Blend of grace and charm
``Nenjil Or Aalayam" amply proved Devika's potential.
IF THE song ``Sonnathu needhana... " in Sridhar's ``Nenjil Or Aalayam" attained immortality, thanks to the lyrical richness Kannadasan bestowed on it, the credit for making it visually poignant goes to Devika, who rendered it in the landmark film.
The actress, who passed away last week, had carved a niche for herself with her grace and beauty at a time when other heroines including Savithri, Padmini and Vijaya vied for the top slot.
She did total justice to whatever character she portrayed never failing to give a wholesome performance.
With the big tilak adorning her forehead, Devika represented the quintessential Indian woman caring, self effacing and sacrificing. Premila changed her name as Devika, which proved to be lucky, and made her debut in ``Mudhalali.''
She went on to act with the leading heroes of the time, including the giants, Sivaji Ganesan and MGR.
`Gemini' Ganesan, hero of ``Sumaithangi" film in which he was paired with Devika, and who came to pay his last respects was moved to tears.
MGR's charisma and the adulation he got from his fans did not stop Devika from winning accolades for her delightful role in ``Ananda Jothi.''
`Sivaji' and Devika figured in some memorable movies Karnan, that powerful mythological, and the hilarious ``Bale Pandiya" and ``Kulamagal Radhai" among the best.
Devika's looks in fact made her the ideal choice for producers of historical and mythological films.
Devika also made an indelible mark in family drama, the genre that easily wins the hearts of the audience both urban and rural.
With producers churning out such films, some tear-jerkers and others light, and no dearth of heroines, it was due to her talent and charm that Devika got the opportunity to play memorable roles in films like ``Vanambadi'', ``Vazhkai Padagu'' and ``Nenjam Marappadhillai.''
A versatile actress Devika acted in about 150 films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
Her last film was ``Ippadiyum Oru Penn'' in Tamil. Her daughter Kanaka, also an actress, shot into fame through her first film, ``Karagattakkaran.''
But she was not able to fully capitalise on the edge the successful beginning gave her and sustain her place the way her mother did decades ago.
S. R. ASHOK KUMAR
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