He was popularly called the rebel star, it aptly described the life of Malavalli Huchche Gowda Amarnath. Known by his screen name, Ambareesh, he donned many roles in life too, some more successful than others, but whatever he did, he was dictated purely by his emotions.
On November 24 night, Ambareesh breathed his last, in a private hospital in Bengaluru, and soon after the news broke, the hospital was thronged by his fans and followers. The political class and the biggest names from the Kannada film industry too made a beeline to pay their respects to the legend.
The following day, as his mortal remains were displayed at the Kanteerava studio, cine stars from across the country came down to pay respects to their beloved friend, from Rajnikanth to Chiranjeevi, all of whom shared a close bond with the ‘rebel star’.
On November 25, his mortal remains were taken to his home town of Mandya where thousands of his admirers caught a last glimpse of their hallowed star. Sporadic emotional outbursts of his fans saw demands of his last rites to be performed in Mandya made. On Monday morning, an Indian Air Force aircraft brought back his mortal remains to Bengaluru.
A funeral procession was held from HAL Airport to the Kanteerava studio, lasting over...hours, as his fans from across the state had lined the roads, echoing chants, asking him to return to them. Amidst close friends and family, MH Ambareesh was given state honours and laid to rest.
Ambareesh started his acting career at the age of 20 in the iconic movie ‘Nagara Havu’, in a negative role but his mannerisms and style struck a chord with the audience, and after that, he went on to act in over 200 movies, mostly in Kannada but also in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and many of them blockbusters.
Ambareesh holds the rare distinction in Karnataka of making a successful crossover to politics. In 1998, he won the Lok sabha elections from Mandya on a Janta dal ticket and subsequently, went on to become a member of parliament thrice and even served as union minister for Information and Broadcast, a position he resigned from to protest against the Centre’s alleged neglect of Karnataka in the handling Cauvery river dispute.
Ambareesh’s larger than life persona was not merely derived from his stardom as an actor nor from his position as a politician. His devil-may-care attitude, his generosity and fierce loyalty earned him more than just love of the people of Karnataka, he became an elder brother, ‘Ámbi Anna’, to many. His residence in south Bengaluru, on most days, would be thronged with people, not just there to see the movie actor, but to also seek help and seldon would one be turned back.
And it was this trait that brought in people in thousands, from all over the country, to bid adieu to the legendary son of soil.