Indian actress Krishna Kumari dies at 85

The yesteryear star had been undergoing treatment for cancer for the past few years

Popular South Indian yesteryear actress Krishna Kumari died in Bengaluru, Karnataka, on January 24 after a battle with cancer. She had been undergoing chemotherapy for  the past few years. She was 85, and is survived by a daughter, Dipika. She was married to Ajay Mohan Khaitan (ex-editor of Indian Express and founder of Screen magazine).

The thespian, who had worked in more than 200 Telugu, Tamil and Kannada movies, was a leading actress for three decades, from the 50s. She acted opposite legends such as N.T. Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Jaggayya, Kanta Rao and Krishnam Raju in Telugu films.

The beautiful and talented actor also featured in some Bollywood films such as Baiju Bawra, Dil Ek Mandir, Hariyali Aur Rasta, Nagin, Jaal and Janam Janam Ke Phere.

Krishna Kumari, whose family hails from Rajahmundry, in Andhra Pradesh, was born on March 6, 1933, in Naihati, West Bengal, to Venkoji Rao and Sachi Devi.

It was quite unusual for women who belonged to the Hindu Brahmin caste to act on stage or on the silver screen at the time. But Krishna’s sister, Janaki, turned rebel and acted in the Telugu movie Sowcar, the title of which would become her surname. And in doing so, she paved the way for her younger sister.

Krishna Kumari began her career with Patala Bhairavi in1951 when she was 18. The same year she played the role of a heroine for the first time in Navvite Navaratnalu and went on to act in movies such as Bharya Bhartalu (1961), Kulagothralu (1962), Chaduvukunna Ammayilu  (1963) and Gudi Gantalu (1964).

As an artiste, she brought an enduring charm and vivacity to the screen, packing an emotional punch in dramatic scenes that were greatly appreciated by the audience. Her ability to balance a flair for comedy with the demands of portraying tragedy demonstrated her versatility. She stood her ground with stalwarts such as Savitri and Bhanumati, who were powerful female artistes in her time.

Krishna Kumari, the recipient of President’s Award, also undertook several mythological roles. In Kannada, she acted mainly with Dr Rajkumar and with Sivaji Ganesan in Tamil cinema.

Krishna Kumari stepped out of the spotlight after she got married and settled down on a farm in then Bangalore (now Bengaluru). She was at the peak of her career at the time.

--- With agency inputs



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