Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Travancore Sisters Padmini, Lalitha Ragini !

Lalitha, Padmini ,and Ragini; the threesome were known as the Travancore sisters.
Born and raised in Thiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum) in what was then the princely state of Travancore (now the Indian state of Kerala), they were the daughters of Thankappan Pillai and Saraswathi Amma.

They 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 their talents while presenting 'Parijatha Pushpapaharanam 'in Trivandrum

Lalitha was the eldest and Ragini the yougest. Padmini gained the maximum success and has acted in more than 250 films
In 1957, Lalitha got married and quit films to settle down in Trivandrum

marriedto 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. Lalitha and Ragini expired before padmini due to various healh problems

That is how at the age of 14, Padmini became an actress. Her first Tamil film, 'Manamagal', was a big hit and Padmini became hit in Tamil. While her sisters concentrated only on Malayalam films, Padmini was more active in Tamil. But she remembered one Malayalam film Adhyapika (Teacher) in which she played the teacher. The movie was completed in just 13 days in Trivandrum and got a National Award for that film."

She adds, "We sisters had a lovely time in those days because we were in the same profession. We used to act in films, and dance on stage. We formed a troupe called Dancers of India."

The members of the dance troupe included not only the three sisters but their cousins, Sukumari and Ambika, both well known actresses in Malayalam. (In fact, Sukumari acts in films[സുകുമാരി (6 October 1940 – 26 March 2013]

Dance was their passion, not films. What they performed in films -- the snake charmers, Krishna Leela, the story of Radha-Krishna, etc -- were picked up from stage. And, they would travel all around the world with their troupe. In one of their famous dance dramas, Ramayana , Padmini played Sita and her younger sister Ragini, Rama. The eldest Lalitha was Ravana and Sukumari and Ambika danced as Hanuman and Bharatan respectively. "Being the tallest, Ragini always performed the male characters. And, as I was the shortest, I was the female lead all the time."

"I used to play characters who were crying most of the time. Ragini was good at comedy roles and Lalitha in vampish roles."

She then compared the 1940s, when the sisters shone in films, and the 1990s. "There is not much of a difference between then and now. Of course, technically, films have improved a lot. Those days, we used to concentrate only on one film at a time. We used to read the full script and discuss it with the director who was the most important person. And, most of the directors in those days were studio owners and they themselves were the producers."

Though her voice was husky, she used to dub herself in all her films. "I used to act in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films. And there was no dubbing for me in any of the languages. For that, you have to put in a lot of effort. I believe that no dubbing artiste can do full justice to what you do on screen. I don't know why today's actresses let their voce be dubbed. Lack of time? Lazy to learn the lines? We used to work three shifts but when we were doing the make-up, the dialogue writer would read the lines to us. That was how we used to learn the lines."

She also told me about how make-up changed when films changed to colour from black and white. "My first colour film was 'Valli' in Tamil. Make-up was completely different in colour. In black and white, we would apply dark make-up with shades but in colour, it was pinkish and plain."

It was in 1952 that Padmini entered the Hindi film industry with a dance in 'Kalpana.' But her full length role was in 'Mr Sampath' (the film was based on a book written by R K Narayan) opposite Moti Lal. Mr Sampath was first made in Tamil with Pushpavalli (Rekha's mother) doing the role Padmini did in Hindi.

After Nargis left RK Studios, Padmini was the first actress to join it. The sisters knew Nargis and Raj Kapoor from 1953 onwards. It was at a cricket match between the film stars of Bombay and Madras that they met Nargis. While Padmini scored the highest for Madras, Nargis did so for Bombay. From that day onwards, both became good friends.

When Nargis and Raj Kapoor came to shoot 'Chori Chori' in Madras, Padmini's mother gave them a house to stay in, close to where the sisters lived. So they used to meet everyday. Nargis used to visit Padmini's shooting and she would go and see Nargis on the sets. But more than Padmini, her younger sister Ragini was closer to Nargis.

In 1957, Lalitha got married and quit films to settle down in Trivandrum. In 1961, Padmini got married to Dr Ramachandran. In 1970, they migrated to the United States.

When I met Padmini in 1996, both Lalitha and Ragini were no more. "I miss them a lot," Padmini had said. "Once when Lalitha came to the United States, I made her dance on stage after 23 long years. We performed together in Chicago. When Ragini came, we performed on stage together. Those were unforgettable moments."

