Who can forget the girl who danced into the hearts of filmgoers in films like Atma Gouravam (1966) and Dr. Anand(1966?) The elegant beauty who started her life as a child artiste in B.N. Reddy’s classic Malliswari (1951) rose to be a dreamgirl of sorts for lakhs of Tamil youth in the 1970’s and 1980’s with her tremendous screen presence and dancing skills.
Kanchana: The Star Descends From The Skies
Kanchana, born Vasundhara Devi (aka Vasanthabhama Devi) in Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh on August 16th, 1939 turns 80 on August 16th, 2019. Her life was a veritable mix of joy and tragedy which decided her fate from a successful actress to a spiritually mature personality in the present.
The Debut And Rise To Fame
Kanchana took a hiatus from films in the early 1960s as her family fell on bad times. She got into the Air Hostess job in Chennai and use to go on her duty diligently. One such flight from Madurai to Chennai made her life. She was noticed by ace director Sridhar, who was planning to make a movie with all newcomers in the lead. Immediately Vasundhara was contacted and selected to be the lead heroine opposite the macho man of Tamil cinema, in the 1960’s Muthuraman. The movie was Kathalikka Neramillai (1964) an out and out comedy that treated a love story with lots of humor and vigor.
The movie established Vasundhara as Kanchana and the floodgates of Tollywood too opened with the Tamil movie’s success. She was a trained Bharathanatyam dancer, who used these skills to effect in her movies.
We take a look at some of her memorable movies here, as Kanchana turns 80.
1. Dr. Anand (1966)
The seminal movie of Kanchana, in which she excelled in the role of a dancer, who loves a married doctor and looks after his family after his untimely death. The movie showed Kanchana in a multilayered role, in which she came out trumps. A movie remembered for her legendary dancing skills and acting prowess.
2. Manchi Kutumbam (1968)
The family drama saw Kanchana play a magnanimous role of a woman who sacrifices her love for the well being of her elder sister and dies a tragic death. This movie proved again Kanchana could do any kind of role, with the same vigor and depth of emotions.
3. Pavitra Bandham (1971)
This multi starrer pitted Kanchana against the reigning superstar Vanisri and both have done a tremendous job of lovers struck between marrying the same man, without the knowledge of one another. A. Nageswara Rao and Kanchana were the hit pair for quite some time in early 1970s and the movies they acted were musical hits.
4. Kalyana Mandapam (1971)
This faithful remake of the legendary Kannada movie Gejje Pooje (1969) saw Kanchana playing a girl born in a courtesan family (Devadasi) and who fights a losing battle to come out of the social gaze and humiliation born of her birth. The movie is rated as the magnum opus of Kanchana as she lived in the role of Lalitha, who is forced by the society to choose death over her lover, showing her lowly birth into a Devadasi family.
5. Arjun Reddy (2017)
The Telugu audience saw Kanchana after almost three decades in the cult movie, Arjun Reddy in the role of Dr. Arjun’s grandmother. Kanchana and her presence were looked with wonder and joy by cinegoers as the graceful lady impressed everyone in a cameo performance.
We wish Kanchana, who is living a total peaceful life of a recluse in Chennai a long life and a very happy 80th birthday. Her work continues to impress and inspire generations.