Tuesday, June 22, 2010
As I have just reviewed the OST of Sangam and Jewel Thief, I thought a quick spill on the heroine of these movies would be most apt. I am talking about Vyjayanthimala, of course
Vyjayanthimala was born on 13 August 1936, in Madras (present day Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India. She studied bharatanatyam (one of the oldest form of classical Indian dance originating from Tamil Nadu, India which combines the art of expression, music and rhythm) from a young age and performed in front of the Pope when she was just four. She was ‘discovered’ when she was 15, during her final year at school, by family friend and Tamil film director M.V. Raman, for a role in the Tamil film 'Vazhkai'. This movie was successful at the box office and was re-made in Hindi and released as 'Bahaar' in 1951. She made around 62 movies, in both Hindi and Tamil languages.
Vyjayanthimala got her leading Hindi movie role in Nagin (1954). Her dance routine for the song ‘Man Dole, Mera Tan Dole’, in the movie made it a hit and Vyjayanthimala an overnight success. This lead to director Bimal Roy casting her as the role of Chandramukhi, opposite superstar Dilip Kumar in the critically acclaimed Devdas (1955). She subsequently starred in four successful films opposite him, two of which she received best actress awards: Naya Daur (1957), Madhumati (1958), Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Leader (1964). She received the Filmfare Best Actress Awards for Madhumati and Ganga Jamuna. She also received a Filmfare nomination as Best Actress for her role as a courtesan in Sadhna (1958) which she co-starred with Sunil Dutt.
She caused some controversy with the release of her next hit movie, Sangam (1964), which earned her another Filmfare Best Actress Award. She wore a fire-engine red swimsuit in the song ‘Bol Radha Bol’ and her attire in the song ‘Main Kya Karo Ram’ was considered quite risqué. It was also rumoured that she had an affair with co-star Raj Kapoor, which she dismissed, stating that it was a publicity stunt by Raj Kapoor to boost his waning image.
In 1966, she starred in the historical epic 'Amrapali', based on the life of the legendary Buddhist courtesan Amrapali. The movie was not a commercial success, and the failure disappointed her as she considered her efforts in the movie to be the pinnacle of her acting ability. She did however make many more hit movies such as Suraj (1966) with Rajendra Kumar, Jewel Thief (1967) and Duniya (1968) with Dev Anand and Prince (1969) with Shammi Kapoor, to name a few.
Vyjayanthimala fell in love with Raj Kapoor's personal physician, Dr. Chamanlal Bali, who treated her for pneumonia after she fell into a lake while shooting for a film. He was married at that time. The two grew close and later married after he divorced his first wife. Vyjayanthimala quit acting after her marriage and relocated to Chennai from Mumbai, where she took an active role in Indian politics and became a Member of Parliament. She however quit politics in 1999. The Balis have one son, Suchindra Bali.
Trivia: In 1956, Vyjayanthimala won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as Chandramukhi in Devdas but did not accept the award as she felt that her role was not a supporting one - the strong-headed actress felt she was as much the heroine of the film as Suchitra Sen, who played Paro. That was the first time a person had declined to receive a Filmfare Award! You go girrrl!
NB: In time, I will be posting all the original vinyl soundtracks from the above listed movies….except Devdas – the album still eludes me, and Bahaar. At this point in time, the OST from Sangam (1964) and Jewel Thief (1967) are already up.
Watch this space!