December 12, 1931
Rajahmundry, Madras Presidency, India (now in Andhra Pradesh, India)
Sankaramanchi Srinivasa Rao
|Family||Krishna Kumari (sister)|
Padma Shri (2022)
Sankaramanchi Janaki (born T. Janaki; 12 December 1931), popularly known as Sowcar Janaki (Tamil) or Shavukaru Janaki (Telugu) or Sahukar Janaki (Kannada), is an Indian actress who has appeared in over 300, films, predominantly in Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada languages. She also performed on stage in over 300 shows and was a radio artist during her earlier years. She is the recipient of two Nandi Awards, Kalaimamani and India's fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri. Her younger sister Krishna Kumari, is also a noted actress.
Janaki is born on 12 December 1931. She is the elder daughter of T. Venkoji Rao and Sachi Devi of Rajahmundry. Her younger sister is Krishna Kumari, who is also an actress. She being brought up in a Telugu-speaking Madhva Brahmin family. She completed her earlier studies from Gauhati University in Assam and has received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Arizona. She has two daughters and a son. Her granddaughter Vaishnavi Aravind is also an actress who acted in several Tamil, Telugu and a few Malayalam movies since 1987.
Sowcar Janaki has been a prominent radio artist at "Aakashvani Madras" from the age of 14. She has also acted in Telugu plays penned by prominent authors like Dr. P.V. Rajamannar, Dr. Aarudra Padmaraju Atreya and others.
She made her debut at the age of 18, after her marriage, in 1949 with the film Shavukaru. She became a popular actress with hits in various languages between 1949 and 1975. Janaki had stated in an interview with Chitra Lakshmanan, that when she entered the movie world, there was V.N. Janaki(MGR's third wife) playing heroine roles. As such, to distinguish her from V.N. Jankai, producers came to tag the name Sowcar in front of her name. Her lead heroine roles in Valayapathy (Tamil), Rojulu Marayi (Telugu), then in Tamil, such as Naan Kanda Sorgam, Kaviya Thalavi, Bhagya Lakshmi, Pallum Pazhamum, Paar Magale Paar, Thayikku Thalaimagan, Kumudham, Panam Paadithavan, Puthiya Paravai, Bama Vijayam, Oli Villaku, Ethir Neechal, Maanavan, Uyardha Manidhan, Nimarundhu Nil, Thunaivan, Needhi, Kaliyuga Kannan and Iru Kodugal (Tamil), with Kannada films such as Devakaanika, Saaku Magalu, Sadarame, Thayige Thakka Maga received popular recognition. Janaki's Malayalam debut Schoolmaster (1964) and with a film in Hindi - Teen Bahuraniyan. She worked with famous directors such as Dada Mirasi and K. Balachander.
Janaki moved to supporting roles after 1975 and her performances in Tamil films like Cinema Paithiyam, Thee, Thillu Mullu, Vetri Vizha, Puthu Puthu Arthangal, Kaanche and her performances in Telugu language films like Bezwada Bebbuli, Tayaramma Bangaraya, Samsaram Oka Chadarangam were widely appreciated. She even acted in Hindi films in supporting roles in Dosti Dushmani and Prem Geet. She served as jury member twice for the National Indian Films awards committee and as chair person for State Telugu Films awards committee.
She had essayed wide variety of roles throughout her 73 years career. The only other actors to have had such long careers in the field of acting in India were Dev Anand, Pran, Ashok Kumar, Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Kamini Kaushal However, by 2016, her career span has overtaken most of the actors and she remains one of the few Indian actors with the longest career span.
She was the most comfortable on being paired with Sreekanth, Gemini Ganesan and Sivaji Ganesan repeatedly in Tamil films. She quoted in an interview on her pairing with Sivaji Ganesan, "He would compliment me in public using superlatives. I’d be thrilled! We would always rehearse together. If my character needed a little over-acting, he would tone down his and vice versa. It was a challenge working with the great actor! If they remember Sivaji Ganesan, they remember me". She has done over 300 films in Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and Telugu. She acted in supporting roles in films with M. G.Ramachandran as lead hero like Panam Padaithavan, Petralthan Pillaiya, Thaikku Thalaimagan, Oli Vilakku.
She actively participated in drama troupes and did live drama shows right from 1960, despite being a busy film star and continued doing so till 1995. In many of the dramas, she worked with co-star Srikanth.
She was paired alongside N. T. Rama Rao in her first movie Shavukaru. She acted with A. Nageswara Rao, Jaggayya, Sivaji Ganesan, M.G.R, Prem Nazir, V.K. Ramaswamy, Major Sunderrajan, Nagesh, Srikanth, AVM Rajan, Gemini Ganesan, Ravichandran, Dr. Rajkumar, Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth and Mammootty.
