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Maha Nati Savitri( a famous heroin of South India)

Savithri was born on December 6th, in the year 1936 in Chirravur village in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh. Nissankaram Guraviah and Subhadramma were her parents. She lost her father when she was just six years old. With her uncle’s support, she studied till third form (eighth standard) in Kasturi Bai Memorial School at Vijayawada. She learnt dancing while she was studying and got loads of appreciations whenever she performed on the stage. She was born in a wealthy family. She learnt music and classical dance under Sista Purnayya Sasthri and gave some public performances as a child in Vijayawada. She worked in a theater company run by Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao, K Jaggayya et al. Later on she started her own group, the Navabharata Natya Mandali. She also acted in a play Atma Vanchana by Buchi Babu.

She was bestowed into the film industry at a very young age (at the age of twelve) as she got an offer in the film ‘Agni Pariksha’. She merely missed the chance because she looked too young to play the role in that particular film. Soon after that, she got a key role in the film ‘Samsaram’, which was produced by the banner ‘Sadhana Chitra’ in 1950 but again bad luck shoved off the role since she felt very abashed and tensed up to take through with Akkineni Nageswara Rao as he is a big star. As a result she was replaced by Pushpalatha but was offered a small role in that movie. When the film was released, the producers and directors recognized her inborn talent. She caught chances to act in films like ‘Sankranthi’, ‘Palleturu’ etc. She performed in a dance flick in the legendary film ‘Pathala Bhairavi’ in 1951. There was no looking back for Savithri, after she had performed as a second heroine in the film ‘Pelli Chesi Choodu’ in 1952.

She made her debut in Telugu Cinema with LV Prasad's Samsaram. She acted in minor films until she turned a star with Pelli Chesi Choodu. She had to wait till Ardhangi to establish her acting credentials. She played the lead role of Mary in LV Prasad's comedy film Missamma. She acted in several films by choreographer-director Raghavaiah, e.g Devadas.

She acted in memorable films like Pelli Chesi Choodu (1952), Palletooru (1952), Chandra Haram (1953), Devadasu (1953), Ardhangi (1955), Missamma(1955), Donga Ramudu (1955), Amara Deepam (1956), Mayabazaar (1957), Appu Chesi Pappu Kodu (1959), Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam (1960), Aradhana (1962), Gundamma Katha (1962), Rakta Tilakam (1963), Mooga Manasulu (1963), Poojaphalam (1964), Pandava Vanavasam (1965), Prana Mitrulu (1967), Varakatnam (1968), Maro Prapancham (1970) and Jagan Mohini (1978).

Of all Savithri's movies Chivarakumigiledi is considered to be a magnum opus. But the film was a total financial failure. Apart from those films that are already mentioned there are some more great movies such as DongaRamudu(1956), Todikodallu(1957), Mangalya Balam(1958), Abhimanam(1958), Muripinche muvvalu(1960), Manchi Manasulu(1961), Doctor Chakravarthi(1964), Devatha(1965) and Manase Mandiram(1971). These movies stand as a shining testimony to her versatality as an actress. These movies will find a mention in a list of all time great telugu movies.

She almost acted with every top hero of the Telugu and the Tamil cinema fields. Savithri used to take over the scene regardless of the actor she was performing with. She was similarly triumphed over the Telugu and Tamil industries. She was treated as the number one heroine. Because at that time there used to be nearly 20 Savithri starred movies released in a year. Every role where Savithri had enacted made her to stand as a persistent symbol. The audience as well as the critics appreciated her. The women audience would adore Savithri for her liveliness and captivating performance. During her career, she focused her mind only on acting. She found no time to think about anything other than acting. She was very dedicated to her career. Since she was chubby, she even underwent severe dieting to suit her role while she was acting for some of her films.

Telugu and Tamil Films

Once when she took a chance to visit Gemini Studios, for the first time she met Gemini Ganeshan over there. Gemini Ganeshan used to be a well-known hero in the Tamil industry and was called as ‘Kaadal Mannan’ (King of Love) by the Tamil audience. Gemini Ganeshan, subsequently, said about Savithri “She would definitely develop into an outstanding actress in future.” Later his calculation turned out to be true when she got an offer in the film ‘Devadas’, pairing with Akkineni Nageswara Rao. She incurred a substantial position for her in the Telugu film industry after acting in the film ‘Devadas’ in the year 1953. This was the film, which raised Savithri's image as an artiste. Among the films of Savithri, the most illustrious films were ‘Missamma’, ‘Maya Bazar’, ‘Ardhangi’, ‘Kanya Sulkam’, ‘Devatha’, ‘Naadee Aada Janme’, etc., where her astonishing performance bewitched the spectators.

Awards
She was also a famous actress in Tamil film industry. She was given the rare title Nadigeyar Thilakam (Great Actress) for her fine performances.

She was awarded with the title Kalai Mamani by the Tamilnadu State Government, Nati Siromani by the Andhra Yuvathi Mandali and with an apt title as Mahanati.

