MINE was a humble upbringing: My earliest memories are of simple pleasures such as pestering my parents! Ours was a humble household in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh.
I dreamt of becoming a doctor: Along with education, my mother placed emphasis on dance and music. I was seven when I enrolled for dance and music classes. My childhood ambition was to become a doctor.
I was in awe of NT Rama R a o :
Whenever NTR shot at
Rajahmundry, I would be there to admire him. However, I could never muster the courage to ask him for an autograph! I sought the help of my uncle, a film-financier based in Chennai who had direct access to NTR. I never imagined that I would be NTR's heroine one day.
Films happened by chance: I was in class IX and rendering a dance performance on my school's annual day when I caught the eye of a film director in the audience. He offered me a three minute song in a regional film. I was hesitant about accepting the offer, but my family encouraged me.
I was too young to enjoy my success: When the rushes of my three-minute song were released, the floodgates opened. Big banners such as Bapu, K Vishwanath and Balachandra approached me with offers. Being all of 14 years old, I always felt homesick during outdoor schedules. Looking back, I realise that I never enjoyed my success because I was so young.
I have paid a price for fame: Acting limited my interaction with schoolmates and friends. Recently, there was a programme or ganised in my honour at my alma mater and schoolgirls sang songs to revive old memories. Then, my teacher announced that she was confused over whether to address me as Lalita, Jaya Prada or an MP. Tears welled up in her eyes and mine.
With Srikant, friendship became love: At a time when my career was at its peak, I faced certain problems related to income-tax. Srikant Nahata stood by me during these tough times. He supported me, brought a smile to my face, and was a real friend. Srikant was already married but, slowly, love blossomed. We tied the knot on February 22, 1989.
Being the ‘other woman' was traumatic: I have always been sincere towards my loved ones. But nothing had prepared me for the pain and trauma which followed my marriage to Srikant. I had given up everything for Srikant, but all I got from others was insults. I was branded the ‘other woman' and subjected to ridicule.
I have a role to play in politics: On October 10, 1994, I joined the Telugu Desam Party and was formally inducted into politics. When I was introduced by NTR to a crowd of 25 lakh, my nervousness knew no bounds. Being nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1996 was like a dream come true.
Life has always tested me:
Marriage has made me a tougher person. Some time ago, my strength was severely tested. Following a rift in the higher strata of the TDP, I stayed away from the unit for a year and a half. I was left with nothing — either in acting or politics. I told myself, ‘Chandrababu Naidu has finished you.' The next morning, I told myself, ‘I will fight it out.' Today, if Naidu has called me back, it is my victory.