June 12, 1932
|Died||September 24, 2006
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Other names||Natiya Peroli, Pappima|
|Parents||Gopala Pilla, Saraswathiyamma|
Padmini (12 June 1932 – 24 September 2006) was an Indian actress and trained Bharathanatyam dancer who acted in over 250 Indian films. She acted in the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi language films. Padmini, with her elder sister Lalitha and her younger sister Ragini, were called the "Travancore sisters".
Padmini was born and raised in Thiruvananthapuram in what was then the princely state of Travancore (now the Indian state of Kerala). She was the second daughter of SreeThankappan Pillai and Saraswathi Amma both comes from noble Nair families. Her sisters, Lalitha and Ragini, were also well known film actresses. Together, the three were known as the Travancore sisters. Padmini and her sisters learnt bharathanatyam from Thiruvidaimarudur Mahalingam Pillai. The trio were the disciples of Indian dancer Guru Gopinath. They learnt Kathakali and Kerala Natanam styles of dancing from him. N.S. Krishnan noticed her talents while she was presenting Parijatha Pushpapaharanam in Thiruvananthapuram. After that performance, he said that in the future she will become an actress. She was thus cast as heroine in his own production Manamagal. The Travancore Sisters grew up in a joint family tharavadu 'Malaya Cottage' in Poojappura, Trivandrum. The matriarchial head of the family was Karthiyayini Amma whose husband was PK Pillai (Palakunnathu Krishna Pillai of Cherthala) alias 'Penang Padmanabha Pillai'. PK Pillai had six sons of whom Satyapalan Nair (Baby) was a leading producer of many early Malayalam films. Another son, Raveendran Nair's daughter Latika Suresh, is a leading producer of Malayalam TV programs. They performed at the 1955 Filmfare Awards.
Padmini starred with several of the most well-known actors in Indian film, including Sivaji Ganesan, M. G. Ramachandran, N. T. Rama Rao, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Sathyan, Prem Nazir, Rajkumar, Gemini Ganesan and S. S. Rajendran. She appeared with Sivaji Ganesan in 59 films.
She acted mostly in Tamil films. Ezhai Padum Padu released in 1950 was her first film in Tamil. Her association with Sivaji Ganesan started with Panam in 1952. Some of her noted Tamil films include Thanga Padhumai, Anbu, Kaattu Roja, Thillana Mohanambal, Vietnam Veedu, Edhir Paradhathu, Mangayar Thilakam and Poove Poochudava. Some of her popular Malayalam films include Prasanna, Snehaseema, Vivaahitha, Adhyaapika, Kumara Sambhavam, Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu, Vasthuhara and Dolar.
In two of her popular Bollywood films — Mera Naam Joker and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai — she was paired with Raj Kapoor. She did another film with Raj Kapoor AashiQ (1962). Her other Bollywood films include Payal (1957), Afsana (1966), Vaasna (1968), Chanda Aur Bijli (1969) and Babubhai Mistry's Mahabharat (1965). In Mera Naam Joker she played very bold role of a girl who used to dress like a boy till acccidently her real sex is noticed by the hero of the film Raj Kapoor. The film had hot scenes involving Padmini.
Her most famous was Thillana Mohanambal, a Tamil film, where she plays a dancer competing against a musician to see whose skills are better. She also acted in a Indian-Soviet film Journey Beyond Three Seas (Hindi version: Pardesi) based on the travelogues of Russian traveler Afanasy Nikitin (called A Journey Beyond the Three Seas, which is now considered a Russian literary monument), in which she plays the role of Lakshmi, a royal dancer.
After her marriage to Ramachandran, a U.S.-based physician in 1961, she retired temporarily from films and focused on family life and refining her classical dance. She settled in the United States and in 1977 opened her classical dance school in New Jersey, the Padmini School of Fine Arts. Today, her school is considered as one of the largest Indian classical dance institutions in America.
Actress Sukumari is the trio's maternal first cousin. Shobana, the famous dancer, is the niece of Padmini. Malayalam actress Ambika Sukumaran is her relative. Actors Vineeth and Krishna are relatives.
Padmini died of a heart attack at the Chennai Apollo Hospital on 24 September 2006. She is survived by a son, who is settled in the United States.
Padmini was well known for her professional rivalry with actress Vyjayanthimala, the successful dancer-actress. They performed a dance number in the Tamil film Vanjikottai Valiban; the well known song was "Kannum Kannum Kalanthu" which was sung by P. Leela and Jikki. In the song they were pitted against each other. Due to their professional rivalry the song has a cult following since the film was released; the popularity of the song surpasses the popularity of the film.
- Certificate of merit for Veerapandiya Kattabomman in Afro-Asian film festival in 1960
- Best actress award from Film Fans Association in 1954, 1959, 1961 and 1966.
- 1958 – Kalaimamani award from the Government of Tamil Nadu
- 1957 – The "Best Classical Dancer Award" from Moscow Youth Festival
- 1966 – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for Kaajal
- 1990 - Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South
- 1970 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress for Thillaanaa Mohanambal
|1982||Dard Ka Rishta||Guest artist|
|1970||Aansoo Aur Muskan||Mary|
|1970||Mera Naam Joker||Meena/Meena Banu Bochali/Master Meenu|
|1969||Madhavi||Rajkumari Mangala V Singh|
|1969||Chanda Aur Bijli||Bijli|
|1965||Mahabharat||Draupadi / Sairantri|
|1960||Aai Phirse Bahar|
|1960||Aai Phirse Bahar|
|1960||Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai||Kammo|
|1952||Mr Sampat||Malini Devi|
|1984||Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu||Kunjoonjamma Thomas|
|1970||Sabarimala Sree Dharmashastha|
|1969||Kumara Sambhavam||Sathi, Parvathy||double role|
|1953||Oka Talli Pillalu|
|2002||An American Dream||Parvathy Amma|
- "Front Page : Queen of Tamil cinema no more". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Friday Review Chennai : Beauty, charm, charisma". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Entertainment / Interview : The tillana glitter is intact". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2004-09-24. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Beauty, charm, charisma". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Sep 29, 2006.
- Randor Guy (2011-03-26). "Vanjikottai Vaaliban 1958". The Hindu. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
- "Miscellaneous / This Day That Age: dated March 17, 2010: Afro-Asian film festival". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Sulochana Pattabhiraman (2001-02-04). "A role model". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 2011-04-13.