Jayasudha, who has devoted 34 years to cinema, is now focussing on social work
Hers is a life out of the ordinary. What sets her apart is not just the fact that she has been a talented actressfor more than three decades. She refuses to be trapped in a time warp, and reinvents herself time and again. As a concerned mother in Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey (Sakhi), a new-age mom in Amma Naana O Tamil Ammayi, and as Lawrence's mother in Style, Jayasudha stood out. Away from the arc lights, she is an active social worker and when time permits, she dabbles in fashion designing as well. "In whatever I do, I like to give it my best shot. I hate doing a half-hearted job," says Jayasudha. What made her return to movies after deciding to quit two years ago? "My role in Amma Naana... drew appreciation even from college students. They liked seeing a contemporary mother on screen. But the offers that followed were that of the routine mother and sister characters. I was bored. Anyway, I wasn't keen on acting since I wanted to do more social work. So I quit."
But when producer Lagadapati Sridhar knocked on her doors, she had second thoughts. "When he insisted that I should act, I said I'd agree if he contributes some amount towards my charitable trust. He consented. I went by my instincts and accepted the film. Now, I'm doing another Telugu film, Bommarillu." Jayasudha doesn't mince words while talking about Telugu films. She rues, "In international films, characters are tailor made for actresses. Unfortunately, there has been no significant improvement in our films. In the 1970s, the heroes were 30 years older than the heroines. Today, the heroes are perhaps 10 to 15 years older. Why not make song-less movies or science fictions? If you want music, make a musical like Moulin Rouge. Personally, I don't want to wake up and rush to the sets to do a mediocre film. After 34 years in the industry, I don't need to do that."Talking about how she reinvents herself, she says, "It's important to be in public memory by doing something new. That indirectly helps my social service." She also hopes to direct a film sometime.
Just a pastime
Recently, she wowed everyone by showcasing her collection of saris. "When I observe people, I can assess whether they are wearing something that flatters them or not. Perhaps that helped. I intend to design only as a pastime. Honestly, I have a distinct taste and not many will agree with my sense of fashion."These days, voluntary work takes up most of Jayasudha's time. Spearheading Shine Trust, which reaches out to those in need of medical help, she says, "I'd like to start a hospital in the near future. I got into this work by chance and feel I'm the chosen one. What I'm doing isn't enough. But it's better to make a beginning than not do anything at all." Having been baptised a few years ago, she says, "I'm asked why I turned a Christian. Richard Gere embraced Buddhism and A.R. Rahman turned to Islam. This doesn't mean that one religion is superior to the other. It's just that each one is directed towards a pre-destined path." She pauses and adds, "It's sad that spirituality has become a business. But what I do doesn't affect others. For instance, my husband continues to go to temples. Apart from the Bible, I've also read portions of the Quran."SANGEETHA DEVI. K