Nissankara Savitri (6 December 1936 – 26 December 1981) was an Indian film actress, director and producer. She appeared in Telugu as well as Tamil, Kannada and Hindi language films. In 1960, she received the Rashtrapati Award for her performance in the Telugu film Chivaraku Migiledi.
Savitri’s parents are Nissankara Guruviah and Subhadhramma. She was born in Chirravuru Tadepalle Mandalam (near Undavalli) in Guntur, Madras Presidency, now part of Andhra Pradesh in a Telugu speaking family. Her father died when she was 6 months old. She had an elder sister named Maarudhi. Later, her family moved to Chirravuru. She studied in Kasturbhai High School. She learned music and Indian classical dance from Sistla Purnayya Sasthri, starting from the age of 8. She performed stage shows as a child.
She gave a few public performances as a child artiste in Vijayawada. Later, she worked in a theatre company run by Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao. She also started her own company, the Navabharata Natya Mandali. Her best stage role was in Atma Vanchana, written by Bucchi Babu.
She was offered a role in ‘Agni Pariksha’ in 1949. However she looked too young (she was 14) in screen tests and so was dropped. Then, she was selected for the lead role in the film Samsaram by the banner ‘Sadhana Chitra’ in 1950.Because of stage-fear she needed a lot of retakes on the floor so she was dropped again. However, she was replaced by Pushpavalli and was given a small role, with Nageswara Rao which has less import .She performed a dance in Pathala Bhairavi in 1951. Her first big role was as a second lead actress Pelli Chesi Choodu by L. V. Prasad in 1952. By the song sequence in “ranunte rane ranu” in patala bhairavi lot of directors were impressed by her expressions so they call her as a ‘a potential artiste'(hidden talented artiste).From the movie Devadasu she made an indeliable imprints with the Telugu cine lover.She later acted in Telugu films including Chandra Haram (1953), Devadasu (1953), Ardhangi (1955), Missamma (1955), Donga Ramudu (1955), Amara Deepam (1956), Todikodallu (1957), Mayabazaar (1957), Abhimanam (1958), Mangalya Balam (1958), Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu (1959), Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam (1960), Chivaraku Migiledi (1960), Manchi Manasulu (1961), Aradhana (1962), Gundamma Katha (1962), Rakta Tilakam (1963), Mooga Manasulu (1963), Doctor Chakravarthy (1964), Pooja Phalam (1964), Devata (1965), Pandava Vanavasam (1965), Kanya Sulkam, Naadi Aada Janme, Prana Mitrulu (1967), Varakatnam (1968), Maro Prapancham (1970), Manase Mandiram (1966) and Jagan Mohini (1978).
Savitri was paired with actors like Sivaji Ganesan in many movies and M. G. Ramachandranin only three movies and one unreleased movie Maadi Veettu Ezhai. She married Gemini Ganesan, while acting in (‘Manam Pola Mangalyam’)(1953) with him.
Savithri’s 100th film ‘Konjum Salangai’ also happened to be paired with Gemini Ganesan. She was called Nadigaiyar Thilagam in the Tamil film industry.
In Pasamalar, she was paired opposite Gemini Ganesan.
Kalathur Kannamma (1959), Missiamma, Pasamalar (1961), Pava Mannippu (1961), Paarthal Pasi Theerum (1962), Karpagam (1963), Karnan (1963), Kai Kodutha Deivam, Navarathri (1964), Thiruvilaiyadal (1965), Saraswathi Sabadham, Antarangam, Pennin Perumai, Konjum Salangai, Yaar Paiyyan, and Padithal Mattum Podhuma are some of her Tamil films.
She has acted in a few Hindi films – Bahut Din Huwe, Ghar Basake Dekho, Balaram Sri Krishna and Ganga Ki Lahren.
Savitri acted in a few Kannada She played a mother’s role in films including Thaayige Thakka Maga and Ravichandra. She also acted in Chandanada Gombe.
She sang three songs, “Sundari Neevanti” from Mayabazar, “Rangu Rangula Sila” from Navarathri (1966) and Neevevaro from Annapurna. P.Susheela, P. Leela, Jikki, S. Janaki, K. Rani, M. L. Vasanthakumari, Lata Mangeshkar, M. S. Rajeswari, A. P. Komala, K. Jamuna Rani, G. Kasthhori and Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi were playback singers who provided vocals for Savitri.
Savitri directed the films Chinnari Papalu (1968), Chiranjeevi, Maathru Devatha ,Vintha Samsaram, Kuzhanthai Ullam and Praptham.
Savitri was married to Gemini Ganesan in 1952. Her marriage became public when she signed in a photo for a Lux advertisement as Savithri Ganesh three years later. They had two children, Vijaya Chamundeswari and Sathish Kumar.
She died on 26 December 1981 .