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Vanisri Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (6) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (2)

Born in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India
Birth NameRatna Kumari

Mini Bio (1)

Vanisri was born as Ratna Kumari in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India in 1948. Her early life was marred with tragic losses: three members of her family, including her father, died of tuberculosis in a span of one month. When her father was dying, he told her mother to give young Ratna and her older sister a good education before marriage. Her mother kept a farm and sold goats milk to support the family. She sent young Ratna and her older sister to Andhra Mahila Sabha in Madras to be educated. While her older sister did well enough to go onto college, Ratna's interest wasn't in her studies, but only in her bharat natyam dancing class. When she was 12 years old, she participated in a dance function at her school. In the audience was a Kannada film director, who thought she resembled actress Savithri Ganesh, then the top female star in South India. He offered Ratna the lead role in his Kannada film, and she took it despite her mother's initial objections. The film became a hit, and she was offered more Kannada and Tamil films. As her visibility grew, Telugu film offers came to but only for small roles. Nevertheless, she took them and acted in her first Telugu film "Bheeshma" (1962). Soon, S.V. Ranga Rao changed her name from Ratna Kumari to Vanisri, an inverse name of his company "Sri Vani Films." She continued with supporting roles and comedy roles in Telugu films, and she finally made an impact in a sister role in "Sukha Dukhalu" (1967), a film written by the important filmmaker K. Balachander. It was a tragedienne role, and she looked beautiful, especially in the song "Idi Mallela velayani." The song became a hit, the film became a hit, and she landed her first heroine role in "Marapurani Katha" (1967). She continued with Tamil and Kannada films and had a hit with the Tamil film "Paal Polave Vaan Meedhile " (1969) and the song "naalai intha velai paarthu" that was picturized on her won a National Award. She was now consistently landing heroine roles in all South Indian films with top leading men. She was confident when she turned down the sister role in "Aatmiyulu" (1969) and opted for the heroine role opposite ANR. The producer and director relented after a couple of months and gave into her, and "Aatmiyulu" became a hit. She became the topmost heroine in the 1970's with more hits like "Dasara bolludu," and Prem Nagar." Around this time, the South Indian film industry was gradually converting from black-and-white to color films, and Vanisri took full advantage of her appearance in color films. She wore bright costumes and applied heavy pancake makeup to cover up her dark complexion. She applied variety of lipsticks and bhindis. She experimented with different hairstyles, and her striking appearance soon caught on and she became the trendy, glamorous star. Even though, she was taken into films because of her facial resemblance to Savitri, she decided she wanted to be a completely different star than her. To do so, she slimmed down, even if the producers had favored a heavier, curvier look. However, her greatest asset was her highly photogenic face, and she was friendly with all her cameramen who made sure she looked her very best onscreen. But, she never sacrificed the substance of her roles for her decorative appearance. She played dramatic roles and title roles, including double roles in "Vani Rani," "Ganga Manga," Iddaru ammayulu" and Secretary. She won acting awards for her superlative performances in "Krishnaveni" and Jeevana Jyothi. Her fame had reached its peak in 1976, when Filmfare magazine decided to do a special feature on the Telugu film industry and put Vanisri on the cover. However, another shift was occurring within the film industry as well as within Vanisri herself. She was working 16 hours a day and working in 14 films a year without any time off. The filmmaker on "Edurelini Manishi" (1975) wanted her to dance and dress more provocatively, and she objected, and although he relented, Vanisri saw the writing on the wall. Newer filmmakers like K. Raghavendra Rao were opting for newer, younger heroines, and he made permanent stars out of three younger heroines: Jaya Prada and Jayasudha in the blockbuster 'Adavi Ramudu' (1977), and 'Sridevi' in "Padaharale Vayausu' (1978). All three were vying for the top spot, the spot that Vanisri had held for nearly a decade. She knew her time was up, and she married her family doctor in 1979 and left films. Even then, she bend society's norms. She was 30, at a time when the average marrying age for a girl was in her early 20's. And she married someone who was slightly younger than her. Nevertheless, it was a lasting marriage, and she gave birth to a daughter Anupama, and son Abinaya Venkatesha Kartik. When she was pregnant with her son, she developed a thyroid problem and gained a lot of weight. Apart from her health problem, she also suffered from a longstanding court battle with her older sister and brother-in-law over property. They had handled her financial affairs when she was in films, and she had no knowledge of how much she earned and how much was spent. After a 12-year battle, the parties all reached a compromise and she and her sister's family reconciled. In 1989, Vanisri returned to films with "Athaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogodu," where she had a supporting role as an arrogant mother-in-law. The film became a hit, and the audience welcomed her in more senior roles. Although, she continued with such roles, she kept her children away from films, and they both became doctors. Vanisri used her name and money for humanitarian causes, such as contributing to schools and setting up senior center. She is also involved in politics.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ramstep

Trivia (6)

She established a school, where 400 students have passed and have gone on to become doctors and engineers. She also planned to construct an old age home for senior citizens in the Telugu film industry called Adharana and own a mobile theatre to spot talent from various places in Andhra Pradesh. She is also involved in politics.
She retired from films as a heroine in the late 1970s, because she objected to heroines being asked to dress more provocatively and act and dance like vamps. She then married her family physician and has two children with him, who also became doctors. In 1989, she returned to films and television serials, playing supporting roles as mothers, aunts, and mother-in-laws.
During her peak period as heroine, she starred in 14 films a year and worked 16 hours a day.
S.V. Ranga Rao gave her the professional name of Vanisri.
She said that the most challenging roles of her career were in the Telugu films Iddaru Ammayilu (1972) and Krishnaveni (1974).
Of all her Telugu films, the three films that she hated the most are: "Debbaku Tha Dongalu Mutha" (1981), Vintha Katha (1973), and Bombayi Priyudu (1996).

Personal Quotes (8)

[on whether any leading man proposed marriage to her] Never, all the heroes got married, the existing ones probably didn't have the courage, but I always wanted to marry someone outside the industry and someone who is not already married once. I have seen many actresses who didn't succeed with second marriages and the characters we played helped us to study society.
I was averse to the same hair style, knotted bun and a plait with flowers. I bought in novelty by stitching two sarees, putting polka dots on it and wearing black outdoors, would have constant arguments with the art and camera department because they thought it would look gawdy.
I would read a lot of novels and the description of the heroine influenced me and I evolved my own style in dressing and make up. I was the first one to try on different shades of lipsticks, bindis, nail colours that would match the sarees and preferred bright colours. . .
I never knew how I would look without make up. While others had a professional and personal life, my reel life was my real life. Even the jewellery or sarees I bought was worn during shootings because there was no occasion to dress up. I was such a novice, would sign a cheque but never knew how it would be encashed in the bank.
Whatever a person learns before turning 27, stays with him till his death helping him to sustain his living. I want to provide a platform for those budding youngsters. The industry has given me so much, I want to do something for it.
[on why she didn't want her only daughter, Anupama, to become an actress, who instead became a doctor] The span of a heroine here is only 3 years. Soundarya was the last actress who worked for a longer time. Why should I put my daughter to so much torture, sending her to acting school, etc., and asking her to make movies the aim of her life.
I have no godfathers. The name and fame, whatever I got is because of my struggle and perseverance.
[on why she remained a top star during the 1970s] The existing heroines had announced their retirement, Savitri became overweight, Krishna Kumari and Jamuna were married and around that time, I got great roles with God's blessing. Also with every film turning out to be a success, there was no looking back. Kanchana was there, but she did her own genre.

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