When two stars TWINKLE
In our times we had a strong sense of unity and a pure sense of the medium.
ACTRESS JAYANTHI is the evergreen heroine, the bomb of her times who wowed and surprised her fans in all her film roles. Her daughter-in-law is the young and Junoesque Anu Prabhakar whose latest film, Kanakaambari, where she plays a woman possessed, was released last week. Jayanthi and Anu absolutely dote on each other. You can see it in their eyes. Two actresses representing two trend-setting generations in Kannada cinema talk about "the heroine" to BHUMIKA K.
Anu: I wonder what it was like to be a heroine in your day, when you were the ruling queen. You were literally treated like a goddesses. Even now the kind of responses you get, you know... people are crazy about you. Today a heroine is just a heroine, alwaa Mom?
Jayanthi: No, those days there was a set idea of what a heroine should be the muddu muddu gundu gundu image. Today it's about maintaining figure. Of course, even then it was there. Prior to our times, actresses like M.V. Rajamma and Pandari Bai had to sing their own songs. There would be an orchestra playing on the side. Things have changed so much since then. Now you record everything separately and mix it.
Anu: Another thing I've observed is the dress styles of the heroines. I saw you in a song wearing a short, black, tight-fitting kurta, which has now made a comeback.
Jayanthi: Yes, even the bell-bottoms have come back. For the first time ever in Kannada films, I wore a swimsuit and pant-shirt and all the "mod" clothes. Even in the love scenes, there is such a dramatic difference today. There was something in the touch and the way the hero-heroine embraced that would make people want to see the film once again. Ivattu yede yede hodkotaare... (they literally slam into each other's bosoms) running from opposite directions...
Anu: (Laughs out real loud.) That's what you love saying and comparing all the time...
Jayanthi: But in our times we had a strong sense of unity and a pure sense of (the medium). When we would wind up the first schedule of a shoot and then get together again after a week for the second schedule, we would have tears in our eyes. We would miss each other. We sat down and ate together. Directors treated us like their children. We were like family. There was so much respect.
Anu: Yeah...but that feel is not there anymore. In fact, when we meet for the second schedule after a break, there's always that little bit of ice you have to break again.
Jayanthi: Those days definitely won't come back. All the shooting was done on the sets.
Anu: And as far as roles go, I still don't think we are getting as meaty roles as you did. You did so many heroine-oriented films. At that time producers were willing to make such films. Nowadays, unfortunately we have this hero thing, totally male-dominated. Audiences sometimes ask me, why don't you do roles like Jayanthi and Bharathi and Aarthi did? I've seen Miss Leelavathi, Masanada Hoovu... where there were such strong-women roles. Nobody is writing such scripts nowadays. You have one hero who is being nice to his mother and doing fight scenes and the heroine is just there singing songs with him.
Jayanthi: Actor-director relations were very different in our times. When our families would come to the sets we would want to stop shooting and go out. So we would patao the director to pack up for the day. We would promise him that we would be back for the next day's shoot at 7 a.m. Then they would take us to Chamundi Hills or KRS and demand food we liked and get it. The next day we would land at 8 a.m. and say "Sorry, Appaji" to the director. We would do continuous day-night shoots because it was cheaper shooting in the nights. Whether it was with director like Y.R.Swami, T.V. Singh Thakur, or Dorai Bhagwan or M.R.Vitthal or Kalyan Kumar "Mama". We would be tempted with offers of bun-butter-jam to shoot through the night! That was a delicacy for us then! I remember a scene in a film where I was supposed to deliver my dialogue to my on-screen father, get upset and go, and lie down on the bed. I only remember sleeping on the bed. I was so tired from the all-night shooting schedule, I fell asleep on the spot!
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