Rani Padmini – Glamorous South Indian actress murdered in the 1980s

Rani Padmini (1952-1986) was a south Indian actress of 1980s, best known for her glamorous roles. She did both lead and supporting roles, and predominantly worked in Malayalam. She acted in a few Tamil films too. She, aged 24 and her mother aged 42 were brutally stabbed to death by three of her employees in their residence at Chennai, mainly for money, & the death of the glamorous star during her peak years created ripples across south India, especially in the film industry. Thenum Vayambum, Thusharam, Sangarshanam and Kuyiline Thedi are her top roles.

It was her mother’s dream to make Rani Padmini, an actress

Rani Padmini’s mother Indirakumari hailed from Thiruvananthapuram. Though she dreamed to become an actress, she became a less-known dubbing artist, mostly dubbing Hindi films to south Indian languages. She married a man named Chaudri and settled in Chennai. Rani Padmini was their only child. Indira, who noticed Rani’s beauty dreamt to make her actress, to fulfil her unfilled wish, and wanted a good launch in films. As it’s not easy to try to Tamil industry among competitors, she tried in Malayalam films and succeeded.

Rani Padmini entered Malayalam cinema in 1981

s. janaki malayalam hits

Ennittum Neeyenne Song from Naseema, where Rani Padmini played the titular role

Kathayariyathe was her debut film. However multi-starrer Sangarshanam directed by Viswambharan was her first theatre release. Her big break came when she was casted opposite Ratheesh (role originally meant for Jayan) in the blockbuster Thusharam by I. V. Sasi, and she started getting more roles in Malayalam. She turned busy and later appeared in movies like Naseema, Kuyiline Thedi, Parankimala, Sharam, Bandhanam, Killikonchal etc. She was willing to act in glamorous roles too, and earned big sums as renumerations.

They moved to Chennai in search of big opportunities

Manje Vaa song from Thusharam, her most popular film

She and mother rented a 2-storied bungalow in Anna Nagar and led a luxurious life. She also acted in a few movies. They gave ad in newspapers and hired three employees in their residence at Anna Nagar – Lakshmi Narasimhan (watchman), Jebaraj (driver) and Ganesan (cook). Jebaraj was the first one to join, and after one month, the watchman joined. Both had criminal background, and knew each other, which they hid from mother and daughter, and they succeeded in gaining trust. Ganesan was the last one to join.

Motive of the murder

One day Jebaraj misbehaved with Rani Padmini, and she hit him. He was also fired from job. Very soon Lakshmi Narasimhan also left, while Ganesan stayed there. Jebaraj wanted to take revenge and he received support from both friends. They wanted to rob their money and kill them and made plans accordingly.

They happened to know, the house in which they were staying, Rani Padmini is going to purchase, and transaction is to happen very soon. So they speculated that money will be kept at home. Mother and daughter, when at home, at night have the habit of drinking, and the criminals made use of the situation.

On 15 October 1986, they entered home without their knowledge. When Rani went to kitchen, they stabbed her mother who was alone in the room. Hearing mother’s scream, when Rani reached there, the three friends raped her in front of mother and stabbed her brutally too. 12 stabs were found in her chest itself. They dumped mother and daughter’s bodies in bathroom and fled taking away their ornaments costing 15 lakh rupees and 10,000 rupees.

The broker Prasad arrived at home 5 days after the crime, and as no one was answering the calling bell, he just examined the bungalow. He got inside the house through a door opened in back side, and seeing the decayed dead bodies in bathroom, he screamed and ran out of house. He informed police. The death created big headlines throughout south India. As the bodies were in decomposed stage and not possible to move, as suggested by police surgeon, PM was done inside bathroom. Yet no ambulance was willing to take bodies to mortuary and finally somehow police succeeded to arrange a taxi car. Yet the car driver allowed to use the trunk only, where bodies were placed sealed in plastic bags.

There was no one to receive bodies from mortuary too, and finally Film Parishad accepted, and cremated. Within a few days, the three employees were nabbed by Chennai police. For the brutal double murder, they were sentenced to death by Madras High Court. However Supreme Court reduced it to life sentence. Madras High Court considered this case in 2017, and instructed to release Lakshmi Narasimhan. Jabaraj died long ago while in prison, while it was reported by some Tamil dailies that Ganeshan escaped from prison, and never caught later.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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