samedi 8 août 2009


Padmini (June 12, 1932 - September 24, 2006) was an Indian actress and trained Bharathanatyam dancer who acted in over 250 Indian movies. "Padmini" in Sanskrit means "She who sits on the lotus" and refers to the goddess Lakshmi. It is common for people to be named after deities in India, and this actress is today more well known than Padmini as a form of the Goddess.

Apart from Hindi she also acted in films in other Indian regional languages viz. Tamil and Malayalam. She was fluent in all of the four mentioned languages, and was able to use her own voice to dub the films between these languages. She became the most popular actress and dancer of the Tamil film industry and most of her movies are shot in Tamil.

Born and raised in Thiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum) in what was then the princely state of Travancore (now the Indian state of Kerala), Padmini was the second daughter of Thankappan Pillai and Saraswathi Amma. Her sisters, Lalitha and Ragini, were also renowned film actresses. Together, the threesome were known as the Travancore sisters. Actress Sukumari is a first cousin of the Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini (their mothers are sisters).

Padmini and her sisters learnt bharathanatyam from Great Vazhuvoor Ramaiah pillai. Padmini and her sisters were disciples of the noted Indian dancer Guru Gopinath . They learnt Kerala natanam style of dancing from him. The noted film director, P. Subrahmaniam, noticed her talents while she was presenting 'Parijatha Pushpapaharanam 'in Trivandrum.

At the age of 17, Padmini was cast as the heroine in Kalpana (1950), launching her film career. She acted in films for nearly 30 years.

Padmini was renowned for her linguistic ability, and dubbed her own voice onto versions of her movies destined for the Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam markets. This cross-cultural linguistic ability made her a very significant figure in the history of 20th-century moviemaking in India.

Padmini co-starred with several of the most well-known actors in Indian film, including Sivaji Ganesan, M.G. Ramachandran, Raj Kapoor, Prem Nazir, Rajkumar and Gemini Ganesan.She acted with Sivaji Ganesan in almost 60 films.

She acted in almost 400 Tamil films. Ezhai padum paadu was her first film in Tamil. Her association with Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan starts ith the film Panam in 1952. Some of her noted Tamil films include Anbu, Thankapadumai, Thillana Mohanambal, Viyatnam veedu, Ethir Parathadhu, Mankayar thilakam , Poove Poo chooda vaa.

Some of her popular Malayalam films include Prasanna, Snehaseema, Vivaahitha, Adhyaapika, Kumaarasambhavam, Nokkethadoorath Kannumnatt, Vasthuhara, Dolar, and many others.

In two of her popular Bollywood films - Mera Naam Joker and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai - she was paired against the legendary Bollywood star, Raj Kapoor. Her other Bollywood films included Payal (1957), Babubhai Mistry's Mahabharat (1965), etc.

Her most famous film was Thillana Mohanambal, a Tamil film where she plays a dancer competing against a musician to see whose skills are better. She dances and he plays the Nadhaswaram.

Padmini was also awarded the title "Naattiya Pehroli" (Danseuse), honouring her contribution to Bharathanatyam in cinema.

After her marriage to Dr Ramachandran, a US-based physician, in 1961 Padmini retired, though temporarily, from films and focused on married life and refining her classical dance. She settled in the United States and in 1977 opened her classical dance school in New Jersey, The 'Padmini School of Fine Arts'. Her school is today one of the largest Indian Classical Dance institutions in America.

Padmini died from a heart attack in the Chennai Apollo Hospital on September 24, 2006. [wikipedia]

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