Monday, December 18, 2017

Mahanati Savitri

Reading time: ~ 8-10 minutes.


(This post is the third in the series- Remarkable Women)




Savitri, aka Mahanati (Great Actress) almost didn’t make it as a movie actor. 

In 1950, she was so nervous in her first movie role paired against the famous Akkineni Nageshwar Rao that she could not deliver her lines. After many tries the director gave up and gave her a smaller role. The movie was Samsaram
What happened next was unprecedented. 

Savitri became very determined to succeed. So much so, she shone brightly in a tiny role in the classic Patala Bhairavi in 1951. People at the studios began to refer to her as Raanante raanu ammayi (the song she danced to and from which you can’t tear your eyes away). 
A couple of small roles later (including Pelli Chesi Choodu), she was cast for Devadasu (Devdas) in 1953. She was 17 and played Parvati to Nageshwar Rao’s Devadasu. The movie was a super hit. A star rose, unlike anyone before and after her. 
The next 15 years saw her in lead roles in Telugu and Tamil films. It was the golden age of Telugu cinema and Savithri was the goddess*. This, despite competition from famous actresses of her time- Bhanumati, Anjali Devi, Jamuna, Krishna Kumari..
She was not just an enormously successful superstar, she was simply adored without boundaries. She is still loved. What was it about her that was so magical? 



Grace and Fire

When small, I mostly saw her later movies on TV. She was typecast in suffering, sacrificing  roles. They didn’t make much imprint on me. In my teens I saw her famous films- Missamma, Mayabazaar, Kanyasulkam… and I fell in love. Her role in the early classics Missamma and Mayabazaar are so finely imprinted that it is unimaginable that anyone else could have played those roles. 

After that, for a couple of decades I didn't see any Indian movies except for one or two. One day, I was looking for songs on YouTube to watch with my then 7-8 yr old son and I clicked on her movie video songs. 
It was a tough stage in our personal lives, and as we were watching a particular old song Chaduvu raani vaadavani, tears welled up in my eyes. I began to understand her magic. Even now, whenever I feel low, I watch few of her select songs to feel better.


Savitri was genuine. She was her role. The character she played came alive and you were also the character along with her. She once fainted while doing an emotional scene in a movie (Tamil Raktasambandam). In Devadasu, in the last scene where Parvati runs out of her mansion but is blocked by a closed gate, she was supposed to dash against the gate and bang her head repeatedly against it. Savitri was so immersed in being Parvati that she did not stop banging her head even when the director said ‘Cut’. She didn’t hear
Savitri had grace (karuna). There is a constant kindness flowing from her person, using the medium of the role. We become part of that grace as we watch her. Her daughter said, in real life she would give money to all those who approached her for help when she stepped out. Her car would be surrounded by many in need. Once when she didn’t have money, she gave away her bangles. When she lost her riches, she sold saris from her wardrobe to give someone. Even now people approach her daughter for help saying her mom helped them before! 
Savitri was fire. Her roles were strong, and she defined them with depth and self worth (atmabhimanam). I heard in an interview that once when she was going in her car, a fellow by the road saw her and started singing something around her name, sort of teasing her. She stopped, came out and gave the fellow a few slaps. 
Speaking of cars, she loved racing. She competed in car races and even won!

She was moonshine, she was fire and she was everything in between, all at once! She was vulnerable and confident, effervescent with gravitas, effortless and thoughtful, whimsical and contemplative, conservative and defiant, romantic and serious, all at once. Her face and body were extremely expressive, she never missed a nuance and a detail- if she was playing veena, her fingers would strum in the right place. If she was carrying a load or cooking or boating, her body behavior would show that even as she sang or said a dialogue. Her onscreen chemistry with co-stars was amazing. Her co-stars raised their performance to match hers. Her co-stars were all formidable superstars- NTR**, ANR, SVR  in Telugu, Shivaji Ganesan, MGR and Gemini Ganesan in Tamil.
To me, she was like a many-petalled hibiscus (muddamandaram), with the hidden fire (agni) of the sun. Whenever the roles matched this ability, there were showers of petals and sparkles! It is our good fortune that there were many such roles. 


I don’t think she had any formal training other than playing in a few stage dramas. Her enormous natural talent is in display in the song Aha naa pellanta in Mayabazaar. In the end, she switches from female to male to female character, copying the mannerisms of the famous actor playing the male character (SVR) while the female she was playing was a male, temporarily, by magic. The complexity is so swift and spontaneous, it is out-of-this-world. She was 20-21. “I observed S.V. Ranga Rao garu for a few days and learned how to be like him” she said in an interview. 

