Vyjayanthimala: Dancing Queen

Gracious and charming as ever, Vyjayanthimala takes a trip down memory lane as she speaks about her co-stars. Filmfare enjoys the journey

Kishore Kumar

I did several films with Kishore Kumar. He was always full of fun and frolic. You couldn’t really predict what he was up to. It was wonderful working with him. Being a singer, he was so quick in his rhythm and quick in his reflexes while dancing. It was easy to match his steps and he was comfortable with me too. He used to tell me, ‘Aap to taal mein karte hai sab to bahut hi achha lagta hai mujhe. Betaali ho jati hai to mushkil padta hai.’ (It’s nice that you dance in rhythm. It’s difficult if rhythms don’t match.)

Dilip Kumar

“Dilipji and I worked in the maximum number of films together and every film was a success. Our team worked. Filmgoers accepted our pairing perhaps because the comfort level we shared came out on screen. There was a certain understanding and the onscreen chemistry worked in our favour. I learnt a lot working with him. He’s dedicated, sincere. It was amazing watching him sink into a character and become oblivious of all else. One of my last films Sunghursh (1968) was also with him. There was no friction between us during the shooting of Naya Daur as is usually speculated. But during the shooting of Ram Aur Shyam in Chennai there was a misunderstanding and after we’d shot for about eight days Waheeda Rehman replaced me. These things happen and it’s good to forget the controversies. Such things come and go. I just remember the wonderful times we had working together. In fact I called on Dilipji just yesterday and Saira, who’s very close to me and who I call ‘my angel’ was very sweet and loving. Dilipji was looking good.

Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor was a very great showman and gave me a wonderful role to play in Sangam. Very different because here I played a sophisticated young lady in contrast to the village belles that were routine. He knew the pulse of the audience and the love triangle was beautifully portrayed in the film. The film got me the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. The character was tough to portray. I had to project a woman’s strength plus the film spoke about women’s reforms. The film showed what a woman could do. To prevent her man from going to the nightclub she dances for him, implying that I too can make you happy. And when the two men are fighting over her she tells them that she too has a voice and can make decisions.

Rajendra Kumar

It was wonderful working with Rajendra Kumar too. He was such a natural, you didn’t ever get the feeling that you were performing in front of the camera. And we did some great films together like Aas Ka Panchhi (1961), Zindagi (1964), Sangam (1964) and Suraj (1966).

Dev Anand

Dev Anand saab was extremely nice to work with. All actors have their own approach to work and the way they perform. Luckily, I could follow and understand all my co-stars and knew exactly how to react. Because reacting is even more important than acting. It felt good that I could imbibe quite a lot working with the big three — Dilipji, Dev saab and Raj Kapoor.



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