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Yesteryear actress Kamala Bai in coma


BANGALORE, Nov 21: The picture of the lissome heroine of several silent and talkie movies is in total contrast to the shrivelled form of Kamala Bai on the hospital bed.

Kamala Bai (86) who played the role of heroine in the first silent film Radhashyam and first talkie Sati Sulochana slipped into coma a few days back

.Like most of the artists, poverty forced Kamala and her sister Laxmi Bai to enter films and dramas. Kamala Bai who was born in Mathikere lost her father to the First World War. Kamala Bai and her sister Laxmi Bai sold flowers and spent their childhood in penury bereft of any luxuries -- including two square meals a day. Laxmi Bai began to act in dramas through the ``Hari Bai Company'' and soon Kamala Bai entered into the foray of dramas, despite her mother's protests.

The period, from the entry to tinsel world, to the stage of being bedridden on the hospital bed, has been of sacrifices and losses for Kamala. ``She broke taboos quite too often and often said she never believedin sailing along with the winds,'' recall her grandsons Jaygopal, Sreenivas and Govardhan.

Cupid stuck, when Kamala Bai was still in her teens. During the filming of Sati Sulochana, her admiration for Padmashree R Nagendra Rao, popularly known as RNR blossomed to a passionate love. RNR too reciprocated despite the fact that he was already married and had three children. She opted to be his second wife.

In an era of silent movies when emotions were vented through expressions, Kamala with her pitch coal-black eyes and graceful body movements had captured the imagination of all and sundry.

Her acting matured paralleled with the transition of Kannada cinema from silent white and black to Eastman colour movies. She acted in 35 silent films and in several talkie films. And during the years of courtship she choose to act as heroine only opposite RNR. Her roles in Mahatma Kabir (as wife of a landlord), Harishchandra (she was cast in an negative role), and Bookailasa won her critical acclaimbut no awards. She was also a multilingual artist and acted in Jatakaphala, which was dubbed in three languages and in Bhakta Ambarish (Tamil).

After marriage she abruptly sacrificed her flourishing acting career and choose to devote time for her husband. But she continued to act in dramas.

An accident in 1970 robbed her of her husband and adopted son. However she survived the blow and spent the rest of her life with her grandchildren.

The years of sufferings and untold griefs had its effect on her when she was bedridden in her rented house in Jeevanahalli. During this year she sustained five attacks of broncho pneumonia and was admitted to Santhosh Hospital in Coles park. Her weathered body failed to recuperate to the treatment and 10 days back she slipped into a coma.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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