Kannada film superstar Vishnuvardhan was cremated with State honours at Abhiman Studio on the outskirts of the city on Wednesday evening. The Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and some of his Cabinet colleagues, and leading film personalities -- including Ambareesh, Arjun Sarja, Shivram, and Avinash -- were among those present at the funeral.

The funeral pyre was lit by the actor's cousin, Ravi. Vishnuvardhan's wife, Bharathi, and other family members were also present at the funeral.

According to police, at least six vehicles -- including an outdoor broadcasting van of a private TV channel -- were set ablaze by angry fans who were denied entry to the cremation site.

More than four lakh fans from across Karnataka flocked into the city on Wednesday to mourn the demise of Kannada film superstar, Vishnuvardhan, according to police estimates. As per latest reports, the funeral of the actor was being held with State honours at Abhiman Studio on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Tension prevailed in parts of the city for the better part of the day after violence erupted in several areas of Southern Bangalore as fans of Kannada star Vishnuvardhan, who passed away in Mysore in the early hours of Wednesday, went berserk. More than 50 vehicles were damaged and scores of people including several police personnel were injured in the violence that also left many private properties damaged.

Many people including policemen were injured after the police resorted to lathicharge and burst tear gas shells to control the mob around the National College Grounds, Basavanagudi, where the body of Vishnuvardhan was kept.

Angry fans unable to get a glimpse of their star, resorted to stone pelting in which several houses and business establishments in the vicinity bore the brunt. The violent mob also damaged a portion of the retaining wall of the National College flyover while some others pelted stones and damaged vehicles on DVG Road and Gandhi Bazaar.

Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) Managing Director Zameer Pasha said that 35 to 40 buses were damaged across the city in incidents of violence. In the South Bangalore areas of Jayanagar, Basavanagudi, Uttarahalli and Kengeri, bus services were skeletal.

Meanwhile, Vishnuvardhan's wife Bharati has appealed to the star's fans not to resort to violence.

Incidentally, Vishnuvardhan, born in Mysore, 1950, breathed his last in the place of his birth.Thousands of fans and dignitaries of the Kannada film industry and political leaders such as Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyruappa, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Suhasini, Leelavathi, Sumalatha, Ambareesh, Shivaraj Kumar, Raghavedra Rajkumar, Puneet Rajkumar and Doddanna are visiting the National College grounds, Bangalore, to pay their last respects to the actor.

Film city

Tourism Minsiter G. Janardhan Reddy assured the Legislative Council that a film city, on the lines of Ramoji Rao Film City, will be built in memory of the late stars Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan, with private participation.

Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, among the first to visit the actor's house, announced a state funeral in honour of the departed superstar of Kannada films.

Vishnuvardhan is survived by his wife and one time leading actor, Bharathi, and two adopted daughters, Keerthi and Chandana. He complained of chest pain on Tuesday night. However, he passed away at around 2.30 a.m. on his way to Vikram Hospital in Mysore, where he was treated for his leg problem earlier.

Popularly known as Sahasa Simha (valour lion) in the Kannada film industry, he has acted in films in other languages including, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.

Schools, colleges closed

The Government declared a holiday for all schools and colleges across the State as a mark of respect to the leading Kannada actor.

The Kannada film industry has received shocks one after the other at the end of 2009. On Tuesday, leading music composer and Sugama Sangeetha exponent, C. Ashwath, died and on Wednesday, Sahasa Simha Vishnuvardhan, a rallying point for the Kannada film industry, passed away.

Vishnuvardhan, has acted in more than 195 films. He was not only known as one of the greatest actors of Kannada film industry after thespian Rajkumar, but also as a simple and generous human being. Apta Ramshaka, to be released shortly, was his last film.

Though his first film was Vamshavriksha directed by Girish Karnad, he became famous from Nagarahavu directed by Puttanna Kanagal. In fact, Nagarahavu created history and announced the entry of a brilliant actor in the Kannada scene.

The actor's body was shifted immediately from Mysore to Bangalore.

Cinema houses will remain closed for the day in the State in respect of departed actor.

The Chief Minister also described Vishnuvardhan as a towering personality of the State's film industry. "Vishnuvardhan, is an abhinava bhargava (born actor), Karnataka has become poor in his death," he said, urging the actor’s fans to maintain calm and peace.

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