Savitri is not known much beyond the Telugu and Tamil film world. The reach and recognition of southern craft, culture and art has been and is still lower than the north but the upside is that it has retained a regional flair. It is a pleasure when I read comments on Youtube and discover younger generations discovering her like I did. She imparts a uplifted, noble feeling for the people who watch and can relate to her.



Grief and Health

In complete contrast to her stardom, Savitri’s personal life wasn't happy or secure. She had no support system. 

Born in a small village Chirravuru in December 1936, she soon lost her father and was raised by her mother in their uncle’s home in nearby Vijayawada. Her father was a talented Harikatha artist. Savitri’s mother and uncle took her to Chennapatnam (as Chennai was then called) in the late 40’s and looked for roles by visiting studios. The studios thought she was too young. They went back and two years later, when she gave a dance performance in Kakinada, someone noticed her and she was called for a role in Samsaram

In 1952 Gemini Ganesan was her co-star in a Tamil movie, Manapolu Mangalyam. She was 15-16 of age and he was 16 years her senior and was married with children. He was asked to teach her Tamil. He must’ve been a charmer and she must’ve been charmed. They secretly married in a temple in 1952 and Savitri announced that in an oblique way in 1956 (she signed for a fan as “Savitri Ganesan”). In reality, telling her family about her marriage in 1956 had much drama, with Savitri jumping from the back wall of her house and fleeing to Ganesan’s home*** to escape her very controlling uncle. 
Savitri had Rs. 750 in her bank account when she and Gemini Ganesan started a life together in a rental. Thankfully, her relations with her uncle mended due to a truce managed by Akkineni (ANR). 
But there was more. Ganesan was also in a secret relationship with Pushpavalli. Pushpavalli was a talented actress and was the lead in a few films in late 40’s in which Gemini Ganesan had small roles. Actress Rekha, one of their two daughters, was born in 1954. 

Savitri and Gemini Ganesan had a successful movie partnership for a decade. Savitri adored Gemini Ganesan. She was a traditional wife, Gemini was like a god to her and was the king of their household. They had two children. She was given the title “Mahanati” in a public function in Hyderabad in 1964, in which Savitri and Gemini Ganesan were felicitated by Andhra Yuvathi Mandali with an elephant ride. The state of Tamil Nadu gave her the title "Nadigaiyar Thilagam"
But by late 60’s their relationship started falling apart. In Gemini’s company, Savitri had been drinking alcohol in social settings. This slowly became an addiction aided by her sorrow in personal life. Gemini Ganesan had become aloof, and she was hearing from others of affairs. They separated and she was never the same. It must’ve been very difficult- she was conservative with self-respect, just like her movie roles, but in real life she had to choose between the two. In 1969, she asked him to leave. It must’ve broken her heart and we can see the melancholy in her features in her later movies (Kodalu Diddina Kapuram onwards). In 1970 her mother died.
Soon, one of her directorial ventures sunk her money due to scheduling issues and a few movies she stood as guarantor on goodwill or produced did not do well. She lost much of her wealth. At the same time, in her naivety she ignored some notices from income tax and didn't open them. She had owed more in her taxes- about 8 lakhs. Before she knew it, the owed tax increased with interest to 40 lakhs. She had to sell more of her assets. Given her guilelessness, lots of her staff cheated on her during the sales and pocketed large portions of money. 

Savitri had struggled with her weight all through. Somewhere along, she developed diabetes. All these stressors added up. By the 72-73 she was doing smaller roles in movies to support her children and pay the remaining tax. And was frequently being hospitalized with ill-health. She had moved from her big home to a small rental in 1977. Roles were not easy to come by as people were uncomfortable to give a small role with a small fee to an actress of her calibre. This pained her.



Death and Memory

On May 10, 1980, Savitri stopped in Bangalore at Hotel Chalukya while going back for a Kannada movie shoot in Mysore. There Savitri had some family-related visitors. They left with her son (Satish Kumar) for some shopping and by the time they came back, Savitri, who had quit drinking (and also lost weight) was with a bottle of gin. There was dinner and the guests left, but Savitri apparently did not eat and was stressing out about a recent court notice (on taxes). The guess was that, she took her insulin shots, had a few drinks and fell asleep without eating. She went into a coma from which she did not wake up. Her blood pressure had dropped. She had been in a coma before and had come back. But this time it was different. 
She was taken to Lady Curzon hospital where thousands of people showed up to pray for her (even though she acted in very few Kannada movies). Eventually she was brought back to her home in Chennai. She was cared for by her relatives. Natural to the state of coma, her body became emaciated and she became skin and bones over months.
But Savitri had already died the night she went into coma. Even in those days there must've been privacy if a person, especially a celebrity, was in state of coma or acute ill-health. Somehow, she didn’t have privacy. Lots of individuals were allowed to visit and even take pictures.  The final clinical death was on December 26, 1981. She was 44. 
I wish media would stop making news of her one+ year in coma and give the privacy at least now. 

