Actor Jaya Prada talks about her experiences in the Kannada film, 'Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna' and the Telugu film, ‘Adavi Ramudu’
Photos: Jaya Pradha; as Kittur Chennamma in 'Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna'
This was during the shoot of the Kannada film, 'Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna' (2012), a megahit. Jaya Prada plays Kittur Chennamma (1778–1829), the Queen of Kittur, a princely state in Karnataka. Her army chief, Sangolli Rayanna, was played by actor Darshan Thoogudeep. According to historical accounts, Kittur Chennamma led a rebellion against the British East India company because they did not accept her chosen successor.
As Jaya began to panic, she remembered what Sudarshan had told her earlier. “When you are on a horse and it goes out of control, it is very important to put your arms around the neck,” says Jaya Prada. “I did this and shouted, ‘Please Kaajal, help me, please, don't run’. I was literally crying at that moment.”
But the horse did not listen. It continued to gallop away furiously. Jaya Prada hugged it tightly. Kaajal ran on for a few more minutes. “But then, maybe, Kaajal felt bad,” says Jaya Prada. “The horse slowed down and finally came to a stop.” A shaken Jaya Prada stepped down and got onto Darshan's horse and returned to the set.
The next day Jaya Prada begged the director Naganna not to put her on Kaajal. “I want to live, not die,” said Jaya Prada. Naganna laughed and reassured the actor that Kaajal was a good horse, “The crew made me comfortable,” says Jaya Prada. “Then they made me sit on the back of the horse. We pampered the horse with sweets and biscuits. And the shoot went on smoothly.”
Unfortunately, in the film, ‘Adavi Ramudu’ (1977), the shoot did not move smoothly at all. It was taking place in the Madumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. Jaya Prada was the wife of a forest officer Ramu played by the late NT Rama Rao, while Jayasudha plays a tribal lady Chilakamma, who loves Ramu as a brother. There is a fight between the villagers and the smugglers of forest produce.
For this sequence, Jaya Prada and Jayasudha were sitting atop two elephants. When the shoot began, all the fighters started shouting and running forward holding bamboo sticks. Some petrol bombs were burst; there was smoke all around. “All this frightened the elephants and they began running,” says Jaya Prada. The sudden movement caused both the actors to fall to the ground.
Thereafter, both were rushed to a nearby hospital. “But thankfully, there were no serious injuries,” she says. In the end, all these troubles were well worth it. ‘Adavi Ramudu’ was a box office hit and ran for over 200 days.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram)