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Vellaala Subbamma (better known as Santhakumari) (17 May 1920 - 16 January 2006) is an Indian musical artist and film actress. Santhakumari is the wife of the famous yesteryear Telugu Director and Producer P. Pullaiah.

Early years

Vellaala Subbamma was born in Poddutur village (Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh) to Sree Sreenivasa Rao and Smt. Pedda Narasamma. Her father was an actor and her mother was a classical music singer. Santhakumari learned classical music and violin under the guidance of Professor P. Sambamurthy and was a classmate of D. K. Pattammal. She joined a drama troupe and was an AIR artiste by the age of sixteen. She came to Madras (now Chennai) to pursue a career in music. She found employment in Vidyodaya School for a remuneration of Rs 2 per month. She sang along with music director S. Rajeswara Rao for AIR

Film career

Santhakumari debuted in Telugu Cinema with Mayabazar a.k.a. Sashirekhaa Parinayam (1936) directed by P.V. Dasu (Pinapala Venkata Dasu). She acted as Sashirekha in the movie – the role played by Savithri in the 1957 version of the movie. She acted in Sarangadhara (1937), during which time the director of the movie P. Pullaiah fell in love with her. They married the same year.

The couple floated the banner PadmaSree Pictures after their daughter Padma, with Sree Venkateswara Mahatmyam (1939) and made great hit movies like Jayabheri (1959), Sree Venkateswara Mahatmyam (1960), and Preminchi Choodu (1965). Santhakumari acted in most of the movies that were made by her husband. Her performance in Shavukaru (1950), Ardhangi (1955), Sree Venkateswara Mahatmyam (1960), Shanti Nivasam (1960), Ramudu-Bheemudu (1964)are remembered even today.

In 1947, the Pullayya-Santhakumari couple started the Ragini Pictures banner along with Bheemavarapu Narasimha Rao (BNR) with Bhakta Jana (Tamil). They made 22 films on both PadmaSree and Ragini banners put together.

She played many roles - lead actress and then graduated into supporting roles. She also played a negative role in Gunasundari Katha (1949). She acted in about 250 films, until 1976 when she acted in movies such as Andaru Bagundali, Maa Inti Devatha, and Secretary.

Movie higlights

* Sree Venkateswara Mahatmyam was made twice by P. Pullaiah. Santhakumari acted as Padmavathi (Lord Venkateswara's consort) in the 1939 version, and as Vakula (Lord Venkateswara's mother) in 1960 version. The 1960 version was also dubbed into Hindi as Bhagwan Balaji.

* Sarangadhara (1937), one of her other movies was remade in 1957 with Bhanumathi playing the lead role of Chitrangi.

* Pullaiah and Santha Kumari acted as wife and husband in only one film called Muttaiduva (Krishna and Jayachitra) in the year 1979

* Santhakumari also acted in Hindi movies, such as V. Shantaram's Toofan Aur Diyaaas well as in several Tamil movies.

* ANR debuted as a minor child artiste role in Dharmapatni (1941) under Padmashree banner. Santhakumari acted opposite him in Mayalokam (1945). She later played ANR's mother in movies like Shanti Nivasam (1960) and Koduku-Kodalu (1972).

* Santhakumari also acted opposite Gummadi (Ardhangi - 1955) who was younger to her. Gummadi played an elderly role for the first time in Ardhangi. Savithri's jewelry in the movie were originally Santhakumari's jewelry

* In real life, Santhakumari is related to S. V. Ranga Rao (Papam Pasivadu - 1972)

* Pullaiah and Santhakumari are the only couple in the film industry both of who have been felicitated with Raghupathi Venkaiah Award (though in different years).

Awards and Recognition

For her contributions to Telugu Cinema, Santha Kumari was awarded the Raghupathi Venkaiah Award in 1998.



1. Secretary (1976)
2. Koduku Kodalu (1972)
3. Prem Nagar (1971)
4. Talla Pellamma (1970)
5. Prana Mithrulu (1967) .... Jagadamba
6. Preminchi Choodu (1965)
7. Ramudu Bheemudu (1964)
8. Siri Sampadalu (1962)
9. Sri Venkateswara Mahatmyam (1960) .... Vakula
10. Jayabheri (1959) .... Annapoorna
11. Sarangadhara (1957)
12. Ardhangi (1955)
13. Dharmadevata (1952/I) .... Kathyayini
14. Shavukaru (1950)
15. Gunasundari Katha (1949)
16. Mayalokam (1945)
17. Krishna Prema (1943) .... Radha
18. Dharmapatni (1941/I)
19. Dharmapatni (1941/II)
20. Parvati Kalyanam (1941)
21. Balaji (1939) .... Consort of Venkateshwara
22. Bhakta Jayadeva (1938)
23. Sarangadhara (1937/I) .... Chitrangi
24. Sasirekha Parinayam (1936) .... Sasirekha
25. Premi Jogan (1931) .... Ila


1. Koduku Kodalu (1972) (producer)
2. Alludu Menalludu (1970) (producer)
3. Prana Mithrulu (1967) (producer)
4. Preminchi Choodu (1965) (producer)
5. Siri Sampadalu (1962) (producer)
6. Sri Venkateswara Mahatmyam (1960) (producer)
7. Ardhangi (1955) (producer)
8. Dharmapatni (1941/I) (producer)
9. Dharmapatni (1941/II) (producer)

Music Department:
1. Ardhangi (1955) (playback singer)
2. Dharmadevata (1952/I) (playback singer)
3. Mayalokam (1945) (playback singer)
4. Krishna Prema (1943) (playback singer)
5. Dharmapatni (1941/I) (playback singer)
6. Balaji (1939) (playback singer)
7. Sarangadhara (1937/I) (playback singer)

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