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EXPLORING NEW VISTAS Jayaprada is game to host a Hindi chat show too.

EXPLORING NEW VISTAS Jayaprada is game to host a Hindi chat show too.  

INTERVIEW Seasoned actress Jayaprada turns chat show hostess with “Jayapradam”, now getting rave reviews. ZIYA US SALAM

H er phone has lost network over the past few hours. It is difficult to trace Jayaprada. She is neither in Delhi nor on one of those now regular trips to the villages of Rampur, a constituency she represents with a certain zeal in the Lok Sabha. Turns out the lady has taken some time out to please the divine forces. She is in Vaishno Devi on a thanksgiving trip. Indeed, she has much to be thankful about. Jayaprada, long removed from the big screen, is once again making headlines. This time for her tele-show “Jayapradam” that is now getting rave reviews down South.

Telecast on Local channel, this midweek show has sprung a surprise on the loyal followers of the beautiful lady. This time Jayaprada is on the other side. For long used to giving interviews, now she is interviewing celebrities. And as she admits after a short prayer in the shrine, “It is not easy to catch hold of celebrities. I am thankful to my producers for doing a lot of legwork for me. I am told the show is doing pretty well. I am happy.”

Mother tongue

In this show, she invites virtually the who's who of the Telugu film industry and hosts the programme in her mother tongue. Among the guests have been K. Viswanath — who directed her in her Hindi debut “Sargam” — besides Chiranjeevi, Ramcharan Tej, Nagarjuna and Junior NTR. “Honestly speaking, I was nervous when I went to the sets. Because of my long political career, I am used to giving replies to people. But I don't know how to question. I started with Junior NTR but I was really anxious when Viswanathji came to the show. He arrived on the sets singing, dancing to the tunes of ‘Siri Siri Muva', the original of ‘Sargam' and asked me, “So, you are going to direct me today?” I did not know what to say. It was like a guru asking his shishya if she is going to be the guru today!”

All avenues

That is understandable, but why did she decide to come to television, considering she has her hands full as an MP, a film producer and actress? “I like to challenge myself. I also like to explore all avenues of art. I have done some 300 films in eight languages. I have also done ballet. I have sung some songs too. So, now when Local channel producers approached me, I said yes. They have produced many of my films and I was also keen to respond to my fans, particularly, who still want to see me on the screen.”

Yes, people still want to see her on the screen: apparently, her somewhat delayed “The Desire” should be out shortly. “The film is ready and it will have an international release in October.” But why did she choose to be on television, and that also on a regional channel?

“I have no reservations when it comes to different mediums of art. Usually, people go from stage to films but I took the other route knowing there is no scope for retakes on the live stage. Similarly, when I got this offer, I liked the concept and thought, why not! Earlier people had to pay to watch me on the screen. Now they can do so for free at home with their family. And considering a large part of my following is of women, television is just the right medium.”

But there are rumours that this show is just the launch pad for the revival of her political career in Andhra Pradesh, considering she is no longer with the Samajwadi Party.

Nothing political

“Everything should not be linked to politics. I am doing the show in Telugu because I started from Rajahmundary. I am in Rampur. That is my political centre of working. If I had to quit Rampur and come back to Andhra, I could have quit before the Lok Sabha elections last year when there was a mud slinging campaign against me. And I would not have opened a nursing centre or an engineering college in Rampur. I cannot go on proving that I am in Rampur for good. I cannot keep saying, ‘Main, hoon na!'”

Recollecting her poise, she adds, “On the show, I am a film actress who is interviewing celebrities. When I invite people for my show, I don't go by their political preferences. For instance, Chiranjeevi has been on the show. And he heads another political party. I have got Nagarjuna too, simply because I believed such people will not open up to any other chat show host. The things they have shared with me have been very unusual.”

Just like her career. “I am happy, God has been kind to me. But some day I want to direct a film too. And maybe if a good offer comes to host a show on any of the Hindi channels, I am open to the idea.” Great idea that!

Earlier people had to pay to watch me on the screen. Now they can do so for free at home with their family. Jayaprada

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