Personal Life
Her association with the Tamil actor Gemini Ganeshan feathered while they were acting together for a Tamil film ‘Manam Pola Mangalyam’ and it was again a love story, which directed to a secret marriage in the year 1956. Afterward it was revealed subsequently when Savithri gave her photo for the Lux soap advertisement, as it was signed as ‘Savithri Ganesh’ at the backside of the photograph. Savithri and Gemini were blessed with two children Vijaya Chamundeswari and Sathish. Savithri used to be very strict, disciplined and compassionate as a mother. Because of her work pressure she hardly found time to spend with her kids. Even then she used to capture some time out of her hectic schedule and spent a good quality of time with her kids. She gave her children complete liberty while insuring certain restrictions on them. She never raised hands at her children. She loved her kids immeasurably. Since there was no availability of televisions at that time, she arranged a 16mm projector, to show the films that she had acted to her kids. Even though she discussed about films with her children she never entertained them to pick for films, as she never wished her children to experience the pains, which she had faced. Savithri's 100th film ‘Konjum Salangai’ (‘Muripinche Muvvalu’ in Telugu) happened to be paired with Gemini Ganeshan!

Apart from the films and her children, jasmine flowers and drizzling rain were her favorite whimsies. She used to have a jasmine garden at her home and she delighted plucking flowers from the bushes and wearing them on her hair. She used to swamp herself in the rain, which was an enjoyment for her. Savithri was a left-hander. She also had a great enthrallment towards sports and games like cricket and chess. She never missed a cricket match that was played in Chennai. Famous West Indies cricketer Gary Sobers was her most favorite sports person. Even in those days she participated in the star-cricket with Sivaji Ganeshan..

She even possessed an attractive chess table made of ivory. She was born with a tremendous sense of humour so as she got a great and perfect proficiency in mimicking others. She left no person that she had known not imitated. She enjoyed replicating people e.g. her husband Gemini Ganeshan, Relangi, Saroja Devi, Sivaji Ganeshan, S.V. Ranga Rao, Kabir Bedi and many others. Basically she was very strong-minded and unwavering person. No human factor could change her choices that she had made once furthermore she would never give up things easily. She would never tell her problems to anyone she led her life according to her own inherent aptitude. She was very freehearted and freehanded while extending helping hands to others. Once she went entirely bejeweled with gold and diamonds to meet the Prime Minister, Sri Lal Bahaddur Shastri and gave away all the adornment for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Some people exploited her quality of innocence and generosity.

Unfortunately marriage was not a good occurrence in Savithri’s life. When her husband, the person, whom she adored and trusted a lot, ditched her, she was awfully distressed moreover it was a great blow on her trust towards a person. The shock directed her to undergo depressed conditions in her later part of life. It was very painful for her to live alone in a vast house with two immature children. She lost trust in people and adopted dangerous habits like alcohol, sleeping pills, and drugs. Slowly the appetite vanished, intoxicants had overruled her sentiments and sensitivities. Savithri was hospitalized many times. She suffered a lot during her stay at the hospitals. On the course of her travel to Mysore for a shooting she broke down, went into coma, and was hurried back to Chennai where her children admitted her in a hospital.

There she lost her speech and left this world on 26th, December 1981 at Madras. She left her screen life as an eternal model.
A few of her memorable tamil films.

Missamma
Manampola Mangalyam
Konjum Salangai
Devadas
Navaraathri
Pasamalar
Kaikodutha Deivam
Parisu
Vettaikaran
Kalathur Kannamma
Thiruvilayadal
Paavamannippu
Poojaikku Vanda Malar
Seetha
Kaathirundha Kangal
Mahadevi
Kuzhandai Ullam
Paarthal Pasi Theerum
Praptham
Aayiram Roobai
Karnan
Petha manam pithu
Saraswathi sabatham
Bandha pasam
Padithal mattum podhuma
Kandan karunai
Ellam unakkkaga

Telugu Movies
Samsaram 1950
Agni Pareeksha 1951
Patala Bhairavi 1951
Pelli Chesi Choodu 1952
Palletooru 1952
Pratigna 1953
Devadasu 1953
Bratuku Theruvu 1953
Menarikam 1954
Chandraharam 1954
Parivartana 1954
Vadina 1955
Missamma 1955
Ardhangi 1955
Santanam 1955
Kanyasulkam 1955
Donga Ramudu 1955
Charanadaasi 1956
Bhale Ramudu 1956
Amaradeepam 1956
Vinayaka Chaviti 1957
Todi Kodallu 1957
M.L.A. 1957
Kutumba Gauravam 1957
Maya Bazaar 1957
Mangalya Balam 1958
Intiguttu 1958
Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu 1958
Nammina Bantu 1959
Vimala 1960
Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam 1960
Shantinivasam 1960
Kalathur Kannamma 1960
Deepavali 1960
Chivaraku Migiledi 1960
Abhimanam 1960
Papapariharam 1961
Pandava Vanavasam 1961
Kalasivunte Kaladu Sukham 1961
Siri Sampadalu 1962
Pavithra Prema 1962
Manchi Manasulu 1962
Aradhana 1962
Gundamma Katha 1962
Raktha Sambandham 1962
Atma Bandhuvu 1962
Raktha Tilakam 1963
Mooga Manasulu 1963
Karna 1963
Chaduvukunna Ammayilu 1963
Nartanasala 1963
Velugu Needalu 1964
Poojaphalam 1964
Navarathri 1964
Doctor Chakravarthy 1964
Devatha 1964
Sumangali 1965
Naadi Ada Janme 1965
Manasulu Mamathalu 1965
Sri Krishna Pandaviyam 1966
Manase Mandiram 1966
Bhakta Potana 1966
Prana Mithrulu 1967
Bandhavyalu 1967
Thalli Thandrulu 1970
Nirdoshi 1970
Maro Prapancham 1970
Mathru Devatha 1970
Vichithra Dampathyam 1971
Ashwathama 1978
Andarikante Monagadu 1985

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