Bangalore, Dec 30 (IANS) The sudden death of Kannada movie icon Vishnuvardhan has devastated millions of Kannadigas around the world. Well-known cricketer Anil Kumble, a big fan of the late actor, described his demise as a most devastating loss.
'I have grown up watching his films. I have been his ardent fan. It's an end of an era,' said Kumble, summing up the emotions of his fans who considered him a role model.
Besides being a great star, Vishnu was also the most lovable human being in the Kannada film industry. People loved him so much that many who came to pay their last respects cried and fainted at the National College Grounds where his body was kept for 'darshan'.
The Karnataka government has ordered a state funeral for the superstar. Elaborate police arrangements have been made for the procession which will be taken from the actor's residence here to the Jayanagar Cosmopolitan Club grounds.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa went to the actor's residence early in the morning to pay his last respects and consoled the members his family, including his wife Bharathi.
Describing Vishnu as the greatest actor in the Kannada film industry, Yediyurappa said: 'His death is an irrepairable loss for the people of Karnataka and we should all try to follow in his footsteps to lead an ideal life.'
There was a spontaneous shutdown in several parts of the state, including cities like Mysore, Davanagere and Hubli. Shops were closed even in small towns like Haveri, Honnali and Turuvekere.
'Vishnuvardhan was deeply spiritual in the true traditions of Indian culture and it was a sea of humanity that witnessed his last journey. Notwithstanding his huge popularity, Vishnu remained an icon for of his fans,' said minister Suresh Kumar.
Jayamala, president of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, who had acted with Vishnu in many films, was in deep shock and described the actor's death as the most tragic incident of 2009.
'A legend of the industry has passed away. The Kannada film Industry which has already suffered enough, now has to bear this great loss,' she said.
Vishnu was often described as an ambassador of the Kannada film industry as he had many friends outside the state. Many artists from the Tamil and Telugu film industry including Sharath Kumar, Radhika and well-known singer S.P. Balasubramaniam came down to Bangalore to pay their last respects.
He was an actor par excellence with a bounty of prestigious awards, including seven state awards from the Karnataka state government and six Filmfare awards.
Vishnuvardhan showed his class as an actor in films like 'Nagarahaavu', 'Bandhana', 'Nagarahole', 'Muththina Haara', 'Suryavamsha', 'Veerappa Nayaka', 'Yajamana', 'Aaptha Mithra' and 'Sirivantha'.
He has acted in 199 films in five languages including four in Hindi - 'Ek Aur Itihas', where he was paired with Hema Malini and 'Inspector Dhanush' in which Sangeeta Bijlani played the lead. He teamed up with Akshay Kumar in 'Ashaant' and 'Zaalim'.
He also acted with Tamil superstar Rajnikanth in 'Vidudalai' and featured in other Tamil films including director K. Balachandar's movie. Then he was seen in two Telugu films 'Okkadu Chaalu' and 'Sangramam' and Malayalam movie 'Kouravar'.
Vishnuvardhan was also known for his personal involvement in many charitable causes. He was a brand ambassador for Mysore's Vikram Hospital and took responsibility of the treatment of rural children from humble backgrounds suffering from heart ailments.
He recently conducted a 'padayatra' to collect funds for the flood-affected people in the northern part of the state.
He had also adopted Melukote town in Mandya district.
Vishnuvardhan died of a heart attack early Wednesday. The actor died while he was being rushed to a hospital in Mysore. He leaves behind his wife Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, who is an actress, and two daughters, Keerthi and Chandana.
Vishnuvardhan, 60, was under medical observation at the Vikram Hospital in Mysore for many days. Doctors checked the actor thoroughly Tuesday evening and said he was in a good condition. But early Wednesday morning Vishnuvardhan complained of chest pain and died while being taken to hospital.