RIP KPAC Lalitha: Versatile performer who made acting look simple

Marrying filmmaker Bharathan, who straddled between commercial and parallel movies with elan, in 1978 proved to be a turning point in her career as well.

Published: 23rd February 2022 06:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2022 08:03 AM   |  A+A-

Malayalam actress KPAC Lalitha

Malayalam actress KPAC Lalitha (Photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Legendary Malayalam actor KPAC Lalitha, known for her versatility, is no more. She was 74. Lalitha breathed her last at her actor-director son Sidharth Bharathan's apartment in Tripunithura late on Tuesday night. She had been suffering from prolonged illness and undergoing treatment.

Be it short or lengthy roles, Lalitha's presence on screen was seamless. She immortalised countless characters in a career spanning more than half a century. Lalitha debuted with KS Sethumadhavan's Koottukudumbam (1970). 

Hailing from Kayamkulam, she was at ease with roles of all shades and hues. Marrying filmmaker Bharathan, who straddled between commercial and parallel movies with elan, in 1978 proved to be a turning point in her career as well.

It was only a fitting tribute that she won the national award for the best supporting actor through Bharathan's Amaram (1990) for her loud but lovable mother Bhargavi. The movie was narrated in the backdrop of a fishing hamlet. 

A director's artist

Lalitha's second national award for the best-supporting actress came through Jayaraj's Shantham (2000). Lalitha's greatest strength lay in her ability to shift effortlessly from character roles to supporting roles and to perfectly reincarnate as the filmy avatar as visualised by her filmmakers.

That maybe one of the reasons why she was a regular feature in Sathyan Anthikkad's movies, be it the helpless mother 'Karthiyani' in Sanmansullavarkku Samathanam (1986) or 'Mary Pennu' in Veendumchila Veettukaryangal (1999).

In Sanmanasullavarkku Samadhanam, Thalayanamanthram, Gandhinagar Second Street, Sandesham, Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu, Veedumchila Veettukaryangal and Manasinakkare Sathyan gave her strong roles. Lalitha, who enacted many mother roles, also holds a rare feat by pairing with megastar Mammootty in Kanal Kattu directed by Anthikad.

She handled the role of 'Omana' who married Mammotty's 'Nathu Narayanan' in the film scripted by the late Lohitadas. By lending her voice to the 'unseen' Narayani in Mathilukal (1989) helmed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Lalitha made a mark as the lover of 'Beypore Sultan' Vaikom Muhammed Basheer. Born on February 25, 1947, to K Ananthan Nair and Bhargavi Amma at Ramapuram near Kayamkulam, Maheshwari Amma (her real name) completed her schooling at Changanassery Variathu school.

A young Maheshwari showed glimpses of her acting prowess through the drama competitions at the inter-school level. Lalitha made her acting debut through the drama Bali of Changanassery Geeta Arts Club. She immediately caught the attention of the then doyen of drama field SL Puram Sadanandan.

After working with him, she reached KPAC, the famous drama troupe which carried the zeal of Communism. That was the major breakthrough in her career. It was Thoppil Bhasi who rechristened her name as Lalitha. Lalitha's body will be kept at Tripunithura from 8am to 11am on Wednesday for the public to pay homage. The body will be cremated at Vadakkanchery in Thrissur in the evening.


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