Thousands bid emotional adieu to Kannada actor Ambareesh

Bengaluru: Thousands of people, including celebrities and political leaders, bid an emotional farewell to iconic Kannada actor M.H. Ambareesh at a state funeral here on Monday.

Ambareesh, 66, popularly known as a ‘rebel star’, died on Saturday night following a cardiac arrest at a hospital.

Ambareesh’s only son Abhishek lit the funeral pyre after the state reserve police gave a gun salute and a police band sounded the bugle at the state-run Kanteerava Studio in the city’s northwest suburb.

The last rites were performed as per Vokkaliga tradition and about 250 kg of firewood, including sandalwood, was used for the pyre.

The funeral site of the former Lok Sabha member from Congress and ex-Union Minister in the Studio is located adjacent to the memorial of Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar, who passed away in April 2006.

The funeral was delayed by two hours as the flower-bedecked cortege, carrying the body in a glass casket, took more than three hours to reach the Studio from the Kanteerava Stadium in the city centre.

Though vehicular traffic was cleared for the funeral procession on the 15 km route and hundreds of police personnel were deployed en route, the cortege moved slowly as lakhs thronged the route for a final glimpse of the popular actor, draped in tricolour with the famous Mysuru ‘peta’ (headgear) crowning his head.

Sandalwood stars Srinath, Jai Jagadish, Shiva Rajkumar, Puneeth Rajkumar, Upendra and Jaggesh, Telugu actor Mohan Babu and multi-lingual actress Jaya Prada were among the many from film world who attended the funeral.

Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, many cabinet ministers, including D.K. Shivakumar and H.D. Revanna, Congress state President Dinesh Gundu Rao, BJP state unit president B.Y. Yeddyurappa and other political leaders and lawmakers were present at the funeral.

Ambareesh entered filmdom through the role of ‘Jaleel’ in veteran director Puttanna Kanagal’s “Naagarahaavu” in 1972 and has acted in over 200 films since then.