Apart from her charismatic political journey, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who died on December 5, carved an enviable career for herself in Kollywood. However, what is little known, is that the superstar of south cinema featured in a few Hindi films as well.
Jayalalithaa first appeared as a child-artiste in Man Mauji (1962) where she played Lord Krishna in a dance sequence. Kishore Kumar and Sadhna played the lead roles in the film. She was a trained Kathak, Mohiniattam and Manipuri dancer.
Watch her performance in Man Mauji:
Three years after making her Tamil debut with Vennira Aadai (1965), Jaya sought her first Bollywood film as the lead: She made her debut in the Hindi film industry opposite Dharmendra in 1968 with Izzat. She played an adivasi girl who falls in love with a rich boy in the film directed by T.Prakash Rao.
Dharmendra plays a double role: one character has light brown make-up, and the other has a fair complexion. While Shekhar’s (the one with dark complexion) mother is a tribal woman, Dilip (the fairer Dharmendra) has a more civilised and rich mom. Shekhar is the illegitimate son of a wealthy landlord (Balraj Sahni) who refused to marry his mom after she got pregnant. Shekhar swears revenge, but hesitates when he finds a lookalike half-brother, Dilip (Dharmendra), who is in love with another tribal woman, Jhumki (Jayalalithaa). Dilip is too cowardly to marry Jhumki while Shekhar is determined not to let the sins of the father visit the son.
Watch a song from Izzat:
Jayalalithaa is seen in the film in one-piece saris and cheap silver jewellery - the standard costume of tribal women in Hindi films. Jhumki is coquettish and frisky and a very good dancer. On the other hand,Tanuja plays Shekhar’s girlfriend. Jhumki has the louder and weepier role.
Remembering his co-star after her sad demise, Dharmendra said Jayalalithaa’s role in Izzat was similar to that of Basanti (Hema Malini) in Sholay (1975). However, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister used to stay quiet on the sets when not acting, he added.
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