Vyjayanthimala Bali breezed in as a dancer in Bahar (1951) and swept off Bollywood off its feet. A dancer, choreographer, carnatic singer, golfer, politician and a writer, this graceful lady was felicitated by actor Hema Malini recently. The event was organised to pay a musical tribute to the veteran actress for her contribution in the field of art. The actor talks to CS about her life, her love for sports and dance:
Who: Vyjayanthimala Bali
What: Talks about her love for sports, dance and charity
I worked in the Hindi film industry for two decades, but then moved to Chennai post my marriage to Dr Bali. Life after leaving the industry got even busier. Stage shows, and research on reviving the ancient temple dance forms, took up all my time. Apart from this, my work with charitable trusts, a Bharatnatyam and music academy, etc have kept me busy. Serving people is my goal and my dance foundation, Natyalaya, helps the upcoming and underprivileged artists with things like costumes, recommendations, rehearsal halls, etc. For a brief period of time, I dabbled in politics too. My family was always on good terms with the Gandhi family. I have seen Rajiv and Sanjay (Gandhi) grow up in front of me. After becoming the Prime Minister, Rajiv once came down to Chennai and offered me a ticket from his party. Not knowing what to say, I blabbered 'whatever you say'. My husband urged me to take on the challenge, which I eventually did. I contested twice and won with majority. For some one with zero political background, it gave me a high.
Not many people know that I love sports. They know that I play golf, but that came much later in my life and that too because my husband was a golfer. Since childhood, I have been playing both indoor and outdoor sports. I have won a lot of junior level table tennis competitions. I was also into badminton and was a very good athlete. I wanted to pursue tennis and swimming, but my grandmother was against it. Someone told her that by playing tennis I would injure my tennis elbow and hence won't be able to dance. As for swimming, she feared that it will make my arms look muscular. In fact, I was also good at horse riding and have won certificates for it too.
Dance aaj kal
I could make it this big because of my strong dancing background. Dance in our times was different. It was an amalgamation of classical with folk. But today, with so much westernisation, it has all changed. Also, the young girls I see dancing, all look the same to me -- same looks, backgrounds, etc. You can't separate one from the other. Moreover, even heroes dance these days, which wasn't so in my day. Also, back then a dance sequence used to be a task. When I was to dance on Hoton Pe Aise Baat from Jewel Thief, Vijayji (Anand) wanted to shoot a lengthy sequence. The shot required me to use up the entire space. After rehearsing, the camera rolled and didn't stop till I did. It was thrilling to get a thunderous applause!