She has performed on stage in 3 popular plays, written and directed by K. Balachander, in over 300 shows.
She has received several awards. Some notable ones are given below:
|1952||Valayapathi||Tamil||Sathyavathi||Debut Tamil film|
|1954||Panam Paduthum Padu||Tamil|
|1955||Asai Anna Arumai Thambi||Tamil|
|1955||Kaalm Maari Pochu||Tamil|
|1958||Veettukku Vandha Varalakshmi||Tamil|
|1958||Ganga Gauri Samvadam||Telugu|
|1958||Nalla Idathu Sammandham||Tamil||Rathinam|
|1959||Raja Malaya Simham||Tamil|
|1959||Raja Malaya Simha||Telugu|
|1960||Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam||Telugu||Yerukala Saani|
|1960||Kadeddulu Ekaram Nela||Telugu||Seeta|
|1960||Naan Kanda Sorgam||Tamil||Meenakshi|
|1962||Paarthaal Pasi Theerum||Tamil||Janaki|
|1962||Vadivukku Valai Kappu||Tamil|
|1963||Paar Magale Paar||Tamil||Lakshmi|
|1964||Puthiya Paravai||Tamil||Chitra & Sarasa|
|1964||School Master||Malayalam||Johny's wife|
|1964||Peetala Meeda Pelli||Telugu|
|1966||Motor Sundaram Pillai||Tamil||First wife|
|1967||Kan Kanda Daivam||Tamil|
|1967||Pesum Dheivam||Tamil||Guest role|
|1968||Enga Oor Raja||Tamil||Sivakami|
|1968||Undamma Bottu Pedata||Telugu|
|1970||Kaaviya Thalaivi||Tamil||Devi (Meera Bai) & Krishna|
|1970||Dharma Daata||Telugu||Zamindar's wife|
|1970||Rendu Kutumbala Katha||Telugu|
|1973||Engal Thanga Raja||Tamil||Seetha|
|1975||Uravukku Kai Koduppom||Tamil|
|1975||Naaku Swatantram Vachindi||Telugu|
|1978||Thayige Thakka Maga||Kannada||Kumar's adopted mother|
|1978||Devadasu Malli Puttadu||Telugu||Aruna's sister|
|1978||Athani Kante Ghanudu||Telugu|
|1978||Kannan Oru Kai Kuzhandhai||Tamil|
|1978||Chal Mohana Ranga||Telugu|
|1979||Pattakkathi Bhairavan||Tamil||Arjunan's mother|
|1980||Gopala Rao Gari Ammayi||Telugu||Janaki|
|1981||Kula Puthra||Kannada||Guest appearance|
|1981||Prem Geet||Hindi||Mrs. Laxmi Bhardwaj|
|1981||Thillu Mullu||Tamil||Meenakshi Duraiswamy|
|1981||Kula Kozhunthu||Tamil||Thambi Durai's mother|
|1984||Kai Kodukkum Kai||Tamil||Kaalimuthu's sister-in-law|
|1986||Dosti Dushmani||Hindi||Sumitra Singh|
|1987||Samsaram Oka Chadarangam||Telugu||Chilakamma|
|1987||Thayaramma Thandava Krishna||Telugu|
|1987||Murali Krishnudu||Telugu||Murali Krishna's grandmother|
|1987||Sardar Krishnamma Naidu||Telugu|
|1989||Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal||Tamil||Goa resident|
|1989||Vetri Vizha||Tamil||Shirley's aunt|
|1997||Nenu Premisthunnanu||Telugu||Rachna's mother|
|1998||Bavagaru Bagunnara?||Telugu||Swapna's grandmother|
|1999||Chinna Raja||Tamil||Karthik's grandmother|
|1999||Ravoyi Chandamama||Telugu||Sasi's grandmother|
|2000||Hey Ram||Tamil||Mythili's grandmother|
|2003||Ela Cheppanu||Telugu||Priya's grandmother|
|2003||Abhimanyu||Telugu||Saira Bhanu's grad mother|
|2014||Vanavarayan Vallavarayan||Tamil||Krishna's & Anand's grandmother|
|2014||Pungi Daasa||Kannada||Gayatri Devi|
|2016||Babu Bangaram||Telugu||Sailaja's grandmother|
|2019||Thambi||Tamil||Parvathy and Saravanan's grandmother|
|2022||Anni Manchi Sakunamule||Telugu||TBA||Filming|
|2013-2014||Varudhini Parinayam||Telugu||Zee Telugu|