When Jayanthi met Rajkumar, NTR and Manorama  

Last Updated : 31 July 2021, 11:43 IST
Last Updated : 31 July 2021, 11:43 IST

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Veteran multilingual actor Jayanthi, who passed away at 76 on Monday, hailed from Ballari. Born as Kamala Kumari, she excelled in dance performances in school. Her father Balasubramanyam was an English professor at St Joseph’s College in Bengaluru while her mother Santhanalakshmi was drawn to performing arts.

Recognising her talent, Santhanalakshmi enrolled her daughter in a famous dance school in Madras (now Chennai), a city that opened the doors for Jayanthi’s acting career. In an interview with Dr Veena Bharathi for DH in 2013, Jayanthi had narrated several interesting anecdotes from her illustrious journey. Excerpts:

Manorama’s support

Many students in the dancing school would make fun of me because I was overweight. One day, when I was crying, veteran Tamil actor Manorama, who was my batchmate, called the other girls and rebuked them. “Don’t tease this girl. Don’t forget that none of you learnt anything overnight,” she had said.

Meeting NTR

When I was 10 years old, I met my idol, the Telugu legend NT Rama Rao on the sets of his film. He made me sit on his lap and asked me if I would be interested in becoming his heroine. I had blushed then.

Tryst with cinema

As a student in Madras, I had one day gone to the sets of the Kannada movie ‘Jenu Goodu’ at the Golden Studio in Kodambakkam. The film’s director, YR Swamy, was looking for a fresh face for the film. Swamy sir asked me if I would consider taking up the role. But my mother was averse to the offer. She allowed me to act later and Swamy sir gave me the screen name Jayanthi.

Raj, the humble man

I had watched Rajkumar in a hunter’s costume in his debut film ‘Bedara Kannappa’ (1954) and was horrified. However, when I first met him, I was so happy to see a smart and good-looking young man. I was not at all nervous while acting with him. He was humble and a guiding light to newcomers like me.

I used to wake up only around 9 am. However, despite shooting till late at night, Rajkumar would wake up early and he would insist we join him on his morning walks.

(Dr Veena Bharathi is an experienced health management consultant, author and veteran freelance writer. The interview was part the of celebrations of Jayanthi’s 50th year in cinema).

Published 30 July 2021, 18:07 IST

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