Free Press Journal

Jaya Prada: In our time there was a clear demarcation between heroine and item girl!

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Jaya Prada

She is someone who has seen decades of change in the industry. Jaya PradaAYA tells Shubarna Mukerji Shu just how she sees today’s Hindi film heroine.

I was in the ninth grade when I was plucked out of Rajahmundri and brought into the world of movies, I frankly remember being very confused most of the time, I didn’t understand what was happening, what I was to do, so I just went along with what I was told to do. Since I was someone who loved dancing I looked forward to the song and dance part of shooting. That was my beginning into the world of movies. It was so long ago that if you ask me to recollect memories from my initial days, I would really have to search my head and that could take all day!

From those days to today, many things have changed which is evident, but the bottom line for an actress or anyone for that matter is hard work. We did things differently, we didn’t hit the treadmill but we would be up at 4 in the morning to do dance rehearsals, learn the language and the diction and more… So while many things have changed including the magnitude, deep down it is not really much different. I really do wish that dance had not changed so much and so drastically.


I guess it is the western influence that is making them sing those songs and do those weird steps which doesn’t look like dance to me. For me, even today when I meet young children they talk about songs like ‘Dafli wale…’ Why? Because those songs and dances were memorable, and not embarrassing like today’s songs are becoming. In our time there was a clear demarcation between the heroine and the item girl, today there is no such thing. Everyone is doing everything, and it might not suit all. I have immense respect for what Helen-ji did, she might have been what they call the ‘item girl’, but she was fabulous. She looked graceful and grand, she didn’t look like she was being cheap or doing something not-so-nice – that’s how it should be.

There is a lot of potential for actresses, despite this being a male-dominated industry. Look at Kareena Kapoor, I really like her. I don’t know about the box office figures or the reviews but I thought she did a wonderful job in HEROINE. I think Deepika Padukone is also very good, though I didn’t like HAPPY NEW YEAR. She is a very good actress, a wonderful dancer and is very pretty too. See box office success is not something that is in their hands, but they are all doing different and good films, isn’t that good in itself?

Now the question is why are the actresses not getting the same kind of money that the heroes do? But then let’s not forget, the actresses don’t bear the brunt of a failure like the heroes do. So let’s accept this is the way things are … I don’t say that actresses are not working hard enough, believe me, I know it is not easy to be one but, as I said, it is a male-dominated industry. The idea is to make a mark, make a mark such that beyond generations people remember your work… at the end of the day that’s what matters.

Most of the insecurities come from the ‘short shelf life’ etc… but the whole idea is to evolve with time, one has to reinvent the kind of films they are doing, the kind of roles that they are choosing. Now we have films like BAGHBAN becoming a hit, I missed the chance to do that film but down South I have been doing some rather interesting roles. I recently did something on the lines of Jhansi Ki Rani, down South which was highly appreciated, so you see what I am trying to say – one has to go on reinventing, try to age gracefully. See the way Amitabh Bachchan is going strong at his age; it says something, doesn’t it? There is space; it just needs to be tapped.