Veteran actor Subbalakshmi, who passed away on Thursday, earned the love of movie viewers, enacting grandmother roles in various films across the South Indian industry. The actor who debuted in the Malayalam movie ‘Nandanam’ in 2002, went on to play a notable character in ‘Kalyana Raman.’ Her comic characters in films such as ‘Thilakkam’, ‘CID Moosa’ and ‘Pandipada’ were also well-appreciated. Subbulakshmi appeared in other languages also and her last movie was ‘Beast’ with Tamil superstar Vijay.
Apart from films, Subbalakshmi was seen in TV serials and commercials. Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor and the late Sushant Singh Rajput were among her co-stars in advertisements. Subbalakshmi was a regular presence on social media also, in the videos shared by her daughter Thara Kalyan and grand-daughter Sowbhagya Venkatesh, both celebrities.
Still, Subbulakshmi preferred to live alone even in her eighties. This was because she lived a lonely life during her childhood. Subbalakshmi once said during an interview: “My mother passed away when she was only 28 years old. I was barely 11 then and had a younger sister and brother. There was nobody to listen to our grief and needs. We three were totally isolated,” she said. She added that her life was miserable.
Subbalakshmi was born in an affluent family and her father was a top government officer. Diwan Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer himself conducted her parents wedding. However, everything changed after her mother’s death.
“My father depended on my mother for everything and her passing was a big shock for him. He had no idea how to raise us, so we were sent to his sister's house. Their family was wealthy but she considered taking care of us as social service. Since we were small kids, we never understood her intentions or her unkind gestures,” the veteran actor said.
Over the years, Subbalakshmi overcame those bitter experiences. She became lonely again after the death of her husband in 2009, especially since her own children had settled down elsewhere after their marriage.
Subbalakshmi worked as a music teacher at Jawahar Bal Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram for 27 years. She also performed in All-India Radio. Her first appearance for a commercial shoot was for a Horlicks advertisement. She met actor Siddique when she visited the shoot location of a TV serial in which her daughter, actor and dancer Thara Kalyan, was acting. He was the one who cast her in the blockbuster movie ‘Nandanam’. Subbalakshmi’s role was as one among the grandmothers in ‘Nandanam’, which was produced by Siddique and directed by Ranjith.