18 July 1972
Mulbagal, Kolar, Karnataka, India
|Died||17 April 2004
|Spouse(s)||G. S. Raghu (m.2003-2004)|
Soundarya Raghu (born Sowmya Satyanarayan) (18 July 1972 – 17 April 2004) was an award winning Indian film actress and producer known for her works predominantly in Telugu cinema. She also starred in few Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, and Bollywood films in lead roles.
In 2002, she has received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film as producer for the Kannada film, Dweepa. She received two Karnataka State Film Awards for Best Actress, several Filmfare Awards South, and the Nandi Awards, for her performances in films, such as Ammoru (1994), Anthapuram (1998), Raja (1999), Dweepa (2002), and Aaptamitra (2004). During the peak of her career, Soundarya died in an aircraft crash near Bangalore on 17 April 2004 when she was on her way to Andhra Pradesh to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Soundarya, was born to industrialist, and Kannada film writer K. S. Satyanarayan in Kolar, Karnataka, India. She discontinued her M.B.B.S., and then married to G. S. Raghu, who is a Software Engineer. She had wide popularity and tremendous goodwill among Andhra pradesh and Telangana and probably the most successful actress after Savitri in the history of Telugu cinema and is often called "Savitri of modern telugu cinema".She died in the 2004 aircraft crash, which happened in Bangalore, during an election campaign.
Early career and stardom in Telugu cinema
Soundarya was one of the most prominent actress of 1990's. She is particularly regarded as the "Savitri of Modern Telugu cinema" because of her screen presence and phenomenal success. She was a versatile actress of her times, enacting strong, positive and responsible characters in each of her movies. She preferred performance-oriented roles and took a tough stand on glamour, throughout her career. These unique features worked out completely in her favour and struck a chord with a wide audience base, earning her immense popularity in the state of Andhra Pradesh (undivided state). She made 114 movies, predominantly in Telugu, in a span of twelve years. Her brilliant performances made her critically and commercially one of the successful heroines. Telugu superstar Venkatesh once described her as "a thorough actress".
In her first hit in Telugu, in 1993, she acted the leading role alongside Rajendra Prasad in Rajendrudu Gajendrudu, directed by S.V.Krishna Reddy. She had a decent start with another pair of releases in the same year. The real commercial recognition came with Hello Brother (1994) in which she starred alongside Nagarjuna and Ramyakrishna. The film became the biggest blockbuster of 1994. Most of her other releases in 1994 had a decent run. In 1995, she had acted in Pedarayudu, a remake of the Tamil film Nattamai, alongside Mohan Babu for the first time, and the movie was critically appreciated and highly successful. Following this success, she starred with all Tollywood's biggest stars like Chiranjeevi in Rikshavodu, with Venkatesh in Super Police, with Balakrishna in Top Hero. Top Hero was a decent hit while Rikshavodu and Super Police flopped at the box office. But she had an award-winning role in Ammoru, where she played the pivotal role of a selfless devotee to Goddess Ammoru; the film was a big success and it specially showcased her acting skills. She stood ahead with eleven movie releases in 1995.
In 1996, Soundarya had another critical and commercial success through Pavitra Bandham, alongside Venkatesh, where she acted as a woman who signs for a contract marriage for supporting her family. Intlo Illalu Vantintlo Priyuralu and Ramudochadu have given her a credit of golden hand. This continuous success and popularity made Soundarya the reigning Queen of Telugu cinema, and she was referred popularly as NUMERO UNO by the Telugu media and magazines.
Continuous success, critical acclaim and popularity (1997–2001)
Soundarya paved a way for strong performances and led the change in the framing of characterizations of heroines. Though her contemporary Ramyakrishna too displayed great versatility in films of various genres, Soundarya with her strong, positive and high intense performances emerged out with continuous string of successes and thundering applause from the audience and became the numero uno actress of Telugu cinema.
In 1997, she continued her success with Pelli Chesukundam, Maa Aayana Bangaram, Osi Na Maradala, and Aaro Pranam, winning acclaim from all over the industry for her performances. She also starred alongside South Indian superstar Rajinikanth in Arunachalam, which became the highest grossing film of 1997 in Tamil. Soundarya, apart from good performances and a growing lady fan following, emerged as the golden hand with her continuous successes when her rivals faced constant debacles. This stardom made her come out of the shadow of mainstream heroines and she chose scripts which had a wide potential of performance even alongside big stars which was clearly reflected in her movies. Soundarya's phenomenal success and amazing popularity made her the first choice for any performance role and made her act in 10 films each following year till 2001 with big success. Though the industry regarded her to be the golden hand, as a former director's daughter, she always regarded the success not as a one-man show but the team work between 36 departments. Besides the roaring success of her films, Soundarya's intensity in performances, expressions, her beautiful face, her lady fan following and phenomenal success were all in common with Savitri, and she was able to earn fame as a replacement to Mahanati Savitri. The Telugu press, which is known for its critical attitude, was surprisingly highly appreciative of her performances and was very positive throughout her career and magazines.
Furthermore, the critical success of Chudalani Vundi opposite Chiranjeevi in 1998 made her reach the pinnacle of her career. She also starred along Kamal Hassan in Kaathala Kaathala in Tamil in the same year. Pelli Peetalu and Sri Ramulayya in Telugu and Doni Saagali in Kannada were commercially highly successful. Anthapuram, directed by Krishnavamshi, stood as one of the finest performances of Soundarya in her career, winning her a State Nandi award and also her second consecutive Filmfare Award. The producers and directors realized Soundarya's ability to be a crowd puller and the biggest plus for the promotion of the movie. Her 1999 release Raja, opposite Venkatesh, was another blockbuster and won her her third Filmfare. Her other releases, Padayappa opposite Rajinikanth, Azad opposite Nagarjuna, and Premaku Velayera and Arundathi further solidified her position. In the same year she starred opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Suryavansham, which was one of the only failures of her career, and prevented her from entering into the Bollywood business. 
