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Unapologetically yours, Jaya Bachchan

Jaya Bachchan entered the film revered by her contemporaries because she was a gold medalist from Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.

Jaya Bachchan / Wikipedia

When we think of Jaya Bachchan today, we think of an elderly lady who keeps schooling the paparazzi and says the most scathing things and walks away with a frown. Her children say she is claustrophobic, which explains her impatience. But sometimes beyond that gruff exterior, peeps a naughty. Actress with a twinkle in her eyes, reminding us everything she was before she became Mrs. Amitabh Bachchan.

Jaya Bachchan-the Bachchan family matriarch is famous for many things, and off late most of those things are not very flattering. But somewhere amongst all the unfounded. Reportage is the fact that people have forgotten that she is a phenomenal actress who worried her contemporaries with her spontaneous acting and effervescent personality. Yes, I said effervescent personality. People seem to have forgotten the person behind the Mrs. Bachchan tag.

She has been playing the perfect Bachchan matriarch so well that, the fact that she was a legendary actress seems to have been forgotten. This FTII graduate, was born in a typical Bengali erudite family on 9th  April, 1948-in a small town of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

Her father Tarun Kumar Bhaduri was a well-known writer who wrote Chambal-The Valley of Terror, Jaya Bachchan is often heard speaking fondly of her parents and the upbringing they gave her According to the actress, her parents never sat her down and told her how to behave and lead her life, they lived an exemplary life and led by example. That is something she hopes she could do for her children as well.

The fact that she is an MP tells you that her strong views about life and right conduct will be passed onto the society through her speeches and views at the assemblies. But way before all this she was an actress to reckon with.

Jaya Bachchan entered the film revered by her contemporaries because she was a gold medalist from Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. But her acting career started a few years before that. She debuted with Satyajit Ray’s film Mahanagar, a film she got courtesy her family friend and actress, Sharmila Tagore who recommended her for the role. 

Speaking about first impressions, Sharmila shared, “Long before we co-starred for the first time in Faraar and Chupke Chupke in 1975 we were family friends. I have known both Amitabh and Jaya from Kolkata. I have known Jaya from when she was 13, and she was lovely. She wanted to be an actor even at that age.”

GUDDI
 

Film Poster / Wikipedia

The dream that the 13 year old girl saw, hecame a reality with Guddi- the film which marks Jaya’s Bollywood debut. But that as they say was just the beginning. She made a memorable pair with Sanjeev Kumar and together they have some wonderful films. Even today, she is hugely applauded for her performance in Koshish. 

The two played a deaf and mute couple and the journey of their relationship and life makes a wonderful story. Besides, there was also ismail Memon who directed the 1979 film Nauker, which starred Jaya Bahaduri and Sanjeev Kumar in prominent roles. Jaya won hearts with her portrayal of Geeta, a maid. 

The performance was worthy enough to win her, her third Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Her first award was for the film Uphaar-an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Samapti, directed by Tarachand Barjatya (director Sooraj Barjatya’s grandfather) hut one of her most noted performances came alongside her husband in Abhimaan. The film features in every married couple’s must-see list being a saga of love, sacrifice in the face of ego.

The eclectic buffet of cinema she served in her short span as a commercial cinema actress tells you that her gold medal was truly well-deserved. Her strength lay in the fact that she could switch between commercial cinema and off- beat cinema with equal case. But while she was getting applauded for her roles, she was falling madly in love. 

Jaya first co-started with Amitabh Bachchan in Bansi Birju and fell in love by the time their other films could come by: From Mili, Abhimaan, Zunjeer, Sholay (to name just a few) their chemistry grew, professionally and personally. June 3, 1973-they got married! The few films she did post marriage, also stopped when her daughter Shweta held her dupatta and begged her to stay home. 

The mother, the wife and the lady of the Bachchan Parivaar took precedence over the beloved actress though her fans awaited her comeback. Despite the fact that she was a much bigger star than her husband, she chose love over everything else. It takes a very secure and confident woman to leave fame, adulation, and glamour at the top of her career and chose love over it all. And one look at the family she made, tells you that she chose wisely. 

Though the actress insists that her children take after their father, she is the thread that binds the family.

But films were always dear to her, so it is hardly a surprise that she kept coming back to the screen for a selected few that she just could not refuse. Her performance in Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, Fiza, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham all got her awards and accolades. 

She even produced a Television show called Dekh Bhai Dekh – which turned out to be a cult series in the 1990s. Very few might have noticed the credit for story in Amitabh Bachchan’s 1988 superhit Shehenshah went to his wife Jaya Bachchan. 

Despite her many achievements, if you see Jaya Bachchan today you find her rooting the loudest for her son Abhishek Bachchan, or laughing out loud with her girl Shweta and granddaughter Navya Naveli on the latter’s podcasts, all the while cheering her grandson Aghastya’s work. Psst! She still doesn’t consider her husband the superstar he is known to be for our nation. “Dilip Kumar was the last superstar-according to Madam Bachchan.

Her opinions no matter how wild or even unpopular, always had takers right from her FTII days. Remember when she asked her classmate to change his name and that made all the difference we are talking about Tshering Phintso Denzongpa who thanks to Jaya got popular as Danny. 

She had the foresight for his bright career and didn’t want his name to cause an hinderance. That’s Jaya Bachchan for you-gifted, generous, opinionated and most importantly- unapologetically herself.
 

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