Mandagadde Krishnarao Indira (Kannada: ಮಂಡಗದ್ದೆ ಕೃಷ್ಣರಾವ್ ಇಂದಿರ; 5 January 1917 – 15 March 1994) was a well-known Indian novelist in the Kannada language. She has written novels like Phaniyamma which has won many awards. She started writing novels only after her age of forty-five.
Indira was born on January 5, 1917 to T. Suryanarayana Rao, a prosperous agriculturist and Banashankaramma in Thirthahalli, in the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore of British India. Her native village was Narasimharajapura in Chikmagalur district. Her formal education lasted for seven years before she got married at the age of twelve to M. Krishna Rao. She studied Kannada poetry and also had a good knowledge of Hindi literature.She ventured into writing novels at a late age of forty-five. She died at the age of 77.
Indira’s first published novel was Tungabhadra which was released in 1963. This was followed by other novels like Sadananda (1965), Gejje Pooje (1966) and Navaratna (1967). Her most well-known work is however Phaniyamma which was released in 1976. Phaniyamma is a novel based on the life of a child widow. It is a real-life story of a widow whom Indira knew during her childhood. Indira heard the story when the widow narrated it to Indira’s mother. This novel has been a subject matter of discussion in many books related to feminism. Phaniyamma was made into a film by the director, Prema Karanth and this film went on to win many international awards. Indira’s other novels to be made into films are Gejje Pooje and Poorvapara. Indira has written about forty novels.
Indira’s novels, Tungabhadra, Sadananda, Navaratna and Phaniyamma have won her the Kannada Sahitya Akademi awards. This annual award is given to the best Kannada literature of the year. In view of her contribution to literature, an award is constituted in Indira’s name and is given to the best women writers.Thejaswini Niranjana, has translated Phaniyamma to English, and this translation has won her the Sahitya Akademi of India award.and more awards