Jeevankala – Interview
Jeevankala was born in Poona on June 29, 1944. She was educated in Bombay and is a Matric. Only daughter of her parents, she was brought up with care and luxury. Finding that she had an aptitude for dancing, her parents rightly taught her all styles of Indian dances. For seven long years she learnt the Kathak style under Baba Saheb Gokhale of Poona. Later she learnt the Bharat Natyam under Professor Gaekwad of Poona. As for Manipuri she learnt it herself. Being an adept in Bharat Natyam and Kathak styles, it was easy for her to learn all about Manipuri.
In 1957, she was an assistant dance teacher in Bharat Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. She taught the Kathak style in that school, for students who came to that school. Side by side with her teaching vocation she was dancing in various variety programmes and became a well-known figure among the elite of Bombay. She had danced before many foreign dignitaries winning their appreciation.
It was producer-director K. Amaranth who brought her into films. Once he attended a dance programme of hers and finding her not only an adept dancer but also possessing a good and charming figure he rightly came to the conclusion that she would prove a valuable acquisition to films. She rendered two classical dances in Kal Hamara Hai wherein Bharat Bhooshan and Madhubala featured in the lead roles. She made an immediate sensation in film circles and had several engagements thereafter. Jeevankala had arrived in films.
During her five years in films she has danced in many films. Gradually she got feature roles playing either character roles or comedy role. Her recent picture is Mrs. X in Bombay in which she played the role of a vamp evoking praise from critics and the cinegoers.
Among the pictures in which she will be seen shortly are Filmasia’s Dooj Ka Chand, Prakash Pictures’ Himalay Ki Gaud Mein and Mere Sanam in all of which she has featured roles. In Nadiadwala’ Mahabharat she has rendered dances in classical style.
She has been acting regularly in Marathi pictures and is familiar to all kinds of fans both Hindi and Marathi. Regular picture-goers will remember her scintillating dances in Burmah Road, that silver jubilee picture Taj Mahal and Pyar Ki Dastan. She had featured role in China Town and Ek Raat. She will also be seen in Kishore Kumar’s Dur Gagan Ki Chaon Men.
She considers both acting and dancing as arts though belonging to different categories.
“Dancing requires great alertness,” said Jeevankala. All the time you must keep on your legs and be very active. As is commonly believed it is not an easy job to dance. Very often it is a heart-breaking job.”
When pointed out that screen dancing is much abused, Jeevankala said, “It is tough work. The movement and gestures of a dancer dancing for the screen should be fast and quick. There is no place for slow motion, when a dancer dances for pictures.”
Continuing Jeevankala said “dancing is a divine art. From days of yore most of the dances have religious background. Dances like Kathak and Bharat originated in India long before Christ was horn. Those who conceived these dances should be great men. Dance is a combination of gesture and music. In films we are called upon to render various types. I have rendered dances in classical style, folk dances and also in Western style. Though the type of dances for the screen depends on situations and environments, sometimes we are called upon to give strange types which may give a jarring effect to the picture goers. But these days the dance masters come from good stock and they consider their job enviable and therefore refuse to trifle with a noble and dignified old art as dancing.”
About her feittne, Jeevankala is of opinion” that devotion to work and confidence are essential if an artiste wants to come up to the front rank. ” Though, I started my screen career as a dancer, producers and directors hove now enough confidence to give me featured roles. It is up to me to prove that the confidence they have placed in me is not misplaced. I do not believe in Luck as many seem to think. One’s future lies in one’s own hands. When opportunity comes it is wise to utilize it to one’s advantage and benefit. An opportunity lost is lost forever. There is no use regretting later on that producers have not given proper chances.”
Being a Marathi girl I asked her about the language difficulty.
” There is no difficulty at all with me in speaking Hindi,” said Jeevankala. ” I have been moving with Hindi people ever since I was born and why should there be any difficulty for me to speak that language. I could speak Hindi as well as any Hindi-born girl.”
Jeevankala’s mother Ganga Bai was a great film star in the silent days. After Jeevankala was born her mother left her screen career for good.
Jeevankala has so far worked in about 120 pictures and looks forward to acting and dancing in many more hundreds.
She likes film as a profession. “It is a good one for any girl and respectable too.”
On the question of marriage Jeevankala said, “I am already married—to ART. Art is my husband.”
Jeevankala had a good word about South Indian producers. I like people there very much. They are very hospitable and kind. Jeevankala has given a Kathak Solo in Konjum Salangai.
She considers dancing as a good exercise. But being engaged on most days in one picture or another she has not time to practice the art at home. When I have any spare time I spend it in dancing. In films I dance and so do not feel very much if I miss an day or two of dancing exercise at home
She had recently been to United Kingdom on a dancing cum music tour along with Md. Rafi and Geeta Dutt. She was there for about a month and according to her the tour was a great success.
She has danced more than dozen times to collect funds for defense purposes. She has also given dance performances towards small savings drive sponsored by the Government of Maharashtra.
Jeevankala is a great sport. She could swim, ride and delights in running her lovely Fiat.
She speaks English fluently as also Hindi and Marathi. She loves jewels and costly saris of latest design.
Ambitious and enthusiastic, she is bound to make greater strides in films sooner than later (This interview was conducted by Picturpost in 1964).