Meenakshi Shirodkar – One of the early Bollywood heroines to wear swimsuit for debut movie

Meenakshi Shirodkar (1916-1997) was one of the early glamorous actresses of Indian talkies. She worked in Marathi theater and films, and she shocked the nation when she appeared in a swimsuit in 1938 for the movie, Brahmachari (1938) with Master Vinayak. She stayed in the entertainment industry for 35 years. Bollywood actresses, Namrata Shirodkar and Shilpa Shirodkar are her granddaughters. Her daughter Gangu Bai also worked in a few movies. She remained a top heroine in the 1940s, and with 1950s she retired from films and joined theater. In association with Nutan Sangeet Natak Mandali, she appeared in 12 music plays during the period, 1950-1975.

Meenakshi Shirodkar was born in Maharashtra and her family has Goan roots. She trained in classical music at a young age. Her professional career began in 1935 with radio plays. The following year she married Dr. Shirodkar. She got her first film offer from Pandurang Naik. Though she declined the offer, Naik convinced her husband, and thus Meenakshi joined film industry. She shocked everyone wearing an old-fashioned bikini for her debut film, Brahmachari (1938). She was seen wearing a swimsuit in “Yamuna Jali Khelu Khel” song. She also rendered her voice for the song. Her twin-plait hairstyle in the song got noticed, though she was criticized for wearing a swimsuit.

Meenakshi Shirodkar – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. Her real name is Ratan Pednekar.

2. She joined film industry only after marriage and wore a bikini for her debut film.

3. Her name Ratan was changed to Meenakshi by Pralhad Keshav Atre to suit her big eyes.

4. Among all actors, her pairing with Master Vinayak was appreciated most. They worked together in Brahmachari, Brandichi Batli, Ghar Ki Rani, Amrut and Majhe Bal.

5. Her granddaughter Namrata Shirodkar is married to South Indian superstar Mahesh Babu. Thus she is related to famous south Indian actor Krishna, and his filmy family.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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