KOCHI: At a time when comedy scenes are peppered as an integral part of popular television channels, Kalpana often emerged in that realm as the sole representative of the entire league of actresses.
Thus, she visited our drawing rooms frequently and made us laugh and unwind as any of the actors did. However, her mettle was much beyond that of the comedy queen, which she proved in the role of Razia Beevi who brings back to life an old Brahmin lady who had decided to end her life as she believed she was neglected by everyone. The movie ‘Thanichalla Njan,’ which was conceived based on a real incident, won her National Award for the second best actress. Kalpana continued the role of Razia when she provided financial support on a regular basis to the real life characters Razia and Chellamma Antharjanam.
Kalpana was labelled as a comedy artist for her scintillating performances on par with Jagathy Sreekumar, Innocent and Harisree Asokan. Some of her comedy scenes had dialogues that became ‘super hit’ later, like the one in ‘Mr Brahmachari,’ beginning with ‘Deivame Ee Paavathungakk,’ which was inspired by a real life situation. In ‘Inspector Balram,’ an action packed film, Kalpana played the role of an SI who was married to a constable, which itself provided material for the light moments.
However, she switched to serious roles after Jagathy Sreekumar met with an accident, and Innocent moved to politics. In ‘Pakal Nakshatrangal,’ she is a sex worker named Raji; in ‘Kerala Cafe’ a daughter-in-law who forces her husband to abandon his mother’; in ‘Spirit’ (Pankajam), an abused wife of an alcoholic; in ‘Dolphin Bar’ (Vava), wife of a liquor baron; and in ‘Charlie,’ Queen Mary who is living with an incurable disease. They are some of the brilliant roles she played in the second coming.
The actress who entered the filmdom as a child artist was noticed in Tamil also, for the roles like ‘Sathi Leelavathi’.
‘Charlie,’ Kalpana’s last film that reached theatres, turned into a swan-song for the great artist. In the film, ‘Queen Mary’ disappears from the world after sharing a joyous moment with the hero at a rare location. The actress gives us more or less the same degree of shock that the character gave. The smiles Kalpana gifted us were born out of the whimper she tried to hush up.