Leela Chitnis was an actress in the Indian film industry, active from 1930s to 1980s. In her early years she starred as a romantic lead, but she is best remembered for her later roles playing a virtuous and upright mother to leading stars.
She was born in Dharwad, Karnataka to an English literature professor. She was one of the first educated film actresses. After graduation she joined Natyamanwantar, a progressive theatre group that produced plays in her native Marathi language. The groups works were greatly influenced by Ibsen, Shaw and Stanislavsky. With the theatre group, Leela played the lead role in a series of comedies and tragedies and even founded her own repertory.