My SCRAPBOOK (సేకరణలు): A COLLECTION of articles in English and Telugu(తెలుగు), from various sources, on varied subjects. I do not claim credit for any of the contents of these postings as my own.A student's declaration made at the end of his answer paper, holds good to the articles here too:"I hereby declare that the answers written above are true to the best of my friend's knowledge and I claim no responsibility whatsoever of the correctness of the answers."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yesteryear southern sensation


BONDING… A MEMOIR: Vyjayantimala Bali with Jyoti Sabharwal; Stellar Publishers Pvt. Ltd., G-25, Vikas Puri, New Delhi-110018. Rs. 695.

Autobiographies and biographies seem to be the flavour of the season. Especially with Bollywood actors of yesteryear. If Dev Anand’s colourful past unfolds in Romancing with Life, Priya and Namrata Dutt recount the happy story of their parents in Mr and Mrs Dutt: Memories of our Parents. But if there’s one book that seems to have stirred up a hornet’s nest in recent times, it is this book by Vyjayantimala Bali with Jy oti Sabharwal.

Dance, her passion

The book, like all memoirs, traces the journey of a pretty lass born in Triplicane, Madras, into an orthodox Iyengar family, who breaks convention and literally dances her way to stardom before winning hearts in Parliament. Here, the dancer-actor-politician tells her side of the story, and yes, she tries to put the record straight on many issues that dogged her, be it doubts about her parentage or the much hyped affair with Raj Kapoor or the accusation that she was a home-breaker when she wed Dr. Chamanlal Bali.

These add that dash of zing to an otherwise predictable story of yet another product of a broken home. That Vyjayantimala shared a special bond with her maternal grandmother, Yadugiri Devi, and her father, M.D. Raman, is established early on in the book. Yagamma, as Yadugiri Devi was known, assumed the role of Vyjayantimala’s mother and mentor till the end of her life and was one of the most powerful influences in the girl’s life.

A pious woman, she filled the young girl’s ears with tales from the Puranas and the epics, which came in good stead when Vyjayantimala evolved as a dancer in later years. She was the one who initiated her charming granddaughter into the finer nuances of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam. Of her mother, a classical singer who walked out on her husband for another man, Vyjayantimala has very little to say except that she felt let down by her. Though Vyjayantimala learnt Carnatic music, her heart was set on learning adavus and abhinaya. Yagamma recognised the craving and soon Vyjayantimala began training with the legendary Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai. Thus began her rendezvous with dance, a passion that rules her life even today.

Successful film star

A major part of the book is devoted to her tryst with tinseldom, her days as one of Hindi cinema’s most successful stars. From her first Tamil film “Vazkhai” and the still-talked about dance sequence with Padmini in “Vanjikottai Valliban”, to her foray into Hindi filmdom with “Bahar” it’s all there in detail. Then, of course, there’s her take on the men she worked with including Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar. Quite a few pages are devoted to the political face of Vyjayantimala. In fact, excerpts of some of her speeches in Parliament have been published. Be it her interaction with the Gandhi family or the masses who followed her during her campaigns, she did it all with élan. She may have acted in many a landmark film and walked down the corridors of power for years, but what she always wants to be known is as a dancer. Her love for dance consumes her and, throughout the book, it’s this passion that remains a constant. Though the language may not be up to the mark, the book has its moments. If you love cinema and are just curious about the life of one of the most beautiful actresses to grace the silver screen, then maybe you could enjoy this one. Of course, you have to pay quite a price for it!

(The Hindu, 30:10:2007)

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