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Friday, September 2, 2011

Nata Siromani

Kommareddy Savitri or Savitri Ganesh (6 December 1935 – 26 December 1981), was an Indian actress, director and producer. She had appeared in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi languages. She was known for her liveliness and captivating performance and is still treated as the benchmark for acting in movies.

Savitri was born to Nissankara Rao Guruviah and Subhadramma in Chirravur (near Tenali) in Guntur, Madras Presidency, now part of Andhra Pradesh. She learned music and Indian classical dance under Sista Purnayya Sasthri. She performed stage shows during her childhood. She acted in 318 films in Telugu,Tamil, Kannada and Hindi languages, with ten to fifteen movies released per year.

She gave some public performances as a child artiste in Vijayawada. Later, she worked in a theater company run by Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao. She also started her own company, the Navabharata Natya Mandali. Her best stage role was in Atma Vanchana written by Bucchi Babu.
She was offered a role in ‘Agni Pariksha’ in 1949. However she looked too young (she was 12) after screen tests and was dropped. Then, she was selected for the main role in the film Samsaram by the banner ‘Sadhana Chitra’ in 1950. However, she was replaced by Pushpavalli and was given a small role, since she was too nervous to act with popular actor Nageswara Rao. She performed a dance in Pathala Bhairavi in 1951. Her first big role was as a second heroine Pelli Chesi Choodu by L. V. Prasad in 1952.

She later acted in memorable Telugu films like Chandra Haram (1953), Devadasu (1953), Ardhangi (1955), Missamma (1955), Donga Ramudu (1955), Amara Deepam (1956), Todikodallu (1957), Mayabazaar (1957), Abhimanam (1958), Mangalya Balam (1958), Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu (1959), Muripinche Muvvalu (1960), Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam (1960), Chivaraku Migiledi (1960), Manchi Manasulu (1961), Aradhana (1962), Gundamma Katha (1962), Rakta Tilakam (1963), Mooga Manasulu (1963), Doctor Chakravarthy (1964), Poojaphalam (1964), Devatha (1965), Pandava Vanavasam (1965), Kanya Sulkam, Naadi Aada Janme, Prana Mitrulu (1967), Varakatnam (1968), Maro Prapancham (1970), Manase Mandiram (1966) and Jagan Mohini (1978). These movies are testimony to her versatile acting skills.

Savitri had directed films like Chinnari Papalu (1968), ‘Chiranjeevi’, ‘Maathru Devatha’ and ‘Vintha Samsaram’ in Telugu. 'Kuzhanthai Ullam' and 'Praptham' in Tamil. she is very good director.

Savitri was also involved in lot of social activities. She met the Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and donated all her jewellery for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. She also built a high school in Andhra Pradesh. Her favorite sports were cricket and chess. She used to play chess at home. She claimed that her favorite sports person was Gary Sobers. She participated in many celebrity cricket matches.

Savitri secretly married Gemini Ganesan in 1955 and she declared it publicly three years after the wedding. Gemini Ganesan and Savitri made a hit pair on-screen. Her wedding was revealed when she signed in a photo for a Lux advertisement as Savithri Ganesh.They had two children Vijaya Chamundeswari and Sathish Kumar. Savitri was a strict, disciplined and compassionate mother. Since there was no availability of televisions at that time, she arranged a 16mm projector to show movies to kids. She would watch Hollywood movies and analyze them thoroughly. She loved Sophia Loren and Shirley MacLaine. She died at the age of 46.
Awards and honours

Rashtrapati Award for best acting for the film Chivaraku Migiledi in 1960. 
Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Nata Siromani by the GOvernment of Andhra Pradesh.
Nadigayar Thilakam (Empress of acting) for her fine performances in Tamil films. 
Yuvathi Mandali and with an apt title as Maha Nati.

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