- As she turns 86 on Saturday, we revisit how she got the Raj Kapoor film Sangam, and even got to wear her first swimsuit onscreen for the song Bol Radha Bol in the 1964 film.
Bollywood’s first dancing diva, Vyajyantimala, turns 86 on Saturday. A widely revered classical dancer and actor, Vyajyantimala featured in many popular films including Raj Kapoor’s iconic love story Sangam. She even wore a swimsuit for a song in the film and it was the first time she wore one onscreen. Raj Kapoor had to plead, and sit at the feet of her grandmom to convince her that she must be allowed to wear a swimsuit. (Also read: When Rishi Kapoor’s mom moved out of home because Raj Kapoor ‘was involved with Vyjayanthimala‘)
Though she wasn’t the first one to wear a swimsuit in Hindi films, she was the first south Indian to do so. “My first impression of Raj Kapoor was that he was very cajoling, very sweet with grandma. He would sit at her feet, hold her hands, look at her imploringly and plead, ‘Ammaji, ammaji’. That way in real life he was a much better actor. My God, he would do anything for his films. If he wanted to get a scene done in a particular manner, he knew how to get around. ‘Amma ji, it would be fine since she would be in the water. It would be all in a long shot and the rest would be through a duplicate’. I was all covered up before jumping into the pool. But being there in water for hours was very difficult. Grandma reassured me, ‘We’re all there and things won’t go out of hand’, Vyajyantimala wrote in her book Bonding..A Memoir. The book was launched in 2007.
She also recalled how she agreed on doing the film in the first place. She wrote that she asked him to get permission from the her grandmom. “There was nothing much about him except that he was a jazzy showman and grandma had heard all the colourful tales about the great RK. Initially, Yagamma was uncertain about letting me accept this assignment, because of his reputation as a lady’s man. But she also knew that he did things on a grand scale. As a filmmaker, RK was a force to reckon with. He would not stop at anything, whether it was the enormity of the film, publicity or hype. He could pull it off, because he had the vision more than anything else. So the latter aspect scored over any reservation grandma had.”
Recalling the origin of the famous song, Vyajyantimala added, “He told her how he had wanted to do this movie earlier, but could not do so, and that Rajendra Kumar would also be cast. And she sort of said yes. RK sent me a telegram from Bombay that read, ‘Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahin’. I put it up to grandma, and she said I could go ahead. So I sent the reply, ‘Sangam hoga, hoga, zaroor hoga…’ And it turned into a song sequence in water.”
Through her long journey onscreen, Vyajyantimala has had many hits such as Naya Daur, New Delhi, Naya Daur, Aasha, Sadhna, Madhumathi and Ganga Jamuna, apart from Sangam. She also worked in many Tamil and Telugu films.