Anjali Devi was born on 24 August 1927 in Andhra Pradesh, India. As she was acting in dramas, she changed her name to Anjani Kumari. Later, her name was changed again to Anjali Devi by director C. Pullaiah.
Anjali made her debut in the film Raja Harishchandra in 1936. She got her first break as a heroine in the film Kashtajeevi by L. V. Prasad in 1940. However, the film was abandoned and later director Pullaiah offered her a lead role in Gollabhama. In 1947, she became an overnight star. She acted in the first color film in the Telugu film industry, Lava Kusa in 1963. Her performance in the film was critically acclaimed. Moreover, her performances in films like Suvarna Sundari and Anarkali were also hailed. She has worked as an established actress in nearly 500 films. Her last few films were Brundavanam (1992), Anna Vadina (1993) and Police Alludu (1994). In her vast career span she has worked in 100 Tamil films and 100 Telugu films and a few Kannada films as the lead actress. She acted in variety of roles like a damsel, an angel, a dancer, a demon, a goddess, a traditional woman and later in mother roles. She won several accolades including Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu – Anarkali (1955), Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu – Suvarna Sundari (1957), Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu – Chenchu Lakshmi (1958), Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu – Jayabheri (1959), Honorary doctorate from Nagarjuna University, Guntur. She had also won Raghupathi Venkaiah Award in 1994 for her lifetime contribution to the Telugu film industry, Rashtrapati Award for Lava Kusa (1963), Ramineni Award in 2006 under the category of fine arts, ANR National Award in 2008 and Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary Award – Arignar Anna Award in 2000.
Some of her notable films include:
- Keelu Gurram
- Palleturi Pilla
- Swapna Sundari
- Maya Rambha
Anjali ventured into production in 1955 with the film Anarkali in which she starred in a titular role. She then produced V. Madhusudan Rao’s Bhakta Tukaram and Chandipriya. She produced 27 films as a producer. Being a devotee of Sathyasai Baba, she bankrolled a tele-serial on Sathyasai. In 1948, she married P. Adinarayana Rao, a music director. They have two sons. Anjali and her husband together bankrolled several Telugu films under the banner, Anjali Pictures. Anjali died on 13 January 2014 due to heart attack.