Veteran South Indian actor and Padma Shri recipient S. Sukumari passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Tuesday evening after battling burns suffered following an accident at her B.N.Road residence in T Nagar last month. She was 74.
Born in 1940 in then Travancore, Sukumari began her career at the age of 10 with a cameo in Tamil movie ‘Oru Iravu’ in 1951. In a career spanning more than five decades, she acted in over 2,500 films, including in Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Oriya and Bengali. A versatile actor, she shared the screen with big names, including Mamooty, Mohanlal, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan and also yesteryear stars MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Nageswara Rao and Prem Nazir.
Wife of famous film director-producer late Bhimsingh, Sukumari received numerous accolades, including the Tamil Nadu State’s Kalaimani Award in 1991-92, the Kerala State Award on four occasions, Padma Shri in 2003 and the National Award for the best supporting actress in 2011.
Sukumari suffered burns when her sari caught fire from a lamp while she was praying in her pooja room in the morning of February 27 at her T Nagar residence. She was taken to a private hospital and shifted to a private hospital in Perumbakkam the next day when her condition worsened.
Condoling her death, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in her message said Sukumari’s demise was a huge loss the film industry. South Indian Film Artistes Association president R.Sarathkumar remembered her as a warm person who always praised the actors and being an inspiration to others. Actor and renowned television producer Radhika Sarathkumar recalled the many dance performances Sukumari gave alongside the famous Travancore sisters – Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini. “I remember as a young girl accompanying my mother to the dance programmes. She was an accomplished dancer and a wonderful actor. Above all, she was a very caring human being.”
Sukumari is also known for her stage career, most prominently as a member of satirist and political commentator Cho Ramasamy’s theatre group.
This article has been corrected for an editing error.