Like most other aspiring actors, B. Jaya too entered the films in the late 1950s with the hope of being the heroine, but ended up with supporting roles. However, refusing to be disheartened, she carved a niche for herself as a comedienne. At 68, she continues to act in both films and TV serials.

Acting alongside famous co-stars like Narasimharaju, Dwarakish and Umesh, she brought smiles on the face of the audience through her unique style of delivering dialogues. This yesteryear actor is the guest of the Belli Hejje programme organised by Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy (KCA).

Belli Hejje was devised with the intention of introducing yesteryear stars to the present generation of audience. The academy is also organising a photo exhibition of the actor to honour her contributions to the celluloid medium, her tally being more than 400 films in the last five decades.

Theatre product

Like many of her contemporaries, Ms. Jaya is also a product of professional theatre. Speaking to The Hindu , the actor recalled her long career. “I imbibed acting from my father Basappa, who was an actor in Choudeshwari Nataka Mandali owned by Pailwan Anneyappa. My father persuaded me to act in Shivajalandhara , which was a [hit] at the time,” she said. When Subbaiah Naidu offered her role of Nagaraja in Bhakta Prahlada , she readily agreed. Her co-star was Naidu's son, noted actor Lokesh.

The triumvirate

Ms. Jaya had acted with Kumar trio — Rajkumar, Kalyankumar, Udaykumar— who were ruling Kannada film industry. “I was either as sister of the hero or the heroine's friend. But acting with comedians such as Narasimharaju and Dwarakish gave me my identity as a comedienne.” She refuses to name her best film. “Each is important for me. I have acted in landmark films like Jaga Mechchida Maga, Kula Gourava, Nyayave Devaru, Bettada Huli, Pratigne which provided me an opportunity to exhibit my talent.”

Change is inevitable

She is not cynical about the state of the industry either. “Change is inevitable and one has to grow with times. There were very few films then. Now the Kannada industry is producing more than 100 films a year. The growth resulted in providing livelihood for hundreds of artistes.”

Given an opportunity what would she choose? Cinema or the small screen? “Both! But as I am busy [with teleserials], it has become difficult for me to now make time for cinema.”

Belli Hejje starts at 4.30 p.m. on the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy premises on Saturday.