Veteran Kannada actor Shankar Rao, best known for his comic roles in television and films, passed away on Monday morning in Bengaluru at his Arakare residence due to age-related ailments. He was 84. Hailing from Tumakuru, Rao started as a stage artist in Bengaluru and later founded his own theatre group called Kalakshetra, which he bankrolled by his monthly salary from his day job. He gained popularity among the theatre-going audiences after he did a play titled Yara Sakshi, which was based on the short story called ‘The Witness for the Prosecution’ written by British author Agatha Christie. The play became a massive success and led to multiple new opportunities for Rao in TV and cinema. 

Shankar Rao played the character Boss Balaraju in the hit comedy serial, Papa Pandu, which made him a household name among Kannada-speaking audiences. Apart from his work on television, Rao has appeared in films like Appu, Dhruva, Milana, Siddlingu, Uppi Dada MBBS and Vamsi to name a notable few. He mastered the nuances of acting under filmmaker M R Vittal and made a name for himself with his comic timing and mannerisms. Over the course of his career, Rao has starred alongside big names in the Kannada film industry like Vishnuvardhan, Srinath, Lokesh, Dwarakish, Shivarajkumar, Upendra, Puneeth Rajkumar and Ramesh Aravind. 

The news of Shankar Rao's demise has come as a huge shock to many in the Sandalwood film and television industry who have taken to social media to express their condolences. Actress Shalini Satyanarayan shared the news of his death with ETimes and said, "Shankar Rao sir was indeed a cute person on-screen and off-screen as well. He will be truly missed. He never showed any sort of discrimination between senior and junior artists. He never had the superiority of being an ace actor."