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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vyjayanthimala - dance champion of Indian cinema

After seeing a beautiful vintage magazine photo of Vyjayanthimala on Memsaabstory yesterday (SEE THE PHOTO HERE), I had to find out more about her. So, naturally I went to Wikipedia first (though Im sure much more can be learned about her from many of the Indian Cinema blogs I've listed on the sidebar.)

Besides being the heroine in one of the all time greatest tragic love stories of Hindi Cinema, Devdas, I also discovered that she was quite a legend in her time for incorporating classical dance into more popular films of the era. Her skill inspired several directors to write extended "dance-off" scenes into their films. It seems that the dance/duel was a running theme in her career. From Wikipedia: "Besides film, Vyjayanthimala's main concentration was in Bharata Natyam a form of Indian classical dance. She is an accomplished dancer and introduced a lot of semi-classical dance in Bollywood. After quitting movies Vyjayanthimala Bali continued with her dance career."

I have collected three scenes below to serve as examples of her formidable, and ever so graceful dancing ability.


According to wikipedia, "A scene clipping from the film, [Amrapali] was used in the Dhoom Tana song dance sequence in film Om Shanti Om (2007), wherein Deepika Padukone dances as Vyjayanthimala, who was digitally removed from the frames, as Deepika was playing the role an actor of the 1970s.

Below is another dance off with Vyjayanthimala .. this time vs. Padmini!

and finally,

Aaye Haaye Dilruba - Helen Vs Vyjayanthimala (and Geeta Dutt Vs Asha) from the film Dr Vidya 1962

The owner of the youtube post above writes "This is a competition song between the characters played by Vyjayanthimala and Helen in the movie Dr Vidya where both compete to show that they're the better dancer (the fight scene before is also part of the video). The rarely seen video is a great example of the skills of these probably one of the best dancers in the history of Film Industry. It is also a good duel between the voices of the elegant Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle who do the playback singing for Helen and Vyjayanthimala respectively."

Vyjayanthimala will turn 75 on August 13, 2011!!


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous memsaab said...

Love the poster, wish I could be there for it! :)

My favorite Vijayanthimala song is a late one, from Pyar Hi Pyar (1972); she is still so graceful and I love the tune:

At 3:19 PM, Blogger DJ Carlito said...

wow, that's such an over the top set too... blinking trees, paintburshes and all!!

and a really nice Asha song to go with it!

thanks memsaab!

At 3:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice video clips. My favorite of these has always been Vyjayanthimala vs. Padmini, but then I've been a fanatical fan of Padmini. :)

By the way, there was a Hindi version of that competition; here's the clip:

And here's a clip showing the Tamil and Hindi versions side by side:

Oh, and Padmini's 79th birth anniversary was June 12. And Kamala Lakshman Narayan (the first of the great filmi bharatanatyam dancers, who started out as the child prodigy Baby Kamala) celebrated her 77th on June 16. And Sridevi shares a birthday with Vyjayanthimala (separated by a few decades), August 13.

Must be something about those summers in South India :) ...

P.S. Memsaab, your clip is nice too, but my sources tell me Pyar Hi Pyar was released in 1969. According to Upperstall, her last film was Ganwar, released in 1970. (Hope I'm not being a pain here - blame it on obsession. :) )

At 8:09 AM, Blogger DJ Carlito said...

Thank you Richard, i am happily enlightened by the facts and links you've shared here! its pretty understandable to be "obsessed" with these incredible dancers.. and finding more about their personal history has always made me respect their on screen performances even more.. these women took the filmi dance scene to a whole new virtuosic level... at least for film, i think this was a golden era.. (nowadays it seems much of this tradition has been sacrificed for bumping, shimmying and grinding) i would love to know more about how they worked with the directors and music composers to plan these scenes out.. i wonder if there are any interviews with Padmini or Kamala Lakshman Narayan there are out there.. and your mention of Sridevi is appropriate too because i think in some ways she was one of the last (or at least latest) great dancers in indian cinema to follow in this tradition of mixing classical with modern.. now i must go read up on bharatanatyam dance! thanks again!! cheers


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