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Bonding A Memoir by Vyjayantimala Bali
Bonding A Memoir by Vyjayantimala Bali
Description
From the Jacket

It all began on a European tour with her parents, when she performed before the Pope in 1939, and earned his benediction. She was barely seven. Defying age, time and space, she's still dancing in the new millennium. For Vyjayantimala, 'everything begins and ends with dance'. That's the raison d'etre of her very existence. Over these decades, her august audience comprised kings and queens presidents and prime ministers, the high and mighty. Truly a roving cultural ambassador of India, taking its traditional heritage and goodwill to distant lands, she performed at Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris for UNESCO, Scala Theatre in London, and Moscow Theatre in 1959. And she had the unique honour as the first Indian dancer to give a Bharatanatyam recital at the General Assembly of United Nations, in 1969, receiving a standing ovation of the think-tanks of over 120 nations. Yet again, she was the first Indian artiste to dance at the International Opera House at Sydney, besides recitals at the Adelaide Festival, Royal Opera Rallst Festival, Stockholm, Holland Festival at Rotterdam, Middle East and Far East.

The acclaim for her performances stemmed from the most rigorous training she's had under distinguished gurus of the purest classical styles. Her flawless technique and remarkably individual interpretation created a benchmark. With such emotional concentration and spiritual dedication, no way did she compromise in her diligent pursuit of traditional art form, even when there was a sudden shift in her lie from the concert stage to the screen. As the celluloid world drew her into its fold, she shot into fame with her very first film in Tamil, Vazkhi. Within a decade, she emerged as the reigning super star, playing coveted leading roles in Nagin, Madhumati, Devdas, Sadhna, Gunga Jumna and Amrapali. She was commended as a 'stunning perfectionist' in realistic portrayals. And her rendition in Sangam, indeed, was the confluence of her creative talent that propelled her to heights of dizzy renown.

She became the 'southern sensation' with 'twinkle toes', for never had an actress from South made it as a national star, more so, for her considerable legacy to Indian Cinema as an accomplished dancer. It was rare for an actress to be a supple dancer with classical training. An amazing feat, working on two parallel streams, as critics and connoisseurs applauded her research to revive the ancient and forgotten temple dance forms. Never once did her Bharatanatyam swerve from the most scrupulous purity of Tanjore style.

Dancing, acting, golfing, marriage, motherhood…and then came another shift entering the portals of Parliament becoming a veritable crusader to champion the cause of the underprivileged.

Bonding…to a life that continued to pose challenges to keep performing at every given stage, weathering many a storm, she personifies grace and beauty that is timeless. Precisely the stuff legends are made of…!

The virtue of Vyjayantimala's Bharatanatyam art lies in the fidelity to an austere tradition. The exposition is sedate and exclusive in terms of classical purity.

The Hindu

Of all the dancers who have been pursuing a screen career along with their art, Vyjayantimala has paid the most attention to austerity of technique, command over rhythmic footwork, and noble angularity of line…Her brilliant style of dancing reflects a commendable sense of originality. It proves that the scope for striking new ground in this art is unlimited.

The Times of India

Vyjayantimala infuses grace and loveliness into all of her movements, combines gesture to gesture by a roundness of transition that makes her every movement mellifluous and flowerlike…This indeed is the ideal that we have cherished of the great beauty of this dance.

The Statesman

With her vivacity and suppleness, Vyjayantimala enlivens Bharatanatyam with a rhythm and tempo so characteristic of her personality. Here is a dancer, whose skill is tempered with beauty and who uses the technique in a manner so as to create a pleasing effect…She excels in shapely statuesque postures.

The Hindustan Times

This diamond-decked goddess of Indian dance finds Paris at her feet.

La Revolution, Paris

Her budding grace and exceptional rhythmic precision are certainly impressive. She has the wonderful ability to freeze her limbs ever so gracefully from a whirling activity to a memorial pose.

The Times, London

There was a radiant and surely spontaneous enjoyment about her dancing, and this, with her prettiness, her litheness and her evident technical skill, came like an unselfconscious conqueror across the foot lights.

The Manchester Guardian

The Indian dance of Bharatanatyam, as performed by Vyjayantimala at the Opera House in Sydney was subtle and spellbinding.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Vyjayantimala has the grace of the Fawn and the charm of the Dove. A classical woman in a dance of the Spirit.

