Leela Naidu

  • Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India


Leela Naidu (Telugu: లీలా నాయుడు) (1940 – 28 July 2009) was an Indian actress who starred in a small number of Hindi and English films, including Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke (1963), based on the real-life Nanavati case, and The Householder, Merchant Ivory Productions' first film. She was Femina Miss India in 1954, and was featured in the Vogue along with Maharani Gayatri Devi in the list of 'World's Ten Most Beautiful Women', a list she was continuously listed from the 1950s to the 1960s in prominent fashion magazines worldwide. She is remembered for her stunning classical beauty and subtle acting style.

Leela Naidu was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India to Dr. Pattipati Ramaiah Naidu, a well known nuclear physicist from Madanapalle, Chittoor Dist., Andhra Pradesh, who worked under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Marie Curie for his doctoral thesis in Paris and ran one of her labs. He set up medical radiation equipment devised at the Curie Institute in the United States and India. He had to leave laboratory research after getting cancer from working with radioactive materials. He was Scientific Advisor to UNESCO for Southeast Asia, and later, an advisor to the Tata group. Her mother, journalist and Indologist Dr. Marthe Mange Naidu, was of Swiss-French origin, and earned her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne.[1][2][dubious – discuss]. She was the only surviving child out of eight pregnancies as Marthe had seven miscarriages. In her 2009 semi-biography of anecdotes co-authored with Jerry Pinto, it was related that her grandfather on her mother's side owned a factory where he fired a young Benito Mussolini for beating up a coworker, and her grandmother had a strange interlude with a Russian prince who was their next door neighbour who later turned out to be one of Rasputin's assassins.