Jamuna was a strong-willed woman. Beautiful. And Courageous. I recall a conversation I had with her.

Jamuna was a strong-willed woman. Beautiful. And Courageous. I recall a conversation I had with her.

When I went to her house at Banjara Hills – this was more than two decades ago – I could hear some commotion. I was at the gate, wondering whether I should enter or not, though she had asked me to come over for an interview. I stood at the gate for a couple of minutes. It was a hard decision to take. Was I there at the wrong time? I could hear shouts and shrieks. I chose to take a few steps back.

A well-known actress, Jamuna was not just known for her sterling performances in her films. To borrow Christopher Marlowe’s description of ‘Helen of Troy’, Jamuna’s face could launch a thousand ships. She had done films with the reigning heroes of her time – N T Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageshwara Rao. When she was 16 years old, Jamuna made her screen debut with the film ‘Puttillu’ in 1953. Wikipedia which mentions that she was active in acting in films till 1983.

Back to Jamuna’s house. I rang the doorbell. There was no response. I knew for a fact that she was very I much at home because I could hear her scream. After a little while, I rang the doorbell again. I was ushered in to the living room. And there I got to know the reason for the ruckus. Jamuna was laughing uncontrollably. Her daughter Sravanthi had pulled a prank on her! I looked at Sravanthi. The mother and daughter seemed to be having a whale of a time!

“She does that very often. She pulls pranks on me. And every time, it is a different prank, something that I least expect her to do,” Jamuna said as she asked me to make myself comfortable in a sofa. She narrated another prank that her daughter had played on her. “She called me on the phone and introduced herself as my fan and that she loves my films and acting a lot. I continued with the conversation little realising that my daughter had changed her voice and was talking to me,” Jamuna recalled once again bursting into laughter.

I thought the issue of pranks was settled. It indeed was. Jamuna, however, did not settle down for an interview. She sat in the sofa on the opposite side and started singing a song. She was watching television and one of her old films was being shown. She was singing watching herself sing the song in the film.

She was full of live. Full of enthusiasm. An interview did not mean just talking to the person. Watching Jamuna gave me a complete picture about how she was so satisfied with her work as an actress and how much she loved reliving those moments.

Sravanthi too an interest in getting into filmdom, she told me. She also said a certain producer had also shown inclination to casting her as a heroine and giving her a break on the big screen. She had followed it up with the producer a couple of times. “It is not right to push too hard,” she said explaining a bit of her philosophy. Sravanthi did get into television but I am not sure if she had done any films.

Jamuna’s attention got diverted again. This time, as she watched herself dance in the film she was watching, she was all excited. “I watch all my films whenever they are telecast,” she told me.

We spoke about the film industry, the way it functions and if she had any difficulties and if so how she overcame them.

It was to this question that Jamuna turned serious. “Yes, I had difficulties. It was too difficult to overcome them,” she told me. A certain film personality had imposed an unofficial  ban on her. He made it clear to producers that he would not act in a film if Jamuna was the heroine.

“Not only that, he even influenced certain other heroes not to agree to a film if I was being cast in it as a heroine,” Jamuna recalled.

I was curious to know what happened. She minced no words in explaining about it.

While shooting for a film, the hero in question had said something that Jamuna did not like. “It was objectionable,” she said recalling the incident. Jamuna had a choice – to ignore and forget the remarks or the person and take everything in her stride. Or fight it.

Jamuna stood her ground. What was objectionable was objectionable. And she made it abundantly clear. She lost on several films with two top heroes of the day. That is because she stood on her convictions. She was a hero in real life, standing strong against the current. She was a hero in real life, unshakeable despite the conspiracies against her. She was a hero in real life, taking on heroes who were, as she said, unreasonable and unprofessional in their behaviour.

“I bear no ill-will against them but I am satisfied that I have been shown myself to be a strong woman,” Jamuna said.

(Jamuna passed away today (January 27, 2023) at her residence in Hyderabad. She was 86. She acted in several films in Telugu, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam. )




No comments:

Powered by Blogger.