Theatre artist Subhadramma Mansur dies aged 81

Subhadramma Mansur, a Ballari-based senior theatre artist with multiple capabilities, died of heart attack in Ballari late night on Wednesday. She was 81 years old.

She was rushed from her residence at Radio Park area to the district hospital attached to Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) in Ballari after she developed respiratory problems at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday. She was later declared brought dead. She is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Born in 1939 in Ballari to Jwalapathi, a mechanic and a harmonium player, and Bhagyamma, a singer, Subhadramma lost her father at an early age. After completing six years of formal education, she dropped out of school at the age of 12 owing to the poor financial condition of the family. She then joined a theatre company as a child artist fulfilling to her mother’s wishes, and began to feed the family. She never had to look back ever since.

In 1952, when she was just 13 years old, she got married to Lingaraj Mansur, another well-known theatre artist of the time who was 36 years old then.

Subhadramma began learning classical music from her teacher Chandrashekhar Gawai at the age of 25 and achieved considerable command over it. She performed in many dramas in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as she was fluent in their native languages. Though her mother tongue was Telugu, she developed a great degree of command over Kannada and gave outstanding performances in it.

Subhadramma performed as an actress and singer in many drama companies including those led by prominent artists like Master Hirannaiah and Enagi Balappa. After spending17 years performing for many drama companies, Subhadramma and her husband, who at the time were 27 and 50 years old, came back to Ballari to settle down. By then, her husband had retired from theatre due to lack of opportunities, but she continued to get opportunities from different companies.

During a career spanning 50 years, Subhadramma performed in thousands of plays across the State. With her outstanding performances as Kunti and Gandhari in Kurukshetra, Subhadra in Veerabhimanyu, Mallamma in Sampoorna Hemareddy Mallamma and many more, she earned a huge fan following both inside and outside the State.

Apart from historicals and mythological dramas, she was widely appreciated for her performances in social dramas. However, her role as Droupadi in Raktha Ratri, Kurukshetra and Naraveera Partha dramas are remembered by the viewers till date.

She performed in the rural areas of Ballari even at the age of 80 and continued to enthrall people with her amazing performances.  She has won numerous accolades including Gubbi Veeranna Award, Nadoja Award, Nataka Academy Award and Rajyotsava Award.

“I led a theatre life of complete contentment. I have never been demanding. Those who aspire to be good artists should first understand the role and infuse life into it with your performance. It is possible only with commitment and hard work,” she advised the budding artists in an interview once.

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa was among those who condoled Subhadramma’s death.

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