Did you know that Vyjayanthimala Bali was the first South Indian (Tollywood? Kollywood?) actress to make it big in Bollywood. Yup, she was. Fondly referred to as “twinkle toes” (because she’s an awesome dancer, duh!), she was India cinema’s first female superstar and paved the way for other South Indian actress to try their luck in Bollywood.
Now, we all know that Vyjayanthimala is gorgeous and had a rather illustrious Bollywood career over the 1950s and 60s. Based on this, you would think that it’s difficult to pick out her best films, right? Nope! All you need to do is selected movies where she is paired with Dilip Kumar, her rumoured real-life lover, and you have definite winners.
It is said that after his very public breakup with Madhubala, Dilip Kumar had a fling with Vyjayanthimala. Although no one actually confirmed it, we see some great chemistry between the two (they were kind of like the Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol of the 50s and 60s).
Let’s celebrate Vyjayanthimala’s birthday by revisiting 5 of her best films where she is seen opposite Kumar.
Vyjayanthimala’s first film with Dilip Kumar and one of her best. The lady played Chandamukhi to Dilip’s Devdas and as much as we love Madhuri Dixit, our favourite Chandamukhi is Vyjayanthimala (sorry!). She won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her role (which she refused to accept because she believed that her role was parallel to that of Suchitra Sen who played Paro).
Naya Daur (1957)
Vyjayanthimala replaced Madhubala in Naya Daur and the film went on to become one of her biggest and most successful films. This is also supposedly when Vyjayanthimala replaced Madhubala in Dilip Kumar’s life. If you’re going to watch just one film today from this list, let it be Naya Daur.
Gunga Jumna (1961)
Produced by Dilip Kumar and largely considered a predecessor to classics like Deewaar and Trishul, Gunga Jumna is an iconic film that has gained a cult status. It has some of Bollywood’s most popular songs and a very pretty Vyjayanthimala who took home a Filmfare Best Actress Award that year. The magical screen presence of Dilip and Vyjayanthimala made Gunga Jumna an insane hit.
An enjoyable entertainer where Vyjayanthimala played the role of ‘Princess Sunita’, Leader came at a time when Dilip Kumar had been advised against taking up emotional roles (by his doctors, nonetheless!). Yes, Leader is a comedy and if you haven’t watched it yet, you’re definitely missing out. Vyjayanthimala and Kumar’s comic timing is perfect.
When you bring megastars like Vyjayanthimala, Dilip Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar and Bajraj Sahni together, you get a classic like Sunghursh. Directed by Harman Singh Rawali, this is the last film where Kumar and Vyjayanthimala worked together. It was a huge critical and commercial success and earned Dilip the Filmfare Best Actor Award. Vyjayanthimala was conferred with the BFJA Best Actress Award.