The Hong Kong Standard

Introduction

Spread on the canvas of life, filled with breathtaking myriad colours, memories come barging in varied forms and at times woven in intricate patterns. All the same there seems to be some thread of connectivity that holds them together. Right in front of my eyes, these images emerge and then everything seems to fall into place. As I go closer to watch them, and feel like touching them, I realize they are not within my reach. But I talk to these vivid images, almost listen to them conversing with me. Yet I wonder, how this bonding…becomes more elating, as I relate to them. Playing hide and seek – being so near and yet so far – they bring in the radiance, the glow and light to my life, giving me the strength, the will, the conviction of thought and mind. Almost casting a spell, memories mesmerize, and make me not just live by them, but induce me to move on with more élan.

Sharing this bound of reflections and reminiscences with all the readers, known and unknown to me, young and old, those curious and not-so-curious, would bring me the greatest joy.

Editor's Note

An indomitable spirit! These three words most befittingly depict the very being of classical dancer-actress-golfer-politician, Vyjayantimala Bali. Well into her seventies, the 'twinkle toes' of one of the most renowned exponents of Bharatanatyam continue to grace the classical renditions. The world is her stage and she's still playing on. A 'rare pearl necklace worn by Lord Vishnu' is the Sanskrit connotation of Vyjayantimala. No wonder, she has lived up to her name.

What is it that makes certain entities keep at it? Perhaps, achievers do not rest on their laurels till they have savoured life at its best. How does one adhere to the rigid, traditional framework and yet defy convention to emerge a victor? Probably, it's the grit to manage contradictions in an exemplary way. What accounts for that iron-will that refuses to take a bow, even when all the chips are down, and one may have reached the end of the road? It could be owing to that sterling ability to never-say-die and face the crisis head-on. Seeking answers to these and many more such baffling queries is the crux of this memoir.

Vyjayantimala shocked the extremely conservative, down to earth, prim and proper South Indian Iyengar community, when after her arangetram, she danced her way into the tinsel world at all of sixteen, when most girls her age were still taking small shuddering steps towards their guru to declare them ready for the maiden performance. One would say, 'Bravo'. And the very same girl sizzled, doing dance numbers a la Folies Bergere, and running around trees with reel-life heroes, reaching her all-time high too rapidly in a forum well known for being quicksilver. One would say, 'Good show', applaud appreciatively and log in rhythm to her cine success.

Then, the same woman fell in love with Dr. Chaman Bali, a married man, and accused of being a 'homebreaker', not just by the Iyengar community but society at large. The simple, unaffected, much-chaperoned girl from Madras was to upset apple carts left, right and centre, mostly without even knowing it. But her love was not a transient, fleeting emotion; it withstood all that internal turmoil. And when she triumphed, there was no shy acceptance. With freedom came a bond between the two, a bond that would help them grow. Together! But also individually, Vyjayantimala was neither her husband's shadow, nor he hers. She was beginning to do things with greater zeal, as she quit films to devote time to what resonated her inner self – Bharatanatyam – reviving ancient temple dance forms, exploring newer nuances, and breaking fresh grounds as a performing artiste.

Springing yet another surprise, she became a Congresswoman, and soon enough 'The Chosen One' at the hustings. But being a Member of Parliament also meant facing people's preconceived notions about her. "How would she fare?" They asked derisively. A pretty fairy from the arena of fine arts, what ws she doing in the hard as nails battle ground of politics? Would she make it? She won like she had always done, by silently proving the detractors wrong. With Dr Bali by her side, she worked for her constituency, trying to change the lackadaisical way in which things functioned. Her life was brimming and she lived every exciting moment. But fate had other plans. Dr. Bali passed away. She was left alone.

Again she swam against the tide. The crosscurrents of public opinion were strong. But drown she did not. She refused to wear a weepy widow's white. She draped herself in familiar, rich silken Kanjeevarams, the jewels glowing confidently around her neck. Once again, people wondered. Once again, she did not care. She used her husband's memory, exhorted by his past words to turn stumbling blocks into stepping-stones. Thus a crumbling phase metamorphosed into a purposeful mission, and she remained in public consciousness, achieving legendary fame.

An intrepid traveler, Vyjayantimala began her journey alone, coming from a broken home. And full circle, she would end it alone, showing no sings of giving way. Calm, composed, courageous! Again these three words bear testimony to her life, as she holds on to this intrinsic belief:

No success is final
No sorrow fatal
It's the courage that counts

And this bonding…with one's belief is what endures!

