Jayanthi, aka Kamala Kumari, is a veteran actress who was famously addressed ‘Abhinaya Sharadhe’ for her talent in the field. She is also known for her versatility, having acted in nearly 500 films of six language films, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, and Marathi. This is an accomplishment that female actors of the ’60s have rarely achieved.
Jayanthi’s childhood wasn’t as grand as her future life was. With divorced parents and poverty, she experienced something of a humble beginning. Dance, however, has always been her love, passion, and asset and later became the reason for her being noticed and launched in films.
She adored N.T.Rama Rao, a popular veteran Telugu actor. She often goes to the sets of his film shootings to watch his acting when she was young. Although she did rise to good fame in the Telugu film industry, it was only in the Kannada film industry that she began her career. Jeenu Goodu, a film by Y.R.Swamy, was the first film that Jayanthi acted in.
She then became popular in the Kannada film industry pretty quickly. She acted with the then-popular Kannada actors like Ashwath Kumar, Pandari and a record number of 45 films with Rajkumar (one of the most popular Kannada actors). Jayanthi’s marriage to
, the Kannada film producer, never interfered with her career, and she continued to act after that.
Jayanthi also acted in 250 to 300 Kannada films, most of which went on to gain success. Jayanthi was known especially for the bold and strong characters that she portrayed during the ’60s and the 70’s when few actors dared to do so. After all these years of acting experience in various languages, Jayanthi still plays prominent supporting roles in films.
After a long gap, Jayanthi played an important role in Baava Baamaida with
” in 2001. In 2003, she played in the multilingual film Annai Kalikambal /Shri Kalikamba, directed by
shared the screen space with Jayanthi in this devotional thriller. In 2007, she played in Jambhada Hudugi, directed by
. In 2011, she played in the bilingual film
I Love You featuring “Namitha,”
. Jayanthi had also featured in a few serials, one in Tamil and a couple in Kannada. In 2009, she played in the Tamil serial, Vasantham as Mangalam. She played an important role, Janakidevi, in the Kannada serial
and Onde Goodina Halligalu. In 2016, Jayanthi played in an English drama, Brown Nation, directed by . She shared the screen space with
, Shenaz Treasury, Remy Munasifi, Kapil Bawa, and
. She played Omi’s mother. Jayanthi had received a lot of awards for her performances in Kannada. She received the Karnataka State Awards for the Best Actress in 1973 for Edakallu Guddada Mele; in 1976 for Manassinanthe Mangalya; in 1982 for Dharma Dari Thappithu and in 1985 for Masanada Hoovu. She received the Karnataka State Awards for the Best Supporting Actress in 1986 for the film Anand and in 1998 for Tuvvi Tuvvi Tuvvi. In 2005, she was honored by the Karnataka state government with Dr. Rajkumar Lifetime Achievement Award for her service in the film industry. She had bagged the
Filmfare Awards South
in 1973 for Edakallu Guddada Mele and 1976 for Thulasi. Jayanthi was honored with Padmabhushan Dr. B. Sarojadevi National Award in 2017. Jayanthi breathed her last on 26th July 2021. She had been ill for some time due to some age-related issues. She is survived by a son, Krishnakumar.