Sandalwood celebrates birthdays of three star actors — Late Dr Vishnuvardhan, Upendra, and Shruthi

Here's a lowdown on some interesting snippets about the late Dr Vishnuvardhan, Real Star Upendra, and Shruthi.

BySouth First Desk

Published Sep 18, 2023 | 4:29 PM Updated Sep 18, 2023 | 4:29 PM

Dr Vishnuvardhan, Upendra and Shruthi celebrate their birthday on 18 September

It’s a double dhamaka for the die-hard fans of legendary Kannada actor late Dr Vishnuvardhan, Real Star Upendra and senior actress Shruthi as they celebrate their favourite actor’s birthdays along with the Gowri-Ganesha festival on Monday, 18 September.

On this occasion, here are some of the interesting facts about the star actors in Sandalwood.

Late Dr Vishnuvardhan

Sampath Kumar made his acting debut with BV Karanth and Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnard’s Vamsha Vriksha (Family Tree) released in 1971. The film was based on the novel by S L Bhyarappa with the same name.

However, not many are aware that the movie was remade in Telugu as Vamsha Vruksham in 1980. Directed by Bapu, the Telugu flick marked the debut of Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor in a major role. Kapoor appeared in a minor role in Hamare Tumhare in 1979 though.

Sampath Kumar later changed his screen name to Vishnuvardhan for Puttanna Kanagal’s directorial Naagarahaavu (1972). The movie attained him instant stardom, thanks to his character Ramachari, an angry young man. The role was a milestone by itself along with the film.

Fans conferred the title “Sahasa Simha” (A Lion in Action) after one of Vishnuvardhan’s popular films Sahasa Simha (1982). This was the phase during which he turned from star actor to superstar in Sandalwood.

He was also fondly referred to as “Abhinaya Bhargava”, “Dada”, and “Vishnu Dada”.

Visnuvardhan was credited with 220-plus films. He also acted in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu movies.

He was married to one of the finest actresses in the Kannada film industry Dr Bharathi Vishnuvardhan.

He was one of the top Kannada actors after Dr Anant Nag to have acted in Bollywood.

The phoenix of Indian cinema had his own share of controversies during his decades-long career and is regarded as one of the most popular Kannada film actors.

Top five films: Naagarahaavu (1972), Gandhadhagudi (1973), Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu (1973), Bandhana (1984), and Muthina Haara (1990).

Also Read: Sandalwood and the special bond between teacher and student

Real Star Upendra

Upendra Rao, who is fondly referred to as “Real Star” by his fans, hails from a humble family.

He worked hard as a writer and assistant with his mentor Kashinath before making his debut as a director with Tharle Nan Maga (1992). It also marks the debut of Jaggesh as a hero.

In 1993, Upendra made the horror film Shhh! which is considered one of the best horror flicks in the Kannada film industry.

But it was Om in 1995 that changed his career forever. Starring Dr Shiva Rajkumar, the movie — made under Dr Rajkumar’s banner — is a milestone not just in Kannada but in Indian cinema, too.

Om ran for record days at the box office with a record number of re-releases to this date.

A few years later in 1998, Upendra revealed his other avatar as a lead actor in his directorial A.

He is one of the few directors who attained equal stardom as an actor too. His most awaited upcoming directorial UI is inching closer to release.

While Upendra dwelled in politics and eventually started his own political party — Uttama Parajakeeya Party, he recently got embroiled in a controversy for his alleged remarks.

Top five: Om (1995), A (1998), Upendra (1999), Rakhta Kanneeru (2003), Super (2010)

Also Read: Non-Kannada titles for Kannada films; 25 out of 80-plus released this year fall in the bracket


Actress Shruthi, who turned 48 on Monday, made her acting debut with the Malayalam film Swantham Ennu Karuthi in 1989 with her birth name Girija.

However, in her first ever Kannada film Nambidre Nambi Bitre Bidi, she played a supporting role and was credited with the name Priyadarshini.

It was Dwarkish’s Shruthi (1990) which earned her recognition as Shruthi for her acting skills.

Later, she went on to act in several popular movies; but her association with director S Mahender in emotional drama earned her accolades.

Married to S Mahendra, Shruthi later divorced him and is presently active in politics along with films.

Shruthi is the elder sister of popular Kannada actor Sharan. Her daughter Gowri is all set to make her debut soon.

Top five: Shruthi (1990), Gauri Ganesha (1991), Thayi Illada Thavaru (2003), Karpoorada Gombe (1996), and Thavarina Thottilu (1996)

Also Read: Sandalwood is in the mood for local talent than imported actresses