Potpourri of titbits about Tamil cinema - Sarojadevi kalyanamalai magaxine November 2009,

Sarojadevi, endearingly called ‘Kannadathu pynkili’ and ‘Abhinaya Saraswathi’ achieved the status of the heroine of great heroes, acting simultaneously with the three uncrowned kings of the Tamil cinema – MGR, SivajiGanesan and Gemini Ganesh.

Sarojadevi was born as the fourth child to Bhairappa – Rudramma couple in Bangalore. Her father was a police officer. She was introduced by producer-actor Honnappa Bhagwadhar in the Kannada film Mahakavi Kalidas. When she was becoming busy in Kannada industry, she was picked up by MGR for his film Naadodi Mannan. From that day, till date, Sarojadevi has been an ever-green favorite of Tamil cinema. Sarojadevi is my favorite among the heroines of MGR. Her Tamil accent, conduct, smiling face, everything endeared her to the Tamil lot.

MGR’s adopted daughter’s husband Vijayan introduced me to Sarojadevi, who, in return, introduced actress Kanchana to me. My friendship with them continues even today. Whatever question we put to Sarojadevi, she’ll give a crisp and clear answer. When I asked her to share with me some of the interesting incidents involving her heroes during shooting, she immediately agreed

“’Thirudathe’ was my first film with MGR. As the shooting got delayed, he introduced me in Naadodi Mannan, which was released before ‘Thirudathe’. During the shooting of ‘Thirudathe’, I hurt my foot with glass pieces but I continued work not revealing it as I felt that the shooting shouldn’t be cancelled because of me. But MGR found out the thing and wiped the blood on my foot with his handkerchief and sent me to a hospital. During the shooting of ‘Naadodi Mannan’, a scene with a python had been conceived for me. I was very much frightened to do the shots. But it was MGR, who encouraged me to go ahead. The python encircled and almost squeezed me; I fell unconscious due to fear. After this experience, I made it a point not to accept scenes with snakes.

‘Kalyana parisu’, released in the year 1959 won me big fame and name. In this film, there was a song sequence which required me to do cycling. I didn’t know cycling at that time. Gemini Ganesh and director Sridhar taught me cycling. During the shooting of the film ‘Bagapirivinai’, many interesting incidents took place. There was a scene in which I had to hit M. R. Radha with a broomstick. But I was scared of him after seeing his film ‘Rathakanneer’. I refused to do the scene and left the sets. On learning about this, Radha came rushing to me and told me that it was only acting and so I shouldn’t hesitate. But I was firm. Then, Radha conceived an alternative shot. He shouted from inside a room as though being hit by me and rushed out of the room, creating the required impact! And, there was another scene in which I had to show labor pain on my face. I couldn’t do it properly. Sivaji Ganesan helped me by enacting the scene. I was able to repeat only 50% of his performance. But that itself earned me good name and fame.

My marriage with Sri Harsha, an engineer in Germany was celebrated on 1-3-1967. We hosted a reception on the 5th in Chennai. The entire film industry attended the marriage. My mother told me to stop acting after marriage. But my husband said that nobody should waste away their talents and asked me to continue my career. All my films after marriage hit the box-office. Harsha died on 21-4-1986 due to heart attack. I left acting for eight years after his demise. Then I resumed acting due to the pressure of my well wishers. My latest movie is ‘Aadhavan’, directed by K. S. Ravikumar. My son Ramachandran is looking after administration while my daughter Indra is in US. Now, I am engaged in public service. I had acted in around 200 films including all the southern languages. I look at MGR as my God,” Sarojadevi said with tears of joy and gratitude in her eyes.

Director K. Subramaniam wanted to re-make the film Kachadevayani into Kannada language. When he was walking along with the Kannada writer Babu on a street in Bangalore, he spotted a young girl-student bypassing them. Both of them were very much impressed by that girl. Babu knew who that girl was. Chief Minister Hanumanthaiya’s brother was known to that girl’s family. The minister’s brother, who was very much interested in fine arts had been encouraging that girl to enter the field. That girl was talented in music and she learned dancing also. Then she entered cinema. When Subramaniam was talking to MGR about the film Nadodi mannan, he mentioned about that girl and recommended her for the film. MGR immediately sent for that girl and made her his heroine too. That student was none other than ‘Abhinaya Saraswathi’ B. Sarojadevi!


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