Rebel star Ambareesh, the last warrior of Kannada cinema, no more
The actor-politician passed away at the age of 66 in Bengaluru
"Getting into films was just good fortune,” said actor Ambareesh in his last interview with us. Talking about his fate which brought him so much fame on the silver screen, he said, “A friend of mine thought I looked like Shatrugan Sinha. I never wanted to get into films but destiny brought me here.”
Born Malavalli Huchche Gowda Amaranath on May 29, 1952, in Maddur taluk of Mandya district, Ambareesh was the grandson of legendary violist T Chowdiah (the violin shaped Chowdaiah Memorial Hall near Sankey Tank in Malleswaram is built in his name).
Jaleela in Nagarahavu was the role with which he marked his entry into Kannada cinema. Discovered by SR Puttanna Kanagal, Amarnath changed his name to Ambareesh and later came to be known as Mandyadha Gandu. He acted in around 208 films in the four and a half decades of his career. It was his role in Antha, that really pushed Ambareesh to the top as numero uno of Kannada cinema and he maintained his image as the ‘rebel star’ till his last breath.
Popular with his fans for his unique style of holding a cigarette, this gesture got him his break with Puttanna Kanagal and there was no looking back after that. A staunch pillar of the Kannada film industry, Ambareesh was known as the ‘Ajata Shatru’. The actor occupied the third position in Kannada cinema after Dr Rajkumar and Dr Vishnuvardhana. He won the NTR award a few years back and was known as ‘shot gun Sinha’ of Kannada cinema.
Ambareesh married Sumalatha, a veteran actor in her own right with 175 films to her credit, on 8th December 1991. He has a son Abhishek with her.
The actor, revered by many in his home town as well as across the state, earned a name for himself with his many acts of charity. Ambareesh was called 'Dhanashoora Karna' because of his various contributions to charity and his willingness to help anyone who approached him. His bold and dashing statements earned him respect and the image of a person with a clean heart. Always confident, the actor once quipped, "I am a super survivor. My films make money, producers are delighted and offers keep pouring in."
He was respected as a politician too - during his tenure as union cabinet minister, he earned a lot of respect for his views and opinions. When he won the elections and became Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting. He resigned in support of the people of his constituency in relation to the Cauvery water dispute.
The actor's latest interview to a television channel was for Vijay Raghavendra's Kismat. While his most recent release was Ambi Ning Vayassaitho (which he said was the last film he would be seen in), Munirathna Kurukshetra, which is yet to be released and features him as Bhishma, will be his last appearance on the big screen. The film was slated for release earlier but was delayed.
With his death, the industry has lost the last warrior of Kannada filmdom.
In his last interview with CE:
“I am done with politics. It is not a one-day affair, but five solid years of effort. I have seen it all, but now, my age won’t permit. When they want me in a certain position, they expect me to deliver, but if my conscience doesn’t agree, I don’t go ahead. I have a good family with a caring wife (Sumalatha), and a good son. I just want to spend quality time in the good company of friends.”