Veteran actor and filmmaker Vijaya Nirmala (73) breathed her last in the wee hours of Thursday at Continental Hospital, Gachibowli. She will be remembered for entering the Guinness Book of World Records (2000) for being the only woman director to have directed 42 films, the most for any woman director in the world.
She received Rahupathi Venkaiah Award for her contributions to Telugu cinema in 2008. Born as Nirmala on February 20, 1946, in a Telugu family settled in Tamil Nadu, she ventured into acting as a child artiste with Tamil film Matsyarekhai (1950). She followed it up with her Telugu debut film, Panduranga Mahatyam (1957) at the age of 11. Her performance as little Krishna has won accolades and the film ran for 100 days in nine centers and 24 weeks in Vijayawada and Guntur. Her second Telugu film Bhookailas starring late NT Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Jamuna was released the following year and won her plaudits for her portrayal as Goddess Sita.
After a six-year hiatus, she played the lead role in the Malayalam horror movie Bhargavi Nilayam (1964), directed by A Vincent, wherein she was paired opposite Prem Nazir. The film was declared one of the biggest hits of that year. She signed her second Tamil film, Enga Veettu Penn (1965) produced by Vijaya Productions and after that film, she was widely known as ‘Vijaya’ Nirmala. She became a heroine in Telugu with Rangula Ratnam (1966) and went onto act in over 200 films in a career spanning over six decades.
After that, she launched her production house – Vijaya Krishna Movies and went onto produce 15 films. She also handled the operations of Padmalaya Studios and Padmalaya Tele Films.
Vijaya Nirmala is survived by her husband and veteran actor Krishna and son Vijaya Krishna Naresh. Renowned Telugu actor Mahesh Babu is her step-son.
The entire Telugu film industry is mourning her death and several celebrities have expressed their condolences to the bereaved family.