Suryakantham, a legendary actress, was well known for her versatility. She was heavily recognized for her popular roles as cruel step mother, mother in law and aunt. Suryakantham was confidently banked on to pull off a film on her shoulders in the era of Black and White, with her magnanimous screen presence that equaled the likes of NTR and ANR. Fondly called as ‘Gundemma’ after superhit movie Gundemma Katha, Suryakantham is remembered eternally for her everlasting roles in Telugu Film Industry. Known to be a warm hearted person in real life, contrary to her screen image, Suryakantham left many friends who still call her the best of the Golden Era.
Celebrating her birth anniversary month, Chitramala takes a snap shot into her life as a powerful lady, both on and off screen
Birth and upbringing – Born to modest family in East Godavari District, Suryakantham had a great middle class upbringing of values, virtues and principles. Little did her folks know that this girl would someday rule the celluloid with her immense talent.
Start off into industry – Suryakantham started off as a dancer in film Chandralekha, produced by Gemini Studios. Later, actress Leela Kumari noticed her skills and referred her to get a role in Narada Naradi. After doing small roles here on, Suryakantham was not happy doing little stuff. She was intending to shift her base to Bombay when a significant role landed in her lap with film Gruhapravesham. Then came a meaty role as a cruel mom in law in Samsaram. There was no looking back after that for this able woman.
Hits galore – Suryakantham went on to act in hits after hits with character roles from 1950 s to 1990s, a wonderful career spanning four decades. MayaBazaar, Donga Ramudu, Thodikodallu, Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu, Gundamma katha, Kulagothralu, Mooga Manasulu, Lava Kusha, Aatma Gauravam, Poola Rangadu, Dasara Bullodu, aalam Maarindi, Karthika Deepam etc form some of the many in the list of hits that she scored along with lead actors.
Last days as an actor – Age did not deter this strong lady to give up acting even while she was approaching her 70s. Her last film was Govinda Govinda in 1994, starring Nagarjuna and Sridevi.
Death and memoir – Suryakantham passed away a peaceful life on 18 Deember, 1994. She was 70.
Film fraternity could never and will never replace her image in Telugu films and the space she occupied remains vacant till this day.
Chitramala fondly remembers her for everything she did for Telugu Film Industry!