Pandari Bai - ಪಂಡರಿ ಬಾಯಿ

10/01/2009 09:38:00 PM / Posted by Namma Kannada Nadu /

Pandari Bai was born in 1930 in Bhatkal near Mangalore. The family was artistic and her father, instilled the Harikatha art in his little daughter. Under 10 years of age, Pandari gave performances drawing large crowds. During one of her plays in Mysore City, the legendary violin maestro, Mysore T. Chowdaiah, was among the audience.
Impressed by the young girl, her looks and performance, he cast her in his musical movie as the hero's daughter. That was the historic Kannada film, "Vani" (1943) and it marked Pandari Bai's entry into cinema. Recently, a print of "Vani" was found by `Master' Hiranaiah and it is being reconditioned for screening.

One night in 1942 Ranga Rao, and his son were in a state of nerve-snapping tension.The play was about to commence and the auditorium was filling up fast. But the heroine had not showed up. With tension rising, the son did not know what to do. And then the resourceful young man had a brain wave! In a matter of moments he brought in his pretty, young sister, who was hardly into her teens, to play the role, much to the shock of the orthodox and conservative parents.
Luckily for him the little sister knew all the lines and songs of the play. It was a success and the new entrant made a mark at once.
She had acted in a thousand films in several languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi and enjoyed a long span of nearly half a century. She had played lead roles in many movies with success and then switched over to character roles. Besides being attractive, she had a glowing inner beauty and a distinctive affectionate air about her which made her an ideal screen mother. Her soft looks and dialogue delivery also added lustre and depth to such roles. And above all, an excellent human being.
Pandari Bai made her debut in Tamil in the mega hit of 1944, the M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar-starrer (114 week- non-stop runner) "Haridas". In the opening song sequence, "Vaazhvil Ore Thirunaal..", the hero (M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar) on a horse chases a skimpily clad young girl. That's Pandari Bai!

With the changing trends in cinema and her advancing age, her career began to decline. Her health too suffered a setback and she lost the use of one hand in an accident. In spite of it all, she fought bravely spreading sunshine all around.

On Jan 29th 2003 our veteran actress passed away at the age of 74 in a Chennai hospital.Ailing for some time, she was admitted to the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai over a month ago for kidney problems.

There have been many actresses in South Indian Cinema who perhaps have had more success, fame and fortune but they never came up to the standards of Pandari Bai for her simplicity, kind heart and loving human warmth. Rare commodities in the world of movies...

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