Acclaimed actress Sulabha Deshpande has died in Mumbai at the age of 79. The thespian had been ailing for several months, according to a PTI report.

Deshpande was associated with experimental Marathi theatre and children’s theatre in Mumbai as well as the iconic Indian New Wave phase of cinema in the 1970s and ’80s. She started off in the groundbreaking productions of the likes of Satyadev Dubey, Vijay Tendulkar Vijaya Mehta and Shreeram Lagoo in the ’60s. Awishkar, the theatre group she founded in 1971 with her husband Arvind Deshpande (who died in 1987), provided a vital platform for writing and talent acting from a school auditorium in central Mumbai. Deshpande also ran Chandrashala, Awishkar’s children’s section. One of her most well-regarded stage roles is as Leena Benare in Tendulkar’s seminal play Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe in 1967, which she reprised in the movie version made in 1971.

Deshpande was also a familiar face in several arthouse films in Hindi and Marathi. She featured in the movies of Shyam Benegal (including Bhumika from 1977), Saeed Mirza, Gulzar and Govind Nihalani. Among her most recent roles was in English Vinglish (2013) as a kindly matriarch whose supports her shy daughter-in-law. She also had television shows to her credit, including Badalte Rishte (1996) and Kehta Hai Dil Je Le Zaraa (2014).