BENGALURU: Actor-turned-politician M H Ambareesh (66), fondly known as Mandyada Gandu and ‘Rebel Star’, died of cardiac arrest in the city on Saturday. The actor’s death came barely hours after he had expressed his grief at the death of 30 people in a bus accident earlier in the day in Mandya district. The state government has announced a 3-day mourning.
He is survived by wife, actress Sumalatha, and son Abhishek, also an actor. According to a statement from Vikram Hospital, Ambareesh was found unresponsive at his residence and shifted to the hospital. However, he could not be revived and was declared dead at 10.15pm, it said.
Thousands of fans, as well as politicians and officials, rushed to the hospital but many were denied entry. Only Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, actor Puneeth Rajkumar and a few others were let into the hospital.
Ambareesh had acted in over 200 films. He entered the tinsel world with ‘Nagarahavu’, alongside another Kannada film legend Vishnuvardhan. With this movie, directed by the legendary Puttanna Kannagal in 1972, Ambareesh carved a niche for himself in the Kannada film industry, particularly as an “angry man”, earning the title “Rebel Star”. He was last seen in Ambi Ning Vayassaytho (Ambi, you have aged), which released in September this year.
Ambareesh also had a successful career in politics, having been an MLA, a Lok Sabha member and a former minister at the state and central levels. He was a member of parliament from Mandya for three terms. He was minister for housing in the previous government and had resigned as MLA from the Siddaramaiah-led government after being dropped as a minister.
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth condoled the death of the veteran Kannada actor, calling him his “best friend”.
“A wonderful human being ... my best friend ... I have lost you today and will miss you ... Rest In Peace #Ambrish,” he said in the tweet.
A wonderful human being ... my best friend ... I have lost you today and will miss you ... Rest In Peace #Ambrish— Rajinikanth (@rajinikanth) November 24, 2018
Funeral on Monday
- 3-day mourning has been announced
- Body to be kept for public viewing at Kanteerava stadium from 8am on Sunday
- Funeral at Kanteerava studio on Monday
“Getting into films was just good fortune,” actor Ambareesh had said in his last interview with The New Indian Express. He was talking about his fate which brought him so much fame on the silver screen. “A friend of mine thought I looked like Shatrughan Sinha, I never wanted to get into films, but destiny brought me
here,” he had said.
The actor, revered by many in his hometown as well as across the state, earned a name for himself with his many acts of charity. Popular with his fans for his unique style of holding a cigarette, this mannerism got him his break with Puttanna Kanagal and there was no looking back since then.
A strong pillar of the Kannada film industry, Ambareesh was known as ‘Ajata Shatru’ (one with no enemies). With his death, the industry has lost the last warrior of Kannada filmdom.
Born Malavalli Huchche Gowda Amaranath on May 29, 1952, in Maddur taluk of Mandya district, Ambareesh grew up as a rebel. He was the grandson of legendary violinist T Chowdaiah (the violin-shaped Chowdaiah Memorial Hall near Sankey Tank in Malleswaram is built in his name).
Ambareesh made his debut in the Kannada cinema ‘Nagarahavu’ in the role of ‘Jaleela’. Discovered by S R Puttanna Kanagal, Amarnath changed his name to Ambareesh and later came to be known as Mandyada Gandu. Ambareesh acted in about 208 films in a four-and-a-half decade career. He was a winner as a politician too — during his tenure as Union cabinet minister, he gained a lot of respect for his views and opinions.
The actor’s latest bite to a television channel was for Vijay Raghavendra’s Kismat’. Though his recent film was ‘Ambi Ning Vayassaitho’, which he said was the last film he would be seen in, Munirathna’s film ‘Kurukshetra’ will be his last film where he plays Bhishma, which was slated for release earlier, but was delayed.
Ambareesh was also called ‘Dhanashoora Karna’ because of his various contributions to charity and his willingness to help anyone who approached him. After Dr Rajkumar and Dr Vishnuvardhan, Ambareesh was the other biggest star. He won the NTR award a few years back and was known as the ‘Shotgun Sinha’ of Kannada cinema. His bold statements earned him immense respect and the image of a person with a clean heart.
It was his role in the acclaimed movie ‘Antha’ that really catapulted Ambareesh to the top and he maintained his image as the ‘rebel star’ till his last breath. Ambareesh married Sumalatha on December 8, 1991. She has acted in over 175 films in south Indian languages as well as in Hindi. The couple have a son, Abhishek.
Confident as always, the actor had once quipped in an interview, “I am a super survivor. My films make money, producers are delighted and offers to keep pouring in.”
He won the elections to the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998, 13th Lok Sabha and 14th Lok Sabha and became Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting. He resigned in support of the people of his constituency in connection with the Cauvery water dispute. Ambareesh, hailing from the land of sugarcane, was popular even with those who he would scold in his trademark tone.