National Award Winning Actor Sanchari Vijay passed away in a brutal motor cycle accident in Bangalore, Karnataka. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Panchanahalli in Chikmagalur district.
He reminds me of Emily Dickenson’s poem “This quiet dust was gentleman and ladies”. Yes, he was a gentleman, not just because of his cinema. “National Award is not a permanent tagline sir. Its an award presented to a character in a particular year. Every cinema needs new characters, new experiences. I’m afraid that this would compartmentalize me”, Sanchari Vijay used to say. He needed to stay with us for long. As much as he was needed as an actor to the world of cinema, he was required as an individual with social commitment and who cared for society.
The social works he had initiated after the lockdown during the pandemic last year continued uninterruptedly this year as well. Many from the film industry might have ‘done their best’ to serve society during these difficult times. But, Vijay did not stay back at home hide behind the sophisticated slogan ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’. He got out of his way to aid the needy.
He used to feel disturbed if he could not arrange beds for Covid patients. Five or Six months ago, he had returned from the launch of a movie and we were seated, discussing something. I asked him to throw a party for buying a new car for which he said, “Let’s park the tale of my car aside. A few days ago, a small girl has been infected with one of the rarest diseases that affect one amongst five lakh people and the cost to treat is very high. Her parents are finding it hard to even earn a living due to lockdown. I can’t imagine how will they be able to manage this. I have spoken to some people. We must help this family at any cost.” And he did manage to aid the family. However, after a few days, when he heard that the girl was no more, he called up to express his grief. In times like these, I used to wonder why was he like this?
Vijay’s family has donated his organs to give life to many. This decision truly suits his character.
Vijay had shared one incident- Once he had gone to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital to get CT Scan done there. He returned seeing many elderly people in the queue. He said it would have been wrong to use our influence to get ahead in the queue.
I got to know about him when he was awarded the National Award. After almost a year, when our Hongirana team called him up to be a part of the short film that based on a story I had written that was to be directed by Sasvehalli Satish, he uninterestedly asked us to send across the synopsis. On the same day evening, he called back and informed that he would take up the role, and asked us to meet. We, who joined hands for a 30-minute Short film later turned close friends.
A Voracious Reader
When once traveling from Bengaluru to Shimoga, he completed reading Aadhyatma Diary in the car journey. Whenever he completed reading a book, he used to call and discuss it. Even the day before he met with an accident, he had sent across a picture of Gandhi Class by Kum. Vi. and had shared that he was reading it. He probably would have spoken about the book on call this week. He used to try to create humourous new words by splitting the Kannada Words during our conversations. Recently, when he had to voice Girish Karnad’s Aadaduta Aayushya as an audiobook, he had told that he would rehearse many times, for he was aware that it was a book of his someone of Karnad’s stature.
Father of internationally renowned artist and sculptor Satish Gujral (brother of former Prime Minister, IK Gujral) used to get him more and more books when he could not attend school after he was met with an accident. Satish, who read these books used to tell “Books presented to me a whole new world. My own problems seemed insignificant amidst the problems of the world”. Similarly, I believe it was Sanchari Vijay’s reading that made him sensitive to the pains people around him had to endure and it also aided him to take certain stances on the issue of inequality.
Once, there was a minor mistake in the English post he had written on FB. I hesitatingly asked if it was a typing mistake. “No.No. I didn’t know about it” he replied. After that incident, whenever he posted anything in English he used to share that with me and ask me to review it once. In fact, they’re hardly used to be an error. But he wanted to get it confirmed that there were no errors. In how many people can we find this commitment?
He was invited to join Kannada Big Boss. He asked me- “Please draft a polite and a decent message stating that I will not participate in it”. I replied “Hey, Why Sir? Social Life is Golden Life. Please Participate” to tease him a bit for which he replied, ” Why Mister, Don’t you want to see me good?”. He laughed when I said, “If you decide to participate in it, I will start a campaign against it.”
Whenever any news of him or footage of our short movie Avyakta was broadcasted, I used to click pictures and send it to him. After he was admitted to the hospital and his pictures were hitting the screen uninterruptedly I was grief-stricken. He wouldn’t see if I sent pictures!
When I told him that “You ought to be choosy while selecting scripts’ he told ‘Ayyo, Do work whenever they come by”. He had around Fifteen movies in his hand. The character in Taledanda has provided an opportunity for a special performance. I’m very proud of our friendship. I’m angry that he pushed us into sorrow. Normally when an actor bags a prestigious award it usually pushes them away from people. But even after he had received the National Award, he did not get arrogant and followed the same simple living as before. He was the common man that the Kannada film industry and society must remember!
Sanchari Vijay is synonymous with natural, simple, noble, and a patient person who was a talented actor only on screen. As much as I’m proud that Sanchari Vijay, who always worried about people being treated at the hospitals, has left back his organs at the hospital itself thereby proving yet again that he is truly altruistic, I feel like scolding him for not wearing a helmet that night. Similarly, I also want to show him how much people loved him. But what can be done?
He has met his maker!
The article was originally published in Nyayapatha. Translated from Kannada to English by Shashank SR