Sampath Kumar known by his screen name Vishnuvardhan, was a prominent Indian film actor. He was instrumental in shaping the identity of Kannada cinema and was often referred to as The Phoenix of Indian Cinema. Vishnuvardhan made his acting debut in the National Award winning film Vamshavruksha (1972). He then starred in runaway hits like Gandhada Gudi (1973), Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu (1974), Onde Roopa Eraduguna (1975) and Sose Tanda Soubhagya (1977). He was praised for his outstanding performance in the films Veeradhi Veera (1985), Muthina Haara (1990), Mojugara Sogasugara (1996) and Laali (1997). Vishnuvardhan welcomed the 21st century with a string of box office hits like Soorappa (2000), Diggajaru (2001), Jamindaru (2002), Raja Narasimha (2003) and Apthamitra (2004). Moreover, as an acknowledgment of his service to Indian cinema, the Karnataka State government decided to name the annual lifetime achievement award after him. In his later years, he delivered box office successes like Ekdantha (2007), Nam Yajamanru (2009) and Bellary Naja (2009). In a career spanning 37 years, Vishnuvardhan has acted in over 220 films and proved to be extremely versatile by playing variety of roles with great ease. Vishnuvardhan is the first Kannada actor to get a temple constructed by his fans. He has won 7 Filmfare Awards including a Lifetime Achievement award and an Honorary Doctorate from the Bangalore University. Vishnuvardhan passed away on December 30, 2009 due to a cardiac arrest. He was last seen in the film Aptharakshaka (2010) which released after his demise.