A Blog on Cinema




Famous actress of yesteryear and last surviving member of Travancore Sisters, Padmini, died yesterday at Appolo hospital in Chennai. Her end came on Saturday night at 12. She was 74. She recently moved to India from New Jersey, USA. It was while attending a function in Chennai, a felicitation function for M.Karunanidhi, by fim personalities that she had a heart attack.

Padmini was born at Poojappura in Thiruvananthapuram on 12, June 1932 as the second daughter of Thankappan Pillai, a landlord and Saraswathi Amma, a pious housewife. Her elder sister Lalitha and younger sister Ragini were also renowned film actresses and together were branded as “Travancore Sisters.”

She began learning classical dances at the age of four. In classical dance, Guru Gopinath and later TM Mahalingam Pillai were her teachers. In 1942, at the age of ten, she had her arangettam. At 14, she became a member of a dance troupe that toured various parts of India. She also composed songs for that troupe.

At the age of 17, Padmini became the heroine of the Hindi film “Kalpana,” That was the beginning of her film career. She then went on to act in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam films. [Padmini Life and Career]

She had acted in Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker. In fact the only Malayalam film we have seen of her was Fazil’s bucket load tear-jerker Noketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu. May she rest in peace.


  1. What loss for the industry! Her role as Nadiya Moithu’s grandmother in ‘Nokketha Doorathu’ was so touching.

    What made her stand out was she was able to act as heroine with Raj Kapoor, something which , im not mistaken, no South Indian heroine as managed

    May her soul rest in peace

  2. Unni, Vyjayanthimala acted as Raj Kapoor’s heroine in Sangam.

  3. yeah of course, after i posted that I thought of Vyjayanthimala. But as a Malayali, we should be proud that Padmini acted with Raj Kapoor

  4. Unni, no offence but what is there to be proud about in that? I am not a malayali but if I were one, I’d rather be proud of the kind of movies made by Adoor, Padmarajan and those outstanding actors Mammootty and Mohanlal, not to mention that gana gandharva(u no who!). I’d ofcourse be proud of Padmini, too but not because she was a raj kapoor heroine, but because she was a fine actor and great dancer in her own right.
    Raj Kappor just exploited his heroines for his and the movie goers’ pleasure – some people call that art ofcourse (ha! HA!. Infact, the worst moments of Padmini’s career must be the way she was made to expose and act undignified iN mera Nam Joker and Jis Desh mein..And here you are, proud of that legacy!

  5. Who is this ‘Raj Kapoor’?

    Anyhow, Padmini is a great actress and a wonderful dancer. I am not sure what I enjoy most, her actions or her dance. I can list a number of films that she did really well in. Her pairing with Sivaji Ganesan is just too good. Of her Tamil films, my favourite will always remain “Thillana Mohanambaal”. And of course, her last film in Malayalam, Nokkethe Doorathu Kannum Nattu was very touching. Just a few days back, I was watching the video of “Aayiram Kannumaay” song from that movie. I was very happy to read that she wanted to get involved in films again, though she looked feeble. Very shocked to read this news. May her soul rest in peace.

  6. sk, Raj Kapoor is one of the most successful commercial film makers India has produced.

  7. Raj – “Raj Kappor just exploited his heroines for his and the movie goers’ pleasure – some people call that art ofcourse ” – I was talking about Raj Kapoor- the showman. He was almost as big as Amitabh Bachchan outside India as well.

    As regards his moral values, its his business. Look at Kamal Hassan. He openly has affairs with his heroines and is a knowm womaniser. But that apart, hes one of the best India has produced.

  8. Wasn’t Vastuhara Padmini’s last Malayalam movie

  9. i love Padmini , she was wonderful.
    i am a hindi people from Agra, UP.
    i am agree with the Raj.
    actually, i did come to know more about the beauty of our cultural heritage, after i saw her performing classical dance in some old hindi movies.

    u people may wonder , but i have decided to learn tamil just to see her song kannum kannum (Vanjikottai valibaan.1958), in which she performs with vyjayanthimala.

  10. who is the actress in KUTTIKUPPAYAM besides Sheela ?

  11. @shareef i think that actress’s name is ambika

  12. where is old malayalam actress ambika acted in Kuttikuppayam? Please give some details of hers

  13. may I get the information thru e-mail

  14. She has acted as Parvathi devi in Kumarasambavam

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