Monday saw Kalpana winning the national film award for the best supporting actress — seven years after her younger sister Urvashi won it. That is one record that would take some beating.
No other pair of actor-siblings could boast such a feat in the 59-year history of India’s most coveted film awards in the acting category. The only other such instance is perhaps in female playback singing, in which Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are winners.
“Winning the same award that Urvashi had means a lot to me; I have always been proud of her achievements,” Kalpana told The Hindu . “She is of course used to winning awards, but for me the national award, for Thanichalla Njan , was a complete shock. When a reporter called me up to congratulate me soon after the awards were announced, I told him that he should have got it wrong and that some other actor named Kalpana would be the real winner.”
When the director of Thanichalla Njan , Babu Thiruvalla, asked Kalpana to take up the role of Razia, she had told him that Urvashi would be ideal for the role. “I also told him that she would even win awards for the film,” Kalpana said. “But Babu insisted that I do the role.”
She said the role was different from anything she did yet in her long career that began as a child artiste with Yagam in 1981. “It was the first time I was playing a character from real life, and another interesting fact is that I myself had played a role in the life of Chellamma Antharjanam, whose unusual relationship with Razia is what Thanichalla Njan is all about.”
Kalpana admittedly is a tad disappointed that she was not recognised for her efforts before. “Not even the myriad channel awards never found my acting worthy,” she said. “When I won the national award, it was like a student winning the first rank in a public examination after never even coming in the top in her class!”
Being typecast as a comedienne did not help either. “But I have done serious stuff too, in films such as Shayanam , Spirit , Kerala Cafe and Indian Rupee ,” she said. “I have often been told that I was the most talented of us three sisters (Kalaranjini is the third one), but somehow when it came to recognition, I was considered just a comic actress.”
And when it comes to humour, Kalpana has no peer in Malayalam cinema, as she proved in all those films such as Peruvannapurathe Viseshangal , Kudumba Kodathi , Dr. Pasupathi , Mr. Brahmachari and Punnaram .
It is sibling revelry as Kalpana gets the honour which Urvashi had won earlier.