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Born12th June, 1945
Native PlaceAndhra Pradesh
CareerCast (123), Production (2)
First MovieInapraavukal (1965)

Sharada is a three time national award winning South Indian actress. She originally hails from Andhra Pradesh. But has achieved success through Malayalam movies. Initially she has done many supporting roles in Telugu films, later on she moved to Malayalam film industry and gained success there. She is also known as Urvashi Sharada because earlier the National Film Award for Best Actress was officially designated as Urvashi Award.

Sharada, a Telugu Padmashali, was born as Saraswati Devi in Tenali, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Her parents Venkateswar Rao and Sachyavathi Devi belonged to a family of agriculturalists. She has a brother, namely Mohan Rao. Sharada was sent to Madras in her childhood to live with her grandmother Kanakamma. Sharada describes her grandmother as a strict disciplinarian who in the later days wouldn't even let the heroes touch her and allowed rehearsals only on Sundays. Sharada started to learn dance when she was six. She used to perform during Dasara and other temple festivals. It was because of her mother's desire that she learned dance. Her mother wanted her to become a big star in cine field. Though Sharada's father was not too interested in the idea, he didn't stop her either.

Sharada married Chalam, a famous telugu hero,producer,and comedian.Chalam was the co-star of her debut film Tandrulu Kodukulu.They both got divorced later on.

When she grew up, she started in acting in theatre, under the supervision of her grandmother. In Indian theatre and cinema, the female lead stars used to leave the field as soon as they are married. So, most of the female lead stars were very young compared to the male leads. Sharada remembers in one of the plays she acted as the wife of a person 30 years older than her when she was just 13. Her debut in films was with a minor role in the Telugu film Kanya Sulkam. However, she returned to theatre after it and did a major role in the Telugu version of Ratha Kanneer, a Tamil drama. The play went to get staged over 100 times in Tamilnadu.

In 1959, she began her career as Sharada. The change in name was attributed to the presence of a few other actors in the industry with the name Saraswati. She came under contract to L.V. Prasad, a Telugu producer. Though she didn't get to act in any of his films, she got her formal training in acting under him, including the Navarasa lessons. She largely attributes her performances and growth in the field to this training. Her first break came with the Akkineni Nageswara Rao starrer Iddaru mithrulu, which was a major hit. Noted for the role in the film, she got chances from Tamil and Malayalam films as well. The year 1965 changed her career as Sharada carved her niche for herself in the Malayalam film industry with her performances in Shakuntala, Murappennu, Kattu Thulasi and Inapravukal. After that, she focused in Malayalam films, acting only a few roles in other languages. Recognition came in 1967 in the form of a national honorary award for her performances in various films of 1966 including Iruttinte Athamavu. The award was the predecessor to the National Film Award for Best Actress, which was instituted in 1967. In 1968, she won her first National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in Thulabharam. She went on to win the award 2 more times, for Swayamvaram (1972, Malayalam) and Nimajjanam (1978, Telugu). She also won the Kerala State Film Awards for Best Actress one time.

Later she saw success in Telugu films in protagonist roles. She was so popular that she did lead roles in films starring most of the successful heroes of Telugu film industry. Post 1993, she became choosy and did only a few films. Her major films off late were Mazhathullikkilukkam (2002, Malayalam), Rappakal (2005, Malayalam) and Stalin (film) (2006, Telugu).

She owns a chocolate factory named Lotus Chocolates. She was elected as Member of Parliament on Telugu Desam Party ticket from her native town of Tenali.

National Film Awards

1968 Best Actress (Thulabharam) Malayalam
1972 Best Actress (Swayamvaram) Malayalam
1978 Best Actress (Nimajjanam) Telugu

Kerala State Film Awards

1970 - Best Actress (Thriveni, Thara)

Prepared by: Dr. Susie Pazhavarical


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