K.S. Ashwath, octogenarian senior Kannada artist, passed away in the wee hours of Monday. With his demise another glorious chapter in the 75-year-old Kannada film industry came to end.
Ashwath, who has acted in more than 275 films in a career spanning six decades was ailing for a long time. Ashwath was admitted to BM Hospital in the city on last Monday where he was being treated. However, due to multiple-organ failure he breathed his last at 2.15 a.m. today.
According to his son, Shankar Ashwath, who is also a cine actor, Mr. Ashwath was admitted to hospital when he collapsed in bathroom at his residence in Saraswathipuram on January 1. However he was discharged after getting treated on January 4. Mr. Ashwath visited Kashi and the actor was taken around the Kashi Vishwanth Temple and the ghats of the Ganges in a wheel chair. After returning, his condition started deteriorating on January 11 and was admitted to the hospital immediately.
Dr. Gorur Janardhan who was treating him told The Hindu, that his condition started deteriorating on Sunday night and he finally succumbed to cardiac arrest. Though the actor donated his eyes, it could not be taken because of infection developed later, he added.
The actor would be cremated at Harishchandra Ghat Monday evening. According to an official communique, State honours will be extended to the departed actor and Minister for Industries, Murugesh Nirani will participate in the funeral.
People from the film industry thronged Mysore to pay tribute to one of the most senior actors of Kannada. The District administration has declared a public holiday for schools and colleges in the district. The actor is survived by his wife Sharadamma and four children.
Ashwath had stopped acting in movies due to age and health reasons. He started acting as early as 1950. He has played versatile roles in his long career as an artist. In view of his contribution to the film industry, Tumkur University had honoured him by conferring an honorary doctorate.
Karaganahalli Subbaraya Ashwathanarayana (Ashwath) who is originally from Holenarsipur taluk was born in Mysore in 1925. His formal education came to an end at the intermediate level when he joined the freedom struggle in 1942. Two years later, he got a job as a Food Inspector. He later became a steno in the Deputy Commissioners office. He spent ten years in government service.
His acting career began, when he started participating in radio plays produced by the Mysore All India Radio. His friendship with theatre people took him on stage too, where he played lead roles in the plays of A.N. Murthy Rao, Parvathavani and other dramatists. Film director K. Subrahmanyam, who saw him in one of these plays, selected him for a role in Streerathna. In spite of his family's opposition, Ashwath gave up his government job.
In 1960, he played the role of a Swamiji in Kittur Chennamma, with B. Saroja Devi in the lead role. The same year he played Narada in the hit Bhakta Prahlada. His role in Gali Gopura shaped him as true artiste. Ashwath got a role in the English film Seven Wonders of the World and became the first Kannada actor to do so.
Nagarahavu, Nandadeepa, Gejjepuje Sharapanjara Jenugudu, Nyayave Devaru and Belli Moda were some of his best films. Ashwath, who has acted in over 270 films stopped acting few years ago. However, it is closest friend Dr. Rajkumar, who made him change his decision by making him to act in Shabdavedi. Regardless of the age factor, he acted in Bhoopathi and Sirivantha recently.