LaLitha, Padmini, Ragini- Travancore Sisters
”For the past fifteen years, I have served in this cine industry. During my service, I have been interviewed by various magazines and dailies. But at that time the journalists asked only about my cinema career. This is the only weekly that has asked me to write an article about my family life. Because of this I am writing this article with pleasure”.
The article goes like this… Yes, Mrs.Padmini Ramachandran of Travancore sisters fame gave an introduction, in that magazine like this, in the year 1961.
Her family is an artiste’s family. Her sister Lalitha achieved the maximum glory in this field and settled peacefully as house wife. Padmini also rendered her service in this field and later settled as house wife. Following her, Ragini also settled in the family life. They belong to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala state. They belong to a traditionally respectable Royal family. They are brought up with care by their parents Mr. Thangappan Pillai and Mrs. Saraswathi Ammal.
Eventually, her family fame put hindrance to her passion as she was very much interested in fine arts. The Royal family didn’t permit the sisters to dance and put many hindrances for them to learn arts. The Royal family thought that all these arts bring disrepute to their family. So they opposed their children to join in the Niruthya Kalasalai School of the court dancer Gopinath.
However, Padmini and Lalitha joined the school with the help of their grandmother Mrs.P.K.Pillai. Padmini was 6 years old and Lalitha was 2 years elder than Padmini at that time. With, an interest They joined the art school with interest but they had to face many problems in their career. They were compelled to wake up early in the morning and attend the dance and music classes. They had to attend Veena class in the evening after school hours. Apart from these tight schedules they used to have regular rehearsal in the presence of their grandmother at night. This was their daily routine. They were taught Kathakali only in Gopinath’s art school. But, they wished to learn Bharata Natyam also. There were no such facilities to teach the Bharata Natyam in Gopinath’s School. Because of this, they invited Mr. Mahalingam Pillai, from Thiruvidaimaruthur to teach them the art, in a proper way.
Mr. Udaiyashankhar came forward to help the sisters like an anthropomorphous by giving a chance to the sisters in his movie” Kalpana”.This scarce opportunity was got in their uncle’s residence, who, served in the naval force at Mumbai. Mr. Udaiyashankhar the popular artist parenthetically met the sisters in her uncle’s residence at Mumbai. While, at the meeting the sisters were asked to perform a dance before him. After the event the great artist blessed the sisters and later he gave a chance in his movie. They got many chances for acting in movies after the success of ” Kalpana”. Here after, Padmini’s cine life was at peak. She achieved maximum success and acted in more than 250 films.
Her mother discussed with Lalitha about her marriage proposal. But she asked her mother to postpone it by one year. In the meantime she completed all her films. In 1957, Lalitha got married and quit films to settle down, in Trivandrum. Lalitha, very often said, though she achieved glory in public life, the family life is the most important for the girls.
Padmini, also was forced to marry by her mother. Padmini agreed immediately. Madhavan Nayar, a Bank Manager,who settled the marriage of Lalitha, took charge to seek the alliance for Padmini.
When Padmini was compelled to marry by her mother, she didn’t refuse her mother. Eventually she requested her to postpone by one year. By that time she completed all her pending movies. On 9 th Nov, at Alzhapulzhai, in Lalitha’s residence, her marriage was fixed by performing a simple ceremony, in the presence of Kerala’s respectable personality, Mr. Manath Padmanabhan.
Padmini gave dance performance in the presence of Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at a court function while her marriage fixing ceremony was in process at Alzhapulzhai. The marriage date was fixed to be held on 27th April 1961, but her pending film works were not completed by then , though the marriage was to take place five months later. Because of this problem, the marriage date was postponed to 25th May 1961. However, the pending film works were not completed as scheduled even till the wedding date.
She also participated in Ramayana dance-drama. Without any break she took part in film shooting during the day time and dance-drama during the night hours. Her last drama ”Ragini-Raman” was staged on 22nd. She played the role of Seetha in this drama. The make-up is perfectly suitable to her. After, the completion of the drama, Ragini told her, with tears in her eyes that the make up was just appropriate; ”Ok! The drama ”Raman ” is over in your life. The real Ramachandran too entered in your life”.
Her, flight departed on 24th and landed in Kochi. She picked the car on the same day for her onward journey to Guruvayoor. Nine spinsters held nine lamps and greeted Padmini. She was accompanied by them to the bride groom. Her brother Chandran washed the bride groom’s legs with sanctified water. As per their custom the bride groom gave mundu to her. Then they exchanged rings. Exactly at 8.15 he put the knots of the holly string around her neck. Later they went to Thalacherry. There Padmini was seated on the turmeric cloth. In the bridegroom’s house, Padmini was made to sit on the yellow coloured cloth. From that moment she became a member of Dr.Ramachandran’s family.
Filmography: (selected movies)
1.Martanda Varma (1933) …. Parukutty
2. Laila Majnu (1949)
3. Maruthanattu Ilavrasi (1950)
4. Sampat (1952) Malini Devi
5. Talli Pillalu (1953)
6. Kalyanam Panniyum Brahmachari (1954)
7. Amar Deep (1958)
9. Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahta Hai (Hindi 1960)
10. Kaajal (Hindi 1965)
11. Mahabharat(Hindi 1965)
12. Thillana Mohanambal (1968)
13. Mera Naam Joker(Hindi) 1970
14. Vietnam Veedu (1970)
15. “An American Dream” (2002) TV series
By Sivashanmugam. Tn, India.