Today is the 40 death anniversary of Vijayasree, Malayalam cinema’s original pin-up girl

It will be 40 years on Sunday since the woman whom director Bharatan called the most beautiful he had ever met, the one who oozed oomph enough to be termed ‘Marilyn Monroe of Malayalam’, and whose ravishing looks drew huge crowds to her films, bid goodbye to life.

“She is the most beautiful woman I have ever met,” said director Bharathan to his associate, Jayaraj, once. The woman in question was Vijayasree, whose 40th death anniversary falls on Sunday.

No other actress had as many male admirers as she had. No other actress had as many hits as her in such a short span of time. No actress had made such a sudden impact in Malayalam cinema.

“People went to the theatre to see her, and that is something that has not happened before (her time),” says Jayaraj, Bharathan’s associate, who paid a tribute to her in his film ‘Nayika’. “She was as much a crowd puller as a hero.” It was indeed Vijayasree’s striking good looks that created magic and made her the greatest pin-up girl of Malayalam cinema.

She was verily the Marilyn Monroe of Malayalam and like Munroe, she too met with a tragic end at a very young age. Vijayasree was just 21 when she died.

Though in cinema for just four years, she was part of many of the biggest films of the period.

Most of the 40-odd films she acted in were hits. She struck gold with Prem Nazir, the reigning demigod of Malayalam cinema, as they starred in hit after hit, such as ‘Lankadahanam’, ‘Marunattil Oru Malayali’, ‘Aromalunni’, ‘Manthrakodi’, ‘Padmavyooham’, ‘Ajnathavasam’, ‘Ponnapuram Kotta’, ‘Veendum Prabhatham’ and ‘Ankathattu’.

“Theirs was the most successful pair in Malayalam cinema ever,” says R. Gopalakrishnan, one of the senior-most still photographers in Malayalam cinema. “I cannot think of a single film of theirs flopping.”

Nazir had already formed popular combinations with Sheela and Jayabharathi, but Vijayasree usurped the place as his best screen mate in no time. Vijayasree was so popular that two unfinished films of hers, ‘Youvanam’ and ‘Vandikkari’, were released, as one film after her death, and that was a hit too. Raghavan was the hero of her last film.

“She was also my heroine in ‘Prethangalude Thazhvara’,” says Raghavan. “She was extremely beautiful of course, but she was a capable performer too.”

Her charm continues to enchant 40 years after her death. The videos of hers on Youtube have recorded more than six lakh hits.