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Jaya Prada: “Though I belong to South India, I have never felt like a South Indian because…”

To mark her 62nd birthday and pay her a huge tribute, we reproduce this interview of hers taken by JYOTHI VENKATESH seven years ago.



Jaya Prada

By Jyothi Venkatesh

Jaya Prada turned 62 on April 3 this year. To mark her 62nd birthday and pay her a huge tribute, we reproduce this interview of hers taken by JYOTHI VENKATESH seven years ago. Not many are aware of the fact that Jaya Prada had even worked in a Marathi film called Aadhaar.

Says Jaya, “It was my way of paying a tribute to Maharashtra, which has actually made me what I am today. I will never be able to repay my debt to the people of Maharashtra who have always encouraged me as an actress right from the time I had made my debut with Sargam over two and a half decades ago.

“Though I belong to South India, I have never felt like a South Indian because I have got love and affection from people in the North and I have spent prime time in the North, especially Mumbai, which is my karam bhoomi. Undoubtedly it is the people of Maharashtra who have helped me have a long innings as far as acting in films is concerned.”

Jaya is of the opinion that language was not a problem to her because in the first place, she did not figure in the film directed by Mahesh Tilekar in a full-fledged role. “I just did a guest appearance in a dance number in front of the deity in the temple. The titles of the film unfolded with this religious number. Akshay Kumar acted in the film in a key role. I do not know Marathi at all. Till date I have acted in films in as many as eight languages- Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Malayalam and English. I am always comfortable when I am working in any film whatever be the language, or else I do not agree to do a film.”

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Jaya, who had made her debut with Sargam opposite Rishi Kapoor in Hindi films with K. Viswanath as the director way back in 1979 continues. “Years ago I made my debut with a Telugu film called Antuleni Katha, which was a tale of a suffering young woman who sacrifices to bring up the other members of her family. Aadhaar also revolved around the tale of a suffering woman. Mahesh has struggled a lot and knows what pain and poverty happen to be. To tell you the truth, I basically go weak on my knees when I am asked to work in a woman oriented film because it attracts me immediately.”

Jaya feels that family dramas will definitely click at the box office because nowadays people love to see good subjects. Jaya adds, “You cannot go on fooling them anymore. The trend is again changing and family dramas, emotional subjects are in things now.”

Sanjog, Sagara Sangamam (Telugu), Sharaabi, Mega Sandesham and Agni Poovulu (both Telugu) are some of the memorable films in her career as an actress, according to Jaya who still cherishes the hair raising experience she had while doing a snake-peacock fight sequence as a dance number in Agnipoovulu, like in V. Shantaram’s Jal Bin Machli Nritya Bin Bijli.

Jaya who had staged a comeback with Bharat Bhagya which proved to be a disaster, still maintains that Bharata Bhagya Vidhata was a good film, though unfortunately, its release was very bad. As she puts it succinctly, “It was released with no publicity or fanfare. At the time of release several films overlapped with one another. We thought that it was the appropriate time to support the movement of anti-terrorism.”

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Jaya confesses that she took up politics as she thought it would help her solve the problems of her countrymen. She adds. “The late N.T. Rama Rao urged me to induct myself into politics. The characters, which I had played in my films, actually supported my entry into politics. I was touched emotionally by the overwhelming love people gave me when I was in politics without expecting anything in return. However, I also realized that I could get into politics only because I was in films. Hence I decided to return back to my first love- films”.

Jaya hastens to clarify that her staging a comeback in films does not necessarily mean that she is disillusioned with politics and hence has said good-bye to it. Says Jaya Prada, “I can even today proudly state that I was welcomed with open arms in politics and felt honoured as much in politics as in films. It is only that I have taken a gap or let me put it this way I have given politics a gap for the time being because I want to concentrate on films. My identity has been derived from films. I want to do commercials as well as art films like, say Chandni Bar. Right now I have decided to concentrate totally on films, because there were times when I used to feel that I was missing the film industry”

I asked Jaya about the films which she has signed recently. She flashes her million-rupee smile and quips, “It is too early to divulge further details but the fact is I have received offers from top directors to be part of their next films. I hope I will be able to come with Amitji in a film too.”