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Teachers, school remember famous alumnus

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A teacher remembers: A file photo of actor Vishnuvardhan, with wife Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, speaking to his school teacher N. Padmavathamma in Mysore.
A teacher remembers: A file photo of actor Vishnuvardhan, with wife Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, speaking to his school teacher N. Padmavathamma in Mysore.

Shankar Bennur

Condolence meeting for old teachers on Thursday; school remains closed as a mark of respect

Vishnuvardhan was admitted in Gopalaswamy Shishu Vihara on June 3, 1959 by his father

Padmavathamma bids tearful adieu to her ‘obedient, disciplined and favourite’ student

MYSORE: “He was like my son,” said 87-year-old N. Padmavathamma, who taught Vishnuvardhan at the Gopalaswamy Shishu Vihara in Lakshmipuram here. “His sudden death has deeply pained me. I really do not know how to react to his death.”

Ms. Padmavathamma described the actor as an obedient, disciplined and brilliant student. “I am feeling as though I have lost my own son. He was very affectionate and dear to me,” she said.

“Even today, I remember how promptly Vishnu turned in his class work and homework. He was soft-spoken and my favourite student,” said the octogenarian who lives in T.K. Layout.

A few years ago, when Mr. Vishnuvardhan was in the city for a film shoot, he visited his alma mater and interacted with teachers.

Last year, Mr. Vishnuvardhan felicitated Padmavathamma, an incident the teacher recalls with tears. “He recognised me among the audience at Kalamandira at a function organised by his fans’ association. When he came down from the dais, he sat next to me and enquired about me, a gesture that really touched my heart. He felicitated me there itself since I could not climb up the dais because of joint pain and sought my blessings,” she said.

Even after stardom, the actor is known for not having forgotten his roots. “I have heard that he helped people known to him here. He was very modest and down to earth, despite being a popular star,” she said.

“His death was premature; Vishnu should have lived for many more years and brought more laurels to the State in his field,” she said.

Even at her age, Ms. Padmavathamma does not miss Vishnu’s films on television. “I am fond of his films and watch them whenever they are telecast on TV,” she said. She also made a futile attempt to get in touch with the actor when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bangalore University. “I tried to wish him, but could not manage to get his contact number,” she said.

In mourning

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on the actor’s alma mater, Gopalaswamy Shishu Vihara here. A big garlanded portrait of the star has been put up at the school’s entrance. The school management has expressed their heartfelt condolences to his family.

School President M.N. Gopalaswamy told The Hindu that a condolence meeting has been convened on Thursday for the actor’s teachers and senior management. “We have decided to name the proposed auditorium after the actor as a mark of respect,” he said.

School days

School headmistress Lakshmamma said the actor had been admitted to the school on June 3, 1959, by his father H.L. Narayana Rao. “I have heard that Mr. Vishnuvardhan played the role of Alexander the Great, when he was in primary school and won a rolling shield.”

When the school faced a drinking water problem, the actor made arrangements through his fans for a borewell on the school premises, staff members of the school said.

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