Kannada matinee idol turned politician M H Ambareesh died at a private hospital in Bengaluru on Saturday night following a heart attack. He was 66.
“Ambareesh died at around 10.15 p m after a massive cardiac arrest a couple of hours after he was brought to our hospital in the evening due to breathing problem,” the doctor told news agency IANS from Vikram Hospital in the city centre. In a statement on early Sunday, the hospital said that Ambareesh was found unresponsive at his residence (in the city’s southern suburb) and resuscitation efforts were initiated at his home and continued en-route to the hospital. “Despite all aggressive resuscitation efforts, Amabreesh could not be revived and is declared deceased at 22.15 on 24.11.2018,” added the statement.
Ambareesh is survived by his actress wife Sumalatha and son Abhishek.
Born on 29 May 1951 in Malavalli village in Mandya district, and popularly known as ‘Mandyada Gandu’, Ambareesh is the grandson of legendary violin maestro T Chowdaiah. A college dropout, he was the protege of veteran director Puttanna Kanagal who cast him in a villain role in the blockbuster, Nagarahavu.
Ambareesh has acted in over 200 films, notable among them include Nagarahavu, Toni, Antha, New Delhi, Odahuttidavaru, Mandyadha Gandu, Mouna Geethe, Yelu Suttina Kote, Ranganayaki.
In 1994, at the peak of his acting career and persuaded by Deve Gowda, Ambareesh plunged into politics. He scored his first election victory in 1998 Lok Sabha elections on a Janata Dal ticket from Mandya constituency. He later switched allegiance to Congress and retained the seat in 1999. Demonstrating his continued sway over the voters of Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, he won with an very impressive margin in 2004 Parliament elections.
Ambareesh was inducted as Union minister of state for information and broadcasting in the first United Progressive Alliance government under Dr Manmohan Singh.
Aspiring for a larger role in state politics, Ambareesh contested the Srirangapatna constituency in the 2008 assembly elections held in May but suffered a ignominious defeat at the hands of Ramesh Babu of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) after which he even announced that he has decide to take “sanyas” from poll scene.
The Congress party, however, persuaded him to contest the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Mandya, but Ambareesh suffered another setback in as he narrowly lost to JD(S) candidate Cheluvaraya Swamy . He distanced himself from the Congress following the defeat and rumours were rife that he may join the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was desperately looking for a charismatic face in the Old Mysore region. However, he decided to stay put in the Congress and shifted to state politics. He contested the 2013 state assembly elections and won from Mandya city assembly seat. He was inducted in the Siddharamaiah-led Congress government as housing minister.
After serving as a state minister from May 2013 to June 2016, then chief minister Siddaramaiah sacked him on the ground of absenteeism and poor performance along with 13 other ministers in a major reshuffle of his ministry.
Feeling humiliated after being unceremoniously sacked from the state cabinet, Ambareesh refused to contest the 2018 state assembly elections though the Congress did everything to convince him. He cited age and health conditions as reasons. He announced that he would not campaign for any of the Congress candidates. The JD(S) swept Mandya, winning all seven seats in the district as Ambareesh refused to campaign or contest .
As the shocking news of Ambareesh’s death was flashed on local news channels and went viral on social media, hundreds of his frenzied fans thronged the hospital, mourning the sudden loss of their legendary hero. Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, cabinet ministers K J George and D K Shivakumar were among the several political leaders who visited the hospital soon after doctors declared Ambareesh dead. “With a heavy heart, visited the hospital and met the grieving family members of my dear friend rebel star #Ambareesh,” tweeted Kumaraswamy.
In consultation with the family, the Chief Minister has directed officials to make arrangements for the public and fans to pay their last respects to Ambareesh at Kanteerva Stadium opposite Cubbon Park in the city centre from 8 am onwards. “#Ambareesh was a rebel who was loved by all. He carved a unique place in both politics and films. He leaves back a legacy that will be cherished by his family, friends, fans and followers. May his soul rest in peace and his family get strength to bear this loss,” said the Chief Minister in another tweet.
Kumaraswamy also assured to arrange special buses for fans to travel from Ambareesh’s home district (Mandya) to Bengaluru to pay their homage. “I request Ambareesh fans and the public to maintain peace, prevent any untoward incident over his death and pay homage to the departed soul peacefully,” added Kumaraswamy through a tweet. In a statement past midnight, the Chief Minister’s office said that the last rites would be performed on Monday (tomorrow) near Rajkumar Smaraka at Kanteerava Studio in the city’s northwest suburb with state honours, as decided in consultation with his family members.
(With inputs from IANS)