"It was very nice working and serving the film industry in my own small way," Vyajayanthimala said at a ceremony to mark the milestone, hosted by Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy coinciding with the ongoing Bengaluru International Film Festival here.
"And the appreciation, admiration and the warmth shown by the people all over India is something I cannot explain in words. It has given me so much joy in my heart," she added, saying, she was fortunate that she could work in wonderful films and with well-known directors, co-stars, and technicians.
Janaki did not lose an opportunity to put on record her differences with former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who, she quoted as having said, "We seem to be paying too much attention to cinema. It is undoubtedly an excellent medium for many good things but unfortunately it has not proved to be particularly inspiring." She remarked, "I wonder if the opinion, this statement was relevant in those days."
Janaki, who made her debut in 1949 and shared screen space with the likes of veterans Rajkumar, MGR and NT Ramarao, said cinema has become an integral part of people's lives. "Cinema is like air, water and food for man," she said. She bemoaned that "today we see a lot of ugly films" but acknowledged that commercial movies are essential for the survival of the film industry.
Janaki wants to see more films with meaningful and purposeful themes which convey a message to the betterment of mankind. Janaki said she was proud and elated that she occupied a "sizeable part" - 64 years - of Indian cinema's century. "I enjoyed every bit of this make-believe world, a world of fantasy. I had a wish that before I end my career, I should be seen at least in one frame or two with my most favourite heroine Vyajayanthimala. It never happened," she said. But Janaki said she acted with Saroja Devi in a number of films and all of them were "super duper hits".
For Saroja Devi, the occasion was one of happiness and pain. "Many of those I worked with are no more. When I remember them, my mind fills with pain," she said. Acclaimed cinematographer, VK Murthy, who is winner of Dadasaheb Phalke award, and PK Nair, former Director of National Film Archives of India, were among those honoured at the ceremony.
Murthy said, "100 years is not a short time. It shows how much popularity Indian cinema has gained. It has become an integral part of people's lives." While Nair made a passionate appeal to make concerted and collective efforts to preserve films.