Chindodi Leela

Shrimati Chindodi Leela was born in 1943 at Davangere, Karnataka, into a family of professional theatre artists. Her father Chindodi Veerappa had established the K.B.R. Drama Company in 1928, and she herself appeared on the stage when she was only eight years of age, as young Siddharama in the play Shivayogi Siddharama (1951). Between 1960 and 1975, Shrimati Leela rose to stardom in the popular Kannada theatre by her performance in the title role of Halli Hugudi (Village Girl), which was staged thousands of times in those years in every town of Karnataka. Her fame has grown with her performances in Shakuntala, Lankadahana, Matanga Kanye, Hemareddy Malamma, Gunasagari, Veera Babruvahana, and Belli Bangara in subsequent years. More recently, Polisana Magalu and Dharmada Dourjanya have brought Shrimati Leela much respect in Kannada theatre. She toured the U.S. and U.K. in 2000 with help from the Government of Karnataka to present her plays Kitturu Chennamma, Tippu Sultan, and Jagajyothi Basa- veshwara. She has headed the K.B.R. Drama Company since 1977, one of the few women to lead a professional repertory. In Davangere, her home town, she has set up the Chindodi Leela Kalakshetra, and at Belagavi she has founded the Chindodi Leela Rangamandira and the K.B.R. Kannada Samskruti Kala Kendra. The latter institution was inaugurated in 2002. Shrimati Chindodi Leela was Chairperson of the Karnataka Nataka Academy between 1991 and 1995. Honours for her work include the Rajyotstava Award (1985), the Padma Shri (1988), the Karnataka Nataka Academy Award (1994), and the Gubbi Veeranna Award (2003) of the Government of Karnataka. Shrimati Chindodi Leela receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribu- tion as an actress to Indian theatre.