I share a tribute that my friend Venkat wrote for this great actor.
The untimely demise of arguably one of the most legendary characters to have ever adorned the silver screen in the South Indian film industry has without a semblance of a doubt shocked, saddened and left the State reeling. Just when a multitude of Kannadigas and lovers of music were coming to grips (or rather struggling to) with the silencing of the mellifluous voice of the genial C. Aswath, fate and Providence seem to have contrived to strike yet another cruel and lasting blow. With the passing away of this “Sahasa Simha”, has also ended a beautiful and graceful legacy of Kannada films, where the focus was on substance rather than form, sensuality rather than crude and denigrating vulgarity and aesthetics rather than ill conceived technological marvels. In an age where the Kannada film industry is in the doldrums (largely due to its own incompetency and total lack of vision), and the avid movie buff is forced to sit through utter senseless and banal fare such as “DEADLY SOMA”, “MENTAL MANJA” et al, Vishnuvardhan stood as the sole divide between the sublime and the silly.
Beginning with the astounding entry of this versatile actor in Puttanna Kanagal’s “Nagarahaavu”, many a Kannadiga has been enthralled over the course of almost 3 decades and a half by Vishnuvardhan with a plethora of unforgettable movies. Blending in with the character, he brought an entire gamut of emotions to the fore and it would not be an understatement if one were to say that the viewer “lived, loved and lamented” along with Vishnu in most of his movies. Whether it be the avenging angel in “SAHASA SIMHA” (a moniker which has struck to him ever since), or the gun toting preserver of wildlife in “JAYASIMHA”, or the suave psychologist cum spiritualist in “APTHA MITRA”, Vishnu has been endearing to us like no other, perhaps with the sole exception being the unparalleled master of the Kannada movies, the late Dr.Rajkumar. Whilst he was the epitome of charm and grace whilst singing with his beloved in his arms, he was the very embodiment of uncontrolled rage and raw fury when bashing many a jaw with his knuckles in carefully crafted fight sequences. While he could be a little awkward donning the robes of a lawyer, he could compensate for it with his fluent and enviable dialogue deliveries.
Though the physical preserve of this phenomenal actor has been taken away from us forever, it can safely said that Vishnu would continue to live and be loved till time immemorial.
Vishnu REST IN PEACE AND MAY YOUR TRIBE INCREASE!!