From limelight to poverty, this actress saw it all

Renukamma Murgod, the septuagenarian kannada theatre, cinema and TV soap artiste, had worked hard all her life to deliver perfect performance on stage and before the camera.

But her economic condition, for somebody who had won several awards, was never good. She had said she could not even buy medicines from the government.

Kannada artiste Renukamma began her theatre career when she was 13. During the struggle for independence, her theatre career was at its peak. She had performed in several notable films, such as Shabdavedhi, in which she played the role of Kannada veteran actor Rajkumar’s mother. Her last popular film was Nammura Mandaara Hoove, which starred Shivrajkumar.

She has acted in many TV soaps; the recent popular one was Moodala Mane. During the shooting of a film eight months ago in the city, Renukamma suffered an attack of paralysis. She was taken to her hometown at Murgod in Saundatti taluk. Since then, her unmarried brother Shankar had been taking care of her.

Kannada theatre and film artistes, who at one time used to seek her blessings, all turned their backs. “None of them cared to enquire about her health — even the producer and director of the film on whose sets she collapsed,” Shankar said. She was staying at Murgod in a hut designed artistically by using musical instruments.

Renukamma’s family was not economically sound to get her treated in private hospitals in Belgaum and Bangalore, according to her son Ashok, who works at a college in Hubli. “Bailhongal MLA Jagadish Metgud and assembly Speaker Jagadish Shettar called on her last week and assured some aid from the government, but nothing happened,” Ashok said.

Some philanthropists, the previous week, had helped Renukamma get ayurvedic massage treatment at Ankola in North Kanara district. Some also gave financial help. But the Karnataka Nataka Academy and other organisations did not come to her aid, relatives said.

Renukamma was a recipient of the Gubbi Veeranna Award, Rangshri and others. For a fortnight now, Renukamma was surviving on fluids, and for the past three days, she had almost slipped into a coma, unable to injest any solid or liquid food, said her brother Shankar.