AMBIKA and RADHA
Ambika and Radha were a unique pair of actresses I grew up into adolescence with. Although they had nothing that was very special about any one aspect, overall they were both extremely sexy in their own ways. Radha’s dance in Kadal Parishu is one of the steamiest item numbers I have ever seen in life. Radha is a perfect example of how a commonplace girl can turn very glamorous and beautiful with raw ambition, the right attitude and the right directors. She used to proclaim that she was the most glamorous women in south India – that is what I mean about the attitude and ambition. When a woman believes she is sexy, men can feel it oozing from her. I still get excited after 25 years when I remember how I used to bunk class and watch every movie in which she stars, even if I did not understand the language (Telugu). She was by far, the sexiest actress of the times, with solid competition for this crown from her own sister Ambika. Ambika was even more unique than her sister. She used to sizzle on screen even if she was fully clothed and covered. She had a very average body shape and a slightly plump figure but her face was startlingly beautiful and her personality was truly electric. She used to ooze a raw energy and sexuality that you just could not lay a finger on the root cause. Perhaps it was because she exhibited a sort of free spirited independence, youth, beauty, charm, naughtiness and thinly veiled sexiness that was 25 years ahead of the its time – a 21st century personality of a young modern, independent, rich and haughty urban woman of today’s mainstream cinema.
The other popular actresses of the time were Madhavi, Silk Smitha, Shobana, etc.
While every other actress came with one or two major and unparalleled assets:
- Madhavi – drop dead sexy eyes fab-fit yet curvy body
- Sridevi : fair, ideally proportioned and ample build like an Apsara
- Shobana : Knockout Navel
- Silk Smitha : Impossibly curvy shape and sexy eyes
You cannot pinpoint any one such feature with Radha. Her sister Ambika was likewise. Yet, both of them easily beat everyone else in terms of being evocative and sexy overall. It will remain one of the greatest mysteries how this could happen. For the teenagers of those days, Radha was the reigning queen of the south Indian movies and there is still a massive following for this lady. Her sister Ambika offered unique package as bubbly beauty with a naughty & sexy attitude.
Here is a bit of reminiscence about Radha. I used to watch her primarily in Telugu movies, paired with the likes of Chiranjeevi. There were umpteen movies where this beautiful lady adorned the films, sometimes with as many as 8-10 songs and dance sequences. The movie usually starts with the hero having two girls in mind trying to decide which one to fall in love with. The ladies would alternate in the dream song sequences, the dream occurring to the hero, the main heroine or the secondary heroine, often in turns. Radha was almost always the woman the hero would fall for, which is not surprising considering she would appear decidedly more attractive than the other actress on the scene. Radha had no real competition, once the divine diva of Telugu cinema moved north. Sri left the telugu territory to the unrivaled monopoly of Radha.
Usually, the initial songs would focus on mighty sets, the beauty and glamor of Radha and the audience would just be totally disappointed at the songs featuring the other heroine, since those would be decidedly less spicy. As the 3 hour film wore on, the songs would start to focus more and more on Radha’s body. Her sari would get skimpier and more transparent and more of her deep, dark back would be revealed. Her large forearms, tight midriff and navel and what she chose to reveal of her firm breasts start to occupy the center stage of the screen. Her sleeveless blouse would cover less and less of her dark, deep, curvy and sexy back. Her skirts would shrink in length until you could see her generous and shapely thighs. Although lacking in sheer thunder compared to Sridevi’s, Radha’s thighs were long, supple and shapely that their stunning presence in the “Kadal Parisu” movie is probably the most evocative display of legs in South Indian films those days. Radha’s arms were almost always on complete display and their fleshy and round structure made men want to be crushed within them that instant. In the few scenes where she did not wear sleeveless blouses, the director would make it a point to focus on the large, dark patches of wetness caused by Radha’s fluid sweat around her armpits, a subtle reference the vigor, vitality and virility of this strong and glamorous woman. Towards the final songs of the movie, you get such heavy doses and glimpses of many regions and angles of Radha’s lovely body soaked in rain . If you put all of the views across the movie together, you could easily visualize her almost completely naked. Those movie trips were was the most exhilarating experience for many young men in those days.
