Actor Sujatha, who made waves in the south Indian film industry in the Seventies and Eighties, passed away here on Wednesday. The 58-year-old actor, who was undergoing treatment for a heart ailment, died of cardiac arrest.

Known for restraint and subtlety in portrayal of varied emotions, Sujatha was introduced to the Tamil film industry by Director K. Balachander as the protagonist in “Aval Oru Thodarkathai.”

Sujatha spent her childhood in Sri Lanka, where she would actively participate in school plays, and later moved to Kerala when she was about 14. She acted in “Ernakulam Junction,” a Malayalam film, and soon drew the attention of Balachander.

Powerful role

Her entry into the industry through such a powerful role, at a time when hero-centric films were the norm, made many take notice.

The actor-director collaboration in the acclaimed “Avargal” along with actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth also won critical acclaim. Her portrayal of married woman Anu, who is caught between the torture she is subjected to by her sadistic husband and the unforgettable memories of her past romance, is till date, considered one of the best performances by a female lead.

Director's delight

“My father thought of her as a director's delight. She would understand what exactly the director wanted, internalise the character and perform accordingly,” says Pushpa Kandasamy, film producer and daughter of Balachander.

Her performances as a senior actor in films such as “Kodi Parakkudu,” “Uzhaippali” and “Baba,” in which she played Rajinikanth's mother, also saw her trademark restraint and dignity in performance. “Varalaru” was her last Tamil film. The actor has performed in over 300 films in all four south Indian languages and Hindi.

She is survived by husband Jayakar, son Sajid and daughter Divya.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012