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Pushpavalli in 1948
Born (1925-01-03)3 January 1925
West Godavari, Madras Presidency, British India
Died 1991 (aged 65–66)
Occupation Film actress
Years active 1930s to 1960s
Spouse(s) I. V. Rangachari,[1]
Gemini Ganesan
Children 4
Relatives Shubha (niece)
Vedantam Raghavaiah (brother-in-law)[2]

Pentapadu Pushpavalli, better known as Pushpavalli (3 January 1925[1] - 1991) was an Indian actress active in Telugu and Tamil cinema.[3] Her film work includes title roles in Miss Malini (1947),[4] and the Telugu film Satyabhama.[5] Pushpavalli died in 1991.

Initially married to Rangachari,[citation needed] Pushpavalli became the mistress of the actor Gemini Ganesan. She had two daughters with Ganesan before he married Savitri. The elder daughter is the Hindi actress Rekha.[6]


Pushpavalli was born into a Telugu family which hailed from the village of Pentapadu in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh (at that time in Madras Presidency). She entered the film industry as a child actress, with a small role in the film Sampoorna Ramayanam (1936), which was released when she was only nine years old. 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 in film shooting, she missed out on schooling and had only a rudimentary education. At some point, she married a gentleman named Rangachari. However, the marriage did not last (circumstances are not known) and they began living apart.

Remarkably, 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 really accepted as a leading lady. She did only a few roles as heroine, and in between did many films where she played the second lead, and her career never fully took off. In all, she acted in around 20-25 Tamil and Telugu 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 talents. 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.[7]

Miss Malini (1947) was important in Pushpavalli's life for another reason: the film marked the acting debut of Gemini Ganesan, her future consort. Pushpavalli next worked with Ganesan in the Telugu 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. Her career was winding down without ever having really taken off. She did a few more films with Ganesan, the two got along very well together, 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 famous Hindi actress Rekha (born in 1954Rekha) and the younger is Radha, who briefly worked in Tamil movies before marrying and moving to the United States. However, Ganesan did not even 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 were soon estranged. As early as 1955, before the birth of Radha, Ganesan had secretly married the famous hit 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.

After being estranged from Ganesan, Pushpavalli did a few more films, mostly bit roles now, including a couple of Hindi films made by her old associates in the south Indian film industry. She did these bit roles in order to support her daughters, whom she brought up single-handedly in a very frugal way. The fact that her daughter Rekha became so successful in films was a source of great satisfaction to her, as was the fact that her second daughter was settled very respectably in marriage to a US-based gentleman.

Pushpavalli died in 1991 of ailments associated with old age. She was survived by her two daughters, who were the support of her old age.


Year Film Language Role Notes
1936 Sampoorna Ramayanam 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 Sita
1947 Miss Malini Tamil Malini
1948 Vindhyarani Telugu Vindhyarani
1948 Queen of the Vindhiyas English Vindhyarani
1948 Chakradhari Telugu Thulasi Bai
1951 Samsaram Tamil Manjula
1952 Daasi Telugu
1953 Pempudu Koduku Telugu Mangamma
1954 Bahut Din Huwe Hindi Bhulakshmi Devi
1956 Sri Gowri Mahatma Telugu Guest Appearance
1957 Bhaktha Markandeya Tamil
1957 Bhaktha Markandeya Telugu
1958 Chenchu Lakshmi Telugu Leelavathi
1958 Chenchu Lakshmi Tamil Leelavathi
1958 Inti guttu Telugu
1960 Petra Manam Tamil
1963 Grahasti Hindi Radha
1964 Amara Shilpi Jakkanna Telugu Shanthala
1964 Amarashilpi Jakanachari Kannada Shanthala
1964 Sirpiyin Selvan Tamil Shanthala
1964 Manchi Chedu Telugu
1964 Kai Kodutha Deivam Tamil
1964 Zindagi Hindi
1965 Aada Brathuku Telugu
1965 Vaazhkai Padagu Tamil
1965 Sati Sakkubai Telugu
1966 Rangula Ratnam Telugu
1966 Shakuntala Telugu Raja Maata
1967 Sati Sumathi Telugu
1968 Sampoorna Ramayanam[disambiguation needed][citation needed] Tamil Kousalya


  1. ^ a b "Pushpavalli". Pesum Padam (in Tamil): 4. December 1948. 
  2. ^ "Memories of the Southern Devadas". thehindu.com. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  3. ^ http://www.ghantasala.info/tfs/cdata1028.html
  4. ^ "Miss Malini 1947". The Hindu. 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  5. ^ "Trendsetter - YV Rao". Screen India. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  6. ^ "Drama In Real Life". The Hans India. 
  7. ^ "Gemini Ganesan celebrates 80th birthday". Screen India. 15 December 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-20.