But Savitri got her wish (it was close)- she wished that when she died, she would die while acting, in a set. 
I remember her death being announced on Doordarshan in 1981. There was a hush everywhere. I didn’t know much about her at that time but was struck as to how actor after famous actor who was interviewed was in tears.  


Her daughter Vijaya Chamundeshwari runs a gym in Chennai to help women stay in shape, for her mother didn’t have any know-how or help in this area. Vijaya has said that when she travels in Andhra, some people slowly approach her on the streets and ask if she is Savitri’s daughter (there is a likeness). 
When she says yes, they ask with much feeling, ‘Can we touch you once?’

Such is Savitri’s timeless abode in the hearts of people. 






***

Notes & References

*Telugu and Tamil movies were both based in Madras (Chennai) in the beginning. I saw in a documentary that one of the first movies made had the actors speaking in both languages! The heroine spoke Tamil and the hero spoke Telugu.
Savitri was probably as popular in Tamil industry at her peak as in Telugu. I wrote she was Goddess of Telugu industry because I know Telugu films of that time but am not familiar with  Tamil field. 

**I find myself a little partial to the movie pairing of Savitri and NTR. I love the intensity, trust and the sweetness of their on-screen chemistry. 

*** The Hindu Marriage Act outlawing polygamy came into effect in 1955. Since Savitri and Gemini Ganesan married in 1952, they held their marriage to be valid. However, they remarried in 55-56 in Tirupati. Gemini Ganesan's first wife Alamelu did not object. It was to their house that Savitri went after the conflict at her home. Savitri did not know of Gemini Ganesan-Pushpavalli at that time. 


Interview with her daughter Vijaya Chamundeshwari on Gurthukosthunnayi TV program, 3-4 part series.
Kiran Prabha radio series, 3 parts
Savitri's lively talk on radio (a must listen): Talk 

***** 


05/13/18.
Dear Readers, 


I wanted to write a small addition to this blog post since this post is being read by many new fans of Savitri. This addition is to try and understand her extraordinary skill. 
Another way to try to understand is within Indian context. In it, emotions are said to be of 9 types (navarasa)- Love, Joy, Wonder, Courage, Calmness/Shanta, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. If we look deeper, these emotions can be grouped as opposites except for one. For example, consider Love-Anger. Love is the opposite of Anger. If we are feeling love for someone, we are not feeling anger. If we are feeling anger, we are not feeling love. One rests, even momentarily, on not feeling the other. 
Similarly, the other pairs are- Joy-Sadness, Wonder-Disgust, Courage-Fear. Only Calmness/Shanta stands alone. All 4 opposite-pair-emotions rest on how Calm/Shanta we are. If we are Shanta, all other emotions stay within a range.


Savitri’s base was always Calmness/Shanta and on this were added the emotions that were called for in a character. She was able to hold all the emotions in a range and had the ability to alternate the deepest emotions at subtle speed. 
Indian story-telling calls for larger-than-life protagonists, so she added her facial expressions and body language to aid the expressive dramatic effect in a way that was just right with intensity and grace. All this came naturally to her. 


Here are some examples -
1. Paatalabhairavi - She was 14 in 1951 and was already showing the superstar ability in her. In this song (3:20-4:47) she showed Love-Joy-Wonder-Sadness-Anger-Courage resting on a foundation of Calmness/Shanta. 
2. Thodikodallu (1957). Savitri and ANR. She is in a sari, doing a physical movement that is not quite sari-conducive. Yet, she acts beautifully. 
3. Gundamma Katha (1962). Savitri and NTR. Amazing expressions. 
4. Nartanasala (1963). She is Sairandri here, and with very minimal facial expressions is showing Courage-Sadness-Wonder, always resting on a foundation of Calmness/Shanta. 

******* 

110 comments:

  1. wow! never knew she was such a fighter, liked fast cars and booze. Yes no Telugu actress like her before and after. Besides the grace you mentioned, for me it was something about the look in her eyes that made the difference. Peace!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently Savitri gave up participating in races when Gemini Ganesan didn't approve of that pursuit but she would drive herself to studios.

