~ Vyjayanthimala ~
Short biography

Vyjayanthimala Bali
Vyjayantimala

Daughter of Shri M.D.Raman and Shrimati Vasundhara Devi, Vyjayanthimala was born in Madras (Chennai) on August 13, 1936. Schooling was in Presentation Convent and Good Shepherd Convent, both in Madras. She started taking lessons in Bharatanatyam dancing from a very early age and was already performing on stage while still in high school. A family friend, Shri M.V.Raman, after watching her dance performance, launched her in AVM's Tamil film Vazhkai in 1949. Initially, Vyjayanthimala's orthodox family did not want her to enter the film industry. But eventually, her foresighted grandmother, Yadugiri Devi, who often watched over young Vyjayanthimala's life and guided her career, consented and let Vyjayanthimala play a role in Vazhkai. The film was such a great success that it was re-made in Telugu (Jeevitham). The Telugu version was also a hit. AVM Productions then decided to go to Bombay and do the film in Hindi. Vyjayanthimala was chosen to do the Hindi version too. Vyjayanthimala had the advantage of being fluent in Hindi as she had studied Hindi at Hindi Prachar Sabha in Madras. The Hindi version of the movie, Bahar, was released in 1951 and it was also a commercial success. Tamilian Vyjayanthimala thus entered the world of Bombay based Hindi films.

In her entire film career, which lasted for two decades, Vyjayanthimala has acted in 63 films all together. A complete list of her films can be found under Filmography. (It is to be noted that she has been credited in various ways in the film titles such as Vyjayanthimala, Vyjayantimala, Vijayanthimala, Vijayantimala, Vyjayanti Mala, Vaijayanthimala, Vaijayantimala, Vyjayanthimala Bali, Vyjayantimala Bali, and so forth.)

Vyjayanthimala is a professional Bharatanatyam dancer. She had become a movie actress and dominated the silver screen in the 1950's and 1960's. But then she got married, retired from films when she was at her peak, and went back to pursue her number one passion - dancing. She not only dances, she also choreographs and composes. In her own words, dancing took her around the world much more than the movies did. She has performed her art in many countries of the world. The most notable of them being her performances at:

  • The United Nations 20th Anniversary Celebrations of the Human Rights Day in 1969 in New York, USA. (She was the first Indian Dancer to ever give a Bharatanatyam recital at the United Nations.)
  • The International Opera House in Sydney, Australia.
  • The Adelaide Festival in Adelaide, Australia.
  • The Royal Opera Rallst Festival in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • The Holland Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • The Autumn Festival in Paris, France.
Vyjayanthimala is also the recipient of many awards and honors. The most notable of them being:
  • Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award (1957) for Devdas (1955).
    (She refused to accept this award on the grounds that her role was not of a supporting actress. She believed that her role was as important as the heroine's role in the movie.)
  • Filmfare Best Actress Award (1959) for Sadhna (1958).
  • Filmfare Best Actress Award (1962) for Gunga Jumna (1961).
  • Filmfare Best Actress Award (1965) for Sangam (1964).
  • Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1996)
  • The title "Padmashri" awarded by the Government of India in 1968.
  • Arasavai Natya Kalaingnar by Tamil Nadu Government for excellence in Natya.
  • Kalaimani Award given by Tamil Nadu Government in 1979.
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1982.
  • The Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the Annamalai University, Chennai in 1995.
Aside from being a dancer and an actress, Vyjayanthimala is an accomplised golfer. She was introduced to the game by her late husband, Dr. C.L.Bali (whom she had married on March 10, 1968). Vyjayanthimala has played in National Golf Championship (15 Handicap). Her interest in golf continues even today, and she was still playing in recent years when she was almost 70 years old or may be even older.

Vyjayanthimala is also interested in politics and has actively participated in Indian politics. She was elected to the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) twice and was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Indian Parliament) once. She was very close to the then Indian Prime Minister, Shrimati Indira Gandhi.

Vyjayanthimala, now over 70, still actively pursues her number one passion - dancing. She continues to do dance research and choreography and on special occasions even performs on stage. She is the Life President and Trustee of Natyalaya Academy of Classical Bharatanatyam and Music in her hometown Chennai. She is also the Founder Trustee of Dr. Bali Pharma Foundation - a charitable trust, to serve the poor and downtrodden and to look after the welfare of women and children. She has now distanced herself from the movie industry and Mumbai (Bombay).

Vyjayanthimala has one son, Suchindra Bali, who is currently trying to establish himself as an actor in the glamorous movie industry of Bollywood.

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Please take a look at my latest site launched on Dec. 23, 2011. It is called Shoban's India Page. It has everything Indian.

Source of the image of Vyjayanthimala on top of the page: http://movies.indiainfo.com/newsbytes/nfcb.html

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