Sharada shone in offbeat roles

Film buffs pay tribute to actor who shot to fame with arthouse classics such as ‘Vamsha Vriksha’ and ‘Phaniyamma

L V Sharada in her debut film Vamsha Vriksha (1972).

L V Sharada (78), who passed away in Bengaluru on Friday of cancer, was known for a handful of powerful, poignant performances.

In her debutant role in Vamsha Vriksha (1972) as Kathyayini, a widow who rejects tradition or the good-old widow Phaniyamma (1983), she made a mark with her subtle acting.

She won the Karnataka state best actress award for the film, based on S L Bhyrappa’s famous novel of the same name and directed by Girish Karnad and B V Karanth.

Film historian N S Sreedhara Murthy says, “Sharada was a sincere student of films. She acted in just a few films, but all of them were significant.”

After Vamsha Vriksha, several commercial film offers came her way. But she rejected them saying cinema was not her profession. In fact, she rejected a role in the Rajkumar-starrer Eradu Kanasu, and it went to Kalpana, he recalls.

Phaniyamma, based on an M K Indira novel, also brought her critical acclaim. Interestingly, Phaniyamma was directed by B V Karanth’s wife Prema, a well-known theatre person.

Sharada also played a small but significant role in Bhoothayyana Maga Ayyu (1973), directed by Siddalingaiah. Later, she won the state best-supporting actor award for her role in Vathsalya Patha.

Sharada debuted under the guidance of theatre and film stalwart G V Iyer (he produced Vamsha Vriksha). She went on to act under his direction in Adi Shankaracharya (Sanskrit) and Madhwacharya (Kannada), both produced in the early 1980s. She also acted in Siddalingaiah’s Hemavathi (1975) and Ondu Premada Kathe (1977) in which she acted with Rajinikanth, and Maitri (1978).

Sharada appeared in Prema Karanth’s Nakkala Rajakumari, another national award-winning film (1991). It was her last film.

Sharada was the daughter of L S Venkojirao, founder of the Bangalore Stock Exchange.

“She was a regular at film festivals. Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee had once described her as the goddess of acting. She also made documentaries on Bangalore’s lakes, the Mysuru veena and the Uttaradi Mutt seer Sathya Pramoda Theertha. She was once on the jury of the Film Festival of India in Thiruvananthapuram,” Sreedhara Murthy remembers.

Playwright-novelist Karanam Pavan Prasad says, “We don’t know how Shankaracharya’s mother looked. But Sharada comes to my mind. Do we need any other testimony to her acting?”

Desire to write
In November 2018, Sharada contributed an article to Metrolife about film producer M Bhaktavatsalam and the 1970s, when Kannada experimental cinema was taking big strides. Her piece was titled ‘Bhakta and our heady cinema’.

Sharada was keen to write a book on her life and times, but her failing health didn’t let her realise her dream.

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Sharada shone in offbeat roles

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