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26 February 1998

Lalita Pawar dies alone, unnoticed

PUNE, FEB 25: Veteran film actress Lalita Pawar was found dead at her residence in Aundh this evening. She was 82 and is survived by film producer husband Rajprakash Gupta. She will be cremated tomorrow.

The actress is believed to have died after Tuesday, said Vilas Jadhav, inspector incharge of Chatuhshrungi police station.

Pawar was alone at her residence as her husband had undergone a throat operation and had been admitted to a private hospital in Mumbai since Monday.

Apparently, Gupta had been making frequent calls to their Pune residence for the last two days. When he failed to get any response, he requested an acquaintance, Kanhaiyyalal Baldota, to look into the matter. Pawar was found dead on the bed when Baldota entered Pawar's residence. According to police, she had not been seen by her neighbours since Tuesday.

Pawar was rushed to a private clinic where she was declared dead. Her body was later taken to the Sassoon General Hospital for post-mortem. The police have registered a case ofaccidental death.

Beginning her acting career at the age of seven in the silent-film era, Pawar went on to become one of the leading ladies of the film industry. She acted in over 700 films in various languages. At the age of 25, she was slapped by film actor Bhagwan Dada for her mistake in a film shooting. Consequently, a nerve near her left eye burst. She received treatment for nearly three years but the damage was permanent. The event forced her to shift to character roles.

Pawar's first marriage with Ganpatrao Pawar developed a hitch when he took a fancy to her younger sister. Her second marriage with Rajkumar Gupta of Ambika studios, Mumbai, provided her with some much-needed companionship.

She received the Filmfare award for the Best Character Artiste for her role in Anari, which got her a surfeit of offers. Her career was thrown out of gear in 1990 when she contracted cancer in the jaw. She was forced to undergo treatment of intensive radiation leading to weight loss, drain of energy and memorylapses. She then decided to shift to Pune for treatment.

Her last film was the Pooja Batra starrer Bhai.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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