Pandari Bai, who passed away 10 years ago, acted in over 1,000 films in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
Starting her career as a lead actor, she later came to be known as an “ideal screen mother”, having played the role of a devoted mother to stars much older than her, some of whom she had once played the lead role with.
Like many actors of yesteryear, Pandari Bai too was the product of professional theatre. Born in 1930 at Bhatkal near Mangalore to Harikatha exponent Ranga Rao, her entry into acting was accidental: she acted in a play staged by her family, in the absence of a lead artiste.
She made her debut with Vani, a 1943 Kannada film, when she was barely 13. Her Tamil screen debut was with Haridas (1944), which was a big hit.
She played the lead role in Parasakthi (1952), which launched the career of the legendary Sivaji Ganesan, as well as in Bedara Kannappa (1954), Rajkumar’s debut film.
Tamil films Vaazhkai, Thirumbi Paar, Andha Naal, Kula Daivam and Avalum Pen Dhaney; Hindi films Bhabi and Bahar; and Kannada films Sodari, Hari Bhakta, Raja Vikrama, Abba Aa Hudugi, Rayara Sose, Bangarada Hoovu, Amma, Gejje Pooje and Namma Makkalu were among the highlights of her career. She received the Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu government and the Dr. Rajkumar award from the Karnataka government.
Her appearances in film reduced after she met with an accident.
Film on the actor
The KCA will organise an exhibition of over 100 photographs representing the life and works of Pandari Bai on Friday. A documentary film on her, directed by P. Sheshadri, will also be screened, Jagannath Praksh, Registrar, KCA, told The Hindu.
The former KFCC president Jayamala will deliver a lecture on Pandari Bai.
Shilpa Shettar, wife of Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, is expected to inaugurate the programme at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath at 11 a.m.
Chairperson of the KCA Tara, president of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce Vijayakumar B.N., president of the Kannada Producers’ Association N. Munirathna, president of the Karnataka Film Directors’ Association M.S. Ramesh and actor Sudharani will participate.