In 2000, she starred in yet another commercial success, Annayya opposite Chiranjeevi, Jayam Manadera and Deviputrudu opposite Venkatesh, Ninne premista opposite Nagarjuna and several others and went on displaying her acting abilities, continuing her successful journey with films like Eduruleni manishi, Sri manjunatha, Narasimha, Pelli peetalu, Dongata, and Nagadevatha.
She had around 10 film releases each year, most of them in Telugu, from 1993 to 2001, which reflects her path breaking success. After the entry of budding next generation, she slowed down but even later she went on acting seven films each year till 2004. Besides being recognized for her talent, her directors and costars describe her as an honest, grounded and friendly person.
Kannada Cinema and National Film Award
In 2002, she has received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film (producer) for Dweepa. Her last film was the Kannada film Apthamitra, a run away hit with Vishnuvardhan. This film also won her the Filmfare Award for Best Actress posthumously in 2004.
Soundarya acted in the Hindi film, Sooryavansham, alongside Amitabh Bachchan. She was also starred in Tamil super hits, such as Arunachalam, Padayappa alongside Rajinikanth, and Kaadhala Kaadhala alongside Kamal Haasan.
Politics and accidental death
Soundarya is regarded as a friendly and soft person with firm and clear mind. Soundarya died in an aircraft crash near Bangalore on 17 April 2004 when she was on her way to Karimnagar to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party and Telugu Desam Party candidate for the upcoming elections. She was pregnant when she died. The aircraft took off at 11.05 a.m. and turned in a westerly direction before crashing on the campus of the Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra of the University of Agricultural Sciences. It had reached only a height of 100 feet before it crashed and burst into flames. B.N. Ganapathi, one of the two persons working on the experimental fields of the university, who rushed to the aircraft to save the occupants, said the plane wobbled before the crash.
|1992||Baa Nanna Preethisu||Kannada|
|1993||Amma Naa Kodala||Telugu||Neelima|
|1993||Asalae Pellaina Vanni||Telugu|
|1995||Amma Donga||Telugu||Kumari Padma Priya|
|1995||Ammoru||Telugu||Bhavani||Nandi Award for Best Actress
Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu
Dubbed in Tamil as Amman
|1995||Amma Naa Kodala||Telugu||Neelima|
|1995||Balaraju Bangaru Pellam||Telugu|
|1996||Pavithra Bandham||Telugu||Radha||Nandi Award for Best Actress|
|1996||Maa Voori Maraju||Telugu||Satyavathi|
|1996||Ramudochadu||Telugu||Soundaryaananda Aravindha Vadhana SundaraLakshmi|
|1996||Intlo Illalu Vantintlo Priyuralu||Telugu||Seeta|
|1996||Maa Inti Adapadachu||Telugu||Janaki||,|
|1997||Maa Aayana Bangaram||Telugu||Vennela, Sruthi|
|1997||Oosi Na Maradala||Telugu||Manisha Koirala, Kanchana Mala|
|1997||Aaro Pranam||Telugu||Maknaa, Aakaanksha|
|1998||Doni Saagali||Kannada||Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actress|
|1998||Anthapuram||Telugu||Bhanumathi||Nandi Award for Best Actress
Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu
|1999||Raja||Telugu||Anjali||Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu|
|1999||Anaganaga O Ammayi||Telugu||Sandhya|
|1999||Premaku Velayara||Telugu||Madhavi, Malathi|
|1999||Manavudu Danavudu||Telugu||Dr Ratna|
|1999||Naanu Nanna Hendthiru||Kannada||Seetha|
|2000||Annayya||Telugu||Gajjela Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Devi|
|2000||Jayam Manade Raa||Telugu||Uma|
|2000||Naga Devatha||Kannada/Telugu||Naga Devatha|
|2001||Sarduku Podam Randi||Telugu||Raadha|
|2001||Naa Manasisthaa Raa||Telugu||Nandhini|
|2001||Peddamma Thalli||Telugu||Peddamma Thalli|
|2003||Dweepa||Kannada||Nagi||Also as Producer
National Film Award for Best Feature Film
Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actress
Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Kannada
Filmfare Award for Best Film – Kannada
|2004||Shwetha Naga||Kannada / Telugu||Madhu||Posthumously released|
|2004||Shiva Shankar||Telugu||Padma||Posthumously released|
|2004||Apthamitra||Kannada||Ganga / Nagavalli||Posthumously released
Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Kannada
- Pandya, Haresh (10 May 2004). "Obituary: Soundarya". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- Pandya, Haresh (2004-05-10). "Soundarya". Online edition. The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- "International Film Festival of India-2002". Pib.nic.in. 2002-09-26. Retrieved 2013-05-29.
- "Indian Actress Soundarya Dies in Plane Crash". online edition. Voice of America news. 2004-04-17. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- Hemant Raj, Ashwin (2005-04-17). "Soundarya dies in plane crash". Online edition. Times of India. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- Press Trust of India (2004-04-17). "Soundarya killed in plane crash. its a tragedy". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- Kumar, Ch Sushil (1998-03-28). "Child, woman, star". Interview. Rediff.com. Retrieved 2009-06-20.