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Veteran actor-director P. Bhanumathi passes away

Staff Reporter

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa describes her as a "person of rare courage and forthrightness"



Bhanumathi Ramakrishna

CHENNAI: Veteran actor P. Bhanumathi died here on Saturday night, after a brief illness.

She was 80. She is survived by her son Bharani.

A three-time national award winner, she acted in over 100 Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi films, besides directing nearly a dozen films in Tamil and Telugu.

Born on September 7, 1925 at Doddavaram village near Ongole in Andhra Pradesh in a family of musicians and litterateurs, she received her training in classical music from her father Bommaraju Venkata Subbiah. She started her film career in "Varavikrayam" in Telugu in 1939. Her maiden Tamil film was "Rajamukthi" (1948) with M.K. Thygaraja Bagavathar.

She went on to perform along with top artistes of her era, prominent among whom were Sivaji Ganesan and M.G. Ramachandran. Her notable performances included "Appoorva Sagotharargal" (1949) "Rathnakumar" (1949), "Malaikallan" (1954), "Rangoon Radha" (1956), "Alibabavum Narpathu Thirudargalum" (1956) and "Madurai Veeran" (1956). Her last film in Tamil was "Chembaruthi," which was released about 10 years ago.

Versatile personality

A versatile personality, she was known for her skills in music and script writing. A humourist, her quick wit was a big draw.

In 1953, under the banner of Bharani Pictures, the film, "Chandi Rani," which was produced and directed by her, was released simultaneously in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. She also wrote the script for this film.

In August 1943, she married P.S. Ramakrishna Rao, editor, producer and director of Tamil and Telugu films.

Several honours and awards were given to her. She received the Padmasri title in 1969 and Padmabhushan in 2001.

She authored several books in Tamil and Telugu. Her autobiography, `Nalo Nenu,' (Telugu) won the national award for the best book in 1994.

Paying encomiums to the late actor, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa described her as a "most versatile and multi-faceted genius" who adorned the world of art and letters and shone brilliantly in the firmament of Indian films. "Her achievements as an actress, gifted musician, accomplished singer, film producer, prolific writer, film director, music director and studio owner made her stand out as a colossus in the film world."

Ms. Jayalalithaa said Bhanumathi was a "person of rare courage and forthrightness" who always stood up for the highest values and principles; believed in herself and lived a life on her own terms. She was also an eminent social worker. "Her passing away is a great loss to the world of art and cinema and the world of letters," she said.

S. Thirunavukkarasar, Member of Parliament, said Bhanumathi carved out a niche for herself in the film world.

Among those who visited the late actor's home to pay respects were D. Jayakumar, Minister, R.M. Veerappan, former Minister L. Ganesan, national secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sarath Kumar, general secretary of the South Indian Artistes Association, `Sathya Jothi' Thygarajan, president of the Tamil Film Producers Council, and T.M. Soundararajan, playback singer.

Her body was cremated on Sunday evening.

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