Veteran director and actor G Vijaya Nirmala passed away on Thursday. The actor was admitted to Continental Hospital, Gachibowli, where she breathed her last.
Though she began her career as an actor, she later took on many roles in her career as a producer and a director. She directed 44 films in Telugu. In 2002, she entered the Guinness Book of Records as the female director of the most number of films. In 2008, she received the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award for her contributions to Telugu cinema. She and fellow Telugu actor Savitri are credited as the only female directors to have directed the legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan.
Vijaya Nirmala was born in Tamil Nadu. Her father had worked in film production. She made her debut at the age of seven as a child artiste with a Tamil movie Machcha Rekhai (1950). She debuted in the Telugu industry in the film Rangula Ratnam. In 1964, she starred opposite Prem Nazir and rose to stardom with the Malayalam hit Bhargavi Nilayam. Also, in 1967, she starred again opposite Prem Nazir in Udhyogastha directed by P. Venu.
Vijaya had a son, Naresh, from her marriage to Krishna Murthy. She later married actor Krishna, who was the father of five children from his earlier marriage, including superstar Mahesh Babu.
Vijaya met her second husband Krishna on the sets of Saakshi (1967), her second film in Telugu, and they starred together in 47 films. It was Saakshi that kindled her interest in direction. Through her career, she acted in over 200 films with 25 each in Malayalam and Tamil, and the rest in Telugu.
She made her directorial debut with a Malayalam film on a budget of Rs 3 lakh. Her directorial debut in Telugu was with Meena. Vijaya directed 40 films in Telugu and one film each in Malayalam (directorial debut film) and Tamil (Kungumachimizh).
Apart from films, she also ventured into television. She made her debut on the small screen with Balaji Telefilms' Pelli Kanuka. Soon after, she launched her own banner Vijaya Krishna Movies and produced 15 films.