The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature that alternates with the Saturday interview. These questions were most famously answered by the French writer Marcel Proust, whose personality-revealing responses came to define this form of celebrity confession. This questionnaire was administered by Soma Basu.
What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is a feeling of your own achievement, and it signifies goals. It also relates to a vast variety of changes in your life and there is always a hope of appreciation.
What is your greatest fear?
Dark nights and being alone in the middle of the forest.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I recall my schooldays and the history lessons in my books, the warriors belonging to various parts of the country, including Jhansi ki Rani, Rani Kittur Channama, Rani Rudramma Devi, Maulana Azad, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi and Vijayalakshmi Pandit. They never lost their ideology during their fights. I identify myself with all those who have given their support and strength to the success and progress of the country.
Which living person do you most admire?
I am still in search of the person whom I can admire most. But I would admire the person who extends his support and helps in crises.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Possessiveness and always trying to preserve my true identity.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I am still in observation.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying diamonds. It is my passion.
What is your favourite journey?
Holding my mother's hand and learning to take small steps in preparation for the long journey of life.
Who is your favourite painter?
There are many exceptionally brilliant artists but among my favourites are Rabindranath Tagore (for his deft strokes) and Raja Ravi Varma (for his glorious colours). But the greatest painter, in my opinion, is the Almighty, who created this beautiful, immortal universe.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Simplicity and honesty make a person most graceful, but in today's world, they are overrated.
On what occasion do you lie?
This is kalyug and I am helpless. You make me recall Raja Harishchandra.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Nothing. Most of my appearances make me look impressive.
Which living person do you most despise?
Anybody who takes undue advantage and is an opportunist.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
The most used words or phrases in my life are also put to practice everyday. Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. Think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other thought. This is the way to success.
What is your greatest regret?
Thinking about the past when I may have made small mistakes, which are undoubtedly regretful.
When and where were you the happiest?
I feel happy whenever people compliment me. I remember the legend of Indian cinema, the world-famous director Satyajit Ray's compliment: "Jaya Prada is the most beautiful actress on the Indian screen." It makes me most happy.
What is your present state of mind?
Searching for peace. I feel like going back to Buddha's golden era where there was peace and ahimsa, no bloodshed.
How would you like to die?
One day, the inevitable will happen. Death venerates all. I cannot predict when, where and how.
What is your favourite motto?
I want to fight corruption. Seeing today's scenario and the society's mood, it is a must to protect our constitution and save the decorum of our democracy.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Love is universal. It is immortal. It exists everywhere in every relationship.
(Jaya Prada is an actor who has starred in numerous Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films like Anthuleni Katha, Siri Siri Muvva (remade in Hindi as Sargam), Adavi Ramudu, Ninaithale Inikkum, 47 Natkal, Kaamchor, Sharaabi and Sagara Sangamam. She also has a career in politics, having been elected to the Lok Sabha from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh)