Sandalwood lost yet another icon in the form of Jayanthi, who passed away at the age of 76 on Monday, 26 July. The actress, who worked in over 500 movies in six languages, left an ever-lasting impact impression in the minds of the audience through a wide range of roles. Here, we would like to revisit some of the memorable incidents from her illustrious career that she herself revealed in earlier interviews.
The Bold and Beautiful Actress
When actresses were hesitant even to wear sleeveless blouses, Jayanthi was not worried to expose skin as she believed that dress does not define one's character. She sported modern dresses like skirts, t-shirts and swimsuits. In fact, she had quarrelled with director MR Vittal for wearing saree below the midriff and he had punished her for an argument started for exposing saree.
After the argument, Jayanthi was part of a scene where she was on top of a branch of a tree to shoot a sequence. Once the shooting is completed, the ladder was not given to get down from the tree for about 30 minutes as a punishment for trying to teach the director a lesson about fashion. "It's not the dress which you wear counts, but your character and attitude," she had said in an interview.
Indira Gandhi's Kiss
She had raised eyebrows when she had sported a swimsuit in Miss Lilavathi. The movie won the President's National Award and then I &B Minister Indira Gandhi had kissed her on her cheeks.
"I received the award from Indira Gandhi, who was the I&B; Minister at that time. After Mrs Gandhi gave me the award, she called me again, kissed me on my cheek and wished me lots of good luck," she had said in an interview.
Savitri's Tantrum and NTR's Memorable Gesture
Her life was no bed of roses and she too had her own share of painful experiences. Legendary actress Savitri had stormed out of anger during a dance sequence as she was unhappy to work with "fumbling newcomers." This happened before she made her debut as an actress.
The NTR's Offer
NTR was the witness to the incident and she had fondly taken her into his lap and asked her, "Will you be my heroine dear?" She did not imagine that she would work with her favourite actor in future for six movies.
Handling Body Shaming
Jayanthi was mocked for being plump for most of her prime years in cinema. In one such incident, she was teased by other students at her dance school. The pained girl was crying at one corner and legendary Tamil actress Manorama had scolded those girls who made her cry. 'Do not tease this girl! You should remember that none of you have learnt anything overnight' " the actress had told a daily.
In another interview, Jayanthi had recalled how the heroes too used to pull her legs over her weight. "I was a gundamma, fed on ghee and sugar. Heroes would tease me about my size, but then I would turn back and ask them, 'I am not looking cheap, am I? If I look muddu in these western clothes despite being fat, then why make a fuss?' And they would laughingly agree that I was looking cute after all." She claimed.
A Rare Gem
Despite her highs and lows, Jayanthi continues to be a role model for the past, present and future actresses. She was a liberal and progressive woman who never give too much importance to others' opinions.
She was always open to new challenges and one of the few actresses who went to great lengths to do justice to the craft by learnt horseriding, swimming and sword fighting, the skills that were meant for the male actors.