudi, Bangalore.[18][19]

Personal lifeEdit

Vishnuvardhan married actress Bharathi on 17 February 1975 in Bangalore. They have adopted two children, Keerthi and Chandana.[20]

Early careerEdit

Vishnuvardhan on an Indian postal stamp in 2013

Vishnuvardhan started his career with the National Award-winning movie Vamshavruksha (1972) directed by Girish Karnad based on the novel written by S. L. Bhyrappa. His first lead role was in Naagarahaavu, directed by Puttanna Kanagal and based on a novel by T. R. Subba Rao. It was the first in Kannada film history to complete 100 days in three main theatres of Bangalore. In his 37-year career, he has played a variety of roles in more than 200 films.[21]


He appeared on television for the first time in the 1980s. Shankar Nag directed Malgudi Days and introduced Vishnuvardhan as the main character Venkat Rao, in an episode called "Rupees Forty-five a Month". Here, his co-star was Gayatri Nag.[22][23][24]


Vishnuvardhan started an organisation called Sneha Loka to promote harmony and to help during calamities like floods. He conducted a 'padayatra' to collect funds for the flood-affected people in the northern part of the state. Vishnuvardhan and his wife Bharathi had adopted the Melukote town in Mandya district where he had dug borewells in the water-starved temple town. Many of his other charitable donations were revealed only when the beneficiaries came forward and spoke about it.[25] In January 2005, Vishnuvardhan, cricketer Syed Kirmani and Shivram participated in a Cancer Awareness Walkathon organised by Bangalore Institute of Oncology (BIO) to commemorate its 15 years of public service in Bangalore.[26]

Film scoreEdit

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam is record-holder for having sung more than 40,000 songs in Indian languages including Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi. SPB's voice suited Vishnuvardhan, and people felt it was a perfect combination.[27] He started singing for Vishnuvardhan in the 1972 film Naagarahaavu. Balasubrahmanyam as music director, composed all the songs for Vishnuvardhan's Sowbhagyalakshmi. Vishnuvardhan never missed any of the birthdays of S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. In every film of the actor, he had to sing couple of songs and Vishnu would insist. Balasubrahmanyam has sung all the five songs in his last Kannada film Aptharakshaka and was awarded the Best Playback Singer Filmfare Award for the song Gharane Ghara Gharane. He dedicated his award to Vishnuvardhan. After Vishnuvardhan's death, Balasubrahmanyam paid tribute to him in musical nights and one such show happened in Bengaluru and Mysuru.

Vishnuvardhan's pairing with director H.R. Bhargava is considered as one of the best pairings of Kannada film industry. His first film with H.R. Bhargava was Asaadhya Aliya which was a successful one. He has a total of 23 films with H.R. Bhargava. The rate of success of this combination was very high. To name a few are Guru Sishyaru, Jeevana Chakra, Karunamayi, Jana Naayaka, Hrudaya Geethe, Karna, Mathe Haditu Kogile, Onde Guri, Krishna Nee Begane Baaro and many others.

As singerEdit

He started singing in movies occasionally and later went on to singing devotional songs for albums. The first song he sang was in the movie Nagarahole and he has recorded some duet songs with the notable legendary singers S. Janaki, Vani Jairam and P. Susheela. The first devotional album sung by him was on Lord Ayappa and the title of the album was Jyothiroopa Ayappa. His other albums were "Thayi Bhanashankari" (on goddess Banashankari) and Vishwapremi Ayappa. He also sang devotional songs on Dharmastala's Lord Manjunathaswamy, Malemadeshwara and Ranachandi Chamundi.[28][29][30][31]

Some of his renderings are:

Song Movie Co-Singer Lyrics
Ee Notake Mai Maatake Nagarahole Bharathi Vishnuvardhan Chi. Udaya Shankar
Madilalli Maguvaagi Naanu Kiladi Kittu P Susheela R N Jayagopal
Shashiya Kandu Moda Helithu Siritanakke Savaal Kunigal Nagabhushan
Aasegala Thottilidu Hanthakana Sanchu Vani Jayaram, Kasthoori Shankar R N Jayagopal
Naguvude Swarga Naga Kala Bhairava S Janaki Chi. Udaya Shankar
Hegiddaroo Neene Chenna Sahasa Simha Renuka Chi. Udaya Shankar
Thutthu Anna Thinnoke Jimmy Gallu Chi. Udaya Shankar
Hennu Kannina Sanchalli Kallu Veene Nudiyithu Vani Jayaram R N Jayagopal
Olavina Jodi Kallu Veene Nudiyithu Vani Jayaram Vijaya Narasimha
Eke Eke Karanava Heluveya Matthe Vasantha Vani Jayaram Chi. Udaya Shankar
Beda Annoru Unte Sididedda Sahodara S Janaki Chi. Udaya Shankar
Vayyari Nee Heege Gandugali Rama Vani Jayaram Chi. Udaya Shankar
Savi Mathanu Aadeya Chinnadantha Maga S Janaki Chi. Udaya Shankar
Kannalli Nee Bandu Simha Gharjane S Janaki
Cheluvina Chenniga Rudranaga Bangalore Latha R N Jayagopal
Mutthe Maniye Khaidi S Janaki Chi. Udaya Shankar
Anuraga Geetheyalli Benki Birugali Chi. Udaya Shankar
Nammoora Beedhiyalli Benki Birugali Doddarange Gowda
Kandadda Kandaange Huli Hejje Doddarange Gowda
Kande Nanna Olavina Hudugiya Maha Purusha R N Jayagopal
Anuragaveno Aanandaveno Nammoora Raja Chithra Shyamasundar Kulkarni
Kila Kila Nagutha Baaro Shiva Shankar Manjula Gururaj, Chorus Chi. Udaya Shankar
Megha Maleyali Hosa Love Story Rajkishore
Kannadave Nammamma Mojugara Sogasugara Hamsalekha
Nagutha Novanu Mareyutha Karnataka Suputhra Geethapriya
Onde Ondu Question Surya Vamsha Baby Rithisha Doddarange Gowda
Abhimanigale Nanna Prana Vishnu Sena K. Kalyan

