Padmini's death marked the end of a saga in Tamil film industry, said veteran Nagesh. This sums up the achievements and laurels of Padmini, called affectionately 'Natiya Peroli'.
A skilled Bharatanatyam dancer, Padmini had acted in more than 250 films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi in her long and distinguished career. She paired on celluloid with prominent actors including MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Prem Nazir, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. She began learning classical dance at the age of four. Guru Gopinath and later T M Mahalingam Pillai were her teachers and she devoted her entire time and energy in pursuing that classical form.
Born in Poojappura in Thiruvanthapuram in 1932 to Thankappan Pillai and Saraswathi Ammal, she made her debut in filmdom with the Hindi movie Kalpana. It was followed by several movies where she appeared for dance numbers.
They include movies Vedhala Ulagam (1949), Seetha Kalyanam, Velaikari, Vinodhini and Pavalakodi (1950) among others. She made her debut as a character actress in Ezhai Padum Padu (1950).
She was introduced in Tamil with Manamagal (1950) which had dialogues by M Karunanidhi and directed by veteran comedian N S Krishnan. She followed it the next year with Panam opposite Sivaji Ganesan. Her films with MGR included Madurai Veeran, Rani Samukhtha, Mannadhi Mannan and Rickshawkaran, featuring her in a character role.
She married Dr K T Ramachandran and she settled in USA where she started the Padmini School of Fine Arts. She lost her husband, who was only 48 in the year 1981.
Padmini went on win best actress award of the Film Fans Association four times and the Kalaimamani award from Tamilnadu government in 1958. In 1985, she received the Filmfare Award in 1985 for Poovae Poo Chudava where she played Nadhiya's grandmother. The erstwhile Soviet Union released a postal stamp in her honor.
During the Indian-Pakistan war in 1965, she went to the war front and performed for the wounded Indian soldiers. She also performed for the sick patients in the hospital in the then Madras.
Padmini was cremated at Besant Nagar Crematorium on Tuesday with who's who of the industry taking part. She breathed her last at a private hospital following cardiac arrest on Sunday night.