Star Of The Week - Vyjayanthimala

DOB: August 13, 1936
Star: Leo
Birthplace: Chennai, India
Occupation: Film actress, Bharathanatyam dancer, Carnatic singer, dance choreographer and parliamentarian
Referred to as: The first female superstar of Hindi cinema


• Vyjayanthimala became one of the most prominent actresses of South Indian cinema and in the golden era of Bollywood, and was known as one of the iconic leading actress of all time.

• She was one of the biggest Bollywood stars with a career lasting almost two decades. The artiste was the first South Indian actress to become a national star and paved a way for other south Indian actresses to foray into Bollywood. 

• Vyjayanthimala is an accomplished dancer and was one of those who introduced semi-classical dance to Bollywood. Her subsequent dance numbers in her films had earned her the title of "twinkle toes".

• She has received five Filmfare awards among numerous other awards and nominations for her illustrious work.

• She was conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest Indian recognition given to practising artists, in 1982 for her contribution in Bharata Natyam field. She has also served as chairperson of 48th National Film Awards.

Interesting facts:

• Vyjayanthimala’s mother was a leading actress in Tamil Cinema in the 1940s. She used to call her mother by her name, as her mother was only 16 years older. Similarly, she called her father ‘anna’, meaning elder brother, as her father happened to be the eldest in their family and everyone called him that, which is common in a South Indian Hindu joint family.

• Vyjayanthimala made her screen debut at the age of 13 through the Tamil film Vazhkai (1949) and Telugu film Jeevitham in 1950 and acted in Bollywood movies Bahar and Ladki.

• In 1954, she acted in the magnum opus film Nagin with Pradeep Kumar. The film got favourable responses from the audience and became the highest-grossing movie of 1954 where it was labelled as a blockbuster. Hemant Kumar's music and her dance on the song, Man Dole, Mera Tan Dole, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar was one of the highlights of the film.

• After successfully establishing herself as a commercial actress, Vyjayanthimala appeared in Devdas, playing Chandramukhi, the hooker with a heart of gold, in 1955. In her first dramatic role, she received her first Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 4th Filmfare Awards. However, she refused to accept the award citing that hers’ was not a supporting role and was in equal importance to the role played by Suchitra Sen. Hence, she became the first person to refuse a Filmfare Award.

• She continued to give many more blockbusters before taking retirement from acting in 1968 after her marriage.

• Moreover, Vyjayanthimala is an avid golfer and is one of the oldest in Chennai.