In 1992, when their niece, actress Shobhana, visited Padmini, they performed the dance-drama 'Valli Thirumanam'. Shobhana was Valli and Padmini, Lord Muruga.

 the last film of the late G Aravindan, Vaasthuhara (Mohanlal and Shobhana played the lead) in which Padmini had essayed a small role. was curious to know how she ended up acting in an Aravindan film. "My son had gone to meet Aravindan. Aravindan asked him whether I would act in his Vaasthuhara. I accepted the role only because I wanted to work with him as I had heard a lot about him. He would barely talk on the sets. If he wanted to tell us something, he would come near us and tell us in a very low voice. He never interfered in our acting. We were given full freedom. Some directors make such a lot of fuss. But Aravindan was very different and I enjoyed the experience."
Among all the actors she had acted with, Sivaji Ganesan and Raj Kapoor were her favourites. She said work was very systematic and disciplined in the South while everything started late in Mumbai. "Sivaji would even reach the location an hour early. That was the kind of discipline he followed," she said.
"I attribute my success and happiness to God. Without God, there is nothing."But fame does not seem to have affected her.
"It all depends on an individual's nature," she replies. "We were brought up in a disciplined way by our mother. There was a "lakshman rekha" we had to obey. Mother came to a strange place (Madras) from Travancore, made us all stars and got us married too ... all arranged marriages and into the best of families.

Was he supportive and understanding? "It was a very happy marriage," she says. "I miss my husband very much. He passed away on September 16, 1981. He was a true lover of the arts and could sing very well. My husband would sit in the first row during my dance recitals and was my best critic

Malayalam: രാഗിണി) was a South Indian danseuse and actress. She was the youngest of the famed Travancore Sisters -- Lalitha, Padmini, and Ragini.[1] With sister Padmini, she started her acting career in mid 1950s and acted in movies of different Indian languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. The era of dance in the Hindi cinema is considered to be begun with the entrance of Ragini and other South Indian actresses.

Some films of Ragini
Thookku Thookki(T)                                                           
Payal (H)                                                                             
Sitamger (H)                                                                       
Amar deep(H)                                                                   
Veera Pandya Katta Bomman (T)                                           
Unniyarcha (M)                                                                     
Bharya (M)                                                                         
Naag Rani (H)                                                                       
Manavaatty (M)                                                                     
Othenante Makan (M)                                                         
Ara Nazhika Neram (M)                                                       
Lanka Dahanam (M)                                                           
Jai Jagat Janani (H)
Mr X (H)
Mujrim (H)
Nayaru Pidicha Pulival (M)
Amar Shaheed(H)
Ayi phir se Bahar(H)
Puthiya Akasam Puthiya Bhoomi(M)
Gehra Daag(H)
Aadhi raat ke Baad(H)
Thurakkatha Vathil (M)
Panchavan Cadu (M)
Ernakulam Junction(M)
Some Hindi Films of Padmini
Mera Naam Joker                                                                 
Hum Hai lajawab                                                                   
Jis Desh Mem Ganga Behti Hai                                             
Dana Paani                                                                             
Bhai Bahan                                                                             
Amar Deep                                                                         
Pyar Kiya hai pyar karenge
Hum Intezar Karenge
Bolo Ram
Yeh ishq nahi Aasan
Rahi badal gayi
Ladke Bap se Badhke
Chanda aur Bijali
Dard ke Ristha

Some of Padmini's Tamil Films
Thooku Thookki                                                                     
Uthama Puthiran                                                                     
Thaye unakkaka                                                                     
Kulama Gunama                                                                   
Iru Dhruvam                                                                     
Raja Rani                                                                               
Veera Pandya Katta Bomman                                                 
Nan Vanagum Deivam                                                           
Iru Malargal                                                                           
Uzhakkum Karngal                                                                 
Amar Deepam
Thillana Mohanambal
Poove poo chooda vaa
Deiva piravi
Mangayar Thilakam
Madurai Veeran
Mannadhi Mannan
Saraswathi sapatham
Vasantha sena
Enkalukkum kalam varum
Vietnam Veedu
Some Malayalam Films of Padmini
Ponnu Vilayum Bhoomi                                                           
Kumara Sambhavam                

No comments:

Post a Comment