Contents: Introduction. Acknowledgement. Editor's note. 1. I was a very hurt child. 2. Bahar created history. 3. Art is divine. 4. I had to marry the man I wanted to marry. 5. Politicians make better actors. Annexure. Repertoire: Bharatanatyam. Filmography. Awards and recognition.
"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 five 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 has 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 life 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, Vazkhai. 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 has 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 swift 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...! (jacket)