Even More Rare Dances of Kamala!

Sunday, January 30, 2011
In my hunt to find every known copy of Kamala’s film dances, I’ve come across yet another goldmine! I was spurred on by a series of excellent article scans Kamala has posted on her dance school’s website from the “Indian classical music & dance magazine” Sruti, volumes 48 and 45/46 (for each of which she donned the cover!).  The articles are Kamala: On The Silver Screen (parts one, two, and three) and “Excellence on the Filmic Grid (parts one, two). Each article discusses her film dances and has some tantalizing descriptions of songs and film titles that sent me armed with the knowledge to hunt them down! Here’s what I’ve tracked so far with the important exception of the two Sri Valli songs for which all thanks goes to cram who graciously found them and uploaded them!  Note: Most of these songs contain the most irritating moving-watermark I have ever laid eyes on.  What were these people thinking! Just try to ignore it if you can!

Sri Valli (Tamil, 1945) – Yes!! The Baby Kamala dances from the 1945 Sri Valli as pleaded for in my “Obscure Indian Films About Dance” post have been found and posted by the fabulous cram! Muchos gracias to cram!!

Yaarundnaippol Aadarippavar - Isn't she fabulous at such a young age?  Just look at her facial expressions and the way she dances the classical-based choreography!  What talent.  Update March 2013 - Embedded better-quality version!

Dance #2 -  The dance begins about 38 seconds in after a cute introduction.  Just look at her beautiful Kathak hands and the flowing costume she's wearing!  The song then transitions into a mythological dance where Kamala plays both roles and dances in a "twin" effect!  Charming.  Adorable.  Awesome!  Update March 2013 - Embedded better-quality version!

Jagathala Pratapan (Tamil, 1944) – This is apparently Baby Kamala’s famous “snake dance”!  According to Randor Guy, Kamala was eight years old and the song was choreographed by her guru Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai. Aren’t her facial expressions at the beginning endearing?   For as much as I've read about this famed snake dance, it seems much less "snake-like" than I imagined.

Paarthiban Kanavu (Tamil, 1960) – The second half of this film contains an enchanting sequence in which Kamala gets to perform a whole bunch of dances in quick succession split only by short narrative sequences. From the articles: “Of Bharatanatyam-oriented pieces from the latter period, one has to mention the ‘Sivakamiyin Sabatham’ episode from the film ‘Parthiban Kavanu’ (1960). Three songs –out of which Anthi mayangudadi, asai peruguthadi, Kanthan varakkanane, can be done as a Virahotkanthita piece on stage any day—were made captivating by Kamala’s personal contribution: her execution of the choreography, which by this time had absorbed and assimilated a touch of the filmic; her costume and figure and hairdress, which made her look like a sketch by Silpi come alive out of an Ananda Vikatan Deepavali Malar; her total involvement merging into that character, making it unforgettable even to the majority unfamiliar with it.”  Note: I posted the song "Anthi Mayangudadi" previously; the remaining three songs from the film follow.

Instrumental Dance Piece - While I'm not a fan of the tight-fitting costume she is wearing, I love the way her arms are held and moved with such precision.

Vadiveru Tirisoolam Tonrum Tonrum - A nice performance that appears to be about a social theme.  Note: Video pixelates slightly around :35.

Munnam Avanudaya Naamam Kettal - This song is so beautiful, mesmerizing, and enchanting that I feel chills watching it.  A gorgeous religious number with a lovely instrumental section.  As a bonus, there are lots of closeups of Kamala's face- isn't she such a chameleon?  She looks so different in appearance from song to song- I'm thinking of doing a "Kamala screencap" post soon to point this out.

Veerakkanal (Tamil, 1960) – Silaiyodu Vilaiyadava – These next three songs show Kamala in a much different light- a departure from her mostly classical-based work into the frilly world of filmi dance and eroticism. The thrilling rhythmic portions of this song remind you of the "old" Kamala, but the majority of the song has her performing all the coy, teasing moves her contempories were masters at (here, in front of a drunken, woman-loving king!)  It's interesting to see that she does just a good a job as the rest of them in this area! I do agree with the articles about her ability to pull this all of with grace: “With more of a Kathak turn, Silaiyodu Vilaiyadava and Siruthukonde from ‘Veerakkanal,’ are fine examples of Kamala exalting the near-mundane to the almost-exquisite. The flared costume reversing its flow just at the right split-second by her unctuous stop after a wind-whirl, gave a surging joy to the spectator. Of course the stauncher of Kamala’s stage fans might have been turned away by this character, a villain’s hand-maiden, so to speak."

Veerakkanal (Tamil, 1960) – Siruthukonde -  I love the close ups in this song!  She gets to be even more coy and coquettish in this number, which I can see would have upset her fans back in the day.  From the articles: “Votaries of her art, uneasy at her dancing in films, felt more so when she took to acting in films later. They were particularly uncomfortable when she accepted roles in run-of-the-mill films like ‘Veerakkanal’ where neither the dance nor her acting was befitting her stature as an artist par excellence.”  While Kamala takes the lower-brow material and elevates it at times with her skilled touches (such as the beautiful turns at 1:38), it still does seem beneath her and her phenomenal dance abilities.

Parasakthi (Tamil, 1952) – O Rasikkum Seemane – I think this is the first song where I have found Kamala positively sexy. She looks so sweet and beautiful here! A playful and light nonclassical number.  Edit 2011: Looks like this film was released in 1952, not 1958.  Edit 2012: Embedded much better quality version I came across that has no floating logos!

