Friday, November 18, 2011

Rebel Star

Which mainstream Kannada film hero has acted in the maximum number of films? Its not Rajkumar (206) Its not Vishnuvardhan (200)

The correct answer is Mandya HuchcheGowda Amarnath, who is known by the popular name of Ambareesh. He has acted in 208 films.

(In a police inspector avatar from the late eighties or early nineties)

(In his 'Antha' days)

('Mandya Gowdru' from one of the village based movies)

(From Diggajaru)

Ambareesh is the grandson of the legendary violinist T Chowdaiah (the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall is named after him) He made him debut in "Nagarahaavu" along with his off screen friend Vishnuvardhan, in a small role of town hooligan Jaleela, who gets beaten by Ramachari for pestering his lady love.

This is perhaps the most popular cameo ever in Kannada film history.

This is just a 30 second scene. But look at how Puttanna masterfully crafts it. The scene starts off with the long shot of the heroine walking, sudden ominous music to the abrupt appearance of a cycle wheel, which occupies the full screen. Tense music as the cycle wheel keeps pace with the heroine walking faster and faster. The camera follows the fast walking heroine and the ruffian teasing her by singing "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani" in a distinct accent, followed by "Aye bulbul maathadakkilwa". Cut to a close-up shot of Ambareesh throwing a cigarette into his mouth disdainfully, telling himself how it is impossible for her to escape from him. This scene makes you keep waiting eagerly how this little interaction would unfold later in the film. Brilliant!

Ambareesh went on to act in many Puttanna Kanagal films like Paduvarahalli Pandavaru, Ranganayaki, Shubhamangala, Masanada Hoovu - incidentally all of them happen to be supporting actor roles. His career defining movie was "Antha", which started the trend of political movies - also earning him the title "Rebel Star" [Ambareesh was perhaps the first Kannada hero to have an English title. Rajkumar was Varanata, Rasikara Raja, Natasarvabhouma. Vishnuvardhan was Abhinava Bhargava, Sahasa Simha. Shrinath was Pranaya Raja]

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