Jaya Prada (also spelled Jaya Pradha, born Lalita Rani) is a film actress in the Tollywood and Bollywood film industries.
Jaya Prada was born as Lalita Rani in the historical town of Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh in a middle-class home. Her father was a Telugu film financier. Her mother enrolled her in dance and music classes at an early age. She was fourteen years old, when she gave a dance performance at her school. A film director was in audience and he offered her a three-minute musical number in the Telugu film Bhoomi Kosam. She was hesitant but her family encouraged her to accept it. The rushes of those three minutes of film was shown to the major figures of the Telugu film industry, and the floodgates opened. Big-name directors approached her with starring roles in quality projects and she accepted them.
She became a major star in 1976 with huge hits: K. Balachander's Anthuleni Katha showcased her dramatic skills; K. Viswanath's Siri siri Muvva showed her playing a mute with excellent dancing skills; and her title role in the big-budget mythological film Seetha Kalyanam confirmed her versatility. In 1977, she starred in Adavi Ramudu, which broke box office records and which permanently cemented her star status. The song "Aaresukoboyi Paresukunnanu" picturized on her and co-star N.T. Rama Rao became a classic hit. She branched out to star in Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada films, and had hit films in all of them.
K. Viswanath remade Siri siri Muvva (1976) into the Hindi film Sargam and introduced Jayaprada to Bollywood in 1979. The film became a huge hit and she became an overnight star there as well. She earned her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress but couldn't capitalize on her success as she couldn't speak Hindi. It took three more years before director K. Vishwanath relaunched her again in Hindi films, with the hit film Kaamchor(1982) where she spoke Hindi fluently for the first time. She was now able to consistently work in Hindi films and earn two more Filmfare nominations as Best Actress for playing Amitabh Bachchan's endearing girlfriend in Prakash Mehra's Sharaabi (1984) and for K. Vishwanath's Sanjog (1985). She earned fans, not just with the masses, but also with the great Indian Director Satyajit Ray, who has said she was one of the prettiest women in the world. Although, she has acted in Bengali films, she has never worked for Ray. (Ray actually had her in mind for a film, but his illness and subsequent death prevented their collaboration.
She made a successful team, not just with Amitabh Bachchan and Jeetendra, but also with her immediate screen rival Sridevi, with whom she has acted in about a dozen films. Their hit Telugu film Devata (1982) where they played sisters who made big sacrifices for each other, was remade into the hit Hindi film Tohfaa(1984). These films endeared Jayapradha to the traditional conservative section of filmgoers. It was an image that would serve her well when she started a new career as a politician.
In 1986, she married producer Srikanth Nahata, who was already married to Chandra and had 3 children. Needless to say, this marriage stirred a lot of controversy, especially since Nahata did not divorce his current wife and would continue to have children with his first wife after marrying Jayaprada. She and Srikanth do not have any children together, even though she has expressed a desire to have children. She also said that she and her husband's first wife Chandra cannot live without Srikanth and has cordially agreed to share him together.
In 2002, she stepped into the Marathi film industry by being a guest in the movie Aadhaar. Thus far, she acted in seven languages and has completed 300 films during a 30-year film career. She started playing mature roles in 2004.
She entered into politics by joining Telugu Desam party. She was nominated to be an MP in Rajyasabha by TDP party. Following differences with party Supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, she left TDP to join Samajwadi Party and contested from Rampur parliamentary Constituency in UP during the last General election in 2004. She also owns the Jaya Prada Theater in Chennai.