BANGALORE: She is known as the ‘she-man’ of Kannada theatre. She entered theatre at the tender age of 12; at 85, she shows no sign of slowing down. For Natabhayankari R Nagarathnamma, receiving the the prestigious Padmashree award must have marked a red letter day in her career.
Sharing her experiences with Express, Nagarathnamma said: “I did not expect to be selected (for the award). My friends and family members are more happier than me. This award will create awareness about my contributions to the arts among the present generation.”
Nagarathnamma has donned the roles of the mythical characters Bheema, Kamsa, Ravana and Dasharatha on stage, and could even instil fear with her fiery portrayals.
She had formed her drama troupe, an all-women affair, the Stree Nataka Mandali.
“There was strict opposition to my portrayal of male roles,” she recounts.
As a retired homemaker, she reads the Bhagavad Gita. She requested the state government to rejuvenate theatre by staging dramas in schools and colleges. “Children can be shown epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharatha in lieu of educating them through TV serials,” she says.
Quiz her on her eternal desire and she replies: “I wish that I pass away peacefully while enacting a play. However, my limbs are not cooperating well.”