BENGALURU: If I was not brought up in Bengaluru, I don’t know how much I would have achieved in regional theatre. Not this much, probably,” says 81-year-old Bhargavi Narayan, who won the Karnataka Rajyotsava 2019 award for her contributions in the field of theatre.
"Though this is a delayed honour, I feel proud of receiving this award without even applying for it. It gives me immense pleasure that the government recognised my work. I received around 1,000 congratulatory messages and I don’t know 60 per cent of them. Through this award, I understood the kind of love and affection of people towards me," she said.
Sitting in her house named Green Room – a perfect name to be given for a family where majority of the members are involved in theatre – Narayan mentioned her late husband and actor Belavadi Nanjundaiah Narayana, famously known as Makeup Nani, and said, “For the last 65 years, I have been active in this field and there are two people behind my success – my mother and husband.”
Taking a stroll down the memory lane, she continued, “When I was nine years old, I happened to participate in a school play and that was only the beginning. Apart from school events, I started performing in plays as an amateur artiste. No one in the family was interested in arts, especially theatre, and they even questioned my mother for allowing me to be a part of these programmes. But she knew my passion and stood with me, even though she had to struggle a lot to look after our family after our father’s death.”
She further added that marrying Makeup Nani was another turning point in her life. “During my husband’s time, we had performed 20-25 plays in a month, which included repetitive shows. Likewise, I have performed more than 500 plays on stage till now,” Narayan said. Her favourite role is the mother she played in Amma Retire Aagthale.
The actor even got opportunities in movies. “I did some movies but never wanted to take it up as a main career because I was not that interested to do commercial films. Being a central government employee as manager, ESI Corporation, it was difficult to get off for long shooting schedules,” says Narayan, who had won the Karnataka State Film Award – Best Supporting Actress (1974–75) – for Professor Huchuraya.