It was during our visits to other countries for international seminars that we realized the impact of Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood, and felt that South Indian cinema has not got due recognition, despite its huge contribution. There has been no documentation about the female icons of South Indian cinema and we felt enthused enough to write this book.
When films were shot under sunlight and the processing of the reels was done in complete darkness in wooden troughs, when the concept of cinema was an anathema to a conservative society, when effeminate-looking boys played the role of women, a few ladies broke the barriers of seclusion and defiantly strode into the world of cinema. Braving the threat of being ostracized by the society, these courageous women worked under difficult circumstances in order to provide for their families. They came out of the conventional mould of domesticity to carve a path for themselves. These are the forerunners who paved the way for young women of today to waltz into this industry.
Interestingly, some of the earliest heroines were singing sensations and passionate about stage performances. From 1931, these actors became an integral part of South Indian film lore; and being polyglots, they acted in films in all the four languages-Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil. They are the true representatives of the culture and tradition of this period. The common denominator of these heroines is their talent and their dignified demeanour.
This book documents the memorable roles that made these actors legendary. These leading ladies have left a lasting impact for almost four decades despite the presence of very famous and charismatic heroes. The stars whose contribution has been discussed in this book are the gems in the treasure trove of cinema history.
While no single book can realistically hope to include the exhaustive list of women actors of this beautiful medium, we have written about thirty-four female actors who acted in women-centric films. There are many other prominent actors like Devika, Rajasree, Sukumari, Pandaribai, Nirmala, Kumari Sachu, Lata, Manjula, Ambika, Radha, Jayachitra, Sri Priya and Khushboo, who have not been featured because of several constraints, though they are also very popular and hugely celebrated stars of their times.
We dedicate this book to the wondrous women of South Indian cinema, who have given us unforgettable classics, which still linger in the collective consciousness of the people of India.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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