      Delete
    2. well rukunini garu,u carried out this story in a perfect way ,one corection gemini ganeshan and shivaji ganeshan both are same ,as he worked in gemini he changed his name to gemini ganeshan thankyou

      Delete
    3. No they both are different..sivaji ganeshan is the father of actor prabu and gemini ganeshan is different

      Delete
    4. I have just seen the bio pic movie of savitri garu MAHANATI simply superb movie after da very long gap i have seen a very good movie. To know i googled it nd thank you writer

      Delete
    5. A beautiful person savitri with beautiful acting..simply superb..spellbound...

      Delete
    6. Sad story for a famous actress and good human being..
      Money is everything nwadays..
      Fulm industry should also help these kind of people in there bad days especially the director and producers who earned lots of money through her..
      Sad ending in her life

      Delete
    7. The story is not at all a story it it isn't inspire. Savitri garu is true legend of all times and she inspired me to the core.When I have heard about SVR,Chittoor Nagayya Garu,Rajababu,Relangi and ...some other life stories ended up in sad and dramantic way, I felt same in savitri life.But I visualized what an actor,what a lady ,what a human being,what a mother and what a perfectionist she is.Thank you for writing such an informative story of her.MAY GOD BLESS HER IN HEAVEN FOR YUGAS.

      Delete
    8. God please don't send that Mahanati back to this dirty world. She is an angle and has to be in heaven only.

      Delete
  2. Happy new year Sita and family. Read through briefly, I caught the bit about Lady Curzon hospital - was near my home in bangalore.

    With time, the span of my attention
    is steadily decreasing
    While your rate of expression
    remains increasing
    Alas, there is a point, I dread
    Where you will write many a post
    And I will barely read
    Past the title of most

    Best

    Arvind

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maam If u have the link of gurthukostunnayi part 2,3,4, please can u put them here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Episodes 1-4 were there on YouTube 2,3 years ago when I watched. But when I looked for them while writing this, only one was there. The other parts must have been taken off. I wrote from memory of what I saw in those. Sorry..

      Delete
  4. Salute to the great artist, the one and only one Mahanati!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watch movie it takes you back to history

      Delete
  5. Thanks Sir for the great article, people this generation should know about this great actress.

    ReplyDelete
  6. what is great in marrying uncle who had children

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it was love

      Delete
    2. She was only 15 years in 1952.

      Delete
    3. Every girl wants a man who can make her feel safe and secure and not having father during childhood would have had a vacuum in her which GG could have fulfilled. I'm sure such an intelligent lady wouldn't have taken the decision to marry GG easily.

      Total respect to her to have been so humble and kind even at peak of her success and to stand out in a male crowd. Salute her!!

      Delete
    4. Well said rukmini..even I agree with this

      Delete
  7. She played a reel rolein her real life too...from big house to small.from famous to degrade...and addiction 😭

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't say 'degrade'. She took risks in late-60's, she produced and directed. Unfortunately these didn't work out and the finances fell. This happens to many people who produce. What I do not know is why no one helped her with a loan so she needn't have had to sell her house.

      Re. addiction - An artist of her calibre usually has a very vulnerable side and can be quite susceptible to some kind of addiction especially if suffering a loss.

      What is amazing is her tremendous talent shone despite all hardships!

      Delete
    2. Veryyyy fantabulously described ma'am ... beautiful blog❤️

      Delete
  8. Good to know about a legendary actress savitri garu.I saw the movie last night at climax tears rolled in my eyes.Such a great actress died with alcohol addiction before that she wanted to open de-addiction centre such a great humanity.I dont know much about savitri garu previously from today onwards I can proudly say that I became fan to savitri garu and her acting skills.
    My mother used to tell about cinemas of 1960s period n acting of savitri garu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very nice to know that you connected with Mahanati's movies and became a fan.

      Delete
  9. Amazing actress and present actors, no one can lead her. She is competitive to NTR,ANR and MGR etc.NTR, ANR and MGR etc, how image they had, same image MAHANATI SAVITHRI has. She lives in south India people always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why separate north/south, as an Indian and global cinema viewer we all should be proud of her.

      Such diamonds come very rarely and blind us (in a good way) with their sparkle.

      Delete
  10. kaalamtho thirigi velle awakasham vunttey, venakki velli aa mahanati paadhaalanu thakalani vundhi.

    ReplyDelete
  11. aa mahanati perigina illu,vooru, modhati sari thanu vachina vijaya vauhini studios, pelliki mundhu thana pedhanana gari tho vunna illu,pelli taruwatha gemini tho vunna bungalow, thanu nadipina car u, thanu vesukunna nagalu,kattukunna cheeralu,kannesam thana cheppulu, thaagina bottle,chivaraga thanu koma lo vunnapati illu...inka anni thanaku sambandinchina prathi dhi ni okka sari kallara chudalani vundhi... Rukmini Sita garu meeku chethulethi dhandam pedathanu aa mahanati ki sambandhinchina location adresees thelupandi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naaku thelisina vi- Kiran Prabha radio show lo discuss cheseru- ammina illu Akkineni gari daggara konnadi (when he was leaving Chennai and moving to Hyd). Vijaya studios ledanukuntaanu. Coma lo vunna illu daggara vaari ki gurthu vundacchu. Ooty lo oka illu kuda ammabadindi. Vivaraalu theleevu.

