Only days after Telugu Cinema world is bereaved of Sree Gummadi Venkateswara Rao, another veteran Sree B. Padmanabham (78) passed away today in Chennai due to cardiac arrest.
Born on August 20, 1931 at Simhadripuram of Kadapa district to Basavaraju Venkata Seshaiah and Santhamma, Sree Padmanabham stepped into Telugu film industry in 1943 with the film Krishna Prema. His presence was noted in the films Mayalokam (1945), Radhika (1947), Shavukaru (1950), and Pathala Bhairavi (1951), and soon he became a popular choice for comedy. Much later in his career, he turned a producer with NTR-Savitri starrer Devatha (1965). His banner, which also had his colleague as theater artiste Vallam Narasimha Rao as producer, was named Rekha & Murali Productions, after Padmanabham's elder son Murali and Vallam Narasimha Rao's daughter Rekha. He made 10 films as producer, including notable films such as Potti Pleader-u (1966), Sree Sree Sree Maryada Ramanna (1967) in which he introduced S.P. Balasubhramanyam as playback singer, Sreerama Katha (1968) which he directed too, Kathanayika Molla (1970) which he also directed and won the State award too, Pelli Kaani Thandri (1976), acting in prominent roles in all of them. As an established actor, he enthralled the audience in various films, and films like Iddaru Mithrulu, Devatha, Pandava Vanavasamu, Potti Pleader-u, Paramanandayya Sishyula Katha, Sree Sree Sree Maryada Ramanna, Bhakta Prahlada, Sreerama Katha, Dasara Bullodu, and Pelli Kaani Thandri.
He maintained good health until the end, thanks to his healthy living habits and yoga practice. After considerable gap, he reappeared on the silver screen in a short role in Mayalodu (1993), in Balakrishna-starrer Bhairava Dweepam (1994) as the sorcerer's aide like in the classic film Pathala Bhairavi that made him popular, and in Subhamasthu (1995). Later, he acted in Chakram (2005) as himself and in Bhadra the same year. Sivaji-Krishna Bhagawan starrer Tata, Birla, Madhyalo Laila (2006) marked Sree Padmanabham's last screen appearance. However, he was seen actively participating in "Telugu Cinema Vajrotsavalu", even extemporaneously singing the popular number prEma kOsamai valalO paDenE paapam pasivaaDu... (Pathala Bhairavi) without even having to look at the lyric! (He indeed sang a few songs in films too earlier, such as maa ooru madaraasu... from Devatha.)
It's a sad time for fans of Telugu Cinema classics to see such much-celebrated veterans to leave the world.