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Kamala Kumari (born 6 January 1945),[1] known by her mononymous stage name Jayanthi, is an Indian actress known for her work in Kannada cinema.[2] She is noted for her contributions to different genres of films from the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. She has appeared in over 500 films, including films in the Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi languages. She has received two Karnataka State Film Awards for Best Actress, the President's Medal for Best Actress and two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. She has been cited as Kannada cinema's "most bold and beautiful" actress by various media outlets, a title for which she has received substantial publicity.[3] The Kannada film industry has honored her with the title "Abhinaya Sharadhe", (Goddess Sharada in acting).

Kamala Kumari

(1945-01-06) 6 January 1945 (age 74).
OccupationActress, producer, playback singer
Years active1961–present
Spouse(s)Peketi Sivaram

Early lifeEdit

Jayanthi was born in Bellary, in the erstwhile Madras Presidency of British India. Her father Balasubramanyam worked as English professor at the St Joseph's College in Bangalore. Her mother was Santhanalakshmi. Jayanthi was the eldest of three siblings and had two younger brothers.

Jayanthi's childhood was never smooth. Her parents separated when she was young and her mother took the children and moved to Madras. Jayanthi's mother was keen on making her daughter a classical dancer and hence she joined a dance school run by Chandrakala. Her friend in dance school was the famous Tamil actress Manorama.


Initial struggleEdit

As a child, Jayanthi went to the studios to see her idol N. T. Rama Rao. He called her and made her sit on his lap. Affectionately, he had asked her whether she would agree to become his heroine and the little girl had merely blushed. The pair would go on later in life to produce successful films such as Jagadeka Veeruni Katha, Kula Gowravam, Kondaveeti Simham and Justice Chowdhury.

Jayanthi was ridiculed most of the time as she was plump and could never dance well. During her teens, she had the chance to act in a few Tamil and Telugu movies in bit parts. Jayanthi was shattered after the episode, but promised herself that one day she would prove her worth.

Jayanthi's life changed completely when noted film director Y. R. Swamy spotted her during one of her dance rehearsals. He cast her in his film Jenu Goodu upon persuading her unrelenting mother who gave in after the former's third visit to her house.[3] He also gave her her stage name.[2] She enjoyed a good run in the Kannada Film industry and formed very good pair with the famous actor and doyen of Kannada Cinema Rajkumar, with whom she acted in more than 30 movies.

Rise to fameEdit

Jenu Goodu was Jayanthi's first Kannada film. She was married to film director Peketi Sivaram. He backed her all the way and very soon she became a famous actress in Kannada. She acted alongside veterans such as K. S. Ashwath and Pandari Bai. Incidentally, this was actress Chandrakala's first film as well. Jenu Goodu was a commercial success. Her next major film was T. V. Singh Thakur's Chandavalliya Thota. The film starred veteran actors Udaya Kumar, Rajkumar and Jayashree. This was the first film that paired Raj and Jayanthi. Based on T. R. Subba Rao's novel by the same name, Chandavalliya Thota was a huge success and even won the President's Medal for Best Film in Kannada.

The next major film that Jayanthi starred in was the 1965 film Miss Leelavathi directed by M. R. Vittal in which she played the titular role. Considered a film with a "bold theme" in what was seen as the conservative cinema at the time, the film dealt about the influence of bad parenting on young Leelavathi's mind. She is the darling of her father, who supports her in all her endeavours. Leelavathi grows up to be rebel in the house and stands up against the conventional values of life. She refuses marriage, wishes to be a career-oriented women and has a care-free attitude towards premarital sex. Unfortunately, she pays the consequences. Jayanthi was launched as the glamour-diva through the film. It was the first Kannada film to showcase a female lead's glamour. The film saw her character in skirts, T-shirts and nightie. The film was a huge success and catapulted Jayanthi to fame. She is credited for introducing most of the modern day outfits onto the Kannada screen for the first time. She also wore a swimsuit for the film, which the producers' first choice for the role had refused to do.[2] The film won Jayanthi the President's award. Jayanthi recalled the occasion in one of her interviews when she received the award from Indira Gandhi (then the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting), who, after giving away the award called back Jayanthi and gave her a kiss and wished her good luck.[4]

Due to her stint in Tamil films from 1962 to 1979 as leading lady, she became nationally famous. She was frequently paired opposite Gemini Ganesan. In Tamil she acted with all major stars including M.G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganeshan, Muhuraman and Jaishankar. She acted with M. G. Ramachandran in Padagotti and Mugaraasi, with Gemini Ganeshan in Kanna Nalama, Velli Vizha, Punnagai and Iru Kodugal, with Jaishankar in Nil Gavani Kadhali and Kaadhal Paduthum Paadu and Ethir Neechal with Nagesh. She was director K. Balachander's regular actress and they went on to work in films such as Iru Kodugal, Bama Vijayam, Ethir Neechal, Punnagai, Velli Vizha and Kanna Nalama. She acted with Jayalalitha and Manorama in the film Mugaraasi.

On March 27, 2018, it was falsely reported by several media houses that actress Jayanthi had died. While her fans took to social media to offer their condolences, her family members refuted the rumors as false. The then 68 year old actress complained of breathing difficulties and was admitted to a private hospital in Bengaluru and was recuperating and responding well to the treatment [5].

Other worksEdit

In 2009, she gave her voice to an HIV/AIDS education animated software tutorial created by the nonprofit organization TeachAIDS.[6]


Karnataka State Film Awards
Filmfare Awards South

Partial filmographyEdit

Kannada filmsEdit

Tamil filmsEdit

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Malayalam filmsEdit

Telugu filmsEdit

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Hindi filmsEdit

  • Lal bangla (1966)
  • Teen Bahuraniyan (1968)
  • Gunda (1970)
  • Tumse accha kaun hai (1969)
  • OM Shani OM (2007)

English showsEdit


  1. ^ "Jayanthi". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Fernandes, Ronald Anil (23 December 2003). "Straight from the Heart:As this month's guest at Maneyangaladalli Mathukathe, cine actress Jayanthi held her audience spellbound with her usual charm". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2006.
  3. ^ a b Ganesh, Deepa. "Bold and beautiful". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  4. ^ Bharathi, Veena (13 October 2013). "Celebrating a big screen beauty". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 7 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Kannada actress Jayanthi dead, say reports. Family says she is alive". India Today. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Celebrated Actress Jayanthi Donates Voice to TeachAIDS Kannada animations". TeachAIDS. 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2010.

External linksEdit