      Delete
    2. dhanyawadalu Rukmini Sita garu, meeku yentha varaku veelu avuthey antha varaku aa mahathalli gurinchi cheppataniki prayathnam cheyandi. And the reason behind i am posting in telugu language because she was born in our telugu land. my name is yeshwanth from kurnool

      Delete
    3. Clarification: In my reply above I meant 'konnadi' as in konabadindi, I wasn't using the word in singular tense.
      Legend has it that Savitri gave a blank check to ANR for him to write the value of the house by himself!

      Delete
    4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H322ynktoS0
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP8B9eu00Qo
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_XOM1a7pco
      Kiran Prabha Talk Show On Savitri garu With Three Parts.

      Delete
  12. I want to know more about the sources from where you extracted the information, please do provide

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gave the references at the end.
      They are mostly two sources- Vijaya Chamundeshwari's interviews on TV a few years ago (some of them are missing now on Youtube) and Kiran Prabha radio show (is also on Youtube).
      Both these are a few hours of watching or listening. I condensed to give a glimpse of Mahanati as a person behind the screen.
      For example, personal information like - giving away bangles, someone on the road teasing- were from her daughter's interviews.
      Almost all the other information was from Kiran Prabha radio show. He has a lot more details and he gives all his sources- one was Savitri's own book which apparently she wrote in 1960. I took only a few of the extensive details in the radio show.

      Delete
    2. What's the name of the book ??

      Delete
    3. It was her account (Swiyacharitra) of her early years in film industry and her marriage. The title of the book is in the radio show, perhaps the first part, the link is in the above comment by a reader. It may not be in print.

      Delete
  13. Rukmini Sita good job, well done. Keep up with great blogging. God bless.
    Just one small suggestion, please add links to references or videos per say.

    Last but not least, thanks for letting anonymous commenting, if your blog had asked for sign-in I wouldn't have bothered to leave so many comments.


    I will watch Mayabazaar with my son tomorrow :)

    Love Life, Live happily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!
      I will try to add some links to videos in the weekend. Hope you and your son enjoy watching Mayabazaar together.

      Delete
  14. When she was in coma who took care of her ?? Did Gemini Ganesh came back and took care of her or not ??? And who took care of her children

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Per reports, Gemini Ganeshan came to the hospital in Bangalore. After some time, they took Savitri to Chennai by helicopter (which the Karnataka Govt gave). She was in a nursing home first and then shifted to her small 2-room home. She was taken care of a couple from her side of family. Her son was also there with her. There may have been a nurse. GG also visited. Her daughter was married when very young and perhaps lived close by.

      My take on this is more philosophical. Surely, Savitri could have been more comfortable in a nursing home with more privacy and professional care. But we don't know their circumstances at that time.

      In the end, all of GG's children seem to have made peace.
      We can't go back and change things for Savitri but we can appreciate her amazing work which continues to give joy and meaning to many.

      Delete
  15. This is nice article and informative. I saw the movie 'Mahanati' today afternoon and I am still having constant tears till late night !! I was a big fan of Savitri garu from my child hood (I am 48 now). What a great actress and amazing humanitarian !!

    ReplyDelete
  16. im a very young girl but i became a fan of mahanti garu thana padalani thakali ani undi... thanu entho mandiki help chesindi.. thanaki enduku evaru help and guide cheyale... !!!! devatha mahanati savitriamma

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think the movie mahanati is completely based on this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  18. wow !! nicely written !! Learned a lot about her !! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was crying when knowing about her.This article said every thing about her.Her real life changed into like reel life none other will born again salute to MAHANATI SAVITRI GARU.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hello All, I added a section with some links to some videos with an explanation at the end of the blog post. Please check it out if interested.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yesterday I watched the movie Mahanati,and she is apt for that title,not only as a actress but also a great epitome of how a person could be,tears rolling down continuously while watching the movie,and the last days of her life was an inspiration to many such a masterpiece she is,the way she transforms herself from female to male the mannerisms evrything is an eye feast,we can watch it umpteen number of times for that scene such a great actress she is,the compassion , generosity,and the love towards her fans simply made her as MAHANATI. A legendary and veteran actress rest in peace Savitri Garu,many will come and go but savitri is one and the name will be remembered forever in the hearts of many.love u savitri Garu love u to the moon and back...

