As the political climate gets murky, Jayaprada finds newer shades of cinema, says Ziya Us Salam
Ah! This madness of love! Mirabai fell in love with Giridhar. And when she was married off to a Rajput prince, the only dowry she took with her was an image of Krishna! The prince was her husband, the deity lived n her heart. Reliving the ageless love story is Jayaprada, an MP for over a decade, for long considered an Amar Singh acolyte, but in the heart of hearts, she is Mirabai and in cinema she seeks salvation. Wherever she goes — and she has travelled a long way of late, covering some 650 kilometres as part of a padayatra for a fresh bifurcation of Uttar Pradesh — films stay with her. In fact, like the image of Krishna which Mira took in lieu of dowry from her maternal home, Jaya carries films with her!
A few summers removed when her name meant a groundswell of support at the box office. She, however, continues to dabble in newer shades of cinema. Later this month, she is working in films in three languages: Kannada, Tamil and Bhojpuri. “For so long I have been working as an MP in UP. Recently, I have undertaken a padayatra in eastern Uttar Pradesh and I have had some rare experiences of women walking miles to meet me, many of them waiting for hours to relate their stories, their problems. I picked up a bit of their dialect and have used it in my forthcoming Bhojpuri film which is an emotional story of a mother and her three children. People who watch Hindi films will probably remember my film Maa. The subject is similar. I hope those poor women who toil every day of their life get to see the film. Actually, this film makes my bond with the people of UP stronger. ”
That is debatable. What is not, however, is her love for cinema. She may not occupy the mind space of too many thinking directors these days, but like water, she manages to find a way. For instance, this Dussehra, her tale of warrior empress Chennamma is hitting the silver screens across Karnataka. Called Kranthiveera Sangoli Rayyana, it is a historical drama based on the life of Sangolli Rayanna, a freedom fighter from Kittur, which was ruled by Chennamma who fought the British till the end of her life. It stars Darshan in the lead. “I have a dream role, a powerful one. It is a character of a strong woman,” Jaya elaborates.
Then, she crosses the border and starts work on a Tamil film where she introduces her nephew Siddhartha in the lead role. It is a remake of the Telugu film Ishk. “We are shooting across the country for this film. Beginning with Tamil Nadu, we go to Kerala, Goa and finally right up to Ladakh. It is a love story, a big budget film with a huge canvas.”
All this comes on the heels of the success of her Malayalam film Pranayam where she co-starred with Mohanlal after many years. For some time, it was reported that the film was being made in Hindi as well with Amitabh Bachchan playing Mohanlal’s part and Jaya as well as Anupam Kher re-enacting their Malayalam roles. But too much political water has flowed since then for the film to be a reality. “The director (Blessy) wants to make it in Hindi with Bachchan Sahab,” she says succinctly, steering clear of any reference to changed equations. Apparently, her vocal support for Amar Singh has come in the way of Big B essaying the role opposite her. But, for all her love for cinema, Jaya has not exactly been the stuff of headlines of late. She has done films in various languages which have been noticed for their language rather than artistic achievement. Many like The Desire, have not had a commercial release still. “About The Desire, only Shilpa Shetty can answer. It is her venture. The film has been on the festival circuit for long.”
Meanwhile, her love affair with cinema goes on. Though her Hindi film with K.C. Bokadia could not take off, she is hopeful that her film with newcomer Chetan Singh will start rolling early next year. “I can never stay away from cinema. Whatever the language, as an artiste I will do it. This is the only way I can find fulfilment.” Mira, Krishna, Jaya, cinema….the saga goes.
The article has been corrected for a typographical error.