There are still songs that I'm hunting for from Kamala's film repertoire, such as her dance with "meticulous footwork" in Naach Ghar, her baby dances in Kanchan, En Magan, Ore Iravu, and "Theeratha Vilayattu Pillai" from Pavalakodi, her dance "Thoondil Puzhuvinai Pol" from Vedala Ulagam, her dances with her sisters Radha and Vasanthi in Kutrala Kuravanji... all referenced by reputable sources such as The Hindu or Randor Guy but difficult to find!  I'll keep hunting...


  1. How Does she do it !! (I mean you minai, not kamala) How!!!!!!! :)

    Another Awesome post!

  2. :) great work, minai! thanks for the pat!

  3. Excellent, awesome compilation of the one and only Kamala- I am sure she would be delighted to know of this blog post.
    Thank you so much- I really enjoyed the post and the videos !

  4. I tried to write a comment earlier but ran into technical difficulties. But that's OK, because a couple other people have said basically the same thing that I wanted to say... Awe-inspiring, that's what it is!

  5. Thank you Ramesh, cram, anonymous, and Richard. :) I think collectively we've got the best little Kamala collection on earth!! :) (Edited- Ramesh, how did I omit your name!! :)))

  6. Thank you so much for this blog. Such a treasure. My sister and I studied dance with Kamala Akka (as we used to call her) in the 70s and used to tour with her. She was not only a great dancer but a generous teacher. She never sat down even for a minute while teaching. I found this tremendously electrifying dance from Pavaai Vilakku that was recommended by VAK Ranga Rao. Thought you might like to add to your collection.

    Thank you again ... for dedicating this section to her. I am very grateful to you.

  7. Ramaa - Thanks for your lovely comment. I'm stunned that you actually knew her and toured with her! If you would like to share more information about your experiences with her I would be (as would some of my blogger friends) more than happy to listen attentively! :) I've not been able to find too many personal accounts about her other than a humorous comment I read in an article at Sulekha (called "How Time Flies") saying that her first husband had terrible car-parking skills and others that parked in the same lot knew to steer clear!
    Thank you for the Pavai Vilakku song- that is indeed electrifying; I had listed it as part of my Tandav post which you might enjoy: http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2010/10/tandav-dances-in-indian-cinema.html

    Stop by anytime! Cheers, ~Minai

  8. Dear Minai

    About 8 years years ago Pattabhiraman (editor of SRUTI magazine, Chennai)insisted that I write in it about her for a special issue that was released about her. So I do have an article that I wrote and was published. My sister Uma and I studied and performed with her during her heydays when she was simply stunning both as a dancer and teacher. Anyway it is a long article ... I can send it to you by email as a pdf and you can share all or parts of it on your blog if you wish. Where should I send it to? I would really like for people to know the beautiful caring and simple woman that she really was - back in those days even when she was at the top of her career.

  9. Ramaa, Wonderful! Is the article you wrote in Sruti in one of the same issues that the articles I listed at the beginning of the post above came from? I only listed the two articles that referenced her film work, but there were many, many more and they were all brilliant in providing a glimpse into Kamala's life, marriage, etc. All of the articles are actually posted on Kamala's dance school website starting at this webpage: http://www.sribharatakamalalaya.org/photo_gallery1.html Did you write one of those articles? I would love to have the PDF in any case - please send it to me at kasuvandi@gmail.com. I suppose I should have qualified my previous comment that while I've read the Sruti and other online articles that provide generous insight into her life and work, I feel like there isn't much out there with a personal, informal touch outside of the formality of published writing. Which is why I'm so excited to hear from someone like yourself who has that personal experience with her. :) If you haven't seen it already, I do hope you see my post about Kamala's Heritage Award (and dance!) a few months back: http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2010/12/kamala-dancing-at-national-heritage.html It was so nice to see what she looks like today and that she is completely adorable!
    Anywho, thank you so much for your comments. If you know of any other good writings about Kamala or wish to share more, I'd be more than happy to post them on my blog! All the best, ~Minai

  10. I dont know whether you have seen this video which has Kamala in a dance competition,


  11. minai
    did you receive the pdf i emailed you of the sruti article?

  12. Shree - Ah, the Konjum Salangai competition! Yes, her dances from that film are very nice. Stay tuned for a future post in which I'll post the dances from that film cleaned up and looking much better than the versions online now.

    Ramaa Bharadvaj - Apologies for my long delay in responding. I did receive the pdf of the article! Will respond to you shortly! :)

  13. Hi Minai

    Here's something you should watch (if you haven't already).


  14. A new Kamala dance, omg!!!! :) How did you find it! How lovely, it's from Vedala Ulagam in 1948! She's right in between childhood and adolescence and looks quite different from much of her other works. Such a great find, thank you for sharing!!!! More exclamation marks!!!!!! :)

  15. :) Such songs have a way of finding me.

    The entire movie is available online. You can watch it here:


  16. Friends,
    I think Kamalaji had done a very rare dancing in movie Sivagangai Semmai- Tamil in year 1953. This movie had the legendary actor T.K.Bagavathy in the lead. She has few dances in the movie, but the one that she does before her death - at least I have not seen parallels in Indian cinema and she shows real Kali in her expressions and also a non-traditional footwork. It must have been shot on the terrace of Kalaiyar Koil temple in Sivaganga. I bought a CD a decade back and copied it.

    1. Oh yes, that is one of her best dances, and I wrote an entire post about it(and linked to a wonderfully-clear video). Such a unique, non-traditional film dance--agreed!


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