South Indian Film Industry
Bollywood always welcomes actresses from South India, while most of the actors come from North India. South India is the southern part of India having four big states, namely Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, plus Puducherry, a Union Territory of India. Languages spoken in this part of India are regional languages. Tamil is widely spoken in Tamil Nadu, Telugu in Andhra Pradesh, Malayalam in Kerala and Kannada in Karnataka. All the four languages have their own film industries.
Tamil film industry is the largest one in South India, followed by Telugu film Industry. Many of the South Indian actresses appear in more than one of the language films mentioned above, and some of them appear in Hindi films also. These actresses are multilingual. Beside them, some of the South Indian actresses choose Hindi film industry as their main or sole field to work in.
South Indian Actresses in Bollywood
Here are the famous south Indian actresses who ruled Bollywood for several years by acting in Hindi movies. They appeared with leading and legendary actors of Hindi movies. In this first part of the article, I have listed actresses of 1960 to 2000.
Padmini was basically a Bharatnatyam Dancer. She was born in 1932 in Tiruvanantpuram of present day Kerala state. She started her film career when she was 14 as a dancer in the 1948 dance drama film Kalpna, which was in Hindi. Then she appeared in many Tamil and Hindi movies. Her famous Hindi movies were Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai and Mera Naam Joker, where she appeared as a heroine with the legendary actor Raj Kapoor. She won Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1960 for her acting in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai.
After retirement she settled in United States and opened a classical dance institute Padmini School of Fine Arts. She died in 2006.
Padmini with Raj Kapoor in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behati Hai
Vyajayantimala was another Bharatnatyam dancer who became an actress in Hindi movies. She ruled over the world of Hindi films for two decades. She first appeared on screen in 1949 in a Tamil film, and from 1951 she started to appear in Hindi films. Her first Hindi film was Bahar, and last one was Ganwaar (1970). She won Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her films Sadhna (1957), Gunga Jamuna (1961) and Sangam (1963).
Many of her Hindi movies were dubbed in Russian language. Such films include Devdas (1955), New Delhi (1956), Madhumati, Amar Deep (1958), Nazarana (1961), Gunga Jamuna (1961), Sangam (1964), Leader (1964), Pyar Hi Pyar (1969) and many more. All these films became popular in Russia.
She appeared on Hindi screen with many legendary actors including Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahani, Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Ashok Kumar, Dharmendra, Kishor Kumar etc.
Vyajayantimala's greatest contribution to Hindi movies is that she opened the doors of this film industry to South Indian actresses.
She entered national politics in her later life and was elected as member of Parliament of India.
She is still active in cultural field.
Watch Vyjayanthimala with Raj Kapoor in Film Sangam
Hema Malini is known as one of the most influential actress of Hindi movies. She was born in 1948 in a village of Tamil Nadu. She first appeared in a Telugu film Pandava Vanavasam (1965) as a dancer. Sapno Ka Saudagar (1968) was her first Hindi film. Until now she has been appeared in more than 150 Hindi movies.
She is best known for her role of Basanti in the legendary film Sholay. Her other famous films are Seeta Aur Geeta, Amir Garib, Prem Nagar, Sanyasi, Khushboo, Mehbooba and many mores. She appeared on screen with many great actors like Dharmedra, Amitabh Bachchan, Jitendra, Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeevkumar, Dev Anand.
Hema Malini married Dharmedra in 1980.
She was nominated for Filmfare Award for Best Actress for several times, but won only one for her movies Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). She won Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
Rekha was born in Chennai in 1954. She became one of the most famous actress of Hindi movies. She first appeared in a Telugu film as a child artist. Her first Hindi film was Sawan Bhado (1970). Thereafter she appeared in more than 180 Hindi movies. She was nominated for Filmare Award for Best Actress several times, and won it for her films Khubsoorat (1981),and Khoon Bhari Maang (1989). In 1981, she won the most prestigious National Film Award for Best Actress for her film Umrao Jaan. She won Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. Apart from Filmfare awards, she won many other awards, including Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement.
She appeared with the legendary actors Amitabh Bacchan, Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Jitendra and many others. She still appears in Hindi movies as a character actress or gives her guest appearance.
Rekha in Umrao Jaan
Sridevi was born in 1963 in a village of Tamil Nadu. She worked as a child artist in 4 Tamil films. In her first Hindi film Julie (1975) she appeared as a child artist. Between 1976 to 1982 she became as a popular actress of Tamil Films. From 1983, she became one of the most popular actress of Hindi movies. Until now she has been appeared in more than 65 Hindi films. Her latest Hindi film was English Vinglish (2012). She has been appeared in several Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films also.
She was nominated for 7 time for Filmfare Best Actress Award, and won 2 times. (Chaal Baaz, 1990 and Lamhe, 1992).
Sridevi in Mr.India
Jayaprada was born in Rajahmundry, a city of Andhra pradesh in 1962. She appeared first as a dancer in a Telugu film Anthuleni Katha in 1976. Her first Hindi movie was Sargam (1979). Until 1997, she appeared in several Hindi movies. She appeared with many great actors including Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Jitendra, Rajesh Khanna, Sanjay Dutt and others.
Jayaprada entered politics after 1994 and currently she is a member of Rajysabha, Parliament of India.
Jayaprada with Rishi Kapoor in Saragam
In next part of this article, I will write about the next generation South Indian Actresses in Hindi films.
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HK from London on December 01, 2014:
Wow... This is such a wonderful list..
Dianna Mendez on February 15, 2013:
The women posted here are all so beautiful. They truly are! Thank you for the share on Indian film making and history.
drbj and sherry from south Florida on February 08, 2013:
What lovely looking actresses, jainismus. Interesting that some of them went into politics - such a different field - after their movie careers.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 08, 2013:
I agree with Bill, very interesting. They were all so beautiful..Thank's
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 08, 2013:
A very interesting hub. I knew nothing about the Indian film industry, so thank you for this introduction.