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Meet Ambarish

Actor and Politician

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The Beginning

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Personal Life

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After dropping out from college Ambrish was back in full swing with his old friends in Mysore. One of his best friends was a certain Sangram -Singh , son of a famous filmmaker in Kannada film industry. Sangram's brother Rajendra Singh Babu{now a leading director-producer in the Kannada film industry} was also a close acquaintance of Ambrish.


In the golden era of the 70s movies, "Puttanna Kanagal" was the name, which spelt magic in the Kannada film industry. A maker of several big hits, he was respected by critics as well as the masses. He was known as a man who could even make a stone emote! He was a real master of the medium and artistes and producers alike feared his wrath when he was not satisfied with a particular shot! In 1971, Puttanna was hunting for new faces to cast in his new movie "Nagara Havu".

Ambrish's good friend , Sangram suggested his name for a test much against his wishes. When the day of the screen test dawned, our man went into hiding and poor Sangram was left desperately hunting for him!!!

When he finally managed to locate him, he had to literally drag him to the studios [the famous Premier studios in Mysore]. The enigmatic director took one look at him and asked him go put on his make-up and get ready for his test. Ambi was so sure that he would flunk in this test also , he was not at all intimidated by the great if somewhat tyrannical director!! He was tested for a small but powerful part of an eve-teasing college boy [a very true to life casting!!!] and no one was more surprised than he was when he was okayed for the part! The film [also introduced Vishnuvardan another future super star as the hero ,] went on to create history in the Karnataka movie industry. Ambrish , though playing a small role named "Jaleel", cornered a lot of attention and the kannada industry got a new young villain.

The audience identified him as the Shatrugan Sinha of the south because of their physical similarity and he did settle as the cigarette flicking, smart , mid-seventies prototype anti-hero.

Then came a break and a change !!!

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Throughout all these eventful changes the one unchanged, constant thing about Ambi was his playful , care-a-damn attitude towards everything in life including his zooming career. Here was a true -blue Gemini{born May 29th, 1952}, not a person you could easily pin down ! He was a compulsive gambler, loved racing, cards, fast cars and often used to say that films were only a passing hobby and not a profession for him !

Then the trend of villains turning into heroes started. Audiences started rooting more for the anti-hero than the goody-goody heroes. It was the day of actors like Vinod Khanna, Shatru, Rajinikanth . And Ambrish too became a hero with a film titled "Inspector Amarnath" . But he first tasted success as a hero in a film directed by his old , close friend Rajendra Singh Babu .The year was 1980 and the film was "Antha" , a record-breaking hit.

A new kannada film super-star was born and he followed up this success with other hits like "Chakravyuha" and other films. He acted in a lot of good, bad and mediocre films in this phase but his most memorable , well remembered films were still the ones he did with his mentor, Puttanna, who repeated him in several other films -;"Ranganayaki", "Shubamangala", "Masanada Hoovu etc. {The last mentioned film fetched him the state's Best Actor award.} His personal favorite portrayals are "Ranganayaki" and "New Delhi", [an offbeat film by Malayalam director Joshi]


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Around the mid eighties, Kannada film -goers demi-god was still the ageless, evergreen hero Dr. Raj Kumar. If you went by numbers he still was no.1 till 10 ! But slowly even Ambrish and Vishnuvardan also had gained a place in the audiences hearts. Vishnu was the romantic , dashing hero whereas Ambi was the angry, action hero. But as mentioned earlier his interests were always diverse and acting alone did not encompass his whole life. He still maintained his zest for life and his free , seemingly unencumbered life style was the envy of many of his friends and colleagues like the present Tamil superstar Rajnikanth who openly admires him and states that Ambi is the only man under the sun he envies and calls "Guru"(meaning teacher or boss!!!)

Whatever his lifestyle , Ambrish's career was still on the upswing. Audiences loved the rough-talking , soft-hearted heroes he portrayed, which in a way actually defined the person he was. His inability to say no to people in need , his large hearted generosity and his hospitality made him the darling of fans and friends alike. Slowly it dawned on people that this hero-worship transcended his success in films . Fans loved him regardless of his films , whether they were hits or not did not matter, because The Man as a caring human was a hit ! This made a lot of his friends in the political circle sit up and watch him with new eyes and maybe the early foundation of his political interests were started then.

His popularity and charisma were further confirmed when at the request of the then Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao , he went on an extensive campaigning tour with Mr.S.M.Krishna[Dy.CM at that time]. The number of crowds he pulled was hitherto unheard of, for any political meeting. Though the party [Congress-I]lost the assembly elections that year Ambrish's undeniable mass popularity was unchallenged and didnít go unnoticed by the political bigwigs.

At the same time being new to this field he wasnít prepared for the intense jealousies, hypocrisies and back-stabbing, which are the usual trade -marks of politics all over the world. His first betrayal came in the form of a person very dear and close to him for the past 18 years.

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A year after his entry into the cong-I party, the parliamentary elections were coming up and as usual there was hectic lobbying for the 27 odd seats to be contested in Karnataka. The major Gowda community dominates Mandya, the agriculturally rich district. Mr.Made Gowda {the sitting MP and a very successful politician locally} was a very close associate of Ambrish and was practically a father figure to him.

When some people suggested Ambiís name for the Mandya lok-sabha seat, he refused to entertain the idea and offered to campaign for his friend Mr.Made Gowda. But Made Gowda called him and encouraged him to go ahead as he felt he was getting old and not very fit to contest. He assured and reassured a still hesitant Ambrish and offered to campaign for him instead.

Since all his well wishers also thought that the time was ripe for him, he agreed and filed the application. After a week or so the first list was announced and Ambrishís name was announced as the candidate for Mandya! There was jubilance all around as friends and fans rejoiced and started getting prepared for the elections. But unknown to him there were other forces at work! The very person who had persuaded him to contest went behind his back and started pleading with the high command to give him back the same as he had always held it. Because of his seniority he somehow managed to convince them , but Ambrish and everybody was kept in darkness about this new change. The final list was released 2 days before the deadline for the nomination filing and it was Made Gowdaís name this time!

People were shocked at the old manís duplicity, that too towards a man who had helped him many times in the past. The Chief Minister Mr.Deve Gowda himself expressed the same feelings and invited Ambrish to join the Janata Dal party . The angry hero immediately agreed and campaigned aggressively for the JD party , this time very succssfully as the party had a an unexpected windfall of seats. Ambrish, himself was personally vindicated when the cunning veteran in Mandya lost to the comparatively unknown JD candidate ! People of Mandya were in total sympathy with Ambrish and openly expressed it the only way they could! Two years later the country went to the polls again and this time there was no doubt about the JD candidacy from Mandya. And his opponent-none other than the old friend turned foe! There was vigorous campaigning from both sides but the Mandya public had already decided their choice! It was their favourite son from Mandya, their very own "Mandyada Gandu" as Ambi was popularly known!! They gave a thumping [2 lakh votes was the difference] win over his nearest rival Made Gowda and it was sweet revenge and victory achieved all at once!!!


Second time winner

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