Veteran actor Kalpana, who made audiences laugh and cry with her performances, passed away in Hyderabad on Monday. She was 51 years old.
According to initial reports Kalpana had reached Hyderabad on Sunday afternoon for shooting a bi-lingual film (Tamil and Telugu), and was staying at a hotel in the city.
She was rushed to Apollo Hospital early on Monday morning after she was found unconscious. Doctors tried to revive her. They suspect that she died due to a heart attack, and are not yet decided on conducting a post-mortem.
According to reports, her sister Urvashi is on her way to Hyderabad and the body will be brought back to Kochi on Tuesday on a 10:30 flight.
Veteran actor KPAC Lalitha had told news channels that Kalpana had confided in her a few years ago that she was suffering from heart valve-related problems for which she was undergoing treatment at the Amrita Hospital in Kochi. Kalpana also recently had a liver transplant.
Her versatility was something that movie goers cherished. From her poignant role in Charlie as a sex worker with HIV/AIDS, to characters that made us laugh in movies like Poochakaaru Mani Kettum and her histrionics as UDC Kumari in Dr Pasupalan.
Born as Kalpana Ranjini to theatre artists VP Nair and Vijayalakshmi, her name became synonymous with effortless comedy with her comic timing bang on, making her the beloved of Malayalis across the globe. Kalpana sister’s Urvashi and Kalaranjini are also established actors.
She made her Malayalam film debut with as a child artist in 1977 with the film Vidarunna Mottukal. Later, she acted in Sivan's film Yagam, after which followed MT Vasudevan Nair’s 1983 film Manju and two years later in Tamil with the film Chinna Veedu and went on to act in over 300 films in Malayalam and Tamil.
Some of her well known films include Sathi Leelavathi (1995) and Kaliveedu (1996).
She is survived by her daughter Sreemayi, who is 16 years old. She divorced her husband, Malayalam film director Anil, in June 2012. Their daughter lives with her.
She is the recipient of the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for her film Thanichalla Njan in 2012. The film is about the life of Chellamma Antharjanam and it was the first time that she was playing a character based on a real person: Razia.
She said that initially, when the film’s director Babu Thiruvalla approached her for the role, she had suggested that her sister Urvashi be cast as Razia.
At first, she did not believe that the award had gone to her. She told The Hindu: “…but for me the national award, for Thanichalla Njan , was a complete shock. When a reporter called me up to congratulate me soon after the awards were announced, I told him that he should have got it wrong and that some other actor named Kalpana would be the real winner.”
She has also published her memoir Njan Kalpana.
Kalpana's character in Charlie
Her last role in the Malayalam movie Charlie was a guest appearance, but in the short time she is on screen, Kalpana brilliantly portrays the inner trauma of Queen Mary, an AIDS-infected woman forced into prostitution by her own husband.
Kalpana's contemporaries react to her death