Classical dancer and South Indian film actress Rajasulochana acted in over 250 films over the course of her four decade-long career. She is among the rare actresses to have starred alongside leading actors of various film industries, including M G Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, N T Rama Rao, Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar and Rajkumar. One of the most successful stars in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam cinema, she is known for films such as Piya Milan (1958), Sri Kalahastiswara Mahatyam (1954), Bharatha Vilas (1973), Nallavan Vazhvan (1961), Arasilangumari (1961), Bhuloka Rambhai (1958), and Rangoon Radha (1956). Making her debut with Gunasagari (1953), she acted up until the 1980s. Well-versed in various forms of Indian classical dance, notably Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi, she went on to establish her own dance school, Pushpanjali Nritya Kala Kendram, in Chennai.
She was born Pilliarchetty Bhakthavatsalam Naidu Rajeevalochana on 15 August, 1935, at Bezawada (Vijayawada) in erstwhile Madras Presidency. Following her father’s promotion, as PA to the General Manager of M&SM Railway, the family moved to Madras from Vijayawada and settled in Triplicane. Enrolling at school here, the school authorities recorded her name as Rajasulochana, and that’s the name she went on to be known by.
From childhood itself, she evinced an interest in classical dance and undertook training at Saraswathi Gana Nilayam in Triplicane. While her first guru was Lalithamma who taught her Bharata Natyam, she later trained under a host of experts such as K N Dandayudhapani Pillai in Bharata Natyam, Acharyulu and Vempati Chinna Satyam in Kuchipudi, Krishnakumar and Vishnu Vysarkar in Kathak, and Kalamandalam Madhavan in Kathakali.
Her arangetram (debut on-stage performance) was held in Madras, presided over by prominent music scholar, lawyer and judge of the Madras High Court and Supreme Court of India, T L Venkatarama Iyer.
With films beckoning, courtesy the popular Kannada stage and screen great, H L N Simha, she went on to make her debut in the Kannada film Gunasagari (1953). Produced by the legendary Gubbi Veeranna, the film was also remade in Tamil as Sathyasodhanai.
She debuted in Tamil cinema with Pennarasi (1955). This costume drama directed by K Somu was made at the well-known Central Studios, Coimbatore. She played the seductive mistress and court dancer Jeeva, winning praise and popularity for her songs and dances.
There was no looking back for her, and she went on to act in hundreds of films in multiple languages. Perhaps her most critically acclaimed and commercially successful film would be Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum (1958) with S.S. Rajendran. Written, produced and directed by Tamil scholar-turned- filmmaker A K Velan, the film was a revenge drama. It was a huge success. She essayed the role of Marudhi, whose marriage is stopped and whose brother, the lead character Rangan, goes to jail because of the greedy, evil Chokkanathan. The film’s songs such as Amudhum thenum etharku nee aruginil irukkayiley became very popular. The film was remade in Telugu as Manchi Manasuku Manchi Rojulu (1958) with N.T. Rama Rao playing the lead. She also acted in this version, which was directed by her husband, the noted writer-director C S Rao.
Starring opposite several superstars of South Indian cinema mainly in Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada cinema, she also acted in the Hindi film Chori Chori (1956). This AVM production starred Raj Kapoor and Nargis. She was cast with Bhagwan. She also featured in Piya Milan (1958), Sitaron Se Aage (1958) starring Ashok Kumar, and Aai Phirse Bahar (1960). To her credit, she would render all her dialogues herself across languages.
She was known for her classical dance performances in India and abroad, winning critical acclaim for her dance dramas. She founded her own dance school Pushpanjali Nritya Kala Kendram in 1961 in Chennai; it celebrated its silver jubilee in 1986.
Rajasulochana passed away on 5 March, 2013 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She was 77. Condoling her passing, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote, “I am deeply saddened to know about Rajasulochana’s demise, which is a loss to the film fraternity as a whole. She was an affable person and had carved a niche for herself in the industry.”