Bollywood Legends - Vyajayanthimala


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She was the pioneering raw talent who came from south and made forays into the north dominated filmdom of Bombay. Her scintillating performances both as an actor and as a dancer since then have become major benchmarks of success for budding actresses. She is the one who made the quasi-classical musical dance numbers, a de rigueur in the Hindi films. She is none other than coquettish Vyajayanthimala, who made the whole country sway to her twists and twirls in her sinuous dance performance to the ever green Lata Mangeshkar hit, 'Man Dole Mera Tan Dole' (Nagin 1954).
Vyjayanthimala was initiated into filmdom by one M V Raman, a family friend, when she was a blithe little girl of a mere fifteen years in AVM’s, Tamil film Vazkhai (1949). Its Hindi rendition Bahaar (1951) was a huge hit, which set her career graph moving. While Bahaar gave her immediate ticket to recognition in Mumbai, it was Nagin (1954) and Ladki (1955), which brought fame and stardom to her. But it was her bewitching performance in Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955), cast into the role of a dancing girl Chandermukhi, which immortalised her in history of Bollywood. She was awarded the Film Fare Award for the Best Actress in Supporting Role.
However she had the guts to refuse the award even at that relatively initial stage of her career saying that her role was equal in importance to the one played by Suchitra Sen. She replaced Madhubala in rich versus poor saga of Naya Daur (1957), opposite Dilip Kumar but it was Bimal Roy’s decision to cast her in musical Madhumati (1958), which brought mega stardom dancing to her feet. The role of a prostitute in Sadhna (1958), won her the second Film Fare Best Actress award. The impeccable performance in Ganga Jamuna (1961) not only brought her yet another Filmfare award but reinforced the supremacy of this South Indian damsel in the Hindi film world.
She played the peppy heroine in the melodramatic story of Sangam (1964) wooed by Raj Kapoor and Rajendera Kumar. Sangam’s Radha won her wide acclaim as well as the third Film Fare Award. But she also unduly involved herself in an unhappy affair with the master showman Raj Kapoor with this film. Her sensual performance over the dance number, 'Buddha Mil Gaya,' in Sangam can be seen as an early prelude to the modern day, juicy hip gyrating bawdy numbers, of skimpily clad actresses.
Late sixties was marked more by the downward slide in her career except for some stray sparkling performances here or there. The dance mega show Amarapali (1966), failed at the box office. Waheeda Rehaman substituted her in Ram aur Shyam (1967), when she developed some problems with Dilip Kumar. Her lack lustre performance in Sangharash (1967), a Dilip Kumar starrer was yet another outcome of her fading interest in films. Her co-star of Pyar hi Pyar (1969), Dharmendra remembers that he completed the whole film with her without even being introduced to her! But she did live up to her reputation in Vijay Anand’s Jewel thief (1967). Her performance in the song 'Hothon Pe Aisi Baat' has captured the best of Vyajayanthimala, the sensuous dancing danseuse, for eternity.
Out of the shadows of her romance with Raj Kapoor was born her affair with his physician Dr. Bali that mellowed to fruition. They got married and she bid an early adieu to the film industry, all the while when she had the energy and stimulus to have continued for yet another decade.
She was blessed with a son, Suchindra who has now grown up and is into acting in Tamil Films. Vyajanthimala twice got elected to the Lok Sabha from Chennai on the Congress (I) ticket. At one time she was considered very close to the former Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
Vyajanthimala is in the seventy plus age group. Settled in Chennai, away from the hustle and bustle of Bollywood, where once she had ruled the hearts with her bubbly performances and captivating dance sequences, she keeps herself busy in politics and her life long passion of Bharatnatiyam.