Six films, a music album, dance show and political career… Jayaprada is on a roll, says ziya us salam
Almost three-and-a-half decades after she made her debut in the film industry, Jayaprada continues to defy time and tide. While her contemporaries have receded from the public eye and memory, she is all set to make a multi-lingual comeback with new films in as many as six Indian languages!
Add to that her first music album, revival of her favourite ballet Amrapali, and you have a power-packed calendar seemingly suitable only for somebody half her age! Just through with rounds of shooting in Jaipur and Kochi, Jayaprada is happy with the way things are shaping up. Clearly, there are no full stops in the life of the actor-politician, who continues to “religiously” nurse Rampur, her Lok Sabha constituency too. Excerpts from a chat.
You have just signed ‘Pranayam' in Malayalam featuring Mohanlal and Anupam Kher. Considering you are working in films in five other languages too, are you slowly saying goodbye to politics?
It is a puzzle to me. Whenever I sign a couple of films, people say I'm not paying attention to my constituency. Whenever I go to Rampur or elsewhere, people ask me about my films. It is strange, really. But, I'm not leaving Rampur to please anybody, more so after my hard-fought victory in the last elections. I still religiously visit Rampur and interact with the people there. I continue to do films, as people love me; it's their love that brings me back to films. I am lucky to get special roles written for me at this stage of my career.
Isn't ‘Pranayam' a kind of comeback to Malayalam films?
Not really, though I've not done a Malayalam film for a few years. It is an interesting subject; it is the story of a woman who thinks divorce is not the end of life. It's an emotional story involving mature adults. I'm working under the direction of Blessy for the first time.
You are also making your debut in Bhojpuri cinema with a film said to be based on the recent happenings in Amar Singh's life.
I'm doing an untitled Bhojpuri film. I have a powerful role, but the film is not based on Amarji's story. It is about how a man is wronged, he fights but never lets go of his courage. When I signed the film, people said, ‘why are you doing a Bhojpuri film? It does not have the canvas for your stature'. But, I have been on a padyatra in Purvaanchal, and seen poverty from close quarters. I got so much love from the people there, that it was my duty to give something back to them.
What about your first historical role in Kannada films?
Again, it's a very powerful role. Rani Chennamma is regarded a goddess by the people. It is a very challenging role, as I play a character who is very courageous, and there were not many reference points.
And, you are also playing Kannagi in a Tamil film by the same name.
Yes. The script is by Karunanidhiji. It is a dream project for him as well as me. He wanted to rework it. Whenever he is ready, I'm ready too.
And, the Hindi film you're doing. Isn't it autobiographical?
May be. You can read whatever you want. It is the story of an emotional girl, how she is wronged by people, and how she does not give in. We will start shooting in July. It is going to be directed by a South Indian. I'm also eagerly waiting for ‘The Desire'; it's a beautiful film. I have played a classical dancer in the film, an Indo-Chinese production.
With so many films, is there any time left for the dance ballet? You have not performed for a couple of years now.
I am doing it this year. We will begin some time in July or August. But, I am really excited about my music album I am launching shortly with Bappida. It has hip-hop songs targeting the young. They are all trendy. Singing was always my love. As a young girl I used to badger S.P. Balasubrahmanyam to sing with me. I have sung a couple of songs in Telugu and Hindi films, but I was not happy with that. So, I thought of doing an album. I do not know how people will react.
Amidst all this there are rumours you might be headed to the Congress. Is it true?
The options are open. I have well wishers in every party. The decision has to be arrived at, at the right time. It has to be mutually beneficial. I know I can be an asset wherever I go. My work speaks for me in Rampur. I have never neglected my constituency for my film career.