Aug 16, 1939 in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India
Aug 16, 1939 in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India
Kanchana is an Indian actress who graced the big screen from the early 1960’s to the late 1980’s. Although her career graph starts around 1951, her first credited role came in the 1964 movie, Kadalikka Neramillai. She acted alongside T. S. Balaiah, R. Muthuraman, Rajasree and Ravichandran in the movie. The movie was a box office hit and paved the way for her in the industry. Kanchana’s acting career was marked with hit movies like Preminchi Choodu (1965), Parakkum Pavai (1966), Farz (1967), Athey Kangal (1967), Bama Vijam (1967), Thangai (1967), Naalum Therinthavan (1968), Sivantha Mann (1969), Uttharavindri Ulle Vaa (1971), Pavitra Bandham (1971) and Shanti Nilayam (1972). Over a career spanning nearly six decades, Kanchana has appeared in five Indian film industries, and has over a 150 movies defining her filmography. People still remember her for her on-screen charisma and screen presence. In 2017 Kanchana played a prominent role in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Telugu movie, Arjun Reddy. Her last acted movie released more than 20 years ago.
EARLY LIFE Vasundhara Devi, later known by her screen name, Kanchana, was born on the 16th of August, 1939, Madras (now Chennai in Tamil Nadu). She has a sister, Girija Pandey.
Kanchana hailed from a rich family. She was trained early on in both, Bharatanatyam and music. She couldn’t complete her education, as her family ran into debts and she had take up a job to sustain her family. Kanchana got herself a job as an air hostess. That helped her family immensely.
Giving up her education early on to support her family and her eventual journey into movies, ensured that Kanchana never had much of a social life. Anyway, by circumstances or personal choice, she never married and has expressed her wish to stay single throughout her life. Kanchana donated Rs. 15 crores of her personal wealth to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) in 2010. She said she wanted them to construct a marriage hall or a community hall in the site. She currently resides in Bengaluru.
Vasundhara Devi’s journey towards acting journey started during her days as an airhostess. Director C. V. Sridhar spotted Vasundhara during one of his flights. He approached her with a role in his then upcoming Tamil movie, Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964). Vasundhara accepted the role offered and made her debut with the movie. The cast also included T. S. Balaiah, R. Muthuraman, Rajasree and Ravichandran. C. V. Sridhar suggested that she change her name to Kanchana, her character’s name in the movie, as an actress by the name of Vasundhara Devi existed already. Vasundhara took the suggestion and was henceforth known by the name of Kanchana. During her prime years she acted opposite Tamil legends like M.G.R, A. V. M. Rajan, Sivaji Ganesan, S. S. Rajendran, Jaishankar, Gemini Ganesan, Ravichandran and Sivakumar. Some of her prominent Tamil movies include Motor Sundaram Pillai (1966), Parakkum Pavai (1966), Bama Vijam (1967), Sivantha Mann (1969), Shanti Nilayam (1972), Naan En Pirandein (1972), Sigappu Rojakkal (1978) and Johnny (1980). Kanchana retired from movies in 1980 but she had already stopped playing lead characters. Her last movie in the lead was Avan Oru Sarithiram (1977). Anyway, she continued to play supporting roles even after her voluntary retirement.
Kanchana made her acting debut in Telugu with legendary director K. Viswanath’s Aatma Gowravam (1965). The movie was a hit and it won the Nandi Award for Best Feature Film that year. She followed it up with the movies Manchi Kutumbam (1965) and Preminchi Choodu (1965), which was remake of her debut Tamil movie Kadhalikka Neramillai. Kanchana’s prominent acting roles in Telugu include Navarathri (1966), Ave Kallu (1967), Shri Krishnavataram (1967), Dharma Daata (1970), Kalyana Mandapam (1971), Bhakta Tukaram (1973), Devudu Chesina Manushulu (1973), Annadammula Anubandham (1975), Mahakavi Kshetrayya (1976), Secretary (1976), Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977), Driver Ramudu (1979), Sri Madvirat Veera Brahmendra Swamy Charitra (1984) and Shri Datta Darshanam (1985). After a hiatus of more than 22 years, Kanchana starred in director Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Arjun Reddy (2017).
In the Kannada film industry Kanchana starred alongside famous actors like Rajkumar, K. S. Ashwath, Shankar Nag, Vishnuvardhan, Girish Karnad and Ambareesh. Her prominent movies include Mayor Muthanna (1969), C.I.D. Rajanna (1970), Thayi Devaru (1971), Kasidre Kailasa (1971), Bhakta Kumbhara (1974), Babruvahana (1977), Thayige Takka Maga (1978), Shankar Guru (1978), Nanobba Kalla (1979), Seetharamu (1979), Biligiriya Banadalli (1980), Ravichandra (1980), Bhagyavantha (1981), Ananda Bhairavi (1983), Bhakta Prahlada (1983), Bandhana (1984), Prachanda Kulla (1984), Samayada Gombe (1984), Africadalli Sheela (1986), Jayasimha (1987) and Devatha Manushya (1988).
Kanchana began her Malayalam film career starring alongside superstar Prem Nazir and Sheela in director P. Subramaniam’s Althaara (1964). Since then she has worked in movies like Thirichadi (1968), Kodungalluramma (1968), Othenente Makan (1970), Manthrakodi (1972), Azhakulla Saleena (1973), Ina (1982), Shree Krishnaparanthu (1984) and Njan Piranna Nattil (1985).
Kanchana entered the Hindi film industry with the Jeetendra starrer Farz (1967). She also appeared in the Hindi remake of Bama Vijayam. The movie was named Teen Bahuraniyan (1968) and was critically acclaimed. Kanchana was also cast in the Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini starrer, Prem Nagar (1974).
In 2005 Kanchana was presented with the MGR award by the Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary. She was also presented the ANR Swarna Kankanam award in 2007 for her outstanding contribution to the film industry.