Parking my vehicle in front of great Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan’s samadhi was not easy . And I did not expect also because it was his 62nd birthday . The whole area was filled with people , actor’s life size bill boards, vehicles , police vehicles and makeshift shops. The noise around was a mixture of chants of actor’s name and loudspeaker screams. It was not easy for the policemen to make the crowd stand in long line all the way up to the monument built where the actor was cremated . Then there was another line for the free food that distributed by fan associations .
For those living in Bangalore especially south of India in general , worshiping actors is not a new affair . When great Kannada actor Dr. Rajkumar was kidnapped by notorious criminal Veerappan people rioted and held the whole Bangalore city in hostage for three days ! And when the same actor died people would again riot and city would witness burning buses, tires, smashed cars , hurt people. When Vishnuvardhan died it was something similar but not as outrageous as the previous actor’s case.
Vishnuvardhan was second most popular actor from the old generation when Kannada film industry born and built. He was a superb actor the industry seen and had the charisma and style to win people’s heart .He enjoyed a huge success and always acted as lead role in all movies. He gathered huge fans and followers in his 37 years of career as actor but his later years were mostly unsuccessful . When he died a monument was built in his memory and his birthday and death anniversary both celebrated as “Vishnuvardhan fair” where thousands thong and pay their tribute to their beloved actor.
As I entered inside I was taken away by the crowd’s hysteric energy . I saw women, kids ,girls, boys, old people pushing each other in the bone crushing long line and holding actor’s photos and chanting his name. I saw disabled people dragging their body on the ground to visit the actor’s monument. Few women seen crying in front of the actor’s photo who, undoubtedly , idolized the actor during their young ages. Many men who seemed to be drunk or in trans were seen shouting their favorite actors dialogs . Some are even seen acting some popular movie scenes . And then the new generation youngsters clicking every moment through their cellphones right from bill boards to everything they came across . It was clearly visible angered policemen filled with disgust on their face were having tough time controlling the fans . Some policemen did not hesitate to use their sticks ( lathis ) on the raged crowd. The free food considered as Prasadam given by their actor god fans finished every bit if it .
Suddenly from somewhere near the gates people started shouting which broke the rhythm of the crowd noise . For the first time I thought it is some celebrity who came to visit. Few people started running towards the crowd screaming “that is Vishnuvardhan !!” and now I had to join them too to check what exactly happening.
A look-a-like of the actor dressed exactly as the actor used to , was surrounded by fans . Fans were forcing him to say some dialogs from their favorite movie of the actor and that guy performed exactly like him! Many even kissed him, touched his feet and lifted him on their shoulders and started carrying him. It was chaos everywhere as if he is Vishnuvardhan himself arrived at the venue. As the group continued towards the monument people around him went too. Line got disturbed and instead of people going to the monument they started surrounding this guy. A little later as everybody realized what was going on people started moving . I got a chance to reach to this look-a-like and asked what his name . He said Vishnuvardhan and told me that he is following the actor from his childhood. He has seen all of movies and he said that he continue watching those movies over and over again. He believes the actor is around here and looking everything. I saw couple of youngsters in grief coming to him and talk to him as if they are talking to the actual actor himself!
As the sun set policemen started emptying out the venue and I walked out . I kept thinking to myself why people are so crazy about actors and actresses ? But two days after I think I found some answer which is enough to forget the matter for now.
Dr. Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan from Kannada movie industry , Dr N T Ramarao from Telgu movie Industry are the few iconic figures who left their golden foot prints in the industry. Rajnikanth from Tamil Industry still acts as hero and has a great number of fans who idolized him. If we look at these actors and their early life there are certain facts which are very common . All struggled in their early days, all are from middle class families , all have/had a clean noncontroversial personal life and all played the role of hero in most of their movies. So no wonder 50 million middle class people of India like their heroes too much! Indian cinema is all about selling dreams to one billion plus people of India and make money. And these actors played an important role in selling dreams . In turn people get inspired and rise. People idolize them, worship them as gods. The upper middle class and upper class people might consider this type of fanfare as very crazy-ish and some even think this as unsocial act . But when we become one among them one can easily understand the actual reason behind their behavior that It is not the actor who are making them mad but it is the actor’s character making them behave crazy .