Lalita Pawar
Amba Laxman Rao Sagun

(1916-04-18)18 April 1916
Died24 February 1998(1998-02-24) (aged 81)
Years active1928-1997
Awards1960: Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress - Anari
1961: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award - Acting

Lalita Pawar (18 April 1916 – 24 February 1998) was a prolific Indian actress, who later became famous as a character actress, appearing in over 700 films in Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati cinema. She holds a Guinness world record of longest acting career spanning over 70 years. Pawar won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the comedy-drama Anari. She featured in hit films such as Netaji Palkar (1938), made by Bhalji Pendharkar, New Hana Pictures' Sant Damaji, Navyug Chitrapat's Amrit, written by VS Khandekar, and Chhaya Films' Gora Kumbhar. Her other memorable roles were in the films Anari (1959), Shri 420 and Mr & Mrs 55, and the role of Manthara, in Ramanand Sagar's television epic serial Ramayan.[1]


Pawar was born as Amba Laxman Rao Sagun on 18 April 1916, into an orthodox family in Yeola in Nashik.[2] Her father Laxman Rao Shagun was a rich silk and cotton piecegoods merchant.[3] She started her acting career at age nine in the film Raja Harishchandra (1928), and later went on to play lead roles in the silent era and 1940s films, in a career that lasted until the end of her life, spanning seven decades.

She co-produced and acted in a silent film Kailash (1932), and later produced another film Duniya Kya Hai in 1938, a talkie.

Lalita Pawar, playing the lead in film, Himmat-e-Marda (1935).

In 1942, as a part of a scene in the movie Jung-E-Azadi, actor Master Bhagwan was to slap her hard. Being a new actor, he accidentally slapped her very hard, which resulted in facial paralysis and a burst left eye vein. Three years of treatment later, she was left with a defective left eye; thus she had to abandon lead roles, and switch to character roles, which won her much of her fame later in life.[4]

She was known particularly for playing maternal figures, especially wicked matriarchs or mothers-in-law. She also notably played the strict but kind Mrs. L. D'Sa in Anari (1959) with Raj Kapoor. Under Hrishikesh Mukherjee's direction, she gave the performance of a lifetime,[5] for which she received the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. And as the tough matriarch who falls in love in Professor (1962), and the devious hunchback Manthara in Ramanand Sagar's television series Ramayan. She was honored by the Government of India as the first lady of Indian cinema in 1961.[6]

Personal life

Her first marriage was to Ganpatrao Pawar, which went sour after his affair with her younger sister. She later married film producer Rajprakash Gupta, of Ambika studios, Bombay. She continued to live with her grandson Sanjay Pawar and her husband in Juhu. Her son Jai Pawar continued to become a producer and worked with her in movies like Manzil. Her son Jai Pawar had 2 sons Sanjay Pawar and Manoj Pawar. They both continue to live in Mumbai as her great- daughter Aanya Pawar. She died on 24 February 1998 in Aundh, Pune, where she had been staying for a while.

Selected filmography

Year Film Character
1944 Ram Shastri Anandibai (wife of Peshwa Raghunathrao)
1950 Dahej Mrs. Biharilal (Suraj's mother)
1951 The Immortal Song Vitabai
1952 Daag Shankar (Dilip Kumar)'s Mother
Parchhain Badi Rani
1955 Shri 420 Ganga Mai
Mr & Mrs 55 Seeta Devi, Anita's Aunt
1957 Nau Do Gyarah
1958 Parvarish Thakurain Rukmani Singh

Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress

1959 Anari Mrs. L. D'Sa

Won – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress

Sujata Giribala, Buaji/aunt
1960 Jhumroo Jhumroo's Mother

Jis desh me ganga behti hai (1960)

Aanchal Ramu's Mother

Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress

1961 Junglee Shekhar's mother
Hum Dono[citation needed] Major's Mother
Sampoorna Ramayana Manthara
1962 Professor Sita Devi Verma

Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress

Banarsi Thug
1963 Bluff Master
Sehra Angara's mother
Grahasti Harish Khanna's sister
Ghar Basake Dekho Mrs. Shanta Mehra
1964 Sharabi
Kohra Dai Maa

Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress

1966 Phool Aur Patthar Mrs. Jeevan Ram
Love in Tokyo Gayatri Devi
Khandan Fufi
1967 Boond Jo Ban Gayee Moti Shefali's mother
Noor Jehan
1968 Ankhen Madam/Fake Aunt
Neel Kamal Thakurain
Aabroo Mrs. Verma
Teen Bahuraniyan Sita's mother
1969 Meri Bhabhi Gangajali
1970 Anand Matron
Pushpanjali Rani Sahiba
Gopi Lilawati devi
Darpan Dadima
1971 Jwala
1972 Gaon Hamara Shaher Tumhara Lajwanti Pandey
Bombay to Goa Kashibai
1974 Hamrahi
Naya Din Nai Raat Mental Hospital Patient (Special appearance)
Doosri Sita Khel khel main'x
1976 Aaj Ka Ye Ghar Mrs. Shanti Dinanath
Tapasya Mrs. Varma
1977 Jay Vejay Nandini
Aaina Janki
1979 Manzil Mrs. Chandra (Ajay's mother)
1980 Yaarana mother
Kali Ghata Ambu, House keeper
Phir Wohi Raat Hostel Warden
Sau Din Saas Ke Bhavani Devi (Prakash's mother)
1981 Naseeb Mrs. Gomes
1982 Apna Bana Lo Mausi
1983 Ek Din Bahu Ka Kalavati
1986 Pyar Ke Do Pal
Ghar Sansar Satyanarayan's mother
1987 Watan Ke Rakhwale Radha's Maternal Grandma
Uttar Dakshin
1988 Zalzala Shila's mom
Pyasi Aatma
1989 Bahurani
1992 Muskurahat Laundry lady
1997 Bhai[7]


Year Show Role Channel References
1987 Ramayan Manthara DD National



  1. ^ "Bollywood's most dangerous mother-in-law, a slap caused eye light". Aaj Tak. 24 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Lalitha, an actress and a gentlewoman". 26 February 1998. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Tribute to Laita Pawar". Screen.
  4. ^ "Lalita Pawar – Memories".
  5. ^ Anari Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine Indian Cinema, University of Iowa.
  6. ^ "Lalita Pawar – Memories".
  7. ^ Pawar, Lalita. "Lalita Pawar Filmography". Muvi. Archived from the original on 12 April 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  8. ^ Sangeet Natak Akademi Award - Acting Archived 27 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Official listing at Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website.