Vijayashanti Srinivas is an Indian film actress, producer and a politician. In a film career spanning 30 years, she has acted in over 180 feature films in a variety of roles in various Indian languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi. She has been widely called "The Lady Superstar" and "Lady Amitabh" of South Indian cinema She has won the National Film Award for Best Actress for her work as a "super cop" in Kartavyam (1990), for depicting both aggression and feminity with balance and restraint. She received Kalaimamani Award from Tamil Nadu Government in 2002. She also garnered seven Filmfare Awards South, six for best acting & one for Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (South) in the year 2003, and four state Nandi Awards for Best Actress.In 1985, Vijayashanti won the state Nandi Award with her role in Pratighatana. In 1987, she appeared in Swayam Krushi alongside Chiranjeevi, screened at Moscow International Film Festival, and Padamati Sandhya Ragam with Hollywood actor Thomas Jane, screened at Louisville International Film Festival. She appeared in successful films like Agni Parvatam (1984), Challenge (1984), Pratighatana (1985), Repati Pourulu (1986), Pasivadi Pranam (1987), Muvva Gopaludu (1987), Yamudiki Mogudu (1988), Athaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogudu (1989), Janaki Ramudu (1988), Muddula Mavayya (1989), Kondaveeti Donga (1990), Indrudu Chandrudu (1989), Lorry Driver (1990), Sathruvu (1990), Gang Leader (1991), Mannan (1992), Rowdy Inspector (1992), Mondi Mogudu Penki Pellam (1992), Chinarayudu (1993) and Police Lockup (1993), establishing herself as one of the leading actress of Telugu cinema and being cited in the media as one of the nation's most popular and attractive personalities of late 80s and 90s. Her remuneration for the Telugu movie Karthavyam was ₹ 1 crore, which was the highest ever paid to a female actor during that period. She joined state politics in the year 1998.
Vijayashanti began her acting career at the age of 14 in 1980, playing the leading lady in the Tamil film Kallukkul Eeram (The moisture inside stone / rock), directed by Bharathiraja. In the same year, she debuted in Telugu cinema with the movie Kilaadi Krishnudu, opposite Krishna, directed by Vijaya Nirmala. She was given the screen name "Vijaya Shanthi", which was based on that of her aunt and veteran actress Vijaya Lalitha. She got a role in the Telugu film Satyam-Sivam (1981), the cast of which included N. T. Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao.
National Award and Lady-oriented roles (1990-2003)
In a carefully nurtured career, Vijayashanthi since then has reached the status of a "Hero" in box office parlance. In the blockbuster movie Karthavyam (1990), her performance as a tough cop (modelled after the real-life supercop Kiran Bedi) under the direction of Mohan Gandhi won her the National Film Award from the Government of India and an Andhra Pradesh State award for best actress. Actor Ravi Teja was introduced in the film as a side artist. The film, made with a budget of about 90 lakhs and grossed over 7 crores in southern territories alone. The film is screened at 14th International Film Festival of India in the mainstream section. She was the third woman from Telugu cinema to win the award after Sharada and Archana. The success of this movie saw her moving away from glamorous roles and limiting herself to lady oriented roles. According to Sify, In a hero-worshipping world of Indian Cinema, to be precise, South Indian cinema, there is one heroine who calls her shots is Vijayashanti. "There were people who questioned how can a Heroine attain the image of Hero & charge highest remuneration. But, I had overcome all of the hurdles and answered the critics with successful films". Vijayashanti didn't rely on dupes for performing risky stunts in many films. There were times when the Dynamic Actress used to jump for a height of 30 feet and she hardly cared about the injuries.
In 1990, Karthavyam was dubbed into Tamil as Vyjayanthi IPS and its success brought her actress in Tamil cinema as well. (It was also remade in Hindi as Tejaswini, with herself playing the lead role. This, too, did very well at the Hindi box-office). The film influenced the then 10-year old C. Indhumathi, the seed of inspiration for her to take up the civil services exam who has cleared the UPSC exam and bagged 151st rank and placed in Madurai Vyjayanthi IPS ran for 50 days in Vetri theater in Chennai and this record was broken by a dubbed version of Baahubali in August 2015.
A. M. Ratnam, who was Shanti's personal make-up man, turned out to be a money-making producer. Being an Executive Producer for Vijayashanti, he has made the award-winning Karthavyam on the banner of Sri Surya Movies and on the same banner, she produced and acted in Aashayam released in 1993 had a decent run as well. Police Lockup, she played a dual role, which was directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, another success, she gained one more Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Later she verge on to action roles, something special is her nativity showing in any character she depicts. Osey Ramulamma (1997), where she played a downtrodden woman who rose against her oppressors, directed by Dasari Narayana Rao was the biggest blockbuster of the year, winning her fourth Nandi Award and sixth Filmfare Award for Best Actress, this film gave her another name, called as "Ramulamma/Ramulakka" by the people. The music of this film, composed by Vandemataram Srinivas, also won the Nandi Award. Later, she appeared in critically acclaimed women oriented movies like Adavi Chukka and Rowdy Durbar, directed by Dasari Narayana Rao.
Vijayashanthi has also worked for many commercials like Chandana Bros., and Power Detergent soap. She was the first ever actress to be first featured in a Saree commercial, which is followed by several actresses till date.
Political Career (1998-2014)
In 1998, Vijayashanti joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and was soon made the secretary of BJP's Women's Wing (Bharateeya Mahila Morcha). In 1998, her first public meeting was held at Nellore, a big hit in support of BJP. During the 1999 general election she was named BJP's contestant from the Cuddapah Lok Sabha seat against Sonia Gandhi of Congress(I) (however, she withdrew from the race after Sonia Gandhi decided to contest from Bellary). In 1996, Vijayashanti, who is Pro-BJP, vowed her support to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and is a star campaigner for then Chief Jayalalitha Vijayashanti is the star campaigner for BJP Lok Sabha Polls in Tamil Nadu along with Cricketer Srikkanth. She started her own political party, Talli Telangana, in January 2009, which she merged into Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) due to lack of strength and support. From 1999, her movie appearances decreased as she focused on her political career. By 2004, she had stopped signing up for new films. In the 2009 general election, she won as a Member of Parliament from the Medak constituency from TRS. In June 2009, she resigned from the post of secretary general of TRS, expressing solidarity with the resignation of Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao. In 2011, she submitted her resignation as an MP along with Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao in agitation of Telangana movement. The resignation was later rejected by the speaker of the house, as they were not in the proper format. Later, she was actively participating in politics for separate Telangana State (region), in which she played a key role in the process.
Vijayashanti joined Indian National Congress party in February 2014 after split with TRS chief KCR. She contested in the Assembly Elections from Medak (Assembly constituency) in 2014 General Elections from Indian National Congress party and lost as MLA. After an inactive bunch of years in 2018 AICC president Rahul Gandhi appointed Vijayashanti as star campaigner and adviser to the election campaign committee of Telangana PCC
She is married to M. V. Srinivas Prasad. He produced a movie Nippu Ravva (1993), starring Balakrishna under the banner Yuvarathna arts.