Renowned Bengali film director late Satyajit Ray had described her as one of the prettiest women in the world while expressing a desire to cast her in his film.
Although she has worked in Bengali films, she could never work with Ray. Says she about Ray’s compliment, “I feel very nice to have got such a compliment from an internationally-renowned director such as Ray. In fact, I had an opportunity to work with Ray and he had cast me for a Bengali film as well. He fell sick and subsequently he passed away. I missed a golden opportunity to work with the legend.”
Yes, we are referring to actress Jayaprada, the evergreen, multilingual, tempered actress and a go-getter who is blessed with natural beauty even after donning the greasepaint for 27 years in her illustrious film career. Today, Jayaprada is balancing three careers at the same time in her public life — that of an actor, a danseuse and as a Member of Parliament — and is showing no signs of giving up on any of them.
She was pitch-forked into an electoral battle with Begum Noor Bhanu in Rampur as a Samajawadi Party candidate when all her chips were down. Jayaprada referred to Uttar Pradesh as her karmabhoomi and stunned her critics to enter the Lower House of Parliament by winning the elections against Bhanu from Rampur.
She has now embarked on a thanksgiving journey to her fans all over the country by accepting film offers in Kannada (opposite Vishnuvardhan in Ee Bandhana), Telugu, Tamil (with Kamal Hassan in Dashavataram), Bengali and a Hindi film besides a Marathi film.
While the Kannada film Ee Bandhana released recently, she has almost wrapped up her work for Kamal’s Tamil magnum opus Dashavataram. Besides, she has been taking her dance ballet Amrapali (in Hindi) to different parts of the country and says she will soon come down South to showcase her dancing skills.
Born as Lalitha Rani in a middle class household in Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh), Jayaprada has completed more than 300 films as an actress in seven languages, a record that is enviable by any standards.
Her most endearing Telugu films include Siri Siri Muvva (remade into Hindi as Sargam starring herself), Yamagola, Adavi Ramudu, Sagara Sangamam, Meghasandesham among many others. She has acted in Hindi films like Kaamchor, Sharaabi, Sanjog, Tohfa (a remake of her Telugu film Devata) among many others.
Her tryst with Kannada cinema started with the superhit film Sanadi Appanna (opposite Dr Rajkumar) to be followed by yet another classic film Kavirathna Kalidasa again with Rajkumar. She has acted in a host of Kannada films like Huli Haaline Mevu, Habba and Shabdavedhi among others, which have all been above average grossers at the box-office.
Jayaprada is back in Kannada cinema with Ee Bandhana, opposite Vishnuvardhan, which hit the screens recently.
In this interview, Jayaprada talks about her film career and her new chosen field as politician and Member of Parliament. Excerpts:
At the outset, how is to work under a woman director (Vijayalakshmi Singh) in Ee Bandhana? Tell us about what the audience can expect from the movie.
Ee Bandhana is a colourful film that talks about a relationship that is emotional and touching. I believe this film will be a trendsetter and I believe that this film will add another feather to my cap. Working under a woman director gives you a different perspective to the manner in which relationships are handled or depicted on screen. It was such a pleasure to work with Vishnu again.
How do you manage to act in films as well as keep your responsibilities as an elected Member of Parliament going together?
While films continue to be my life, dance is like a passion. I love to take up challenges in my life. I feel a sense of achievement to go to Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and win an election against a seasoned politician like Noor Bhanu.
When I thought all the doors were closed on me in Telugu Desam, I jumped into the fray as a Samajawadi Party candidate even while people laughed at me and won the election.
I thought to myself that I should compete doubly harder than a man to prove to myself and to the world that I too could serve the people. I should say it has been quite a challenging and a difficult task. I can now proudly say that politics is part of my sixth sense and Rampur has become my lifeline.
Coming from the South, how did you manage to convince the UP electorate or for that matter how did you get into Hindi cinema?
As I said earlier, I love taking up new challenges that are thrown up at me. I saw that there was a lot of scope for me to work for the people of Rampur. So was the case when I first landed in Mumbai to do a Hindi film. I didn’t know a single word of Hindi, but I managed to get into Hindi cinema on my own. I believe there are new challenges thrown up at me and at every point of my life.
For how long do you intend to continue working in films?
I am going to be as hardworking and dedicated as before in whatever I do. I would like to say a big thank you to the entire film fraternity, audiences and my fans for the love and affection that I have been showered with for so long.