Describing MH Ambareesh as “a strong voice for Karnataka’s welfare”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday expressed grief at the passing of the Kannada actor.

Ambareesh, an iconic film personality who also served as a cabinet minister in the previous Congress government, passed away late on Saturday in Bengaluru. He was 66.

“Shri Ambareesh will always be remembered for his memorable performances as an actor and extensive contribution to politics. He was a strong voice for Karnataka’s welfare, at the state and central level. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family & admirers,” Modi said.

 

The Karnataka government on Sunday declared three-day mourning starting Monday for the actor-turned-politician who died following a cardiac arrest at 10.15 pm.

“As a mark of respect to the departed leader, government has declared an official mourning of three days,” a statement from Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s office said.

This is the second time in November the state government declared mourning after doing so to late Union Minister Ananth Kumar on November 12 when he died in the city.

The Chief Minister was among the top leadership in Karnataka politics who condoled Ambareesh’s death. Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit president BS Yeddyurappa and ministers from the JD-S-Congress cabinet also paid their respects.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said his party has lost a valuable member. “He was a famous son of Karnataka, whose work as an actor and in politics, won him a huge following both in the state and across India,” he wrote on Twitter.

 

Among the film personalities who paid their last respects were Rajinikanth, Mammootty, Mohanlal and Amitabh Bachchan.

 

Ambareesh was known as Kannada cinema’s ‘Rebel Star’. He entered filmdom through the role of Jaleel in veteran director Puttanna Kanagal’s “Naagarahaavu” in 1972. He also acted in “Shubhamangala”, “Antha”, “Chakravyuha”, “Masanada Hoovu”, “Olavina Udugere”, “Hrudaya Haadithu”, “Odahuttidavaru”, “Diggajaru” and “Elu Suttina Kote”, where he played a critically acclaimed role.

He served as a cabinet minister in former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s government from May 2013 to June 2016. He was sacked by Siddaramaiah along with 13 other ministers in a major reshuffle of his ministry.

He was also the Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting in the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from 2006-2007 and a Parliament member from Mandya Lok Sabha constituency.

The sandalwood superstar is survived by his widow and multi-lingual actress Sumalatha and son Abhishek.