The Rebel Star will be missed

Ambareesh wasn't choosy about his roles, yet some remarkable characters came his way. A tribute to the Kannada star who died on Saturday

'Ambi Ning Vayassaytho' was his last film.

Ambareesh was spotted by Puttanna Kanagal, who gave him a small but significant role in ‘Naagarahaavu’. His performance made a big impact. He was neither trained, nor did he have a background in theatre, but he was still able to connect with the masses in a big way.

Ambareesh started his career in the Kannada film industry in 1972 with a villain role. The trend continued for six years till ‘Naagarahole’ came along. He played a driver in it. This gave him a chance to break away from villain roles. Later, he bagged the role of a hero in ‘Leader Vishwanath’ and he was accepted by the audiences in his new avatar. This was followed by ‘Antha’, directed by Rajendra Singh in which he played a police officer. This gave him a new image. The film brought to fore the nexus between politicians and the underworld and provided a big boost to his career. ‘Antha’ was noticed by filmmakers across the country for its strong subject. There was no other film that had exposed the nexus between politicians and the underworld like it did. It was after ‘Antha’ that he got the title of ‘Rebel Star.’

Ambareesh started getting films on the same lines and was again typecast. He worked on a few other films and played other characters, but as a mass hero he was accepted whenever he played a cop. In an effort to break away from the image, he attempted other characters. One of them was a speech and hearing impaired person in ‘Shubhamangala’, directed by Puttanna. He won critical acclaim for his role in another Puttanna film, ‘Ranganayaki’ where he delivered a brilliant performance. He later acted as a pimp in ‘Masanada Hoovu’, again directed by Puttanna. This film bombed at the box office, but it got Ambareesh his recognition.

The action hero also worked in a Malayalam film called ‘Gaanam’ which was about a musician. Here again, he stood out for his performance. He was again noticed when he acted as a journalist in another Malayalam film, ‘New Delhi’.

While his film career and politics did well, he also assumed the role of a mediator. This was because of his popular image in the industry. He connected with everybody, irrespective of their age. He would share the sorrows of other people, and he financially helped many. This large-heartedness won him more admirers. He was revered by all, especially by the younger generation. After Dr Rajkumar, he filled the role of an elderly statesman in the Kannada film industry.  Ambareesh didn’t take his career seriously. He acted in all kinds of films and never made a conscious effort to choose films on his own. He was the happy-go-lucky soul who never craved awards or honours. 

Directors who shaped his career

  • Puttana Kanagal
  • Rajendra Singh Babu
  • Joshi in Malayalam
  • Somashekar

Top 10 films of Ambareesh

  • Naagarahaavu
  • Ranganayaki
  • Leader Vishwanath
  • Shubhamangala
  • Masanada Hoovu
  • Chakravyuha
  • Naagarahole 
  • Antha
  • Diggajaru
  • Rani Maharani

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The Rebel Star will be missed

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