Karnataka mourns Vishnuvardhan’s death

One of Karnataka's most loved filmstars, Dr Vishnuvardhan, died at the age of 59 following a cardiac arrest at his home town, Mysore, on Wednesday triggering a wave of mourning and stray violence around the state.

Considered second only to the late Dr Rajkumar on the popularity stakes in Kannada filmdom, Vishnuvardhan, who had acted in 197 films, many of them critically acclaimed, was popularly known as a 'decent star' on account of his near saintliness. Over the years Vishnuvardhan, who was born M N Sampath Kumar, had evolved his personal style from being a leather and boots action hero to a white suit, headscarf-wearing religious individual.

Vishnuvardhan was the winner of several state and national awards, including the most famous one for his role as an emotionally charged young lover in Nagara Haavu, under the direction of master Kannada story teller Puttanna Kanagal, in his second film.

His marriage to fellow filmstar Bharati, whom he transcended in stardom only after their wedding, is among the most enduring marriages in the film world. Vishnuvardhan leaves behind his wife and two foster children.

The actor was laid to rest on Wednesday evening with full state honors on the outskirts of Bangalore. There were sporadic incidents of violence, largely in south Bangalore, as fans tried to forcibly shut down business establishments. Many government offices in Bangalore sent staff home early, fearing violence like what was witnessed following Dr Rajkumar's death.

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