Kamala's Peacock Dance Found! (and some other "new" Kamala, Padmini, and Lalitha dances)

Thursday, March 21, 2013
Wow! AP International's YouTube channel has some pristinely-preserved songs and scenes from 1940s and 50s Tamil gems—many of which have been MIA online for quite some time!  They've got Penn, Sri Valli, Vedhala Ulagam,Vazhkai, Parasakthi, and more!

But the most exciting random find was a new Kamala dance I've never seen or read of before: her four-part sculptor-deer-PEACOCK-dancer extravaganza in the 1962 Tamil film Sumai Thaangi!  Yes, the Kamala peacock dance that a commenter had mentioned a while back exists!  Many a dancer in Indian cinema has done a signature "peacock" dance (see this post/comments at Richard's blog for a great collection), but until now I never knew that Kamala had one as well. 

Sumai Thaangi (aka Sumaithangi, 1962, Tamil) - "Malaiyai Padaithavan" - This is not your standard Kamala dance number! Kamala's dancing portrayal of a male sculptor is brilliant and lifelike, and the rest of the number supposedly depicts the effects of the enchanting deer and peacock sculptures on Kamala who reacts with a joyous dance.  It's the most unusual and quirky of Kamala's film dances that I've seen, especially as she jumps, prances, and rapidly spins in deer costume (with deer mudra) to sound effects!  The peacock dance is introduced with a beautiful shot, and the musical orchestration is appropriately splendid.  What a dance number!  According to online folks, in this song Gemini Ganesan is trying to win his female companion (Devika)'s affections—I wish the song spent less time cutting to their annoying banter and stayed focused on the important part, Kamala! The camera gets quite shaky at times too, but the print is so lovely and well-preserved.  Good job AP International for actually knowing how to properly encode and size video uploads!  1962 was the year that Kamala's big dance film Konjum Salangai released, and it was also the same year she divorced her first husband R.K. Laxman at age 28, so in adding this dance number to the mix 1962 was quite a year for Kamala!

A few more screencaps from this unique song:

Along with Kamala's dance above, I found a few additional and "new" Kamala/Padmini/Lalitha dances in the earlier film Vedhala Ulagam that I've not seen or featured on my blog before!

Vedhala Ulagam (Tamil, 1948) - "Vaasam Ulla Poo Paripen" - A dance-drama by Padmini and Lalitha, this number is an enjoyable watch even without understanding the lyrics.  Standouts: Padmini's snake charmer dance at 1:00, Lalitha's "drumming" at 4:47, and the sisters proper twin dance out of character at 7:00.  

Vedhala Ulagam - "Aadum Mayil Paadum Kuyil" - This song features Kamala, Padmini, and Lalitha (but at different times--why can't they ever dance/perform together!).  I don't know what is being enacted in this song, but I'll describe the essentials: Kamala starts out the number with a sweet tune (and gorgeous closeups!) and after some dialogue, Padmini and Lalitha have a scene and song, and then Kamala returns first playing the veena and then dancing to a melodious song (for a cute parrot!) starting at 6:27 that looks very similar visually to her later dance in Manthiri Kumari.  Padmini and Lalitha end the number. 

Vedhala Ulagam - "Odi Vilayadu Papa" - This isn't a "dance" really (though the little kid dances a bit), but it features some closeups of Kamala and is a sweet song, so I had to include it. 

Also, APInternational has also uploaded better versions of the Kamala dances in Vedhala Ulagam and Sri Valli that I've posted previously about, so I've updated their videos in the following posts:


  1. Oh,this is all too great! Love the Kamala peacock dance (now it will be even more difficult to decide which peacock dance is my all-time favorite!). I know I've seen the second video before - or at least in part. Re. the third clip... Well, someone was just telling me that there was a Kamala scene in which they used the music from the famous Naushad-composed Noor Jehan song in Anmol Ghadi (1946), Jawan Hai Mohabbat:


    Kamala is not only a great dancer in these scenes; she is very sweet, too.

    More wonderful finds from Minai Minai!

    1. Hello Richard! Isn't the peacock dance fabulous! I found it completely by accident and only clicked on the video because the preview image looked like people sitting in an audience, which I've learned usually features a dance performance. :) Among Padmini, Vyjayanthimala, and Kamala'a peacock dances, I find they all have their own charm! Padmini is like the prideful flamboyant peacock, Vyj the realistic and methodical, and Kamala's peacock is portrayed with a wild, joyful abandon! So hard to choose a favorite for me too. :) What a coincidence regarding the mention of that Kamala scene and the video in this post today! I think you mean Kamala's dance at the end of the second video ("Aadum Mayil")--what a cheerful melody! Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed your post and the dance numbers! Thank you.

    I fully agree with you that in Sumaithangi, the song should have focused more on Kamala's dance rather than on Gemini Ganeshan-Devika banter.

    1. Thank you! Yes isn't their banter so over-the-top and irritating! Kamala definitely deserved longer shots free of interruptions!

  3. OMG!!
    I am very happy that you found the peacock dance of kamla, it was really beautiful.
    The 'pambadi nadanam' of lalitha and padmini got more appriciation at that time, the lyrics of snake charmer dance means: i am going to pick flowers for my wife, who is my dear in this world. She would be happy if i give flowers.(snake bites him and he faints). Then lalitha enters searching for him. She put medicine in the wound and sings , o snake do not play with my husband, he is a famous snake charmer, if the 5 headed cobra hears my husband's name, he will run away, so o snake be careful playing with my husband.
    The other dance with kamla, padmini and lalitha is the pavalakodi dance drama which is a small part taken from epic mahabharat.
    Film ends with another kamala dance (twin) where she is krishna and radha.
    Richard, the song jawan hai mohobag imitation of kamala is near somewhere 'odi vilayadum paapa'.
    vetala ullagam brought dancers (and not actors) padmini and lalitha into stardom.

    1. muhsin - Hello! I'm connecting the dots here...so you are the owner of the blog "Dancing Queen Padmini" and Padmini162 on YouTube right?

      Thank you for the description of the "Pambadi Nadanam" number. Aha! So the Kamala/Padmini/Lalitha song is the Pavalakodi dance drama! Randor Guy in his article on the film mentioned that but I wasn't sure which song it was. Guy also mentions the song by Kamala at the end of the film that you described as "Theeradha vilayattu pillai" (which API has uploaded here), and he says it was "hand-tinted in colour and drew large crowds because such coloured sequences in Tamil cinema were a rarity then." Thank you for the information, and keep up the good work. :)

  4. Minai,
    The second dance by Padmini and Lalitha about the snake charmer seems to be similar to Vyjayantimala dance in Bahar1951.which is a remake of Vazhkai 1949. I do not know whether there is a similar dance in Vazhkai. I wonder whether it is a common dance in the repertoire of the dancers those days.

    1. Hi gaddeswarup - I don't remember a Vyjayanthimala dance like that in either film, interesting! Are you thinking of this Padmini/Lalitha dance in Vazhkai?

    2. No, I meant this
      The later parts are very similar.
      I wonder whether it would be possible to cut out the spectators in the first dance and splics the video again; those parts are annoying.

    3. Oh wow, that is very similar isn't it! Very interesting, it must have been a common piece done back then. Video editing software can easily cut out the annoying parts, but it would be a copyright violation to upload it again! Though a website like Veengle.com that lets you edit YouTube videos might work...


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