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hello Rukmini Sita garu. Loved your post, the way you have described Savitri garu is how I imagine her. Thank you for this post. There's a website savithri.info which has lot of pictures from her movies and a few videos by her peers. She's "na bhuto na bhavishyati"..I have no doubt about that. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  23. You've written and I quote "This post is the third in the series- Remarkable Women." I can't find the other two.. or did you mean the posts on Fakir Dara Shikuh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.
      No, it is not the one on Dara. I just saw that I forgot to link the phrase Remarkable Women to my other posts of the theme- Didda and Gautami. Will do. Thank you for asking and for the above link.

      Delete
  24. Tamil writer sivasankari saw her during her last days at her home , here is the translated page.

    https://rinkster.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/untitled-41.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very sad and honest account.
      There are some variations in all the known reports of the sequence of events on her last conscious day. I really do not know which one is closer to what happened. But the outcome in all was the same: Savitri was already in a fragile state of physical and emotional health and went into a coma.

      Delete
  25. Superb movie. One can really experience her as if we are watching her personally and if it is finished it was like still it is going on. After movie her personality is more respectable. She deserves to live more. Inka Inka AA mahanati gurunchi chadavalani vundi. Hatsoff to the legendary actress

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that is an element of excellent storytelling - '..when it is finished it was like still it is going on.' Very nice.

      Delete
  26. I saw her biopic yesterday. Mind blowing lady she is. Being a girl, I want to take her as an inspiration in achieving the thing which someone told me that I cannot achieve. But I have a small doubt. My mom said that GG had spent her money so much and which is why he trapped her and married her. Is it true? They didn't show this in the movie and they portrayed as if he had love for her till her last days

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you are inspired by Savitri! Good luck in your adventure. I haven't seen the movie but from her life markers- she and GG were married before she became a star. They married in 1952 and she became a star in 1953 with Devadasu and a superstar with Missamma in 1955. Since she was generous by nature, surely she shared her earnings with GG.

      Delete
    2. That is not true. Gemini and Savitri first film together was superhit and by 1956 , he had 5 superhit films so he didn't need her money.By the way he was the hero in the Tamil version of Missiamma.

      Delete
    3. Yes, they made many popular films in Tamil. GG became a superstar on his own in the 50's, he was also in Tamil Mayabazar as Abhimanyu I believe.
      We can safely assume GG did not need Savitri's money but nevertheless she did give- it could just be love- she had employed 2,3 attenders just for his needs in their prime years together.

      My point is that- Mahanati was more than a superstar. Despite her insecure personal life she was incandescent on the screen!
      Not only in her prime but even later in small roles.
      Even when the camera time was small, when she is on the screen, in mother roles, she is awesome and lifts up the mood of the viewer. Even when she lost her riches, heroine slot and had health issues, she went back to the same studios where she was once queen and shot for these roles with the same dedication and spirit. Unbelievable!

      Delete
  27. If stars are not disciplined like lata mangeshkar,amitabh,jayabadhuri.....your life post retirement is likely to be similar.Just recently Sridevi died,just goes to prove that.
    Well written on Savitri.Nice work.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Was vijaya chamundeeshwari and satheesh kumar were taken care of by gemini after savitri amma's death?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know the details. GG must have been involved even if they didn't live together under one roof. Vijaya had her own home and family by then.

      Delete
    2. I read that apparently Alamelu (Bobji) took care of them.

      Delete
    3. Such a down to earth soul...Alamelu amma was...great

      Delete
  29. Just returned from the movie..in Kolkata. Movie is excellent. My excitment made me goole to know more about her. This blog gave me lot of info..Thanks to all, especially Rukmini garu..

    ReplyDelete
  30. Does madhura vani character really exist? Or is it just the director's fiction?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure she was just fiction

      Delete
    2. In the movie it must have been fiction as a movie-element.
      Actually Madhuravani was a character in Gurajada Apparao's novel Kanyasulkam made into a movie in 1955. Mahanati Savitri played the role of Madhuravani. There is one scene in particular, in which she laughs for at least 5 mins-- in such a way, it is quite impossible to think anyone would be able to pull it off like the way she did. She was only 19. This scene is in YouTube.

      Delete
  31. I would love say a big thanks to Naga Aswin, Such a great movie... You reminded Savitri Garu to all the people .. As the characters said in the movie, we can't find an actress like Saivitri Garu... Rukminu Garu thanks andi Mee valuble information about Mana MAHANATI...

