FRIDAY REVIEW

A place in the Guinness

"I CHERISH this day. It was here in Chennai that I was born, brought up, and educated. I also had my baptism in acting and film-making here. Being honoured here is the most memorable incident in my life," said Vijaya Nirmala replying to the felicitations offered to her on her achievement as the woman who had directed the maximum number of films, which the Guinness Book of Records acknowledged in a citation. It read: "The most prolific female director is G. Vijaya Nirmala of Hyderabad, India, who has directed 42 feature films since 1972." To celebrate the occasion, the Tamil Nadu Telugu Academy organised a grand function at the Kamaraj Memorial Hall, Chennai, on May 1.

Vijaya Nirmala, made her debut as a leading lady with B. N. Reddy's "Ranguala Ratnam". But it was "Enga Veettu Penn" the Tamil film produced by Vijaya banner that earned her the sobriquet, "Vijaya". "Since there was already another Nirmala in the field, to avoid confusion, they added `Vijaya' to my name and it became permanent," she explained. It was "Sakshi", her second film in Telugu that kindled Vijaya Nirmala's interest in direction.

The desire to turn film-maker was burning deep within her. The writer of `Kalippava,' Sheriff, gave me a story to read. I liked its feminist stance. I thought it was a perfect launch pad. That was how "Kavitha" was born. I later made it in Telugu. My idol Savithri played my mother in the movie with Jaggiah." Vijaya Nirmala took a bold step ahead by taking up a sensitive subject, "Devadas", appreciated for its technical excellence. But the film's failure left her dejected and she even contemplated quitting. "But my husband boosted my morale and asked me to continue with my work. I met with success late and had the privilege of directing such legends as Sivaji Ganesan and A. Nageswara Rao." In her tally of 42 films as a director, besides her debut film in Malayalam, there is a Tamil film, "Kungumachimizh" starring herself and Vijayakumar. The other films were in Telugu. Her last directorial venture was "Rendu Kutumbala Katha" in 1996. She has acted in over 200 films with 25 each in Malayalam and Tamil. "It is her self-confidence and determination that took her to the record books," says veteran Nagesh, her co-star in "Panama Pasama". Having achieved a place in the record books, what is her next goal? "To complete 50 films. I am trying to find a good subject for my next venture. Meanwhile, I am planning a mega serial with a subject from "Yaddanapudi Sulochnarani". It was she who wrote for my first feature in Telugu. The shoot commences in July. I will be acting in it too," Vijaya Niramala said.

M. L. NARASIMHAM

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