Wednesday, February 24, 2010

70s Week: What Ever Happened to Jaya Bhaduri?

Yes, yes - she became Jaya Bachchan. And that leads me to the main point of today's 70s Week post...

Here's a piece of Filmi Girl advice from the future for 70s actresses: Don't Get Married.

"Wow, Filmi Girl, what has you ready to ship copies of
The Feminine Mystique back in time to Saira, Hema, et. al.?" you must be asking.

Well, I was thinking about when I first started watching 1970s films and what surprised me most about them. Poor production values, outrageous costumes, silly plots, and wacky camera angles I was prepared for - I was, after all, the kind of child who stayed up until 2am to catch the late showing of
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini on cable.

Honestly, one of the biggest surprises the 1970s held in store for me was my rediscovery of Jaya Bhaduri. Watching films like
Kal Ho Naa Ho and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham had given me the impression of a bitter, old woman. I couldn't understand the affection for her, except as Amitabh Bachchan's wife. "Well, if they all love him, I guess audiences have to love her, too," I thought.

But I didn't. I hated her. I hated her passive-aggressively bitter mother character in
Kal Ho Naa Ho and I hated her wimpy doormat mother character in K3G.

"Why are filmmakers forcing this dour woman upon me?" I asked. "Why can't they get somebody fun - like Kirron Kher - instead?"

The first glimpse I had of the lost Jaya was in
Sholay. At first, the countenance of the solemn widow fit perfectly with the image of her I already had. But then there is that flashback sequence - you know what I'm talking about - and for the first time I saw Jaya full of life. She was joyful and spunky and I loved her.

And I loved the spunky knife-wielding badass from
Zanjeer (reviewed here)

...the hilarious fangirl of
Guddi (reviewed here)

... the sexy femme fatale of
Anamika (reviewed here)

...and the girl who grows into the wise woman of
Kora Kagaz (reviewed here).

Jaya Bhaduri was swallowed up and the cold and dour husk of Jaya Bachchan left in her place.

This talented young woman was sidelined for the career of her husband and that's a crime. Don't get me wrong, I do love Amitabh, but that love is now tempered by a bittersweet regret over the career Jaya never got to have.

Of course, I don't
know anything about the personal lives of Jaya and Amitabh but my inner sob sister see Jaya die a little year after year as she stays at home with the kids while her husband goes off and gets to be AMITABH BACHCHAN doing important things day after day and having sultry affairs with Rekha.

I have to wonder what Abhishek thought of this dynamic because Aishwarya certainly hasn't cut back on her filmmaking to start popping out babies.

Here is how we should remember Jaya!

"Bahon Mein Chale Aao" from

"Main Ne Kaha Phoolon Se" from

"Main Ek Raja" from


Simran said...

Awww she was such a cutie! :)

milkmiracle said...

She acted in some really nice movies in Bengali as well. Of course, her debut was in Satyajit Ray's "Mahanagar" ;)

Recently, I saw her in Govind Nihalani's "Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma". A tough movie to stomach, but I enjoyed it.

eliza bennet said...

In a KWK episode Jaya said that when she was preparing to go for a shoot, her daughter said "please mama, you, don't go - let father go" and she said she listened to your daughter and took a break from her career to raise her children and never regretted it.

I on the other hand really like her as an actor with hidden depths in her performances (just watch Abhiman) and really think that it would have been great if she did more films.

kats said...

I think this is a bit unfair and a pretty common misconception. Jaya has clarified in interviews that it was entirely her own decision and that in fact she was bored of acting and being offered the same roles again and again (considering how choosy she was about her films, this isn't surprising). She's also absolutely not a pushover in real life -- I sometimes think Amitabh's the more passive one, actually. I guess I relate because my own mother took the same decision when my brother and me were growing up -- again, entirely her own choice.

On a less rebuking note, I love "Bahon Mein Chale Aao." =)

Beth said...

Vah vah! I think this is fabulous piece - having seen her first in post-2000 films, I too was surprised to learn how vivacious and sharp and multi-faceted a performer she was in her younger days. I saw Jaya on stage last fall in the Unforgettable Tour and "dour" is really the only word for it. What a great tribute to her you have assembled!

Filmi Girl said...

@simran I know!! *sniff*

@milkmiracle I should watch some of her Bengali films - I wonder if any are subtitled...

@eliza and Kats I've heard her say that and honestly, I don't believe it. When Neetu Singh says she was ready to hang up her acting hat - she seems sincere and she looks happy in her public appearances but Jaya? No. And, honestly, what else could she say in public? That she regrets getting married? That wouldn't get her very far with her audiences. Maybe she has even convinced herself that she doesn't regret it but if that is the case, then I will mourn the loss of her career for her.

And my mother quit her job to raise myself and my sister and brother and I know that while she would never say so to us, she does regret going all those years without an identity of her own.

We can't judge people's internal lives but I do think that like Gertrude, Jaya doth protest too much when it comes to talking about her lost years.

@Beth Thank you!! I'm glad I'm not alone in my going from "WTF is up with this sour old prune" to "ILU JAYA BHADURI!"

Kiran said...

Love Jaya Bhaduri! She was spunky and adorable. When Jaya agreed to marry Amitabh, she was a huge actress while Amitabh was a flop hero with more than 10 successive duds.

ajnabi said...

Well, I like to think that even in the years I was solely devoting my time to raising my children I *did* have an identity of my own, regardless of what I was choosing to do with my life. I would hate for them to think that I was just not telling them how much I regretted sublimating my identity in theirs when in fact that certainly isn't true--because I didn't sublimate it.

But as far as Jaya goes, it's true that her roles as an older lady certainly haven't accessed her spunkier, more fun-loving side as an actress. I wonder what her public face was back in her pre-marriage days? Not on-screen, but otherwise, you know?

ajnabi said...

Oh yeah, forgot to say, Jaya was already married & pregnant with their daughter when Sholay was filmed! So it wasn't so much marriage as motherhood that stopped her as far as I can tell.

Pitu said...

Well said, Filmigirl! I used to love the Jaya of yore and I cannot stand the dour sourpuss she is now. She is so bitter :-( Ugh! In interview after interview, she comes across as bitter and really hard to please.

I vastly prefer Hema and Sharmila to her. They have retained their original sparkle and spunk and have aged beautifully.

I do think the reason is that Jaya seems to think she got a rough deal. I don't know her personally so this is just my reckoning. Hema and Sharmila seem to have a life of their own that doesn't revolve around their husband/children and I get the impression that they are happy with their significant others. Honestly though, if I was Jaya and had to deal with third wheel Amar Singh everywhere I went, I'd look put out too :p

Anita said...

My mom and I agree that she's an AMAZING actress and that she's sorely underused nowadays. Why is she always given, like, grumpy roles? We hate that fact with a passion. Basically, we believe Abhimaan is true-to-life, except replace the music industry with the film industry. :P

Anonlee said...

In case no one has noticed, Jaya does have her own life. She is an MP and spends most of her time in Delhi.

I think Jaya did sacrifice her career but for motherhood not marriage since she continued to act after marriage. But with two kids she made the choice to take time off as most women did in those days.

As for her demeanor, I'm amazed that most people believe that the ones who are seen smiling are happy. Studies have shown that it is usually quite the opposite. The ones who are hurting the most and depressed put on a happy face to fool the world. I would bet that Hema and others have more personal issues (drug addict daughter, polygamist husband, pervert son-Saif, etc.) than Jaya.

Jaya just seems to have a somber personality which she does not pretend to hide with false smiles.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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