Vishnuvardhan neither hissed like a ‘nagara havu’ nor roared like a ‘simha’ off screen. He was a sensitive person. He had built a fort around himself. I’ve seen stars do it as a form of self defence, to ward off unwanted people. I met him for the first and last time in the twilight of his career. “It’s an animal instinct you develop. I have been hurt so many times that I don’t easily trust,” he confessed. He later told a common friend that it was the most sincere interview he had ever done.

I remember that day he looked weary. He seemed to be constantly appraising me and my intentions. It was as if he had suffered a deep emotional wound that never healed. His candour was disarming when I asked him about incidents that haunted him. “I’ve become sensitive and insecure. I used to do films for the sake of friendship. In retrospect I feel I’ve invested my emotions on unworthy people. I was exploited,” he confessed in an anguished tone. There was a spark in his eyes when I suggested his easy going attitude was reflected in his choice of films. “You are 100 percent right. If I fancied a car and a producer offered it to me I would sign his film. I’ve made many a blunder. I don’t know whether to call it innocence, ignorance or arrogance. But I’ve always been a harmless guy,” he sighed.

An actor by accident, his stunning performance as a fiery rebel in “Nagarahavu” catapulted him to instant stardom but there was a price to pay. Having grown up on a staple diet of Rajkumar films he instantly agreed to play his wayward brother in “Gandhadha Gudi” unaware that it would embroil him in an unwanted controversy. Rajkumar’s fans accused him of trying to shoot their hero. When I urged Vishnu to come clean he rested his chin on his fist and smiled wistfully. “It was because of certain people. I was present when it took place.

The shot was between Rajkumar and Balakrishna. I was watching. Balakrishna was given the loaded rifle in a hurry as they wanted to wrap up the shooting. Luckily, the safety lock was closed. It was after twelve takes that they realised the damn thing was not working. It was MP Shanker’s rifle but he was attending to something else.” So how was he involved? “I don’t know. This went on for a long time and I was victimised for no fault of mine. Of late, I’ve realised that if a person is going through a bad patch he has to suffer even if he’s the Kanchi Acharya.” I wondered if this changed his equation with Raj. “Not at all. He told me that any reaction would only add fuel to the fire. I know some of the people who were involved. They are no more. I underwent a lot of humiliation. What I’d like to know is how the perpetrators gained from this?”Source