Radha was a young nymphet who looked much like her daughter does these days – slim and tall with very attractive eyes and arched eyebrows with the early years (1982-83). She gained weight and had the ideal proportions to be a sultry and sexy leading lady, especially in Telugu where the audiences appreciate well built ladies, between 1985 till about 1988. This was her peak time, she looked fabulous, very confident of her appeal almost to the point of being arrogant. There was a line of movie producers seeking to sign her up and she gleefully gave it all she had – never hesitant about taking on sexy and suggestive roles and scenes and revealing her toned body as called for. Radha shot to #1 position in Telugu around 1984. Around this time, Sridevi, who was the reigning lady in Telegu at the time, migrated to Bollywood after the sweet success of films such as Himmatwala and Inquilab. With Sridevi gone, there was a strong vacuum in Telegu for a similarly glamorous, tall, fair, generously endowed, shapely, well built heroine who possessed the classic south beauty traits and electric screen presence. Obviously, Sridevi had no equals – but the producers and directors found that they could tick many of the boxes with Radha. Given the thirst for the audiences to see someone take the pedestal vacated by their dream girl, and her willingness to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes, Radha’s introduction to Telugu was massively successful. These movies cast Radha in glamorous roles, often competing for attention of the hero with other actresses of the time. Many of the movies involved rain dances and other explicit scenes where Radha dressed down considerably and revealed her stunning body. Many of the songs would be preceded by strongly erotic scenes where Radha has a wet dream about the hero. In these scenes, she is often seen rolling in bed wearing a tight frock and T-shirt or a flimsy saree. The camera would zoom in to capture amazing angles, where her heaving breasts, deep curvy and dark back, rounded hips, large and shapely calves and thighs would rol, twist and squeeze against the bed and pillows, Radha’s face would contort with desire, her lips pouting and her eyes full of lust, and she would tighten her massive forearms, smooth hands and fleshy round fingers around a plush pillow while making orgasmic sounds, that would leave men drained.
After 1988, she started going downhill – she started getting fatter and disproportionate, she probably did not take care of herself well in terms of diet and exercise. She probably gave up too easily – got married abruptly and left the industry much to the sorrow of her millions of fans. Radha’s daughter, Karthika, today reminds me very much of the Radha of the early years. Karthika has an attractive face, with long arching eyebrows and curved lips much like her mother. Karthika has a lovely body by today’s urban and global standards – tall, slim with the right amount of curves by international standards of sexiness. She would probably make for a great hit on the catwalk and fashion shows. But the core movie audiences of the rural south are yet unchanged in terms of what they want – tall and firm, yes, but also large, full, shapely and well endowed- just look at the success of Anushka Shetty in Telugu and you will know the core audience needs have not changed in 30 years. This is Karthika’s main drawback - she needs to add mass to her body but do it in way that does not make her fat. And then, she has to be careful to take on a game changing landmark role that reveals the new ME. Given her genes. I do not think this would be a problem for Karthika.
Ambika was in many ways different from her younger and more spicy sister. Ambika was more mature, more deliberate and erotic in a subtle way. She was at ease in roles that demanded her to be bubbly/young, assertive/commanding and also in double meaning scenes like in Kakki Sattai. What was the secret of her appeal? Well, first of all, Ambika had a traffic stopping facial beauty that made men’s hearts beat faster. Her two best facial features were her lips and her eyes. Her lips had a peculiar exotic quality – they were big relative to her face but that was not the only thing that made them special. One could see the undulations on her lower lip quite clearly, and she accentuated these as well. Her lower lip had a natural pout and a flawless curve that was extraordinary. Her upper lip was thinner but still pronounced and played the perfect companion to her lower lips. He eyes danced with expression and were very good at conveying happy, naughty and sexy emotions. She had a sharp and well formed nose that conveyed an elitism and intelligence. A few years ago I saw her at an airport – even after all these years, Ambika’s lips have not lost even an iota of their shape/forma and sexuality and her eyes dart and dance with an energy that is just as strong today as it was 25 years ago!
