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Teary-eyed fans, actors, politicians pay homage to Ambareesh

Bengaluru: Scores of fans and followers led by top south Indian actors like Rajinikanth and Mohan Babu paid tributes to actor-turned-politician Ambareesh Sunday.

The veteran actor passed away at a private hospital in Bengaluru Saturday due to cardiac arrest, leaving a huge void in the Kannada film industry. He was 66.

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 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 here, 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 Ambareesh's wife and famous south film actress Sumalatha, who was inconsolable.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, former prime minister H D Devegowda and his wife Chennamma, and former chief minister Siddaramaiah were among those who paid homage.

Wrapped in tri-colour, the body was then flown in an IAF helicopter to Mandya to facilitate the people of his home district to pay their last respect to "Mandyada Gandu" (man of Mandya).

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 Monday at the Kanteerava Studio in Bengaluru.

Ambareesh, a three-time Lok Sabha member and also a former state minister, had not been keeping well in recent years. He is survived by his wife Sumalatha and a son.

Known as a "rebel star", Ambareesh had acted in over 200 films.

Entering the tinsel world through the movie "Nagarahavu" (king cobra) in 1972, Ambareesh had carved a niche for himself in the Kannada film industry, particularly as an "angry man".

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 had been in the erstwhile Janata Dal, JDS and the Congress in his political career that took a hit when he was asked to resign as a minister during the previous Siddaramaiah government.

Ambareesh had served as the Union minister of state for information and broadcasting from 2006-2008, but had quit the post over the issue of the formation of the Cauvery water dispute tribunal.

He had won several state government film awards and was bestowed with the honorary doctorate by the Dharwad University in Karnataka.

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