Legendary Indian actress Gopishantha, better-known by her stage name Manorama, has died of a heart attack in the city of Chennai, her family members say.
Manorama was 78 and had been ill for some time.
A comedian, singer and a stage performer, Manorama, also called Aachi, was a quintessential artist.
Although she mainly appeared in Tamil films, Manorama also acted in other South Indian language movies and in Hindi.
While she became famous for her comedy roles in films, Manorama was a character artist in the later part of her career.
“The most difficult thing is to make people laugh. It is easy to make them cry,” she said in an interview.
Manorama started acting in plays at the age of 12 and had appeared in more than 1,000 plays.
Her first break in movies came in 1958 when she acted in the Tamil movie Maalaiyitta Mangai.
After that she worked with some of the leading actors and playwrights of her day – five of whom went on to become chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states.
Very few women actresses have managed to continue their career in the Tamil film industry over so many years.
She was hugely popular in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and widely regarded as a cultural icon.
Manorama had won several awards including India’s National Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1989.