Ambika started her career fairly young in Malayalam. She mostly played serious and tearful roles. She really did not have a chance to exhibit the fun loving, carefree side of her personality till she emerged in the Tamil industry opposite such actors as Kalam Haasan and Rajni. She had a very successful career in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam movies throughout the 80s. As one of the most beautiful actresses of the time, her appearances were almost always glamorous. In Tamil and Malayalam, she took on a few bold roles that showcased her versatility. In Kannada, however, she appeared in many songs and roles that were characteristic by being erotic yet understated.
In Tamil, Ambika shot to fame and #1 status with the movie Kakki Sattai. Before this movie, leading ladies of Tamil films were depicted as being shy and reserved and unable to take the lead in romantic relationships. Ambika breaks this stereotype in the movie, aggressively pursuing the reluctant hero with great panache & poise, in a manner that comes across as being very natural and effortless. The scenes where she flirts with the hero and her ease of delivering the teasing and suggestive dialogues titillated the audience in a profound way. Another important aspect of the movie that propelled her in fame and popularity was that in the movie, Ambika appears in one of the most lavish song sequences of the time, shot in a grand Egyptian setting. Fans were enthralled by a ravishing Ambika in revealing and figure hugging outfits, epitomizing a woman oozing beauty, sexuality and confidence. In the same movie, her appearance in the song “Vanile Thenila” is also well remembered, where clad in simple and elegant dresses, her breezy beauty shines in perfect sync with the melodious and catchy tune. Yet another remarkable performance from the same movie was in the song “Kanmaniye Pesu”, where she perfectly portrays the pretty girlfriend, who is mad at the boy and needs to be placated by apologies & praises of her beauty.
In the zenith of her career she was paired in the same movie with her sister Radha in Kadhal Parisu, where both actresses demonstrated their acting prowess by taking on roles of two young, beautiful sisters, who had strong, yet conflicting personalities. Her role in the movie went on to become a landmark in terms of women-dominated roles in Tamil Cinema. The character that Ambika portrayed – that of a of a strong but single woman, unbelievably young and beautiful, with many social cuases that she believed passionately in, yet being very powerful with many older men subordinates under her control – provided a prism with many whole new possibilities that stoked the imaginations of South India women living in constrained domestic environments of the time. She carried every aspect of the role with aplomb, excelling at bringing to life a personality which surely helped many among the women audience to think differently about their place in society and question the artificial limits they end up setting up for themselves in their pursuit of happiness and the right to live life the way they desired, without regard to archaic social norms and conditions. Her performance easily eclipsed that of both Kamal Hasan and Radha, the lead pair in the movie, due to the sheer depth of the character she portrayed, coupled with her passionate and brilliant execution. Although Radha was given a lot more screen time, a younger and more glamorous role to perform and multiple lavish song & dance sequences creating a sexy and highly desirable aura around the character, she was still completely overshadowed by her elder sister. This was not only due to the power of Ambika’s character in the story line, but also due to the electric screen presence and the powerful performance Ambika delivered, leveraging to the full extent her beauty, experience and maturity. She also scored points for the very subtle and understated ways in which she enhanced the sex appeal and desirability of the character she played, using seemingly innocuous scenes, such as the one where she is changing her saree in front of the mirror, capturing a fleeting, erotic view of her beautiful shapely body simultaneously from both the front and back, as her sister walks into the room. Both sisters were at the zenith of their beauty and fame when they acted in Kadhal Parisu. They put up electrifying performances that easily overshadowed even Kamal Hasan, the senior actor paired opposite to them.
Ambika and Radha managed their careers very carefully, seldom directly competing in the same turf. They both used the Tamil movie industry to launch their careers, but spent only a minority of time in Tamil once their success & fame spread across the South. Ambika acted in more Kannada and Malayalam movies, quickly getting to the top-2 spots in both markets. Ambika and Radha were both very selective about taking up roles in Tamil movies once they became successful, rejecting many offers and only pairing with the top actors and directors of the time. It was very rare to see both the sisters in the same movie after their early years in Tamil. So it was indeed a dream come true for fans when Kadhal Parisu hit the screens, especially since both sisters played the roles of very glamorous and highly desirable women in the movie.