Later years and deathEdit

On 30 December 2009, Vishnuvardhan died due to a massive cardiac arrest at King's Court Hotel in Mysore. He was survived by his wife, Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, and two daughters, Keerthi and Chandana. He was cremated with full state honours at Abhiman studio in Bengaluru.[32][33]


There have been many books about the life, career, achievements, philanthropy of this versatile actor.

Some important books about Dr. Vishnuvardhan are listed below.

Name of Book Author(s)
Vishnu – Noorondu Nenapu Sadashiva Shenoy
Sahasa Simhayana S. Jagannath Rao Bahule
Hrudayavantha Vishnu: Avadootharu B. Vinod Kumar
Kala Jnani Dr. Vishnuvardhan H. Krishnappa
Sneha Sampatthu H. Narasimha Murthy
Kannadada Sampatthu Manjunath Alde
Dr. Vishnuvardhana – Nanna Haadu Nannadu Nandakumar
Mareyada Maanikya – Yajamanru Dr. Vishnuvardhan Janardhan Rao Salanke
Karna maadida sampathu – Dr.Vishnuvardana Hemanth G Nag
Simha Gharjane Janardhan Rao Salanke
Karunamayee Dr. Vishnuvardhan Janardhan Rao Salanke
Anna – Nammanna Babu Dinakar
Naagarahaavu: Nenapu – Meluku Babu Dinakar
Naagarahaavu Janardhan Rao Salanke
Bhava Shilpi Dr. Vishnuvardhan B. Vinod Kumar
Nenapina Mutthina Haara S. V. Rajendra Singh Babu

Legacy, awards and honorsEdit

Karnataka State Film AwardsEdit

Year Award Movie
1972-73 Best Actor Naagarahaavu
1977-78 Best Actor Hombisilu
1984-85 Best Actor Bandhana
1990-91 Best Actor Lion Jagapathi Rao
1997-98 Best Actor Laali
1998-99 Best Actor Veerappa Nayaka
2007-08 Dr. Rajkumar Award
2009-10 Best Actor Aaptha Rakshaka
  • As an acknowledgment to his service to Indian cinema, the state government decided to name its annual lifetime achievement award to long-serving film personalities after Vishnuvardhan, renaming it as the Karnataka State Dr. Vishnuvardhan Award.[34]
  • He has appeared on postage stamps issued by the Government of India posthumously.[35][36]
  • Vishnuvardhan was awarded with Filmfare South Lifetime achievement award in 2002 for his contribution to Kannada film Industry.
  • The State Government has named roads and parks in the capital city Bengaluru after him.[37] A park in Jayanagar, Bengaluru has also been named as Dr.Vishnuvardhan Park.[38]
  • The government of Karnataka decided to build a film city in the name of Dr. Vishnuvardhan. It will be similar to the model of Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.[39]
  • The Karnataka Assembly showed respect to the star by praying for a minute for his soul to rest in peace for. After that, the election of the Speaker was held under chaotic circumstances as the Opposition parties wanted the elections to be postponed due to this shocking and unexpected incident.[40][41]
  • There are statues erected in his honour, especially in Bengaluru. A 7-foot-high (2.1 m) statue in Gowri Palya on 1 March 2012, Laggere on 4 March 2012, Kengeri on 9 October 2011, KP Agrahara in Vijayanagar on 11 March 2012 and in other places of Bengaluru and Karnataka were unveiled.[42][43]
  • Vishnuvardhan was cremated at the Abhimaan Studios, in the outskirts of Bengaluru on 30 December 2009 with full state honors. Almost all the leading politicians and actors were present there.[44][45]
  • A 14.3 km-long stretch of road between the Banashankari Temple and Kengeri in Bengaluru has been named after the superstar. It is the longest road in Asia to be named after a celebrity.[13][14]
  • Vishnuvardhan's fans for whom he is a demi-god have built a temple for him naming it Dr. Vishnuvardhan Mandir.[46]



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  42. ^ Rajendra (3 March 2012). "ಲಾಠಿ ಚಾರ್ಚ್ ನಡುವೆ ಡಾ.ವಿಷ್ಣು ಪುತ್ಥಳಿ ಅನಾವರಣ- 03 dr vishnuvardhan statue gowri palya". Oneindia Entertainment. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
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External linksEdit