Suryakantam (28 October 1924 – 18 December 1994) was an Indian actress in Tollywood. She was known for playing the role of cruel mother-in-laws.
Suryakantam was born at Venkata Krishnaraya Puram near Kakinada of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. She was the 14th child to her parents, ten of whose children had died. She learnt dance and singing at the age of six.
She married Peddibhotla Chalapati Rao, a High Court Judge, in 1950.
Suryakantam started as a dancer in Chandralekha, produced by the Gemini Studios, for which she had been paid Rs 75 in remuneration. She got her first role as character artiste in Narada Naradi, but eventually quit her job at Gemini Studios.
Later, she got a character artist role in the movie Gruhapravesam. She was offered the heroine’s role in Soudamini, but did not accept it. She later was in a car accident, in which she received injuries to her face. She later played the role of a cruel mother-in-law in Samsaram.
Another “heroine” role was offered to her from a Bollywood film producer. Knowing that the producer had dropped a heroine from his movie on personal grounds, and that the same was given to her; Suryakantam rejected the offer, saying “I can’t live on the unhappiness of other artists.” She subsequently appeared in the Telugu film Kodarikam lifted her to lofty heights. The directors B. Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani would not do a movie without Suryakantam. They produced a movie Gundamma Katha, starring N. T. Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao and S.V. Ranga Rao, with Suryakantam playing the lead role of Gundamma. The film was commercially successful.