One of the pillars of theatre in Karnataka, actress of Kannada films Padmashri award winner, Gubbi Veeranna award winner, former Sangeeth Nataka Academy chief Chindodi Leela passed away on Thursday night at Wockhardt hospital in Bangalore. She was 74. The celebrity of theatre and films Chindodi Leela will be placed for public darshan at Gubbi Veeranna Rangamandira in Bangalore. On Saturday the cremation will take place at Tavarekere village in Shanker Leela garden of the legend. She has a permanent place in the theatre history.
The powerful actress on stage and silver screen Chindodi Leela under went a bypass surgery on January 18 at Wockhardt Hospital in Bangalore.
Hailing from Davanagere Chindodi Leela entered the theatre at the age of seven got recognition for ‘Halli Hudugi’ role on stage. As a child with frill frocks the jumping scenes she was performing on stage for KBR Drama Company earned good attendance and applaud wherever it was staged.
Chindodi Leela growing in the family of artists (her father was Chindodi Veerappa – KBR means Kari Basava Rajendra) got in to films very easily. Gali Gopura, Tejaswini, Bhale Hudga, Sri Krishnadevaraya, Sharapanjara, Tumbida Koda, Gaanayogi Panchakshari Gavayi are the hit films of Chindodi Leela. She took the reigns of KBR Drama Company from 1980.
The memorable event for Chindodi Leela KBR Drama Company was the production of a Kannada film ‘Eshtu Nagthi Nagu’ and celebration of 80 years of Drama Company that was attended by former President of India Abdul Kalam on August 28, 2009.
Without securing grants from the government of public she developed the idea of full fledged theatre for only plays and cultural exhibitions. Except maintenance charges nothing will be charged for those who hired the theatre. This dream of Chindodi Leela has not come true.
In eighty years, 58 plays more than 20,000 performances, including over 2,000 stage shows in the border areas of Belgaum, summarizes KBR Drama Company, Davanagere’s existence and continuance of service to Kannada theatre.
Veteran Kannada writers, activists and the management of the company are now organizing the platinum jubilee celebrations of the company, which has become synonymous with the name “Chindodi”.
KBR’s roots go back to the time of Annigere Chindodi Veerappa, who established Sri Karibasaveshwara Sangeeta Nataka Mandali, a cultural organization to spread the preaching of Sri Basaveshwara.
The first play staged by this mandali was Sri Kottureshwara Mahatme in 1928 at Kottur in Bellary district. The then Mysore ruler Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV conferred upon Veerappa the title Gayana Gandharva and gifted a “Chinnada Thoda” (golden bracelet), which later came to be called as Chindodi and remained as the family name.
Among the eight children of Veerappa and Shanthamma, six carved a niche for themselves in Karnataka theatre. His children are: Chindodi Veerappa (named after his father), Chindodi Doddakaribasappa, Chindodi Sanna Karibasappa, Chindodi Shivaraj, Chindodi Shantaraj, Chindodi Girijamma, Chindodi Gouramma and Chindodi Leela. Under Chindodi Veerappa junior’s stewardship, the company was renamed KBR Drama Company. Of the 20,000 performances, Halli Hudugi (village girl) alone was staged more than 10,000 times across the State.
It was the vehicle on which Chindodi Leela came to the limelight as a heroin. After her brother, Ms. Leela shouldered the responsibility of the company and continued the legacy. Since 1981, Chindodi Bangaresh and Chindodi Srikantesh have been running the branch companies, while Chindodi Shambhulingappa has been running the touring company since 1998.
Under the guidance of Chindodi Leela, Polisana Magalu was staged 1,137 times at the Gubbi Veeranna Rangamandira in Bangalore, while across the State the play was staged 4,500 times. Ms. Leela has been the recipient of Rajyotsava, Padmashree, Kendra Sangeeta Nataka Academy and Dr. Gubbi Veeranna awards.
The professional drama that are based on everyday life situations are forte of Chindodi Leela. There are number of plays based on mythological stories and historical events as well. Such as Janapada, Gunasagari, Tipu Sultan. During the freedom struggle Chindodi Leela was a part of a play called Mahatma Gandhi which was banned by the British in 1947.
On state she is the happiest person. Theatre was a temple for her and it is worshipping place for Leela. For having staged for 1000 times ‘Policena Magalu’ at Gubbi Veeranna Rangamandira since October 35 1995 has entered the Guinness Record books.