- Actor, Writer, Screenplay
Dec 13, 1952 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Dec 13, 1952 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
One of the most successful actresses of South Indian cinema, Lakshmi was born in a family of artists. Her father, Yaragudipati Varada Rao, was a veteran Telugu filmmaker, her mother, Kumari Rukmini, was a Tamil actress, while her grandmother, Nungambakkam, was also an actress. Lakshmi was only nine when she made her first screen appearance in 1961 in the Tamil movie Sri Valli. Seven years later, she made her lead role debut with the Tamil movie Jeevanaamsam (1968) and went on to establish herself as a top-notch actress across Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada movies. Throughout her career, the actress has received several awards for her contribution to cinema, including the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the movie Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal (1977). She also made a remarkable start in the Hindi film industry with the blockbuster movie Julie (1975) for which she won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress.
In 1969, Lakshmi married Bhaskar, who worked with an insurance company. Their daughter Aishwarya, who is also an actress, was born in 1971. However, she soon got separated from Bhaskar and married the actor Mohan Sharma in 1975. Unfortunately, her marriage with Mohan lasted for just five years and the couple got divorced in 1980. It was almost a decade later that Lakshmi got married for the third time to actor-director K.S. Sivachandran. The couple, apparently, fell in love while they were shooting the movie En Uyir Kannamma and got married in 1989. The couple adopted a girl in 2000 and named her Samyuktha.
After making her lead debut with the Tamil movie Jeevanaamsam in 1968, Lakshmi made her Kannada debut in the same year with the movie Goadalli CID 999 which also starred Dr. Rajkumar. In the next few years, Lakshmi appeared in several Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu movies, however, she first received wide recognition in the Malayalam film industry with the romantic drama Chattakkari in 1974. Essaying the character of an Anglo-Indian girl, Julie, Lakshmi was appreciated for her bold performance and won the Kerala Film Award for Best Actress. The movie went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters of Malayalam cinema and in 1975 was remade in Hindi as Julie. Lakshmi reprised her role as Julie in the Hindi remake and the movie, alike its Malayalam counterpart was a musical blockbuster. The actress won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress and Bengal Film Journalists` Association Award for Most Outstanding Work of the Year. However, Lakshmi`s career as a Bollywood actress never lived up to the promise of her debut. Unlike her success in the South Indian industries, she appeared only in a handful of Hindi films post the success of Julie.
1974 turned out to be highly successful for the actress as she delivered another poignant performance in the Tamil language film Dikkatra Parvathi directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. The movie was released just a month after Chattakkari`s release. With the success of Chattakkari still fresh, her performance in Dikkatra Parvathi propelled her career to a new high. Lakshmi, who won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for the movie, narrowly missed out on winning the National Film Award for Best Actress. The following year, Lakshmi appeared in NR Pillai`s Chalanam (1975) alongside Mohan Sharma, Radhika, and KPAC Lalitha in lead roles. Her performance fetched her the Filmfare Award for Best Malayalam Actress for the second consecutive year.
Lakshmi proved her mettle in Tamil cinema as well with another outstanding performance in the movie Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal directed by A. Bhimsingh. She bagged the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance which also marked the first occasion for a Tamil movie to win a National Film Award for Best Actress. Following this, her success in Malayalam cinema continued with another hit movie Mohiniyaattam released in 1976. With this movie, the actress completed a hattrick of Filmfare awards as she received another Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her performance for the third time in three years.
Towards the late `70s, Lakshmi had established herself as one of the most successful actresses of South Indian cinema with hits in all the four languages - Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. In 1977, the versatile actress gave one of the best performances of her career with the Telugu movie Panthulamma, directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. For her performance as Sharada, a stay-at-home-teacher, who against all evils manages to succeed, Lakshmi won the Nandi Award for Best Actress. Continuing to deliver hits after hits, the actress was next seen in the critically acclaimed Tamil movie Oru Nadigai Natakam Parkiral (1978) which was later screened at the International Film Festival of India. This was the second occasion that director A. Bhimsingh collaborated with Lakshmi after their first successful movie Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal. In 1983, Lakshmi starred in the Tamil movie Unmaigal and went to win another Filmfare Award for Best Actress.
Towards the end of the `80s, after successfully appearing as the leading lady in many hit movies, Lakshmi started signing supporting roles. However, in 1993, she essayed the lead character of a woman who is forced into prostitution in the Kannada drama movie Hoovu Hannu directed by S.V Rajendra Singh Babu. For her performance, Lakshmi won two awards - Filmfare Award for Best Kannada Actress and Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actress. The veteran actress, years later, proved that she could play supporting roles with equal brilliance with the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 2008 Kannada movie Vamshi. Post-2000, Lakshmi appeared in a handful of Tamil movies such as Dhaya (2002), Vel (2007), Unnaipol Oruvan (2009), and Moone Moonu Varthai (2015). While her Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam film credits include Pramani (2010), Midhunam (2012), Ormayundo Ee Mukkham (2014), Sharp Shooter (2015), Eradane Sala (2017), Oh Baby (2019) and Gang Leader (2019).
Lakshmi had also taken a break from the silver-screen and hosted several talk shows including the Tamil language show Achamillai, Achamillai. The actress also hosted the Kannada language shows Idu Kathe Alla Jeevana and Neena?Naana?