CHENNAI: Popular actress SN Lakshmi, who played mother to all of Tamil cinema’s leading heroes, passed away in the city on Sunday night. The 84-year-old artiste, who essayed various roles in over 1,500 movies, died of a heart attack.
Remembered for playing mother to actors spanning generations – from MGR and Sivaji to Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, Lakshmi’s most remembered roles include that of the conniving thief in 'Michael Madana Kama Rajan', and that of server-turned-superstar Nagesh’s mother in 'Server Sundaram. Thozhilaali', 'Maatukkara Velan', 'Sangey Muzhangu', 'Vivasaayi', 'Thaaikku Thalaimagan', 'Ayya' and 'Vel' are some of the popular films that featured the senior supporting artiste.
Playing the role of an army commander in the movie 'Baghdad Thirudan' (1960), she created waves for shooting a fight sequence with a tiger without using a dupe. She was known to be Kamal Haasan’s obvious choice for supportive roles, and she played notable roles in many of his films, including 'Michael Madana Kama Rajan', 'Thevar Magan', 'Mahanadhi' and 'Kadhala Kadhala'. Her last on-screen venture was the film 'Mahaan Kanakku'.
She began her career at the age of 13 in theatre, when she joined NS Krishnan’s stage troupe as a child artiste. Following a successful stint in theatre encompassing 6,000 plays, she became an employee of Gemini Studios and was launched in their 1945 film Kannamma En Kadhali. She then went on to play important roles in over 1,500 Tamil and Telugu films. She is a recipient of the Kalaimamani award by the State government.
The actress had recently suffered a hip fracture, following which she was admitted to a private hospital and later discharged. On Sunday night, however, she complained of breathlessness and was rushed to hospital where she breathed her last. She had been living with her brother’s family in Saligramam. Her final rites are expected to take place in her hometown Sennalkudi in Virudhunagar district on Tuesday.
Describing the senior artiste, who was also her co-star, as a sweet person, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said Lakshmi’s contribution to films and theatre was significant.
“Her death is a great loss to the film world,” she said.