Celluloid Sita Anjali Devi Dies at 86 - The New Indian Express

Celluloid Sita Anjali Devi Dies at 86

Published: 14th January 2014 10:42 AM

Last Updated: 14th January 2014 10:42 AM

Yesteryear Telugu-Tamil heroine Anjali Devi (86), who mesmerised audiences since the 1940s, died at a private hospital here on Monday due to heart-related ailments. She is survived by two sons.

“Anjali Devi was admitted to Vijaya Hospital four days ago,” a hospital source said.

Born as Anjani Kumari at Peddapuram in East Godavari district on August 24, 1927, she was a stage artiste before her entry into films.

She entered the film industry with ‘Raja Harishchandra’ in 1936 and since then acted in nearly 500 films in Telugu, Tamil, Kanada and Hindi. ‘Gollabhama’ was her first film as heroine. The director of the film C Pullayya changed her name to Anjali Devi and since than she left her mark in whatever role she had played till mid-90s.

Her films ‘Anarkali’, ‘Suvarna Sundar’, ‘Chenchulakshmi’, ‘Jayabheri’ etc had fetched her best actress awards. She was given the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award in 2005 for her lifetime service to the Telugu film industry. She was not only a fine actress, but also a well respected film producer. Along with her music director husband P Adinarayana Rao, whom she married in 1940, she produced 27 films under Anjali Pictures banner, including ‘Bhakta Tukaram’ and ‘Chandipriya’.

A devotee of Satya Sai Baba, she also produced a tele-serial on Baba.

She is credited with introducing Bollywood actor Rekha into Telugu industry as a child artiste with ‘Rangula Ratnam’.

Mostly known for starring in mythological and family dramas, Anjali Devi became a household name with memorable performances in films such as ‘Lava Kusa’, ‘Bhakta Prahlada’, ‘Bhakta Tukaram’ and ‘Badi Pantulu’.

Hailing her as a humble and a great human being, film artistes said she was a consummate actor to have ever graced the silver screen. “She was cast opposite some of the biggest actors of those times. My father Sivaji Ganesan and MGR looked up to her. When she walked into a room, many including my father used to get up as a mark of respect,” actor Tamil Prabu told Express.

Prabhu added that his father treasured the cheque of `5,000 he had received from Anjali Devi for one of her productions.

Veteran actor Sowcar Janaki said, “Both of us hailed from East Godavari district. She had already made a mark in films in the 1940s. I remember the first film I saw after marriage was hers and I hadn’t imagined I would share the same space with her later. A woman of very few words, she would smile at things even when it displeased her. I found her to be very friendly and down-to-earth. She and her husband, the renowned film composer Adinarayana Rao, who brought her into films, were a great combination,” she said.

“She also played glamourous roles like the one in ‘Suvarna Sundari’. I am disappointed she wasn’t awarded any Padma award.” She was the first woman to become the president of the Nadigar Sangam (artistes’ association).

Anjali Devi was honoured by Tamil Nadu government recently for her contribution to Indian films, during the centenary celebrations of Indian Cinema.

“Her loss is irreplaceable. A vacuum was left in the film world with her passing away. She was a fine actress and we are saddened by her demise,” film producers D Rama Naidu and VB Rajendra Prasad said. Another past heroine Jamuna and several others in the film indutry, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu, YSRC chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, governor K Rosaiah, DMK chief M Karunanidhi, Union minister Chiranjeevi and others mourned her death.

Actors Chandramohan and Murali Mohan recalled their association with Anjali Devi as an artiste and person. The Movie Artistes Association (MAA) condoled her demise and recalled her contribution to Telugu cinema.

Her body will be shifted to her residence in Raja Annamalaipuram in Chennai and final rites will be performed on Thursday.

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