Iconic Kannada movie star Leelavathi passes away at 85

Veteran Kannada actor Leelavathi, a star from the 1960s who had an illustrious career spanning over six decades, succumbed to age-related ailments on December 8.
Kannada movie actor Leelavathi
Kannada movie actor Leelavathi
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Renowned Kannada actor Leelavathi died at a private hospital in Nelamangala on the outskirts of Bengaluru city on the evening of Friday, December 8. She was 85. The veteran actor, who had an illustrious career spanning over six decades, succumbed to ailments related to old age.

Leelavathi, who worked in more than 600 movies, including Tamil and Telugu films, was admitted to a private hospital where she spent her final moments. Leelavathi, who was living with her actor son Vinod Raj in Nelamangala for many years, had been suffering from age-related health issues. Mourning the loss of his mother, Vinod Raj expressed his gratitude to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM DK Shivakumar for their support in getting her admitted to the hospital. 

Leelavathi, born as Leela Kiran in Belthangady, Dakshina Kannada district, is fondly remembered for her notable roles in films from the 1950s to ‘70s such as Bhakta Kumbara, Santha Thukaram, Bhakta Prahlada, Mangalya Yoga, and Mana Mechchida Madadi.

Leelavathi's journey in the world of entertainment began when she started working with the Sri Sahitya Samrajya Drama Company. She marked her entry into films with Nagakannika (1949) and Chanchala Kumari (1953). Later, she joined Subbaiah Naidu's drama company and played a small yet significant role in Bhakta Prahlada (1958). Notably, she shared the screen with Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar in several movies, portraying a wide range of characters.

The accomplished actor had earned National Film Awards twice and State Film Awards six times during her illustrious career. A week before her demise, political dignitaries including CM Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM DK Shivakumar, and actor Shiva Rajkumar, visited Leelavathi at her residence to inquire about her health.

Several political leaders and public figures have expressed their grief over the demise of Leelavathi. CM Siddaramaiah, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, and former chief ministers BS Yediyurappa, Basavaraj Bommai, and HD Kumaraswamy have all conveyed their condolences. 

PM Narendra Modi expressed anguish at the news of Leelavathi's passing, describing her as a “true icon of cinema.” PM Modi wrote, "Saddened to hear about the passing of the legendary Kannada film personality Leelavathi Ji. A true icon of cinema, she graced the silver screen with her versatile acting in numerous films. Her diverse roles and remarkable talent will always be remembered and admired. My thoughts are with her family and admirers. Om Shanti."

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