Sri Durga (born 10 August 1973), known by the screen name Malashri, is an Indian film actress. She has worked predominantly in Kannada films in addition to Telugu and Tamil films. A leading actress of Kannada cinema in the late 1980s and 1990s, Malashri garnered praise for her portrayal of a homely Indian girl and character roles. She was popularly called Kanasina Rani ("Dream Girl") in the media.
Malashri began her career as a child artiste and has appeared in 34 films of Tamil and Telugu. She made her debut in a lead role with the Kannada film Nanjundi Kalyana (1989). Her portrayal of a haughty, shrewish woman in the movie won her many accolades heralding her as one of the top actresses in Kannada Cinema. She went to establish herself as a leading actress in Kannada cinema with the films Gajapathi Garvabhanga (1989), Policena Hendthi (1990), Kitturina Huli (1990), Rani Maharani (1990), Hrudaya Haadithu (1991), for which she won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, Ramachaari (1991), Belli Kalungura (1992), Solillada Saradara (1993) and Gadibidi Aliya (1995). In the 2000s, Malashri began to work exclusively in action films like Chamundi (2000), Kannadada Kiran Bedi (2009), Shakti (2012), Veera (2013) and Ganga (2015) for which she won her first Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actress.
Malashri began her career in films as a child actor after being roped in by the directors of her mother's films. She appeared in 34 films as a child actor, out of which she played the role of a boy in 26 of them. In a talk show, Majaa Talkies, she said that as a child, she was a fan of actor Amitabh Bachchan and would dress up like him, appearing as boy, which prompted directors to cast her in their films. Among them include the 1979 films, Imayam and Neela Malargal.
Writer and lyricist Chi. Udaya Shankar first introduced Malashri to Rajkumar family who were on the look out for a fresh face. In a lead role, she was introduced first by the Parvathamma Rajkumar, and cast her opposite her son Raghavendra Rajkumar for the film Nanjundi Kalyana (1989), who also rechristened her name as Malashri. She went on to act in two other films from Vajreshwari Combines, namely, Gajapathi Garvabhanga opposite Raghavendra again, and Mruthyunjaya with Shiv Rajkumar.
She took on the famous double role in Rani Maharani (immortalized earlier by Vanisri in Ganga Manga/Rani Vani and Sridevi in Chaalbaaz). With this film, she silenced her critics once and for all with a powerhouse performance. But it was not until her next film Hrudaya Haadithu that she openly won all praises from the masses, elite and critics alike. Her portrayal of a young girl inflicted with heart problem and her simple desires in life won her the Filmfare Best actress award in the year 1991. As she churned out hit after hit. Even director V. Ravichandran, who till then believed only in importing heroines from the film industries of other states, cashed in hugely on her popularity by casting her in Ramachaari (a remake of Tamil Hit Chinna Thambi). This enabled him to come out of the financial crisis he was facing due to the debacle of Shanti Kranti during that time.
However, in the mid-90s, Malashri had a string of less successful films like Prema Khaidi, Snehada Kadalalli, Megha Mandara, Harishina Kumkuma, and Solillada Saradara. She had a few comeback hits in the new millennium with "angry woman" roles in Chamundi, Durgi and Kannada Kiran Bedi.
Malashri was born and brought up in Madras (now Chennai) into a Telugu speaking family. She shot to fame with Nanjundi Kalyana in 1989 but her personal life hit an all-time low the same year when her mother died in a road accident. She had an affair with actor Sunil, her co-star in many films. But in 1994 she met with a car accident when her car got hit by a truck. While Malashree suffered multiple injuries, Sunil died within an hour. It was rumoured that they even had plans of getting married. She is currently married to film producer Ramu and they have a daughter together, Ananya (b. 2001). Her sister Subhashri was also an actress, who appeared in South Indian films.Karnataka State Film Awards2015 : Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actress : GangaFilmfare Awards South1991: Filmfare Award for Best Actress: Hrudaya HaadithuOther awards2011: NTR Award