University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Sudha Chandran – Success amidst Tragedy
Born into a Tamil family in 1964, Sudha was exposed to a rich cultural heritage at a very young age. Her father, K. D. Chandran was an employee of the American Centre in Mumbai. She started dancing at the age of 3 and it was then that her family decided to provide her formal education in dance. Surprisingly, Sudha was refused admission to the prestigious dance school ‘Kala Sadan’ as the teachers believed she was too young.
However, persistence on the part of her father saw her thru. Sudha continued her studies at St. Josephs Convent School with her first dance performance at the age of eight. By the age of 17, she had performed 75 stage programmes. Very rarely we come across people who have the courage and heart to move on in life after tragedy strikes their personal lives. May 2nd 1981 was the day that changed Sudha Chandran forever. A highly accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Chandran met with a road accident during a pilgrimage via the Scindia School in Tamil Nadu. The bus she was travelling in hit a truck and her feet got stuck in the chaos.
Those less injured helped out but by that time her right foot was critically injured. Unfortunately for her, the doctors made a mistake while trying to cure the infection. This mistake cost Sudha her right leg. To stop the spread of the infection, her right leg had to be amputated 7. 5 inches below the knee. Sudha remained in a state of shock and for a long time, battled depression. Many years later she turned to acting after the traumatic accident and proved she was not a quitter.
One day, she read about Dr. Sethi of Jaipur who manufactured artificial legs. Reading this gave Sudha hope and she and her father went to visit him. Her will and hope was came down as she realized that with every dance session while wearing the artificial leg, her foot began to bleed and the pain became more severe as the pace of her dancing increased. Though she was determined to overcome it. She mastered all the dance moves and patiently waited for an opportunity to thrive on the stage once again. She had a point to prove to herself.
A recipient of two prestigious awards, the Nritya Mayuri from the Dance Academy and Bharatnatyam and Nav Jyoti from the Telugu Academy, Sudha knew she had to live up to her reputation. January 28, 1984 was the day she forgot about her leg and produced such a stellar performance that the entire nation would soon know her name. Her performance was appreciated and well received by all, even Ramoji Rao, a famous Telugu film producer and publisher of ‘ Newstime’ and ‘Eanader’ who wanted to produce a film based on her life story.
Later, Sudh was cast as the protagonist in ‘Mayuri’. The film went on to become a hit and turned Sudha into an overnight star. At that time, the President of India, Gyani Zail Singh presented her a special award-Silver Lotus and Rs. 5, 000 for her acting in this film at the 33rd National Film Festival. The hindi version of her movie called ‘Nache Mayuri’ became a hit as well and was viewed by international audiences. As time went by, Sudha’s contribution to dance declined which made way for her to excel in acting.
Many offers rolled in and she ventured into television as well. On the small screen she acted in many serials such as Commander, Marshal, a children programme called Shaktiman, Name from Patna Doordarshan. She also appeared in popular film song, Avval Number. Sudha Chandran’s life is a fine example of how one can reach success despite a disability. She had the heart to move on and make something of what she had while many of us would have stopped in our tracks and let life so the way it was.