Vanmala Devi, the yesteryears actress and a winner of the President's Award for Best Actress, passed away after a prolonged illness. She was 92. Vanmala, who had been suffering from cancer and had undergone an operation about three months ago, died in Gwalior recently.
Born as Susheeladevi Pawar in 1915, Her father was a minister in Gwalior Sansthan. Her primary education was in Gwaliar and then she came to Mumbai and took B.T.degree in 1938. She adopted the screen name Vanmala and acted in several Marathi and Hindi movies since 1930s. She is known for her role in 'Shyamchi Aai' that fetched her the Best Actress award in 1953.
She began her film career at the age of 21, when she was already a graduate and a teacher. Her dreamy eyes won her the role of the legendary Roxana in Minerva Movietone's blockbuster 'Sikander' in which she starred along with Sohrab Modi and Prithviraj Kapoor.
Vanmala acted in several films produced and directed by Acharya Pralhad Keshav Atre prominent among those being 'Payachi Dasi', 'Shyamchi Aai' and 'Moruchi Mavshi'. The supposedly demure Vanmala was a staunch nationalist and deeply involved in the freedom movement. She is survived by her brother NR Pawar.
Even at the age of 92 she was running a school to train children in traditional Indian arts and culture, 'The Haridas Kala Sansthan'. She had been deeply involved in several social causes and was a member of the Chhatrapati Shivaji National Memorial Committee.Committee chief and former union minister Vasant Sathe expressed grief over the demise of the actress and conveyed his condolences to her brother.