    ReplyDelete
  32. I was googling to find her final resting place, couldn't find anything beyond that funeral held at bobji's home. Please add to your post if you ever knew this. BTW, this is one of the best and information filled post found on Savithri .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      I don't think there is a final resting place. Since Savitri garu was of Hindu faith, after passing away she would have been cremated.
      With cremation, the belief as I understand is that Agni (fire) transforms the body into the material it came from, also radiating away some energy in the form of heat. The remains from the fire are later given away to the rivers. So in a way, the person who died is now part of nature from which he/she came. This is a within the philosophy of disassociating with the body "you are not the body" through procedure.

      Delete
  33. Hi Rukmini, thanks for your blog post, saw one IndiaGlitz youtube video which mentioned couple points on private affairs of actress Savithri with top senior actors. Seeing that video, brought up lot of feelings inside me and I was not able to digest it.

    Can you please provide some inputs on that? I would be more happy if that news was not true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen the videos.
      My view is that when someone is famous there will be some others who will want to be a part of the fame because of association of the famous person. Sometimes even with speculations and assumptions.

      Re. Savitri, a. she had a transcendental quality to her roles. b. this quality was aided by her nature, which was of joy, trust, compassion and confidence.
      She loved GG, and when that fell apart, she seemed to found some solace in alcohol. If she had a nature of finding happiness in other ways, she wouldn't have been so hurt..
      I'm not judging whether an affair is right or wrong, I'm saying, given her nature and her portrayal in her roles and the way her life unfolded in real, it is unlikely.

      Delete
    2. Sure thanks! Take a look when you find time.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjLiw7hVOvM

      Delete
  34. Hi, I heard from a youtube video that a then-popular actor in 1980s saying that MGR admonish some actors for misbehaving towards Savitri. He also took revenge on 2 of the actors....any idea who are the actors? thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. Can anyone please tell who is Shankarayya in Mahanati movie?

    I guess they did not mention any information about him in the movie or i missed it.. Please let me know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See the movie again in the last scene
      Shankarayya is the statue of the harikatha singerby the river bank....the statue whom savithri referred as her father

      Delete
  36. Very wonderful description..Mam..
    But I still can't understand one thing..During
    The journey she had travelled in the golden era of the telugu and tamil industries..Most of the film banners..Actors..Lyricists..Music directors...Each wand every person in the crew of a film...Has been brought into lime light only through this great actress's allure..
    Why don't these ppl can't even..Give a moral support to her...Keeping aside the financial support..Atleast a moral support

    The films which we are now said to be aanimuthyalu..Are undoubtedly are familiar and massive hits because of this highly talented actresd

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it is a mystery. A very few people seemed to have helped her but it was very small.
      Yet, she carried herself with same grace despite the hardship she was in. She still was kind, she took the roles that came her way and she still had the upfront quality that was so endearing- at a big meeting to honor her sometime in 79/80, she herself apparently asked (I paraphrase) "Mahanati ni antere nannu, mari naaku veshalu evvaru ivvaremiti?" "Devata ani antere.... mari nannu vacchi palikarinchina vaare leremiti?"
      If she asked this we can see how much she was hurt, and yet was very realistic and honest.

      Delete
    2. i saw the movie 20 -25 days ago, im still very disturbed.u wont believe,even now some times i wake up in the middle of the night and cannot sleep. time should heal that trauma. im not a movie buff or something.. but i think i like her. when i see her pictures, i feel im seeing someone close to me. and then it hurts again.

      Delete
    3. Hi, you care and have a connection to the sublime quality that Mahanati had.
      Speaking my view, the way I make sense- suffering happened, the setting of society, industry and family for her in her time was such. Suffering and unfairness is there in the world. But for Savitri garu, the 'high' in her artistic talent was transcendental, and the lows of her life-troubles are of ordinary scale. While I acknowledge the lows, I take joy in the sublime high. Because I think her nature was one of joy.

      Delete
    4. yeah.. What i think is,she might forgive the society, back then for being inconsiderate, and now for invading her privacy,only when we learn from her.we should learn from her mistakes and also her generousness.. Thats the kind of a person she is. May her soul RIP...

      Delete
    5. Yes, indeed.
      Also what I meant by 'of ordinary scale..' was that the troubles were of human scale, of our world.

      Delete
  37. One thing i need to know.. When savirti garu was in difficult time, where did her daughter vijaya went, why she didn't take care of her mother, in that time she was married,her husband could've taken care of savirti garu know, husband left, even savirti gari own daughter didn't help..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a difficult question. So much new information came out after the movie Mahanati success and raised some questions in my mind.

