Bangalore, Dec 30 (IANS) Thousands of people bade a tearful farewell late Wednesday to Kannada film superstar Vishnuvardhan who died early in the morning following a heart attack.
The 60-year-old actor, who brilliantly essayed varied roles - an angry young man to venerable family head, was given a state funeral, attended by family members, political leaders, film personalities and tens of thousands of fans.
Vishnuvardhan, born in Mysore as Narayana Rao Sampath Kumar, died in his birthplace, about 140 km from here, ending an era in Kannada film industry.
He leaves behind actress wife Bharati and two daughters Keerthi and Chandana.
A state police contingent gave a three-gun salute and reversed arms as a bugle sounded the last post at Abhiman Studios, the cremation site in south Bangalore, where a memorial would be built.
Bharati, her two daughters, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, several cabinet ministers, Bangalore South Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar, and a number of actors were among the thousands present.
The last rites were performed by Vishnuvardhan's elder brother Ravi.
Yeddyurappa granted Rs.10 crore, besides two acres at the Abhiman Studios, and said the memorial would be built in consultation with the actor's family members.
Despite an appeal by Bharathi to her husband's fans to maintain peace, several of them tried to break the cordon for a last glimpse of their idol at the National College Grounds where the body was kept for public to pay respects.
Police cane charged and burst tear gas shells to control the surging crowds.
At several places across the city, buses were stoned. City transport authorities said window panes of around 40 buses were damaged.
All cinema halls in the state cancelled film shows for the day and shops, eating houses and other commercial establishments in Bangalore and other places were shut as a mark of respect to the departed actor.
The government declared holiday for schools and colleges in the state Wednesday.
Vishnuvardhan started his film career with a role in noted playwright and Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad directed 'Vamshavruksha' in 1972.
He became a darling of Kannada film lovers with a superb performance as a wayward young man Ramachari in the film 'Nagarahaavu' in 1973.
With a trade mark smirk and slightly bent gait, he established himself as an actor who could keep the producers' cash box jingling.
Affectionately called 'Sahasa Simha' by millions of his fans, Vishnuvardhan was the most popular actor in the Kannada film industry after thespian and Dada Saheb Phalke awardee Raj Kumar who passed away in April 2006.
Besides 'Nagarahaavu', other hit films of Vishnuvardhan were 'Aaptha Mithra', 'Bandhana', 'Suprabhatha', 'Laali', 'Muththina Haara' and 'Maathaad Maathaad Mallige'.
He acted in 199 films. Two of them - 'Aaptha Rakshaka' and 'School Master' - will be released shortly.
Vishnuvardhan won many prestigious awards including seven best state actor awards and five Filmfare awards.