Contents

Introduction vii
Acknowledgementix
Editor's Notexi
1
I was a very hurt child
1
2
Bahar created history
45
3
Art is divine
140
4
I had to marry the man I wanted to marry.
258
5
Politicians make better actors
315
Annexure
Repertoire: Bharatanatyam404
Filmography407
Awards & Recognition410

Bonding A Memoir by Vyjayantimala Bali

Item Code:
IDK285
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2007
Publisher:
Stellar Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN:
9788190455916
Size:
9.8" X 6.5"
Pages:
419 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W)
Price:
$55.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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From the Jacket

It all began on a European tour with her parents, when she performed before the Pope in 1939, and earned his benediction. She was barely seven. Defying age, time and space, she's still dancing in the new millennium. For Vyjayantimala, 'everything begins and ends with dance'. That's the raison d'etre of her very existence. Over these decades, her august audience comprised kings and queens presidents and prime ministers, the high and mighty. Truly a roving cultural ambassador of India, taking its traditional heritage and goodwill to distant lands, she performed at Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris for UNESCO, Scala Theatre in London, and Moscow Theatre in 1959. And she had the unique honour as the first Indian dancer to give a Bharatanatyam recital at the General Assembly of United Nations, in 1969, receiving a standing ovation of the think-tanks of over 120 nations. Yet again, she was the first Indian artiste to dance at the International Opera House at Sydney, besides recitals at the Adelaide Festival, Royal Opera Rallst Festival, Stockholm, Holland Festival at Rotterdam, Middle East and Far East.

The acclaim for her performances stemmed from the most rigorous training she's had under distinguished gurus of the purest classical styles. Her flawless technique and remarkably individual interpretation created a benchmark. With such emotional concentration and spiritual dedication, no way did she compromise in her diligent pursuit of traditional art form, even when there was a sudden shift in her lie from the concert stage to the screen. As the celluloid world drew her into its fold, she shot into fame with her very first film in Tamil, Vazkhi. Within a decade, she emerged as the reigning super star, playing coveted leading roles in Nagin, Madhumati, Devdas, Sadhna, Gunga Jumna and Amrapali. She was commended as a 'stunning perfectionist' in realistic portrayals. And her rendition in Sangam, indeed, was the confluence of her creative talent that propelled her to heights of dizzy renown.

She became the 'southern sensation' with 'twinkle toes', for never had an actress from South made it as a national star, more so, for her considerable legacy to Indian Cinema as an accomplished dancer. It was rare for an actress to be a supple dancer with classical training. An amazing feat, working on two parallel streams, as critics and connoisseurs applauded her research to revive the ancient and forgotten temple dance forms. Never once did her Bharatanatyam swerve from the most scrupulous purity of Tanjore style.

Dancing, acting, golfing, marriage, motherhood…and then came another shift entering the portals of Parliament becoming a veritable crusader to champion the cause of the underprivileged.

Bonding…to a life that continued to pose challenges to keep performing at every given stage, weathering many a storm, she personifies grace and beauty that is timeless. Precisely the stuff legends are made of…!

The virtue of Vyjayantimala's Bharatanatyam art lies in the fidelity to an austere tradition. The exposition is sedate and exclusive in terms of classical purity.

The Hindu

Of all the dancers who have been pursuing a screen career along with their art, Vyjayantimala has paid the most attention to austerity of technique, command over rhythmic footwork, and noble angularity of line…Her brilliant style of dancing reflects a commendable sense of originality. It proves that the scope for striking new ground in this art is unlimited.

The Times of India

Vyjayantimala infuses grace and loveliness into all of her movements, combines gesture to gesture by a roundness of transition that makes her every movement mellifluous and flowerlike…This indeed is the ideal that we have cherished of the great beauty of this dance.

The Statesman

With her vivacity and suppleness, Vyjayantimala enlivens Bharatanatyam with a rhythm and tempo so characteristic of her personality. Here is a dancer, whose skill is tempered with beauty and who uses the technique in a manner so as to create a pleasing effect…She excels in shapely statuesque postures.

The Hindustan Times

This diamond-decked goddess of Indian dance finds Paris at her feet.

La Revolution, Paris

Her budding grace and exceptional rhythmic precision are certainly impressive. She has the wonderful ability to freeze her limbs ever so gracefully from a whirling activity to a memorial pose.

The Times, London

There was a radiant and surely spontaneous enjoyment about her dancing, and this, with her prettiness, her litheness and her evident technical skill, came like an unselfconscious conqueror across the foot lights.

The Manchester Guardian

The Indian dance of Bharatanatyam, as performed by Vyjayantimala at the Opera House in Sydney was subtle and spellbinding.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Vyjayantimala has the grace of the Fawn and the charm of the Dove. A classical woman in a dance of the Spirit.

