Pushpavalli (3 January 1926 – 28 April 1991) was an Indian actress who predominantly worked in Telugu and Tamil films.[2][3] She entered the film industry as a child actress with a small role as young Sita in the film Sampoorna Ramayanam (1936). This was followed by a few more roles as child star. Pushpavalli later graduated to doing roles as an adult. Her biggest hit was the Telugu film Bala Nagamma (1942), where she played an important supporting role. Her 1947 film Miss Malini, where she played the lead role, received great critical acclaim from the intelligentsia, but flopped at the box office.[4] She continued playing supporting roles well into the late 1960s.

Pushpavalli in 1948
Kandala Venkata Pushpavalli Tayaramma

(1926-01-03)3 January 1926
Died28 April 1991(1991-04-28) (aged 65)
Years active1936–1969
  • I. V. Rangachari
  • K. Prakash
PartnerGemini Ganeshan
Children6; including Rekha
RelativesShubha (niece)
Vedantam Raghavayya (brother-in-law)[1]

She married I V Rangachari in 1940 but they began living apart from 1946.[5] Later, Pushpavalli was in a relationship with actor Gemini Ganesan with whom she had two daughters, Rekha, a noted actress in Hindi film industry,[6] and Radha.



Pushpavalli was born as 'Kandala Venkata Pushpavalli Tayaramma' to Kandala Ramakotamma and Kandala Thathachary in Pentapadu village of West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh (at that times in Madras Presidency). She entered the film industry as a child actress, credited as Pushpavalli Tayaramma, with a small role as young Sita in the film Sampoorna Ramayanam (1936, 8 August), shot in Rajamundry in the first Studio in Andhra Region, Durga Cinitone, which was released when she was only nine years old. She was paid Rs 300/- for a three-day shoot, which was a princely sum in those days. This was followed by a few more roles as child star, and Pushpavalli's income became important to her family. Due to these preoccupations, she spent significant time on film sets, missed out on schooling and had only a rudimentary education. She married a Lawyer named I V Rangachari in about 1940. However, the marriage did not last long and they began living apart from 1946.[7] Pushpavalli had two children (Babji and Rama) from her marriage to Rangachari.[8]

Pushpavalli graduated to doing adult roles with hardly any break from playing a child star. This was a necessity, because acting was the source of income for the family, and she could not afford to take a break. However, this continuity may have affected her acting career, and she was never actually accepted as a leading lady. She did only a few roles as female lead, and in between did many films where she played the second lead. In all, she acted in around 20-25 Telugu and Tamil films (including child roles) and met with only moderate success. She was never a top-level star, nor did she receive any critical acclaim for her acting talent. Perhaps her biggest hit was the Telugu film Bala Nagamma (1942), where she played an important supporting role. Her 1947 film Miss Malini, where she played the lead role, received great critical acclaim from the intelligentsia, but flopped at the box office.[4]

Miss Malini (1947) also marked the acting debut of Gemini Ganesan, her future consort. Pushpavalli next worked with Ganesan in the Tamil film Chakradhari (1948), where she was the heroine, and he played a small role. After this point, the situation reversed; Ganesan became a huge star and Pushpavalli started getting only supporting roles, her films as heroine having mostly flopped. She did a few more films with Ganesan, the two got along very well, and entered into a relationship, despite the fact that both of them were married to other people (Ganesan had married his first wife Alamelu, known informally as Bobji, at a very young age and would remain married to Bobji until his death).

Pushpavalli and Ganesan had two daughters together in quick succession. The elder of them is the Bollywood actress Rekha (born in 1954) and the younger is Radha, who briefly worked in Tamil movies before marrying and moving to the United States. Ganesan did not acknowledge paternity of the girls for several years, and was only an occasional visitor to Pushpavalli's house. The relationship deteriorated quickly and the couple was soon estranged. As early as 1955, before the birth of Radha, Ganesan had secretly married the famous actress Savitri, and that relationship was publicly acknowledged as a valid marriage. This was possible because until 1956, it was legally permissible for a Hindu man to have more than one wife. Since Savitri was unmarried, it was possible for her to become Ganesan's legal second wife. Since Pushpavalli was still legally married to Rangachari (divorce was not available to Hindus at all until 1956); that option was not available to her, and it was impossible for her to marry anyone else. Some sources say Pushpavalli and Ganesan were married in Tirupathi.[citation needed]

After being estranged from Ganesan, Pushpavalli did a few more films, mostly minor roles, including a couple of Hindi films made by her old associates in the South Indian film industry. She did these roles in order to support her daughters, whom she brought up single-handedly in a very frugal way. Gemini Ganesan did not want to recognize Rekha as his daughter and give her a living.[9][10] He rarely met both of his children with Pushpavalli. Pushpavalli subsequently married K. Prakash, a cinematographer from Madras, and she legally changed her name to K. Pushpavalli. She gave birth to two more children, Dhanalakshmi (who later married the actor Tej Sapru) and the dancer Seshu (died 21 May 1991).[11][12] Due to her mother's hectic acting schedule at the time, Rekha would often stay with her grandmother. Asked in an interview by Simi Garewal about her father, Rekha believed he was never even aware of her existence.[13] She recalled that her mother often spoke about him and added that despite never having lived with him, she felt his presence all through.[13][14]

