If there’s one female actor who can be considered the ultimate trendsetter on Indian cinema, it is undoubtedly Vyjayanthimala! An actor, a Bharatnatyam dancer, a Carnatic singer and a dance choreographer, Vyjayanthimala has donned many hats during her illustrious career. Not only did she transform dance on the silver screen but she also set a benchmark for generations to come! And this weekend, through a narrative brought alive by the eloquent Javed Akhtar, Zee Classic will highlight the many details of Vyjayanthimala’s journey on Classic Legends Season 4 on Sunday 5th November 2017 at 7:00 PM.
At the age of 6, young Vyjayanthimala performed her first dance for the Pope at Vatican City. In fact, Javed Akhtar reveals that the actor has still preserved the medal given to her by the Pope as a prized possession. At the age of 15, Vyjayanthimala signed her first Tamil film ‘Vazhkai’ (1949). The film’s Hindi remake titled ‘Bahar’ marked Vyjayanthimala’s first stepsin Bollywood making her the first South Indian actor to do so. As Javed Akhtar recalls, Vyjayanthimala paved the way for other South Indian actors such as Waheeda Rehman and Padmini to enter Bollywood. Despite her shift from the south, Vyjayanthimala continues to be known as the first female superstar of Hindi cinema.
With back to back hits early in her career, Vyjayanthimala took the industry by storm. Her performances in ‘Nagin’, ‘Sadhna’, ‘Ganga Jamuna’, and ‘Sangam’ made the films runaway hits. Devdas, in particular, was a landmark movie where Vyjayanthimala starred as Chandramukhi. Javed Akhtar recounts, “This film established her as a talented actor apart from an attractive and proficient dancer. When given an award as the ‘Best Actor in Supporting Role’ for this film, Vyjayanthimala refused it as she felt her role was as much a lead heroine as Paro. Such was her self-esteem!”
Her dance numbers, such as ‘Hothon Pe Aisi Baat Main Dabake Chali Aai’, ‘Man Doley Mera Tan Doley’; ‘Chad Gaiyo Paapi Bichua’; ‘Main Ka Karu Ram Mujhey Buddha Mil Gaya’ continue to be popular even today. “Interestingly, the actor had hurt her foot during the shoot of Madhumati but she danced to all the songs of the film effortlessly of which ‘Chadh Gayo Papi Bichchua’ remains the most popular,” shares Javed Akhtar.