In a series of events that might have been lifted straight out of an Indian movie, Indian actor Raj Kumar has been kidnapped by bandit king Veerappan.

The actor, who stars in movies made in the Kannada language, was picked up at gun-point from his farm-house in the forests near the city of Bangalore.

Raj Kumar has acted in more than 200 films, including Kannada superhits such as Golden Flower and Milk And Honey, in a career spanning nearly 50 years. He became the first artist from Karnataka state to get the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award - the top honour granted by the Indian government to someone in the cinema industry.

Ironically both Raj Kumar and his abductor, Veerappan, share the same birthplace - the village of Singanallur. But while the latter turned into a sandalwood smuggler, Raj Kumar started acting at the age of eight. The 72-year-old returned to film after a six-year break earlier this year in Shabdavedi. No explanation has been given for his abduction.

Schools and colleges in Bangalore were closed following his kidnap and angry fans set vehicles on fire and attacked residential flats throughout the day yesterday until late last night. The Karnataka police have now banned people from gathering in groups of more than four.