An Ode to Vanisri, The Real Nellooru ‘Nerajaana’

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First of all, Happy Birthday Vanisri Garu. You turn 67 today. The last time i saw you so remarkable was when i was like 12 years old. And watched most of your films with my mother.

Vanisri, the darling of the Telugus. She was no Savitri or Jamuna, she was not an Athiloka Sundari or anything. But she was a sensation in herself. An explosive persona who would rattle off those deep intense lines like a walk in the park. A lady like pride gliding on to go head to head with the legendary ANR while building his Prem Nagar. 

I will go on and call the days of Vanisri Garu as the true respite to Telugu Cinema. As she lived and breathed the spirit of her existence in the industry, performing big and small roles. Vanisri was a brand. A reputation that Telugu people gauged while estimating the standards of films made those days.

Her qualitative innings with Tollywood saw many of her co stars writhe in hesitation. She is 5 ft 6, but she walked the carpet and stood to her full height. She was not very fair complexioned. But an interesting story line with an important character? She was the only choice of any film maker. Vanisri had no issues of star tantrums or peer pressure. For her, the end performance and her contribution to the film was all that mattered.

Vanisri’s portrayal of an average middle class girl who wore stylish looking cheap sarees and pinned up her hair to serve in a high class family was a visual straight out of a Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani’s novel. Her mannerisms, her diction, her witty responses to a wasted rich leading man were nothing short of awe. That performance so sleek, perfection driven and straight-arrowed. I will not be surprised if many of the young women of that generation, including my mother, would have wanted a piece of Vanisri inside them. 

vani3 An Ode to Vanisri, The Real Nellooru 'Nerajaana'

With Late ANR – Prem Nagar Pair Reunited At an Event

Somewhere in the innermost of hearts, every woman would relate herself with the roles played by Vanisri. She ranked and rated among the heavy duty performers who could shake the ground off with a simple scene. For me as a young girl, Vanisri was that lovely Aunty who would appear on the TV set and make a statement. For many other adults, she was a God awesome uptown girl who knew her stuff and did her thing. Like “you better ain’t mess with me” kinds.

The current generation of actresses can actually take some online classes and watch her renditions. There is a great depth of learning that comes from the way the lady lived her on screen characters. She never looked ahead, nor turned back to compare. Vanisri did her part. She always had only one competition to win over – her own self!

Irony but true, there would be no second Vanisri. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever. She is a single piece, a personality of sorts that screams – never before my darling, never again.

Vanisri Garu, please take my salute.



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