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Shoba actress.jpg
Shobha from the film Moodu Pani (1980) [1]
Mahalakshmi Menon

(1962-09-23)23 September 1962
Died1 May 1980(1980-05-01) (aged 17) [2]
Cause of death Suicide by hanging
Other namesShoba Mahendra, Urvashi Shoba, [2] Baby Mahalakshmi, Baby Shoba
Years active1965–1980
(m. 1978)

Mahalakshmi Menon, best known by her stagename Shobha (23 September 1962 – 1 May 1980), was an Indian actress best known for her work in Malayalam and Tamil films. At the age of 17, she won the National Film Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1979 Tamil film Pasi . She also received three Kerala State Film Awards: for Best Actress (1978), Best Supporting Actress (1977) and Best Child Artist (1971); and two Filmfare Awards South for Best Actress in Kannada (1978) and Tamil (1979) films. Considered one of the finest talents to have emerged in the Indian film world, her promising career was unexpectedly cut short as she committed suicide in 1980, due to unknown reasons. Her popularity resulted in considerable public scrutiny of the events that led to her death and also various conspiracy theories. [3] The 1983 Malayalam film Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback is supposedly based on her life and death.


Born to Malayali parents in Madras, she started her career in the Tamil film industry, making her debut as a child artist in Thattungal Thirakkappadum (1966). Her first film as the main lead actress was in the 1978 Malayalam film Uthrada Rathri .

Early life

Shoba was born on 23 September 1962, to K. P. Menon and Prema Menon  an actress credited by the mononym Prema, in the Malayalam film industry, from 1954 to 1981. [4]


In 1966, Shoba made her screen debut in Tamil thriller film Thattungal Thirakkappadum directed by actor J. P. Chandrababu. In the film she was credited as Baby Mahalakshmi where she played the role of Lakshmi opposite actress Savitri, K. R. Vijaya, R. S. Manohar and Chandrababu himself. [5] [6] The following year she made her debut in Malayalam cinema in P. Venu's Udhyogastha , where she was credited as Baby Shoba. The film has been touted as the first "multi-starrer" of Malayalam cinema, with such top actors as Sathyan, Prem Nazir, K. P. Ummer, Padmini, Sharada, Sheela and Rajasree; [7] the huge hit, in a film targeted to all ages, brought Shoba wide attention as a child actor.[ citation needed ]

In 1978 she was cast as a heroine in Uthrada Rathri , a film directed by Balachandra Menon. She received the Kerala government's Best Actress award for the 1978 films Bandhanam and Ente Neelakaasham . The same year she earned the Best Actress award by Filmfare for the Kannada cinema film Aparichita. In 1979 she received the National Award for Best Actress for the Tamil film Pasi , which was produced by Lalitha, the eldest of the Travancore sisters. She also received the Filmfare Best Actress award for Pasi and received the Second Best Actress award from the Kerala government in 1977 for the film Ormakal Marikkumo .


Shobha committed suicide by hanging at the age of 17. [8] [9] [10] She was married to Balu Mahendra. The 1983 Malayalam film Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback directed by K. G. George is loosely based on her life and death. [11]


Malayalam films

Tamil films

Telugu films

Kannada films


National Film Awards [8]
Filmfare Awards South
Kerala State Film Award [12]

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  1. "Balu Mahendra (1939-2014)" . The Hindu . 22 November 2021. Archived from the original on 12 April 2022.
  2. 1 2 "Top Indian actress found hanged". Montreal Gazette . United Press International. 2 May 1980. p. 10 via Google News Archive.
  3. Aravind, CV (9 May 2020). "Remembering Shoba, the brilliant actor who left us too soon". The News Minute . Archived from the original on 8 October 2021.
  4. Babu, Subash (10 May 2020). "Actress Shobha and her intriguingly filmy life story still remain endearing". Malayala Manorama . Archived from the original on 29 May 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
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  6. Guy, Randor (2 October 2009). "A voice that mesmerised". The Hindu . Archived from the original on 6 November 2009. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  7. "Film director P. Venu dead". The Hindu . 26 May 2011. Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. 1 2 Kumar, S. R. Ashok (3 May 2002). "It's a heavy price to pay". The Hindu . Archived from the original on 4 July 2003. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  9. "A story on suicides and actresses". 4 January 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  10. "Why South Indian heroines are embracing death". Mid-Day. 20 April 2002. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  11. Joy, Prathibha. "Veteran director Balu Mahendra no more - Times of India". The Times of India .
  12. "State Film Awards". Kerala State Chalachitra Academy. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2015.

Further reading