LEGENDARY leading lady Vyjayanthimala was known for her dynamite dance moves and unforgettable presence in songs, but she was also a fine actress who starred in some of the greatest Bollywood movies of all-time.

To mark the iconic star turning 82 on August 13, Eastern Eye went back through her impressive body of work to select her 10 greatest films…

  • Nagin (1954): The actress became an overnight superstar despite still only being a teenager in the story of star-crossed lovers from warring tribes. The movie boasted great musical numbers and became the highest grossing Bollywood film of that year.
  • Devdas (1955): The finest onscreen adaptation of the legendary novel saw her deliver a standout turn as kind-hearted courtesan Chandramukhi. Vyjayanthimala was famously nominated for a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress award, but turned it down because she thought her role was just as important as the lead heroine.
  • Naya Daur (1957): The second highest grossing movie of that year saw her deliver a marvellous performance as the strong-willed village belle opposite Dilip Kumar. The man versus machine drama would be colourised 50 years later and ranked as one of the finest Bollywood films ever made.
  • Madhumati (1958): The massively-influential movie saw her team up with Dilip Kumar again and play three roles. The ghostly drama would become the highest grossing Bollywood release of that year and would influence films that followed including Karz (1980) and Om Shanti Om (2007).
  • Gunga Jumna (1961): The highest-grossing film of that year was one of the first to explore the theme of brothers on opposite sides of the law, and would become the highest grossing movie of that year. She would win a Filmfare Best Actress award for her stunning portrayal of the fierce village woman.
  • Sangam (1964): The highest-grossing film of that year was the first commercial Bollywood blockbuster to be extensively shot in Europe. Her stunning turn of a woman caught between two men in the legendary love triangle would go down in history as one of the greatest.
  • Leader (1964): The movie may not have clocked up the huge numbers when it released, but it would go onto become a classic, as would the superb songs. The engaging drama would mark the last great collaboration between her and Dilip Kumar.
  • Amrapali (1966): Vyjayanthimala looked like a dream in the colourful historical, which was India’s official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but not nominated. It didn’t clock up the numbers at the box office because it was ahead of its time and featured one of the all-time great dance numbers featuring the actress.
  • Jewel Thief (1967): She starred opposite Dev Anand in the crime thriller, which generated huge box office numbers and included Vyjayanthimala performing one of the all-time greatest dance numbers.
  • Prince (1969): Two of the greatest stars of the golden era, Shammi Kapoor and Vyjayanthimala, rounded off their respective careers as leads with this wonderful musical loaded with hit songs. Both played royals in the story of a disillusioned Prince who hides his identity.

 

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