The Hong Kong Standard

Introduction

Spread on the canvas of life, filled with breathtaking myriad colours, memories come barging in varied forms and at times woven in intricate patterns. All the same there seems to be some thread of connectivity that holds them together. Right in front of my eyes, these images emerge and then everything seems to fall into place. As I go closer to watch them, and feel like touching them, I realize they are not within my reach. But I talk to these vivid images, almost listen to them conversing with me. Yet I wonder, how this bonding…becomes more elating, as I relate to them. Playing hide and seek – being so near and yet so far – they bring in the radiance, the glow and light to my life, giving me the strength, the will, the conviction of thought and mind. Almost casting a spell, memories mesmerize, and make me not just live by them, but induce me to move on with more élan.

Sharing this bound of reflections and reminiscences with all the readers, known and unknown to me, young and old, those curious and not-so-curious, would bring me the greatest joy.

Editor's Note

An indomitable spirit! These three words most befittingly depict the very being of classical dancer-actress-golfer-politician, Vyjayantimala Bali. Well into her seventies, the 'twinkle toes' of one of the most renowned exponents of Bharatanatyam continue to grace the classical renditions. The world is her stage and she's still playing on. A 'rare pearl necklace worn by Lord Vishnu' is the Sanskrit connotation of Vyjayantimala. No wonder, she has lived up to her name.

What is it that makes certain entities keep at it? Perhaps, achievers do not rest on their laurels till they have savoured life at its best. How does one adhere to the rigid, traditional framework and yet defy convention to emerge a victor? Probably, it's the grit to manage contradictions in an exemplary way. What accounts for that iron-will that refuses to take a bow, even when all the chips are down, and one may have reached the end of the road? It could be owing to that sterling ability to never-say-die and face the crisis head-on. Seeking answers to these and many more such baffling queries is the crux of this memoir.

Vyjayantimala shocked the extremely conservative, down to earth, prim and proper South Indian Iyengar community, when after her arangetram, she danced her way into the tinsel world at all of sixteen, when most girls her age were still taking small shuddering steps towards their guru to declare them ready for the maiden performance. One would say, 'Bravo'. And the very same girl sizzled, doing dance numbers a la Folies Bergere, and running around trees with reel-life heroes, reaching her all-time high too rapidly in a forum well known for being quicksilver. One would say, 'Good show', applaud appreciatively and log in rhythm to her cine success.

Then, the same woman fell in love with Dr. Chaman Bali, a married man, and accused of being a 'homebreaker', not just by the Iyengar community but society at large. The simple, unaffected, much-chaperoned girl from Madras was to upset apple carts left, right and centre, mostly without even knowing it. But her love was not a transient, fleeting emotion; it withstood all that internal turmoil. And when she triumphed, there was no shy acceptance. With freedom came a bond between the two, a bond that would help them grow. Together! But also individually, Vyjayantimala was neither her husband's shadow, nor he hers. She was beginning to do things with greater zeal, as she quit films to devote time to what resonated her inner self – Bharatanatyam – reviving ancient temple dance forms, exploring newer nuances, and breaking fresh grounds as a performing artiste.

Springing yet another surprise, she became a Congresswoman, and soon enough 'The Chosen One' at the hustings. But being a Member of Parliament also meant facing people's preconceived notions about her. "How would she fare?" They asked derisively. A pretty fairy from the arena of fine arts, what ws she doing in the hard as nails battle ground of politics? Would she make it? She won like she had always done, by silently proving the detractors wrong. With Dr Bali by her side, she worked for her constituency, trying to change the lackadaisical way in which things functioned. Her life was brimming and she lived every exciting moment. But fate had other plans. Dr. Bali passed away. She was left alone.

Again she swam against the tide. The crosscurrents of public opinion were strong. But drown she did not. She refused to wear a weepy widow's white. She draped herself in familiar, rich silken Kanjeevarams, the jewels glowing confidently around her neck. Once again, people wondered. Once again, she did not care. She used her husband's memory, exhorted by his past words to turn stumbling blocks into stepping-stones. Thus a crumbling phase metamorphosed into a purposeful mission, and she remained in public consciousness, achieving legendary fame.

An intrepid traveler, Vyjayantimala began her journey alone, coming from a broken home. And full circle, she would end it alone, showing no sings of giving way. Calm, composed, courageous! Again these three words bear testimony to her life, as she holds on to this intrinsic belief:

No success is final
No sorrow fatal
It's the courage that counts

And this bonding…with one's belief is what endures!

Contents

Introduction vii
Acknowledgementix
Editor's Notexi
1
I was a very hurt child
1
2
Bahar created history
45
3
Art is divine
140
4
I had to marry the man I wanted to marry.
258
5
Politicians make better actors
315
Annexure
Repertoire: Bharatanatyam404
Filmography407
Awards & Recognition410
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