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Updated: March 30, 2013 19:31 IST

Sri Kandha Leela 1938

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K.L.V. Vasantha, Raja Dandapani, M.V. Mani, Sundarambal, Gnanamani, Dhanalakshmi, Govindarajulu Naidu and Seetha Devi

K.L.V Vasantha made her debut in Sri Kantha Leela, a Premier Cinetone, Coimbatore production, directed by H.S. Mehta, and written by L. Nanjappa Chettiar. Vasantha was one of the popular heroines of early Tamil cinema, who could also sing and dance well. Since she hailed from Kunrathur near Karaikudi, she was originally known as Kunrathur Vallikannu. In fact, she had even acted in a few plays under that name.

Vasantha hit a high note with 1939 film Rambayin Kaadhal, directed by noted filmmaker B.N. Rao. The film is said to have run for 25 weeks in a few places.

Then came Bhooloka Rambha (1940) directed by B.N. Rao, in which Vasantha and T.K. Shanmugam played the lead. During the making of this film, the producers ran into financial problems and the shooting was halted. That was when S.S. Vasan was getting into Tamil cinema as distributor-financier, and he offered help if the film released on a festival day, and also if Rao would be the director for the first film Vasan was planning to produce. Bhooloka Rambha was released with success, and Rao directed Vasan’s first film Madanakamarajan (1941). Vasantha played the lead along with Carnatic musician V.V. Satagopan. This film was a success, establishing Vasan’s position as a producer.

Not many know that Vasan chose Vasantha to play the lead role in the Gemini Studios’ magnum opus Chandralekha (1948), which was under production for five long years. Indeed, the first ad in English for Chandralekha mentions ‘Vasantha in and as Chandralekha’. However, she opted out, moving to Salem where she became part of the T.R. Sundaram-Modern Theatres family. She also married him and played many roles in his productions.

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