8 comments on “A Belated Happy Birthday to Kamala Lakshman Narayan!

  1. Harvey, glad you like Kamala’s dancing, and too bad you’ve never heard of her. I have written quite a few posts about her, but this may have been before you started reading here. Kamala Lakshman, previously known as Kumari Kamala and Baby Kamala, was the first great Bharatanatyam star in Indian cinema. For sheer dancing ability alone, I think she may have been the best (and I put her as number two in my favorite dancers list too, right after Padmini).

    Like Padmini, she was a bigger star in Tamil films (and she was the heroine probably only in Tamil films), but she had great dances in a few Hindi films also, such as (off the top of Devtamy head)… Chori Chori, Yahudi, Kath Putli, Meera (the Hindi version as well as the Tamil version) and Kismet (1943).

    Like Padmini, she also moved to my area of the U.S., and she has been teaching at a dancing school in Long Island. (I think she is still teacing there, now in her mid 70s – surprisingly young when you think about when she started, but, then, she was a child prodigy.)

  2. Dustedoff, I would like to see that one someday! (I did get to see her dances for all the other Hindi films I mentioned, but for this one, I’m just saying she was great based on what other people said. :) )

    And thanks for reminding me of the more correct spelling for Ksimet; I have edited my comment accordingly. :) (There are so many variations in spelling for so many Hindi titles, this old English-language proofreader still can’t get used to it.)

  3. There is really no correct spelling for how a Hindi or Urdu word would be transcribed in English, actually – my writing Kismet instead of, say, Kismat was simply because that’s the way the title of the film read onscreen! Occasionally, though, I do make allowances for what I think sounds closer to the actual pronunciation. For instance the latest film I’ve reviewed, Ek Thi Ladki, was spelled Ek Thi Larki onscreen. Phonetically, I think a d was more appropriate than an r, so I took the liberty of changing it! So don’t get your knickers in a twist about that! ;-)

  4. @ dustedoff: Larki and Ladki that sounds interesting!
    Many Austrians can not pronounce the hard D of Hindi and they end up pronouncing it as Larki!

    But coming back to Kamala Lakshman. Somehow I have missed her till now. have to be in look out for her!
    So, richard, did you visit her?

  5. She was, is, and will remain one of Indian cinema’s greatest classical dancer-actresses…I saw her for the first time in Amiya Chakraborty’s Hindi film Kathputli (1957) alongside Balraj Sahni and Vyjayanthimala, but it was her splendid Bharatanatyam in the Tamil films Nam Iruvar (1947), Mandhiri Kumari (1950), Naane Raja (1956), Parthiban Kanavu (1960) and Konjum Salangai (1962) (a remake of the 1962 Telugu superhit Muripinche Muvvalu which she also starred in) as well as the Hindi films Devta and Chori Chori (both 1956) along with the Telugu film Bhookailas (1958) that had me enthralled! Her dance-off with Telugu cinema starlet Kuchala Kumari, another trained classical dancer-actress from Muripinche Muvvalu aka Konjum Salangai remains my all-time favourite, followed by Padmini vs Vyjayanthimala in the Tamil film Vanjikottai Valiban (1958) remade into Hindi as Rajtilak that same year, Komal Mahuvakar vs Surinder Kaur in the Hindi film Paayal Ke Jhankar (1980) and Padmini vs Ragini in the Hindi film Kalpana (1960)…

  6. Gaby, thank you for the comment, which I couldn’t agree with more. :) Have you by any chance been reading Minai’s blog? I’m not sure if you know this, but she just did a post with new clips of our beloved Konjum Salangai danceoff here:

    http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2011/05/classical-dances-in-konjum-salangai.html

    And if you go back through the posts in her blog, you can find a ton of clips of Kamala too. (Actually, I have a very big number of posts on Kamala also. :) But Minai kind of picked up where I left off and took it further…)

    The danceoff in Konjum Salangai might be my favorite also… Though the Padmini vs. Ragini competition in Kalpana (1960) might actually be my favorite, with Kamala vs. Kuchala coming in second. The famous Vanjikottai Valiban danceoff would definitely make it as number 3 on my list.

    I know all of the ones that you mentioned, except for the 1980 competition (with that actress who has the same name as one of my favorite singers – obviously not the same person :) …)

    By the way, did you ever see Kamala’s dances in Meera (the 1945 Tamil verson or 1947 Hindi version)? It’s lovely stuff. What a prodigy she was (in addition to being a great dancer as an adult).

    And since you didn’t mention it, in case you haven’t seen it, she also does a great dance in the Hindi film Yahudi (1958).

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