Vyjayantimala remembers the RK-Dilip Kumar rivalry

By IndiaFM News Bureau


(Left) As a child, Vyjayantimala was quiet, but loved to dress up. (Right) This photo was taken aboard the Italian ship Bien Camano in 1939 on her trip with her family to Europe

She was in a professional storm, trapped between her two heroes. In this exclusive excerpt of her new autobiography Bonding...A Memoir by Vyjayantimala Bali with Jyoti Sabharwal (published by Stellar Publishers Pvt Ltd) reveals how she felt caught between the egos of the two biggest stars of her era

Coming to the unfortunate salacious gossip that was generated during and after the release of Sangam, the fact of the matter was that RK was far too enamoured of getting publicity and grabbing the headlines. And that included the rumours that I was romantically involved with him. It was all the manipulative doing of RK banner's PR drive and unnecessarily this nonsense spread like wild fire even before one could think of dousing those flames. Nobody from the media bothered to seek my point of view. This was absolutely baseless and made me very angry. It hurt his family and my family in equal measure. Like others, even his family thought it to be true. And Yagamma and father were naturally very upset. But as far as my clean image and reputation was concerned, it remained untouched.

I had observed during those four years of the making of Sangam that RK was not obsessed about women like he had been made out to be. Of course, he had this creative compulsion to depict passionate scenes. But this bit about catering to this image to show that he was always involved with the leading lady of his film (not outside, but only in his films) was definitely generated by RK Studio's publicity wing. Exactly the way he came across as the Indian version of Charlie Chaplin in his acting, so he wanted to be like Chaplin in his own life too, trying to project wife on one side and mistress on the other. So, a rumour here and there made for juicy stories, which boosted both his image and the prospect of his films. Obviously, this bit about RK being a womanizer and having affairs was all part of professional tactics, purely a stunt and propaganda.

He excelled in the art of publicity through word of mouth. At every step, he would call people to see the rushes, so that everybody only talked of Sangam. Maybe he did flirt a bit, but that was part of his personality. As far as I was concerned, it was more than exaggerated. I know the truth and it is my conscience that makes me speak the truth. Of course, it affected me because I was very reserved and reclusive in my own way. I was under the watchful eyes of Yagamma all the time. She censored everything. In fact, in one scene shot in the snow where the sledge slips and we roll down, she was very upset and questioned RK, "What is this?" And he said, "No, no, ammaji…" He was very convincing, touching her feet, and all that.