B S Saroja’s Many Talents Included Singing, Acting, And Producing Films

B S Saroja, was born on 18th November 1929, in Thriuvanthapuram, and had acted as a leading lady, sang and produced films in golden days of Tamil cinema.

B S Saroja, was born on 18th November 1929, in Thriuvanthapuram, and had acted as a leading lady, sang and produced films in golden days of Tamil cinema. She acted in multiple Tamil Films like Vikatayogi, Natya Rani, Pandiththevan, Oru Iravu, Koondukkili, Puthumaipithan, Arunagirinathar. She had also exhibited her acting prowess in multiple Indian Languages— Malayalam, Telugu, Kanada and Hindi.

Furthermore, she only studied till fourth standard, after which she joined a circus company she travelled with them all over India.

Her career in the entertainment industry began as a young singer in a chorus at the age of 10 for the Telugu film Bala Nagamma produced by Gemini Pictures. And in the year 1941 she joined the crew of a Tamil Cinema as junior artist and continued acting for the next three decades.

B S Saroja’s first salary was ₹45 a month!

As a child, she was inspired by her violinist grandfather and vocalist mother to sing. And later she developed a love for cinema sets, and it made her happy to be just there, this love for acting and singing made her parents look hard to get her the first job as chorus singer as an entry into the film world. Her first job earned her ₹45 a month!

She was also inspired to work hard by watching the performances of artists like Yoga Mangalam, M.V. Rajamma and Vasantha.

Her first break as a leading lady came in when director K Subramaniyam signed her as the heroine for the film Vikata Yogi. Subramaniyam who had seen B.S Saroja on sets with different production was impressed by her talent. He cast her opposite then a star in his own right, Kumaresan.

Being a free-spirited person, she was always physically active in the film sets. She also tried and did the physical tasks her characters were required to do without much help from others.

She found a true partner in her husband

Later on these sets she met her husband, T R Ramanna, who was working then as sound engineer for Subramaniyam. The duo fell in love, and chose to have a simple wedding in the temple with their parent’s blessing.

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A few years down the line, she encouraged her husband to become a director. And together they started three production houses: R.R. Pictures, Vinayaga Pictures and Ganesh Pictures.

As a producer-director couple, they produced Periya Idaththu Pen which is B S Saroja’s favourite as it produced a super-duper hit song with MGR in western clothes! Other films produced by them are Panakkarak Kudumbam, Pasam, Kathavarayan, Thangachchurangam, Naan, Moondrezuthu, Sorgam and more.

B S Saroja was looking after the finances as well

B S Saroja managed the finances of their companies, not only that, she never shied away from having the money talk with her actors. She was a good paymaster who always paid salaries and advances on time. She visited the actors’ houses to pay them their dues; which was still a shocking behaviour for the society then.

In her illustrated career, B S Saroja, has worked with many leading men— her career’s greatest high came when she became the only leading lady who worked in cinema where MGR and Sivaji Ganesan worked together.

Koondukkili was produced by her and producer turned director husband. T R Ramanna, known for demanding work ethics and a man with great persuasive skills, created a blockbuster with help of his wife.

In her interview with the Hindu, she fondly recalls how professional and friendly both the matinée stars were during the shooting. Koondukkili, was written by social activist and reformist writer, Vindhan. The cinema was an instant classic and has stood the test of time.

B S Saroja is not only an actor, singer, producer, she is also a horticulturist! She loves growing flowers and fruits in her farm, which looked after with care and devotion for years. She even participated in flower shows and won few accolades.

After having three children and working tirelessly for three decades, she retired from acting around 1978. Many have speculated she stopped acting completely after the death of her husband, but she has refuted it. Later, she retired from the active role of the producer and spend her retirement with her family.

Currently, she lives with her music composer son Ganesh Ramanna and looks after her plants.

Image source: Wikipedia, IMDB, Telugu Wiki, edited on CanvaPro

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Aritra Paul

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