Kumari (known as Nagaraja Kumari Maddela) is an Indian actress, former fashion model and former beauty queen too. As the 40’s turned into 50’s, the aspiring actress began her career in Telugu films. She is the first Indian actress whose face appeared with Lux beauty soap, and she is also the first actress to play a dual role in the screen. A natural performer, Kumari earned a handful of good roles in Telugu films, including ‘
Amma’ and ‘
Usha’ in the late 30's. Kumari played many mythological characters in the films. She essayed the character of Chitralekha (Amma) and Seetha, Lakshmi and Yashodhara (Dasavatharam).
Her debut film was Dasavatharam in 1936. Kumari had an inclination towards acting and always had wanted to shine as an actress. But her family was against her will, and she had to take help of her own relative who later became her agent and she went to sing many films with the help of her relative Anjaiah Puvvala. She is the first lady star to get a contact for three films from Vauhini Studios. As in those days, heroines had to do their own playback in films, she had to give a voice for her songs in many films, and thus she became a renowned singer of her time. Sumangali, which released in 1940, established her as a top actress. Her films like Tulasidas, Maayapilla, Mugguru Maratilu were a landmark in her career. She played a dual role of Asha and Roopa in film ‘Maayapilla’ and even appeared as a Maharani in 1951 flick Malliswari.
In early 50’s she appeared in films like "Pempudu Koduku" and "Sri Kalahastiswara Mahatyam". After mid-50’s she appeared as supporting actress as heroines like Bhanumathi replaced her as a singer, actress, and musician. Kumari was born in Tenali. Later in 1959, she moved to Vijayawada. This versatile actress passed away on March 3, 2008. She joined the ranks of the legendary as being the first model and actress who lent her voice for many projects.