Saturday, 13 July 2019

Sridevi, Jaya Prada, Jeetendra and Rajesh Khanna on location

Jaya Prada and Sridevi 

Throughout the 1980s, Sridevi and Jaya Prada had a paper war in print, taking jibes at each other which fueled so many sales of Bollywood tabloids. Jaya Prada in particular had quite a few things to say about her fellow Telugu colleague - and not all of it we'd like to repeat here. What does spring to mind is Jaya's cutting comment on her colleague; "Making faces is not acting." Sridevi chose not to respond, other than saying she doesn't talk ill of her seniors! (BTW Jaya Prada was just a year older than Sri!).

However they felt about the other, it never translated on screen, in fact perhaps their palpable rivalry helped their own performances as each tired to better the other - in return they were both incredible on screen whenever they appeared together - which they did in several films; Tohfa, Aulad, Mawaali, Aakhree Rasta, Naya Kadam, Main Tera Dushman, Majaal and perhaps most memorably, in the finale song Naagraja in Maqsad (1984). [We haven't included the Telugu and Tamil films they did together which increases the number to 15].

The dance is a tour-de-force by the two and even though we are hardcore Sridevi fans, its hard to pinpoint who is the better dancer. They really sweat it out in the number and give it their all. The song itself is in a high-pitch that may or may not work for you; but the dance has several difficult routines done with sari-clad ease by the two. Its well-choreographed and performed gloriously by the divas.

BTW Jaya Prada and Jeetendra acted in 25 films together, and Sridevi and Jeetendra in 16. However, its the Sridevi-Jeetendra pair that most people remember as their ratio of box-office hits was greater. Sridevi acted with Jeetendra till 1988 - and went on to act with younger co-stars thereafter, while Jaya kept acting with him till 1995.

The most famous anecdote that appeared in the '80s was a tell-all by Jeetendra who stated that he and Rajesh Khann deliberately locked the two actresses together in a room as the two ladies didn't speak a word to each other during the making of the Maqsad. When they opened the door two hours later, they found that both were sitting quietly in separate corners, looking the other way!

Meanwhile, as the two posed for the publicity stills for the film - the movie was a blockbuster back in 1984 - the papz had a field day, getting the rare shots of the often reluctant ladies to pose together. Rajesh Khanna and Jeetendra may have been the senior stars of the time (both were 20+ years older than the ladies) but the leading ladies were the cynosure of all eyes. 

For the number, you'll note that both men stepped aside and did not perform a single step; they were completely overshadowed by the women. It's like they both knew when to stand back and let the ladies take over.

As fate would have it, the two actresses made up in due course, Sridevi visited Jaya Prada when the later's father died and attended her nephew's wedding where the two posed happily for the shutter bugs.

When Sridevi died suddenly and so shockingly, Jaya Prada spoke at her memorial service.

Be it in Hollywood or Bollywood, there's a strange tendency by the media to pit actresses against one another - and let it play out in media to sell magazines. Look out for our feature on how the media created an unnecessary print-war between Sridevi and nearly all her colleagues, from Rekha, Bhanupriya, Jaya Prada, Radha, all the way to Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla.

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