Indian movie star VISHNUVARDHAN has died after suffering a heart attack at the age of 59.
The actor, born Sampath Kumar, passed away on Wednesday (30Dec09) in Karnataka, southern India and government officials closed schools, movie theatres and local businesses for two days of state mourning in his honour.
News of Vishnuvardhan's death led to outbursts of violence throughout the city of Bangalore, where his body lay in state before cremation. The Times of India reports crowds clashed with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets in a bid to break up the ugly scenes.
Vishnuvardhan made his big screen debut in 1972 and went on to star in 199 films throughout his career, including notable performances in Muthina Haara, Hombisilu and Sahasa Simha. His 200th film, Aptha Rakshaka, is due for release in 2010.
The star was handed the Karnataka state award for best actor seven times, and in 2004 he was honoured with the Filmfare lifetime achievement award.
Vishnuvardhan is survived by his actress wife Bharathi, and daughters Keerthi and Chandana.