Remembering KPAC Lalitha: A legendary actress who was endeared beyond Malayalam!

Legendary actress KPAC Lalitha has passed away on Tuesday - February 22 at the age of 73 due to age-related ailments in Kochi, Kerala. She was getting treated at a private hospital in Thirupunithura, Kochi, Kerala and she had breathed her last at her son's residence, leaving behind a remarkable legacy in the Indian cinema ecosystem. Several leaders and celebrities have paid tribute to the departed soul as the cinema industry is grieving for an irreplaceable loss. 

Lalitha was predominantly working in Malayalam but she overwhelmingly was endeared by the artists and fans beyond Kerala and she also had appeared in a handful of Tamil movies. She had been suffering from poor health for the past few months. The actress had demised at 10 pm on Tuesday and her family has been flooded with tributes and condolences. 

Lalitha was active in the cinema industry till her death and she was awaiting the release of the movie Bheeshma Parvam, directed by Amal Neerad, in which she plays a role. The movie will now be her last and in the career-spanning for five decades from 1968 to 2022, Lalitha had acted in 500 movies. She has won two National Awards for best supporting actor (female) and four Kerala State film awards. She was also serving as the Chairperson of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi. 

Her demise has come three days ahead of her 74th birthday. Born on 25th February 1948, Lalitha had started acting in plays when she was 10 years old. Her birth name was Maheswari Amma and she had joined KPAC (Kerala People's Art Club), which was a prominent leftist drama troupe in Kerala. She was given the screen-name Lalitha and later, when she started acting in movies, the tag KPAC was added to her screen name to differentiate it from another actress known as Lalitha. From then on, she has become KPAC Lalitha. 

She had then entered cinema by making her debut in the movie 'Koottukudumbam' directed by KS Sethumadhavan. Some of her most memorable performances were noted in the movies Amaram, Sandesham, Malootty, Shantham, Godfather, and Nasrani. She also had acted in several Tamil movies including Karthi starred 'Kaatru Veliyidai', Ajith starred 'Kireedam' and 'Paramasivan', Shyam starred Ullam Ketkume, Madhavan starred 'Alaipayuthey', and Vijay starred 'Kadhalukku Mariyadhai'. 

She rose to prominence among the Tamil audience through these evergreen movies. She got her first state award in 1978 for her performance in the film 'Neelaponman'. Lalitha was also an occasional dubbing artiste in her early days and she was last seen in the movie 'Home'. She was battling her age-related ailments for the past few months and recently she was admitted to a hospital in Kochi and got discharged. 

On Tuesday, she had suffered sudden health complications and passed away at her son's residence in Kochi. After learning about her demise, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, "Lalitha has become part of the history of an era, penetrating the hearts of different generations with her acting skills." The Chief Minister had recalled her contribution as the Chairperson of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi and noted that she has always been associated with the progressive movement. 

Kerala's Opposition leader VD Satheesan wrote, "As an artist, she has offered extreme justice for her characters. She was a school of natural acting."  Several celebrities had paid tribute to her demise. Actor Mammotty wrote, "I have lost someone I cherish so much, respectfully with memories that will never leave." Actress Keerthy Suresh wrote, "Extremely saddened to hear about the passing of the legendary KPAC Lalitha aunty. My heartfelt condolences to the family." 

Actor Prithviraj wrote, "Rest in peace Lalitha aunty! It was a privilege to have shared the silver screen with you! One of the finest actors I've known." Lalitha had married director Bharathan in 1978 and he had passed away in 1998. The couple had two children - a daughter Srikutty Bharathan and a son Siddharth Bharathan, who is an actor and director in Malayalam. The last rites of the legendary actor will take place on February 23 at her residence in Wadakkancherry, Kerala.