Srividya’s acting career, both in Tamil and in Malayalam, along with the two Hindi productions she acted in (AVM‘s Jaise ko Taisa/1973 and Hrishida‘s Arjun Pandit/ 1976 ) can only be termed the most diverse range an actor could ever get, across two languages.It had to be her sheer talent, an enviable mix of beauty, brains, grace and finesse that also had her genes to thank for, but let’s face it, no one had ever put it to good use like she did. And she was automatically on the radar of all the top film makers of the times as she was just starting up, imagine collaborating with Balachander on one side of the border and with A Vincent on the other !
If you have been lucky enough to watch the early films of Srividya, be it Tamil, Malayalam or Telugu, you would recall the amazement at watching this new graceful, lithe dancer with wide, expressive eyes and a smile that lit up the room in the movie’s dance performances. Srividya was a born performer – be it dancing, singing or acting under the arc lights. Her passion for dance was fueled by the singular aspect of having India’s most famous proponents of dance, onscreen and off-screen, the Travancore sisters as her next-door neighbor in Chennai.
I have been told to lay off the adjectives for this one. But when the subject is Vidyamma, it is a tough task for me. So forgive me if a couple do manage to creep in.
There is a quote attributed to James Dean on acting that goes, “An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so must be willing to accept all the experiences life has to offer. In fact, he must seek out more of life than life puts at his feet. In the short span of his lifetime, an actor must learn all there is to know, experience all there is to experience, or approach that state as closely as possible. He must be superhuman in his efforts to store away in the core of his subconscious everything that he might be called upon to use in the expression of his art. ” Forget the gender – if there is one face on the celluloid screen that has even traversed way beyond the ‘experiences of life’ that James Dean so profoundly mentions in the journey of an actor, it has to be Srividya.
Born on 24 July, 1953 in Chennai, Srividya ( whom her mother wanted to name Meenakshi ) was an accomplished dancer and a singer even before she found comfort under the arc lights. Her biggest source of encouragement was her grandfather Vidwan Ayyasamy Iyer, who had already discovered the amazing, latent talent in his 3-year old grand daughter who could distinguish raagas at such a tender age.
[ Originally written for Dhool and published on 27 October, 2006 by Saravanan.N.It has been reposted here with his permission. Personally, the best tribute EVER written for Srividya and her contribution to Tamil films ]
So fades a summer cloud away;
So sinks the gale when storms are o’er;
So gently shuts the eye of day;
So dies a wave along the shore….
– Anna Letitia Barbauld (The Death of the Virtuous)
Its been 5 years since her passing.
I don’t think there will be another actress in Malayalam cinema who has spoken a whole lot more than what the script meant or put down in words, with a pair of eyes as Srividya.
Puthiya Velicham (1979), produced by Subramaniam Kumar and directed by Sreekumaran Thampi was a remake of the Dharmendra starrer Phool aur Patthar (1966), the movie that ‘made’ Dharmendra the action star of Bollywood.
Puthiya Velicham (1979)
Puthiya Velicham (1979) told the story of this career criminal Venu (Jayan), the love of his life, a club dancer called Lily ( Jaya Bharathi), and the entry of a widowed, beautiful woman (Srividya) whom Venu gets acquainted with, in one of his midnight robberies. He stumbles upon her, ailing, bedridden and sinking, in a mansion he breaks into, and takes care of her, and in a peculiar turn of events, ends up taking her and offering her refuge in his bachelor quarters. Lily, desperate to leave the crime-ridden life, wants Venu to leave it all and walk away. But Venu is planning for that final one, the biggest heist of his career, the one that would never even make him want to do another ‘job’, but things take an interesting turn with the new ‘arrival’ at his house.
1934 – 31 August, 2010
S Pavamani, who passed away on 31 August, 2010 joins the ranks of an illustrious visionary greats from the old school of Malayalam Cinema, who will invariably turn footnotes if they are lucky. He belonged to that rare breed of producers who had an uncanny capability of finding productions or talents that would make them with the right balance of art and money. Though, for most of the times, he was willing to forgo the money part, and went with his convictions.
Else, how we would ever get greats like MT, Sathyan Anthikad and for that matter, our nightingale, KS Chithra become a part of the Malayalam film industry. He started as a distributor in the early 60’s, with getting the Ashok Kumar starrer Jeevan Sathi ( 1957), directed by RS Tara to Kerala, which was the precursor of things to come.I guess Pavamani was the one who made the Malayalis familiar with the then running superhits from up North, even going as far as Calcutta and getting Ray’s films down to Kerala. It is said that he was a great friend of Satayajit Ray, which explains how Debi (1960), Mahanagar(1963) and Charulata (1964) enjoyed their screen time, way down south in Kerala, a place which curiously had absolutely no idea how Bengali sounded like, and I’m sure at great personal risk in the commercial sense !