By: Subhadeep B
Dr vishnuvardhan, whose real name is Sampath Kumar, is a legend in the Kannada film industry and often referred to as the Phoenix of Kannada Cinema. He was born on September 18, 1950 in the city of Mysore to the Late H.L. Narayan Rao and Late Kamakshamma. His father was an artist, dancer and wrote script for movies and was also known for having a large collection of musical instruments. His sister Smt. Ramaramachandran was a renowned kathak dancer, thus he was an artist by blood.
In his childhood he studied in Mysore's Gopalswamy School, while his middle school was in Bangalore's Kannada Madari School. He did his high school and degree from National College, Basavanagudi. He began his career with a very small role in the national award winning film Vamshavraksha directed by Girish Karnad in 1972. Next he worked with director Puttanna Kanagal in Nagarahavu who named him as vishnuvardhan and there was no looking back since than.
Having acted in all the other film industries in the region and also in the Bollywood the actor has created a legend in himself. Be it romance, action, emotion, music, comedy or a family drama, vishnuvardhan has done it all. He has always been truly involved with the characters that he has played on screen. He has over the years mesmerized the audience with over 175 movies in a career spanning over three decades, he has been undoubtedly one of the mega stars of the Kannada film industry.
The biggest success of his career came with Suprabatha released in 1988 which bagged 8 different awards which include Cinema Express, Indira Pratishtana, Indian Express, R.N.R Award, Rajyotsava Award, Madras Films Association Award and Kerala Cultural And Art Award. it also became the first Kannada movie ever to do so. Some of the other hits in his glorious career have been Naagarahaavu, Bandhana, Naagara Hole, Muthina Haara, Nishkarsha and Butayyana Maga Aiyyah.
He has also tried with occasional singing in his career as there was huge demand from his fans. Some of the songs sung by him are Hegiddharu Neene Chenna, Shashiya Kandu Moda Helithu, Thuthu Anna Thinnoke among others. Off late he has turned to devotional songs and released the album "Jyothiroopa Ayappa" sung on Lord Ayappa which was a instant hit. Other albums include "Thayi Bhanashankari" on goddess Banashankari and “Vishwapremi Ayappa" again on Lord Ayappa.
Despite all the name and fame, he continues to be a simple man living with his wife Bharati and their two adopted daughters, Keerthi and Chandana. He still works with the same sincerity and dedication and may be in this lies the secret of his success.
In 2005 vishnuvardhan was awarded honorary doctorate by Bangalore University.
Has won 7 South Indian Filmfare awards for best performance.
State Award for best actor for Nagarahavu - 1972
State Award for best actor for Hombisilu - 1978
State Award for best actor for Bhandana – 1984
State Award for best actor for Suprabatha – 1988
State Award for best actor for Lion Jagapathi Rao – 1991
State Award for best actor for Laali – 1998
State Award for best actor for VerappaNayaka - 1999
Has won Filmfare lifetime achievement award in 2003