I feel compelled to write about a recent move I watched (re-watched after almost 25 years). The movie was made sometime in 1987. Bhanupriya was slowly rising to some fame and prominence in Telugu. After Sridevi left a huge vacuum by migrating to Bollywood, Telugu producers and directors tried various women to try and see if they could fill the vacuum. They were most successful with Radha between 1984 and 1986. Although Radha was able to reproduce some of the sheer “body act” of Sridevi (i.e, being physically attractive with a solid frame, screen presence, and fetching looks and expressions), the audiences still missed some things. Sridevi was a too perfect a package to be replaced with any one woman. Although Radha was tall, lissom, well built, with a rounded sexty face much like Sridevi, she lacked a little bit of the finer touches. For instance, she did not have large, dove like eyes, long eye lashes, a sensitive nose, curved lips, long, flowing limbs, the pronounced hourglass curves around the wrist, wide hips, a deep dark looking belly button, long tapering fingers with pointed nails. Radha’s build was more “in your face” sexy with a rounded face framed by a high browline, lips that were outwardly protruded, dancing naughty eyes, and her body structure was more rounded and gave a suggestion of strength and health rather than sophistication. For example, her upper arms were large and fleshy yet taut and strong, her fingers were like thick and evenly cylindrical, with dark skin on the outside. Her upper body was heavy, with broad shoulders. Her midriff was curved but nowhere close to an hourglass shape. He her hips and rear were heavy and well built but not exactly very curved. Her legs were also heavy and sturdy rather than long and shapely. Overall, Radha conveyed a very erotic image but had none of the innocence, finer features, and curvacious femininity famous among the women of Andhra.
One of the sensational features of Radhs was very beautifully built back. It was large, deep, dark, shiny, smooth, strong and supple. A deep canal like structure ran down the middle of the lower half of her back. Her back glistened with astonishing health and strength and it was impossible for anyone to replicate this unequaled feature of Radha. She exploited this to the full, often wearing deep open back blouses or ghagra cholis. For people who need an initiation into this marvelous wonder of creation, please see the following video at 1:54
Into this scenario came Bhanupriya. A true girl of Telugu land, she had many of the missing traits. She was dark rather than fair, even a shade darker than Radha. However, she had many alluring characteristic. First of all, she had the perfect boobs of all the women, Sridevi included. Sri had large breasts but they tended to be narrow set on her chest, i.e., Sridevi’s breasts did not occupy the full width of her chest. They were large on the up-down and front-back angles but not on the side-to-side angle. Don’t get me wrong, their mass was unquestioned even in those days and there were many a thrilling scenes of the sheer heave and bounce of Sridevi’s breasts during her many dance numbers. The sheer presence and prominence of Sridevi’s breasts is most apparent in the song Khatte Nahi Katte in Mr. India, where they are beautifully pictured and close to perfection. They rise and heave in a stormy way and their tautness, mass and tension are unmistakable in that song.
However as gravity would have it, their sheer mass meant that they that tended to sag a little bit, and required good supports to stay in shape during the shoot. Look at Sridevi now, after 25 years and you will see her breasts are as massive as ever, and very prominent, but they have sagged a bit. Still very striking, mind you, for a 52 year old. Have a look at the image below:
Radha’s breasts were prominent but not big. They were well spread over her chest but had a shallow quality front to back. It was often camouflaged under thick sarees etc but they were not Radah’s most striking feature. The other contenders of the time such as Vijayashanti, had slender bodies. Vijaya’s USP was not her heft but the fine touches of her finish, i.e, perfectly symmetrical face, large lotus like lips, sharp features, slender and exotic body, fair skin and sweet looks. Madhavi was the other contender and she had very large and expressive eyes which were very electric in nature, a long, tight slim and lithe body, with perfectly proportioned parts. Still, she was also not prominent int he boobs department.
Internet Pulp Fiction about Ambika and Radha
Was casually browsing the net to research the history of these two sisters. I was surprised to find there is a lot of pulp fiction (semi porn stuff) written by a silly author called Indianactressfan in Yahoogroups. I am reproducing some of this below…makes for some funny (yet erotic) reading:
The next generation:
The next generation of fans will get to enjoy the sisters Karthika and Thulasi Nair. Karthika sizzled and fizzled by Thulasi has made a strong debut and looks stunning for a 15 year old. She has the proportions to please. Nearly 6 foot tall, well endowed with a massive and proportionate body, she overcomes the many ills that plagued her big sister – lack of presence, too thin and model like and lacking oomph.