Actress Leelavathi passes away; leaves behind a lasting legacy
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Actress Leelavathi passes away; leaves behind a lasting legacy

December 9, 2023

She had donned multiple roles as heroine, character actor and many more in her six-decade long career on big screen; last rites with Police honours at her farm in Soladevanahalli near Nelamangala later in the day

Bengaluru: Veteran Kannada film actress Leelavathi passed away after a brief illness at a private hospital in Nelamangala, Bengaluru Rural district, last evening. She was 85.

Leelavathi, who was suffering from age-related ailments for the past two months, was being treated by her family physician Dr. Vikas at her farm in Soladevanahalli near Nelamangala. Following a difficulty in breathing, she was rushed to a private hospital in Nelamangala where she breathed her last.

The mortal remains of Leelavathi was kept at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Stadium in Nelamangala this morning, before shifting to Ravindra Kalakshetra in Bengaluru to enable dignitaries from filmdom  to pay their last respects to the departed soul.

CM Siddharamaiah, former CM B.S. Yediyurappa, actors Srinath, Malavika Avinash and several others paid their last respects.

Last rites will be performed at her farm in Soladevanahalli later in the day, with Police honours.


Multilingual actress Leelavathi, who passed away at the age of 85 yesterday, has left behind an enduring legacy, having entertained cine lovers in 600 films in her six decades long career in filmdom.

Born in the year 1938, Leelavathi belonged to an economically weaker family in Belthangady, Dakshina Kannada district. During her initial days, she was working as a house maid before venturing into professional theatre. She began her career as a stage artiste in M.V. Subbaiah Naidu’s drama troupe ‘Sahitya Samrajya Nataka Mandali’ in Mysuru (then Mysore) where she stole the hearts of many drama-lovers in ‘Bhaktha Prahlada’ drama and many mythological dramas. She had also worked as an artiste in the drama company of Mahalinga Bhagavathar —  Sri Sahitya Samrajya.

As a supporting actor, Leelavathi made her film debut through ‘Nagakannika’s Kannada movie produced by Shankar Singh in the year 1949. Her first film as a lead actor was ‘Mangalya Yoga’ in 1958 and her first film with thespian of Sandalwood Dr. Rajkumar was ‘Ranadheera Kanteerava’ in 1960. Rajkumar and Leelavathi became a hit pair after the stupendous success of the film ‘Rani Honnamma,’ after which the duo was cast in a string of hit films like ‘Santha Tukaram’, ‘Kantheredu Nodu’, ‘Kaiwara Mahathme’, ‘Gaali Gopura’, ‘Kanyarathna’, ‘Kulavadhu’, ‘Veera Kesari’, ‘Thoogudeepa’, ‘Mana Mechchida Madadi’ and ‘Sipayi Ramu’, to name a few.

Post 1970, Leelavathi switched over to playing character/ supporting roles and played mother, grandmother to many top heroes and heroines then.

She had acted in 400 Kannada films alone, besides Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam films totalling 600 films. Leelavathi wanted to establish her only son Vindoraj as an actor and Director and Producer Dwarakeesh also introduced him as a hero in ‘Dance Raja Dance’ film. But his debut film failed the expectations.

Leelavathi, who had a keen interest in farming, had developed a farm at Soladevanahalli in Nelamangala taluk, Bengaluru Rural district, where she spent her last years. Vinodraj, who was a pillar of support to his mother, together did many social services, lending a helping hand to many poor families in and around Soladevanahalli.

Having a strong will to build a Veterinary Hospital in the village, Leelavathi built the hospital that was inaugurated recently by Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar and hat-trick hero Shivarajkumar (Shivanna).

Leelavathi, who had won a Filmfare Award as a Best Supporting Actor for ‘Kannadada Kanda’ film, had been bestowed Dr. Rajkumar Award for Lifetime Achievement by the State Government, besides winning State Film Awards as a Best Supporting Actor for films ‘Gejje Puje’, ‘Sipayi Ramu’, ‘Dr. Krishna’ and several other films.


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