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Goodbye, 'Kalpana chechi'

By Vijay George
January 25, 2016 12:24 IST
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'The world will remember Kalpana through the characters that showed her brilliance as an actor.'

It was during the shooting of Fazil’s Vismayathumbathu that I met Kalpana for the first time.

She had a funny scene with Mohanlal and Mukesh and I watched her perform so effortlessly. Just like she had left everyone in splits during the shooting, she evoked laughter later in the theatres as well.

I met her last during the shooting of Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days, where she played Nivin Pauly’s nagging mother.

The crew was shooting the Maangalyam song and she had some shots in between, like pulling Nivin away, who was busy matching steps with his cousins (played by Dulquer Salmaan and Nazriya Nazim). I watched her do the scenes so effortlessly, exactly like the way she performed when I first saw her.

The 51-year-old actress had acted in around 300 films.

Kalpana, who won the National Award for the Best Supporting actress, succumbed to a heart attack on January 25 in Hyderabad. She was in the city for a shoot and was found dead in her hotel room.

Though she was known as the sister of well-known actresses Urvashi and Kalaranjini in the early days, she carved a name for herself very soon. Not many know that she was not keen on pursuing an acting career even though she was a child artiste in films like Vidarunna Mottukal (1977).

But after she made a mark with Manju (1983), there was no looking back.

Kalpana was mostly seen in character roles, but she was mainly known for his superb performances as a comedienne.

Her roles in films like Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal, Kouthuka Varthakal, Dr Pasupathy, Inspector Balram, Kalippattam, Gandharvam, Ishtam, Vellithira, Vellinakshathram, Atbhutha Dweepu, Twenty 20, Kerala Café, Indian Rupee, Spirit, Bangalore Days and The Dolphins have been the most appreciated. She won the National award for her performance in Thanichalla Njan (2012).

She has also acted in Tamil films like Chinna Veedu, Idhaya Thirudan, Sati Leelavati and Kakki Sattai.

She was last seen on screen in the Christmas release Charlie and curiously, her character dies in the film.

Kalpana was one of the few actors in Malayalam who was happy with her label as a comedienne. She had a superb comic timing, but even while doing such roles, she surprised all with her spectacular performances in serious roles.

Kalpana was always known for her soft-spoken ways and sense of humour. It was always a delight to talk to her and as a media person, her intelligent and witty replies have been really special.

She may have faced several tough situations in her life but it never affected her profession. She was separated from her filmmaker husband Anil, some years back. She has a daughter, Sreemayi, from that relationship.

The entire Malayalam industry has been in a state of shock, on hearing about the sudden demise of this talented artiste.

'Kalpana chechi', as I called her, will remain in my memories forever. The world will remember Kalpana through the characters that showed her brilliance as an actor.

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Vijay George in Kochi