6 comments on “A Song Performed By Carmen Miranda and Vasunthara Devi aka Vyjayanthimala’s Mother

  1. Such a fun comparison. I thought it would be nice to add a couple of quotes from V.A.K. Ranga Rao about these songs. Maybe I’ve already posted this somewhere before–can’t remember. :)

    “Singing star Vasundhara, danced a couple of Latin American numbers as sung and danced by Carmen Miranda, Mama Eu Quero and Down Argentine Way from the film Down Argentine Way (1940) and Ay Ay Ay LIke You Very Much from That Night in Rio (1941), in Acharya’s Mangamma Spatham (Tamil, 1943). The music, to an extent the costume, [and] the choreography by Jaishankar followed Carmen Miranda’s delicate sway and gentle jiggle. Producer SS Vasan, when he remade the film as Mangala (Hindi, Telugu, 1950) a few years later, had the heroine P. Bhanumathi repeat Miranda. The first lot by Vasundhara are the first, fullfledged, recognisable adaptations of Latin American music and dance in Indian film. They were hugely popular but as the film was in Tamil, their influence was limited to the Southern languages. Snehaprabha Pradhan made a half-hearted attempt in a film, Ladai ke Baad or Ever Yours or Tujhaach (Hindi, Marathi, 1943), in a similar vein, singing I Love You Very Much, but this did not set Western Indian afire, leave alone the rest of India.”

    “I saw Vyjayanthimala the film actress first in Bobbili, dancing for the governor of the Madras Presidency, the Maharajah of Bhavnagar, at the behest of my paternal uncle, the Rajah of Bobbili, who in turn was the chief minister in the late 1930s. I really don’t remember anything of her dance except that she was very young, maybe twelve. My mother and grandmother were excited that she was the daughter of one of their favourite film actresses, Vasundhara Devi. I was hoping she would do something Latin like her mother in Mangamma Sapatham (1943), a la Carmen Miranda. She did not but some that did not disappoint me at all. I must have bee impressed. The whole of South India, and a little later, the nation itself, was struck by her in her debut films, Vazhkai, Jeevitham, and Bahar…”

  2. Thank you both, Swarup and Minai, for all the links and information. Count on the two of you to send me much more about something like that than I could ever have posted myself.

    Minai, maybe you did post it somewhere before and I can’t remember. Same with Swarup, if you posted the same video in a place where I could have seen it. Maybe I glimpsed it in a busy or harried time? In any event, I first really noticed the Vasunthara Devi song when a clip of it appeared in my Youtube subscriptions list last week. But that one was not very clear, so I found another copy that had been up for a while (I just hadn’t known about it). Somebody in the YouTube comments also made the comment about this coming from a Carmen Miranda song. (No, I didn’t remember it.) I do like Carmen Miranda, especially in scenes from (equally) olden days, so once I had seen both of these clips, of course I could not resist posting them.

  3. Richard,
    I think that your post made Minai publish those excerpts. She promised to publish them at one stage but I do not remember seeing them later. So your post did help get a fuller picture. May be there will be more. Thanks. I finally have Internet access for a couple of days and letting myself go.

  4. This is a great find. I definitely watched all of Carmen Miranda’s films with Don Ameche and Alice Faye at one point as a kid . . . and this song is one of the ones that really stands out in my memory. (Maybe because of the sparkly black skirt. For my 11 year old self, Carmen Miranda’s clothes were always a good enough reason to watch a film.)

    Actually, I should probably thank Carmen Miranda for prepping me to love filmi nautch-gaana. For someone raised on Hollywood stock musicals like That Night in Rio, the “item girls” and “item songs” of Bollywood or Kollywood, etc. seem normal and even necessary.

    Also, I loved Vasunthara’s rendition of this–she really gives the Carmen Miranda movements her own flare and completely mastered the come-hither eyebrow-raise…

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