Thursday, September 24, 2009


Actress -singer S. Varalakshmi passed away on 22nd Sepember:
"One of the last in a long line of talented actors such as Bhanumathi and Savithri, Varalakshmi, however, opted for roles that offered her scope to sing and act as well. "Many of her songs, such as Manam Kanintharul' (in Veerapandiya Kattabhomman') were huge hits," said film historian Randor Guy. "Although many actors and actresses sang in films, Varalakshmi's singing was a class apart,"said film chronicler, Film News Anandhan.

Before entering the world of films as a child star, Varalakshmi received vigorous tutoring in Carnatic music and this strong foundation not only gave her an alternate career she was a concert performer but also formed the basis for a strong friendship with M S Subbulakshmi. The two frequently exchanged notes during the shooting of Seva Sadhanam' a film by K Subrahmanyam, in which M S was the heroine and Varalakshmi was her friend.

Although she got a break as a heroine in 1948 in the Telugu film Balaraju' which featured A Nageshwara Rao, in Tamil she was content to play character roles, such as that of the wife of Veerapandiya Kattabomman' played by Sivaji' Ganesan. She had memorable roles in Ayiram Thalai Vangiya Apoorva Chintamani,' Raja Raja Cholan', Panama Pasama', Kandhan Karunai', Maattukara Velan' and Poova Thalaya' among others. In a career spanning several decades and over 500 films in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, she acted with all the top stars, including M G R and Jayalalithaa.
In her condolence message, Jayalalithaa recalled fond memories when, as a four year old, her family moved into the house next to that of Varalakshmi. "I used to spend all my time playing in her house and used to be mesmerised by her singing," she said in a press release.

Although she was a successful actor, Varalakshmi, who married the late A L Srinivasan (brother of poet Kannadasan), briefly fell upon hard times, and it was M G R who sought matronly roles for her. Varalakshmi was conferred the Kalaimamani Award and the Kalai Vithagar' Kannadasan award, the latter in 2004."
Her film 'Balraju' was the very first film I saw and still remember her song "O bAlarAjA ". Though she had a very good voice and was trained singer, she did not seem to be lucky (in terms of the number of remembered songs) in the songs offered to her in Telugu. In the 1961 song "navanIta chOruDu ", she more than matches the more popular singer Jikki. Both are available
in oldtelugusongs.
P.S. GollapudiMaruti Rao write up ఎస్.వరలక్ష్మి అస్తమయం
From Eenadu write up by Cheekolu Sundarayya
Obituary from Prajasakti ఆ స్వరం ఇక వినబడదు.. య'స్వర'లక్ష్మికి నివాళులు
P.S. A more recent tribute by Paruchuri Sreenivas సహజ గాయని ఎస్. వరలక్ష్మి with links to a few of her songs.
A photograph from one of her first films with M. S. Subbulakshmi

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