Born on 21 June 1926 in Mysore, Shrimati R. Nagarathnamma began her professional career on stage as a child
actress at the age of twelve. Subsequently she played major roles in the productions of Sri Chamundeswari
Nataka Sabha, Gubbi Veeranna’s Sri Chenna Basaveshwara Swamy Kripa Poshita Nataka Mandali, Hiranniah
Mitra Mandali and Seshakamala Kala Mandali.
In 1959, Shrimati Nagarathnamma established her own all-female drama company – Sri Sthree Nataka Mandali – at Bangalore and presented plays including Krishna Leela, Krishna Garudi, Bedoara Kannappa, Samsara Nowka and Devadasi. As an actress she achieved phenomenal success in male roles such as Bhima, Kamsa, Ravana, Dasharatha, and Kannappa. She is popularly known as ‘Bhima Nagarathnamma’ for her powerful rendering of the role. She has also acted in a number of Kannada and Tamil films.
Shrimati R. Nagarathnamma received the Karnataka Nataka Academy award in 1987. She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award as an actress in 1992. The Government of Karnataka honoured her with Dr Gubbi Veeranna Award in the year 2001.
Shrimati R. Nagarathnamma is elected Tagore Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for her contribution to Indian theatre.