Today Breakings Exclusive! Cultural heritage of Kannadigas in Belagavi- ‘Chindodi Leela Ranagandir’ becomes history soon; family plans to sell the historic structure

Ravindra Uppar

Belagavi: Padmashri Chindodi Leela Rangamandir, a cultural monument of Belagavi, which attached with thousands and thousands of fond memories of Kannadigas is going to be the history shortly. Yes, the family of Chindodi Leela family is planning to sell the property located at the heart of the city in Sadashiv Nagar. The family has stopped taking bookings of the programmes from the next month. 

This rangamandira was a dream of theatre stalwart Chindodi Leela, fondly called as Leelamma, to provide a platform to the artists in Belagavi and North-Karnataka region. Since the aim of building this rangamandira was serving the art, it used to be available at the affordable price for the cultural programmes. But the decision of Leelamma’s family has left Kannadiga’s in Belagavi in a shocker. 

Although Leelamma’s native was Davanagere, she has settled in Belagavi and also became a councillor. Being a councillor, she took the land from the city corporation on lease in Shahapur and built KBR Kannada Samskruthi Kendra in 2002 in Shahapur, which was inaugurated by then-governor Smt.V S Ramadevi. By this, she had created a platform for Kannada plays, musical concerts and other cultural programmes. The city corporation has now converted the place into idol immersion pond. In 2003 she built rangamandira in Sadashivanagar on her own capacity. 

Padmashri Chindodi Leela Rangamandir was not just restricted to cultural programmes but also for various camps, marriages, birthday parties, community programmes and many more at an affordable price. The property of the rangamandira is still in the name of Chindoli Leela. People fondly calling her Leelamma. 

Chindodi Leela Rangamandir in Sadashiv Nagar

The rangamandira has spread in 9,120 sq.ft area and the building construction is made in 4,438 sq.ft. Outside the building premise, there is a statue of Leelamma. There are ample portraits of various roles played by Leelamma inside the hall. It’s not just the structure but the memorial of a great artist who brought laurels to Karnataka in the field of art.

Although Leelamma’s birthplace is Davanagere, she is recognised with the workplace Belagavi. If the report is true, it’s an attempt of deleting the name of Chindodi Leela from her birthplace permanently. Kannadigas in Belagavi don’t consider Leelamma as an actress but a pro-Kannada activist. In the days Kannada people were facing atrocities by Marathi linguistics, Leelamma started KBR Kannada Sanskrutik Kendra besides Kapileshwar Mandir and started Kannada activities. She was actively participating in pro-Kannada movements. All Kannada activists stood behind Leelamma to make her councillor of Belagavi in 1991 from Khasbag area. Leelamma is one who showed guts to strengthen Kannada movement in Belagavi.

Statue

Ashok Chandaragi, president, District Action Committee of Kannada Organizations, Belagavi

It’s hard to believe that Chindodi Leela Rangamandir will not be available for cultural programmes from next month. It’s a monument joined Belagavi Kannadigas emotionally. Family of Chindodi Leela should clarify the reason. 
Former Nataka Academy member B S Gavimath, Belagavi

Chindodi Leela Rangamandir isn’t just a site or structure of materials. The sentiments of Kannadigas attached to it. It’s a cultural identity of the city. Besides, the relation of Chindodi Leela with Belagavi inseparable and presently, rangamandira is an only mode to remember the great artist. Being a playwright, I don’t wish to sell this monument like any other buildings. 
Prof. D S Chougule, Playwright, Belagavi

About Chindodi Leela :

Chindodi Leela was a leading theatre artist gave performances in over 10,000 shows across Karnataka. She also acted in 32 Kannada films. films like Shri Krishna Devaraya, Kitturu Channamma, Tumbida Koda, Gaali Gopura, Sharapanjara took her career to the top. She got a chance to share the screen with the stalwarts of the silver screen like Rajkumar, B Saroja Devi, Gangadhar, Kalyankumar etc. Leelamma also produced many films like Ganayogi Panchakshari. 

Leelamma ran the Karnataka Nataka Academy for three decades and she is also a member of the legislative council for six years. The veteran actress started her acting career at the age of 5 and played the female lead when she was 13. After that, she did not look back. The high mark of her career came with the huge success of Halli Hudugi drama. Leela became a heroine on the stage for more than 30 years. She had owned the biggest drama troupe.

Awards to Leelamma’s calibre:

 Chittakarshaka Abhinetri- 1962

 Abhinaya Samrajni- 1965

 Rangabhoomi Saraswati- 1971

 Abhinava Kitturu Channamma- 1982

 Karnataka Rajyotsava Award – 1985

 Pratibha Paripoorne- 1986

 Padma Shri Award by the central government – 1988

 Kala Praveene – 1992

 K V Shankare Gowda Award- 1993

 Karnataka Nataka Academy Award- 1994

 Indira Priyadarshini Award- 1995

 Best Film Producer award by the state government- 1995-96

 Abhinaya Veer Mahile – 1999

 Kala Tapaswini – 1999

 Gubbi Veeranna Award – 2002

 Akhil Bharat Sharan Sahitya Prashasti – 2003

 Katyayini Samman Award by Nadoj Pratisthan- 2003

 Shri Krishna Devaraya Award – 2005

 Kendra Sangeeta Nataka Academy Award – 2006

 Keladi Channamma Award – 2008

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