      For instance, in the interviews, Vijaya garu (daughter) mentioned that there were 2 houses and that Savitri garu sold the big house and she (her daughter) continued living in the smaller house at the time of the interview (later sold). But now we know Savitri garu in 1977 when she sold the house rented a tiny house and lived apart with her son (13 years at that time) from her daughter's family. I can understand complex family dynamics and don't want to intrude or speculate - I can understand families wanting to live separately.
      However, as far as I know, in the very difficult phase of Savitri garu's life- 1977-1980 where from numerous reports we came to know she was struggling with health issues, with having proper food in time, with transportation, with having roles in movies, and with money matters. But I did not hear of reports such as 'Oh, I helped my mother by cleaning her insulin injection needles today and made sure she took them on time' or 'I sent lunch box today to studios and my mother enjoyed the food' - these are small things but make a HUGE difference to a person who is lonely. Maybe they happened and were not mentioned, I do not know. Her daughter was 19-22, and somewhat in an age to help out. I'm sure she loved and loves her mother very much, but some details from public fans of Savitri point of view are not being consistent is all I can say.
      I sincerely hope I am wrong about these doubts and there was something done to help Savitri garu in a meaningful way in her difficult phase by her close family.

      Delete
  38. I Don't Know who created this page . but , i can say this page is very valuable and resourceful than many websites. Savithri garu is a angel/remarkable soul born on this earth to inspire millions . great people leave this earth early by inspiring many people. I Thank the admin of this group for collecting the information of MAHANATI SAVITHRI GARU .you've worked hard and this website will be in the #1 position in my bookmarks.I can even find a lot of love over savithri garu in the comments section by many good people. Nice Work .Thank you. Happy to find This website.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'm sure GG visited hospital to avoid public shaming and her daughter is now covering up for not being there when needed. People do not usually suffer to this extent and die alone if there was even a hint of help in sight. Somewhere I read that she has a likeliness? No! to me she looks evil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mahanati exemplified generosity. She was strong and she had a forgiving heart. Whatever the truth is, she knew. I find solace in that.

      Delete
  40. Thank you for this page. I feel inordinately sad that someone who gave us those beautiful moments on screen and was a generous soul had to face such a hard life. However, there may have been other relationships that were a somewhat saving grace. Watching this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfqSHdhjLSo made me realize that Nadigayar Thilagam (sorry, am Tamil :)) seems to have enjoyed a warm relationship with Bobji / Alamelu amma (GG's first wife). Hopefully there were others too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She was loved in both languages :)
      Yes, it appears she had many friends who cared for her in small ways that they could. I've also heard of a well wisher who came to help with her care after she went into a coma.

      Delete
  41. Awesome.You portrayed Savithri garu in a very good way. She should have never gave it on drinking. She would have been alive yet today.
    Regards

    ReplyDelete
  42. Great narrative, touching ..

    Would you be able to tell us what is her son up to these days ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read he works in IT and lives with his family in California.

      Delete
  43. Is it true that her daughter sued her for her property when she was ill?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not know the reality of these difficult details.

      Delete
  44. Rukmini ma'am!!!.... It's a very beautiful and memorable article on the story line of Savitri Garu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      And also my sincere thanks to you all from above comments who have written nice things about the blogpost.

      Delete
  45. Would you please tell me why nobody like mgr, (brother like), any others in industry or gemini ganesan(husband) did not helped her in the intense hectic poor final days???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My guess is the common reason which happens to all- people get busy with their own lives and in that, forget the difficulties in another's life, lose contact and fail to reach out.
      Her heyday was over which in those days meant that her time was over. There was no internet then so people probably didn't think that she would become a superstar all over again and win hearts.
      Other than this general reason, I do not know the personal details of their friendship and how it played out over the years.

      Delete
  46. Sivaji ganesan(Brother like)*

    ReplyDelete
  47. Savithri garu has died in coma
    (Or) afer she recover from coma she died

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did not wake up from coma. She passed away in coma.

      Delete
  48. Hey,

    You’ve probably heard that good communication is the cornerstone
    of every successful marriage. There’s a reason for that – it’s true.

    Here’s an effective strategy for validating your spouse in every
    conversation. It will instantly strengthen the bond between you both.

    Seriously, this is a game changer that will transform your marriage instantly!

    >> Transform Your Marriage in Minutes <<

    Talk to you soon,

    Ana

    ReplyDelete
  49. Are you in need of a loan? Do you want to pay off your bills? Do you want to be financially stable? All you have to do is to contact us for more information on how to get started and get the loan you desire. This offer is open to all that will be able to repay back in due time. Note-that repayment time frame is negotiable and at interest rate of 3% just email us (creditloan11@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete