Kannada actor and politician Ambareesh passed away in Bengaluru at a private hospital due to cardiac arrest on Saturday, sources said. He was 66.
A former Union minister, Ambareesh was rushed to the hospital after he complained of breathing trouble and passed away on Saturday night, officials at the hospital said.
"Ambareesh was brought to hospital around 9 pm and he passed away because of cardiac arrest," said Vikram Hospital officials.
According to the hospital spokesman, Ambareesh was found unresponsive at his residence and the resuscitation efforts were initiated there and continued en route while he was shifted to the hospital.
"Despite all aggressive resuscitation efforts, he could not be revived and was declared deceased at 2215 hrs (10.15 pm)," the spokesman added.
Ambareesh, a three-time Lok Sabha member and also a former state minister, is survived by his wife actress Sumalatha and son Abishek.
Born as Malavalli Huchche Gowda Amarnath on May 29, 1952, Ambareesh popularly known as a 'rebel star' has acted in over 200 films in a more than four-decade long movie career with a fan following of his own at the peak of his popularity.
Ambareesh had not been keeping well in recent years and was hospitalised frequently. In 2014, he was shifted to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
Entering the movie world through film Nagarahavu (king cobra), directed by veteran late Puttanna Kannagal in 1972, Ambareesh had carved a niche for himself in the Kannada film industry, particularly as an 'angry' man, earning the title 'rebel star'.
Beginning his film career in antagonistic roles, he later emerged on his own to become a hero.
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 in the Janata Dal, the Janata Dal-Secular and the Congress in his political career that took a hit when he was asked to resign as minister for housing during the previous Siddaramaiah government.
Ambareesh had served as the Union minister of state for information and broadcasting from 2006-2007 under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but had quit the post over the issue of formation of the Cauvery water dispute tribunal.
He has won several state government film awards and was bestowed with the honorary doctorate by the Dharwad University.
As the news of his death spread, several political leaders including Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and a host of film personalities visited Vikram Hospital.
A large number of emotional fans and followers also descended at the hospital with some saying that they became 'orphans' without their 'Ambareesh Anna'.
Expressing shock over the demise, Kumaraswamy said Ambareesh’s death 'an era of love and affection in Kannada film industry has ended'.
"He was a rebel who was loved by all. He has carved a unique place in both politics and films," said Kumaraswamy, who himself is a film producer.
Ambareesh had spoken to a couple of Kannada news channels earlier on Saturday, expressing shock and grief over a bus mishap in Mandya, his home district, in which 30 people were killed.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the hospital, Kumaraswamy said, the state government has decided to observe a three-day state mourning as a mark of respect for Ambareesh whose funeral would be held with full state honour.
Calling Ambareesh 'Ajatashatru', the chief minister appealed to his fans to maintain calm and extend cooperation so that no hindrance is caused to public at large and the funeral related formalities happen peacefully.
"I can understand your pain, tomorrow morning around 7:30 or 8 his body will be kept at Kanteerava Stadium for paying last respects," he said.
Recalling Ambareesh’s bonding with Mandya and Mysuru region, Kumaraswamy said special buses will be arranged from there for his fans and friends to pay their last respects here in Bengaluru.
Ambareesh was often referred to as 'Mandya da Gandu' (Man of Mandya).
"We have to build a memorial for him here. Keeping this in view the family has decided to perform his last rites in Bengaluru," Kumaraswamy said while noting his contribution to state, films and politics.
Mourners filed past the mortal remains of Ambareesh with occasional outburst of emotions at Kanteerva Stadium here amid tight security with about 1,000 policemen deployed in and around the area.
The state government on Sunday announced a three-day mourning and a state funeral for the late leader.
The body of the late film actor was taken from the private hospital where he died to his home in the night and was shifted to Kanteerava Stadium for people to pay homage.
At the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, superstars Rajinikanth and Chiranjeevi, multi-lingual actress Lakshmi of Julie fame, Telugu star Mohan Babu and Kannada actor Shivrajkumar paid homage to the late actor-politician.
Chiranjeevi and Mohan Babu broke down on seeing the body of Ambareesh, who had shared an intimate friendship with the south Indian actors.
Expressing his sorrow, Rajinikanth recalled that he used to have meals at Ambareesh's home whenever he visited Bengaluru.
"The film industry may get an actor like Ambareesh but it is impossible to get a person like him again. I pray to god to give strength to bear the loss," Rajinikanth said.
The visitors expressed their sorrow to Sumalatha, who was inconsolable.
Wrapped in tri-colour, the body was then flown in an Indian Air Force helicopter to Mandya to facilitate the people of his home district to pay their last respect to 'Mandyada Gandu'.
Thousands of people gathered at the Visweswarayya Stadium in Mandya to have his final glimpse of Ambareesh who had endeared himself to the local masses as an actor and a politician with his down to earth nature.
As the body was flown to Mandya, section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits assembly of more than four persons at a spot, was imposed from Sunday evening to Monday morning to avoid unwanted congregation of people.
In Bengaluru, sale of liquor will be prohibited from Monday midnight. About 8,000 policemen will be deployed Monday in Bengaluru where the body would be taken from Kanteerava Stadium to Kanteerava Studio in a funeral procession.
Government sources said the last rites will be performed on Monday at the Kanteerava Studio in Bengaluru.