The fact that Rekha became so successful in films was a source of great satisfaction to Pushpavalli, as was the fact that her third daughter, Radha (Radha Syed Usman) settled very respectably in marriage to Syed Usman, a former Bollywood model in 1976. They reside in USA.[7] Pushpavalli died in 1991 of ailments associated with diabetes in Madras. She was survived by her 6 children including son Babji, and daughter Rama with I. V. Rangachari; two daughters, Rekha and Radha by Gemini Ganesan; Dhanalakshmi and Seshu with K. Prakash.[7]


Year Film Language Role Notes
1936 Sampoorna Ramayanam Telugu Child artist/Sita
1937 Chal Mohana Ranga Telugu
1938 Mohini Bhasmasura Telugu Mohini/Vishnu
1938 Satyanarayana Vratham Telugu
1939 Vara Vikrayam Telugu Kamala
1940 Malathi Madhavam Telugu
1940 Viswa Mohini Telugu
1941 Choodamani Telugu Choodamani
1941 Tara sasankam Telugu Tara
1942 Bala Nagamma Telugu Sangu
1942 Satyabhama Telugu
1944 Dasi Aparanji Tamil Aparanji
1945 Paduka Pattabhishekam Telugu Seeta
1947 Miss Malini Tamil Malini
1948 Vindhyarani Telugu Vindhyarani
1948 Queen of the Vindhiyas English Vindhyarani
1948 Chakradhari Tamil Thulasi Bai
1951 Samsaram Tamil Manjula
1951 Sansar Hindi Laxmi
1952 Daasi Telugu
1953 Velaikari Magal Tamil
1953 Pempudu Koduku Telugu Mangamma
1954 Bahut Din Huwe Hindi Bhulaxmi
1956 Sri Gowri Mahatma Telugu Guest Appearance
1957 Bhaktha Markandeya Tamil Marudvati
1957 Bhaktha Markandeya Telugu Marudvati
1958 Chenchu Lakshmi Telugu Leelavathi
1958 Chenchu Lakshmi Tamil Leelavathi
1958 Inti Guttu Telugu Mahalakshmamma
1958 Sampoorna Ramayanam Tamil Kausalya
1960 Petra Manam Tamil
1963 Bandipotu Telugu Annapoorna
1963 Grahasti Hindi Mohan's Mother
1964 Amara Shilpi Jakkanna Telugu Queen Santhala
1964 Amarashilpi Jakanachari Kannada Queen Santhala
1964 Sirpiyin Selvan Tamil Queen Santhala
1964 Manchi Chedu Telugu
1964 Kai Kodutha Deivam Tamil
1965 Aada Brathuku Telugu
1965 Vaazhkai Padagu Tamil
1965 Sati Sakkubai Telugu
1966 Rangula Ratnam Telugu
1966 Shakuntala Telugu Raja Maata
1966 Pratigna Palana Telugu Maha Rani
1966 Bhoolokamlo Yamalokham Telugu
1967 Sati Sumathi Telugu
1967 Bhama Vijayam Telugu Maha Rani
1969 Bangaru Panjaram Telugu Gowri


  1. ^ "Memories of the Southern Devadas". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 24 March 2003. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Pushpavalli, penTapaaDu". Ghantasala. Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2024.
  3. ^ "Miss Malini 1947". The Hindu. 25 July 2008. Archived from the original on 28 July 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Gemini Ganesan celebrates 80th birthday". Screen India. 15 December 2000. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  5. ^ Kiran Prabha Talk Show on Pushpavalli , glamorous heroine during 1940s (పుష్పవల్లి). Kiran Prabha. 17 October 2018. Archived from the original on 27 October 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2021 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Drama In Real Life". The Hans India.
  7. ^ a b c KiranPrabha Talk Show on Pushpavalli , glamorous heroine during 1940s(పుష్పవల్లి). Kiran Prabha. 17 October 2018. Archived from the original on 27 October 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2021 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "புஷ்பவல்லி" [Pushpavalli]. Pesum Padam (in Tamil). 4 December 1948. p. 4.
  9. ^ Usman 2016, p. 37.
  10. ^ Chopra, Sonia (8 October 2007). "Rekha's journey: The 'ageless' diva over the years". Sify. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  11. ^ Usman 2016, pp. 33, 180.
  12. ^ Mohamed, Khalid (December 1997). "Family Men". Filmfare. Archived from the original on 5 July 1998. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  13. ^ a b Garewal, Simi (3 June 2004). "Rendezvous with Simi Garewal and Rekha". Rendezvous with Simi Garewal (television production). STAR World.
  14. ^ Usman 2016, p. 34.