All roads in Kochi on Wednesday morning is leading to the auditorium near here where body of veteran actress K.P.A.C. Lalitha has been kept for all to pay their last respects.
Ailing for a while, she passed away at her residence here on Tuesday night, three days before her 74th birthday.
Ever since the news of her demise spread, there has been an unending stream of visitors.
Leading actors, which included veteran superstars Mammootty, Mohanlal and Prithviraj paid
their last respects to the veteran actor. Dileep, facing trial in a couple of cases related to an actress abduction, was also seen with with his actress wife Kavya Madhavan.
Visuals showed many of her co-stars being teary eyed while bidding goodbye to her.
A co-star in many of her films and former Lok Sabha member Innocent said: “To me Lalitha was like the lady next door. Her acting skills is unparalleled and do not know if there will be one like her again,” said Innocent.
Another of her long time co-star veteran Janaradhan said he shared a very good chemistry with Lalitha not only onscreen but even their families were very close when they lived as neighbours in Chennai.
“When we were in the same frame in film shootings, for me, it was her acting skills and dialogue delivery, which helped me perform with ease. All I wish for her is, if there is life in the world that she is now going to, I wish her all the best, as she was a great human being,” said Janardhan.
Lalitha was made Chairperson of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy in 2016 when Pinarayi Vijayan became the Chief Minister.
It was at the age of 10 that she first acted in a play and later joined the Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC), a prominent Leftist drama troupe and began her acting career with a remuneration of Rs 15.
There she was given the screen name Lalitha and later, when she started acting in films, K.P.A.C. was added to her screen-name to differentiate it from another actress known as Lalitha.
In a career spanning over five decades, she had donned the grease paint in over 550 films.
After debuting in “Kootukudumbham”, directed by ace director K.S. Sethumadhavan, in 1969, she had no reason to look back and was Lalithachechi to all.
A winner of two national and four Kerala State Film awards, she was practically indispensable to legendary film maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan in most of his films.
In his film, ‘Mathilukal’ starring Mammootty, her character Narayani appeared in the film only through her sound talking with the character Mammooty played standing on either side of a wall in a jail compound.
Until last year when her health deteriorated, she was very active in the film industry.
Married to the enigmatic director Bharathan, who passed away in 1998, Lalitha was at her actor-director son Siddarth’s residence, when she passed away.
She is survived by a daughter as well.
The last rites will be performed at Thrissur, later in the day.