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Comedian Vadiraj is dead

By Our Staff Reporter


BANGALORE, FEB. 6. The renowned comedian and reputed Kannada producer, who won three national awards and a Silver Lotus for Kannada cinema, P. Vadiraj (78), died at a private hospital here on Friday. He was suffering from a heart ailment for the past 10 days. He was unmarried.

Vadiraj, who hailed from Paniyar in Dakshina Kannada district, was moulded by his teacher-father who was also involved in stage activities, and mother, Bharathi, who was an art lover.

Vadiraj entered the tinsel world with the film, Kokilavani, in the early Fifties. He got a dream break in the mythological film, Sri Krishnagarudi, in 1958. His career both as a traditional and an unorthodox comedian was strengthened with his performance in Dharma Vijaya (1959) and Swarna Gowri (1962).

Inspired by the Hindi filmmaker, the late V. Shantharam, he wrote and produced the classic, Nanda Deepa, under the banner Sribharathi. The film was the maiden directorial venture of M.R. Vittal and won the National Award. In 1964, Vadiraj produced two more national award winning films, Navajivana and Naandi. Naandi, which was directed by the late N. Lakshminarayan, was the first Kannada film to be screened in an international film festival abroad.

In 1967, he renamed his production house Sribharathi as Vijaya Bharathi and produced Premakku Permitte, Namma Makkalu, Seetha, Naa Mecchida Huduga, Seethyalla Savitri, and Nammanna Sose.

His film for children, Dangeyedda Makkaklu, won the Silver Lotus. His last film was the Rajkumar-starrer, Ade Kananu.

Known for searching for new themes and new talent, he introduced a number of new faces, including Chandrasekhar, who later donned the role of Nanjunda in the late Puttanna Kanagal's Edakallu Guddadamele based on the late Bharati Suta's novel, which was said to have been inspired by D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Vadiraj's special concern for lyrics and music was evident in all his films and the late Vijaya Bhaskar scored music for most of his films. His younger sister, Harini, was also a popular actress of yesteryear.

Vadiraj produced films along with his brother, Jawaharlal. Vadiraj was the recipient of the Dr. Rajkumar Award.

He also headed the State Film Award Selection Committee two years ago. He acted in a few Tamil films.

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, several cultural organisations, and film personalities have mourned the death of Vadiraj.

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