indian cinema heritage foundation

Lalita Pawar

  • Real Name: Amba Lakshman Rao Shagun
  • Born: 18 April 1916 (Nasik)
  • Died: 24 February 1998 (Pune)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Spouse: G P Pawar , Rajprakash Gupta

Through no fault of her own, but her immensely successful portrayal of loathsome, cruel women, Lalita Pawar stands out as one of the most hated faces on the Indian screen. Audiences loved to hate her: each of her appearances as the villainous matriarch left women hoping that they would never have to face such a formidable foe in their own households.  
Lalita Pawar was born Amba Lakshman Rao Shagun on 18 April, 1916 in Nasik, Maharashtra. She started her career as a child artist in the film Arya Mahila (1928). She debuted as a heroine with the film Himmat-e-Marda (1934), where she stunned audiences with her glamorous avatar. She went on to create quite the uproar with her appearance in a swimming suit in her next film, Daivi Khajana (1933). Soon, she was starring in one hit film after another. Few remember that she also broke a record at this time; she played 17 different characters in the film Chatur Sundari (1930).
At the peak of her career as a heroine, Lalita Pawar suffered an unfortunate setback. During the shooting of Jang-E-Aazaadi, her co-star Master Bhagwan (popularly known as Bhagwan Dada) was told to slap her for a scene. He accidentally slapped her too hard, bursting a vein in her left-eye. Though Lalita underwent treatment for three years for the paralysis caused by this blow, she was left with a slight facial disfigurement for the rest of her life. This meant she could no longer play female leads in films. Instead of taking this as her cue to withdraw from films, however, Lalita Pawar began to accept character roles. Soon, she had turned her misfortune to her advantage. Her injured left eye gave her a unique edge when it came to portraying villainous roles. 
Lalita Pawar’s skilful performance as the spiteful mother-in-law in Dahej (1950) immortalised her place in the history of Indian cinema. No other actress could have played the cruel, tyrannical mother-in-law with such flair. Though she did appear in some films as a compassionate, maternal figure, she made her mark most memorably playing cruel mothers-in-law, conniving sisters-in-law, or wicked aunts. With this reputation preceding her, she came immediately to mind when Ramanand Sagar was looking to cast an actress for the role of the scheming Manthara in his television series Ramayan. Once again, Lalita thrilled a new generation of audiences as the devious maid responsible for engineering epic conflict. 
By 1990, Lalita had acted in over 600 Indian films of various languages. In 1990, she was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw. Some of her films like Hatyare (1989), Shiv Teri Mahimaa Nyaari (1992), Muskurahat (1992), still continued to be released. On 24 February 1998, she breathed her last in Pune.

works often with