In a career spanning 40 years, Jaya Prada has acted in over 300 films in eight different languages. For 16 years she has served a politician too. However, after losing the general election in 2014, the yesteryear actor's political career took a backset and Jaya is once again focusing on her first love — facing the camera.
Jaya, whose last Hindi film was the Shilpa Shetty-starrer Desire (2010), says, "Politics kept me busy for a long time; I enjoyed my experience and learnt a lot. Producers from the south offered me films that time, because they believed I would fulfill my commitments."
The actor admits she gets better opportunities down south than in Bollywood, but qickly adds with a laugh, "I've been more or less away from politics for the past five years, so I can devote more time to (Hindi) films. I am jobless."
Jaya says she has no qualms in taking up roles that require her to whiten her hair. "I never discriminate between roles being offered. Anyone can play a mom these days; I have played one when I was too young. Anyway, there are only a handful of memorable roles for women today. I don't want to sing songs around trees anymore. I want to age gracefully like Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan)," she says, admitting she found it fulfilling to play Hema Malini's role in the 2007 Kannada remake of Baghban (2003), titled Ee Bandhana.
The actor-turned-politician says she has no close friends in Bollywood, but is friendly with many of her co-stars. "Male actors have been more supportive than female colleagues. Jeetuji (Jeetendra), Rishiji (Kapoor) and Kamal Haasanji have been good friends. However, all said and done, just like politics, there are no permanent friendships or enmities in films," says Jaya.
Talking of her Bollywood comeback, the veteran actor says, "I have signed a few movies in the south and a Hindi film. I’ve been on the lookout for meaningful roles, not just the glamorous ones. I am quite excited about playing a grey shade in my next as it will be challenging. People still miss me and even today remember the song 'zoo zoo' from Sanjog (1985). I am glad I will return to Hindi films as they have given me recognition."
About the current crop of Hindi film actors, Jaya says, "I like Deepika (Padukone) as she's a good dancer and performer. I was impressed with Kareena's (Kapoor Khan) acting in Heroine (2012). Also, I really like Kangana (Ranaut) and her performance in Queen (2013), it was brilliant. Among the male actors, I love Ranveer (Singh) and Ranbir (Kapoor). Both are good actors and have a great screen presence. I also like Arjun Kapoor's physique."