Jaya Bacchan – the natural actress of bollywood.
Jaya Bacchan can be considered as one of the natural actresses who made acting look so easy during the 70s and 80s. Born on April 10th, 1948, Jaya Bacchan made her debut in the Bengali film Mahanagar directed by renouned director Satyajit Ray in 1965. She played the role of the sister of Anil Chatterjee, a middle class Bengali whose financial needs compelled his wife to work in a sales office which was remote in those days. She started her hindi career with the film Guddi, directed by Rishikesh Mukherjee. The film depicted the passion of young girls towards bollywood actors whom they used to worship like Gods. In the film she was obsessed towards Dharmender and Utpal Dutt, took his help to make the little girl understand that whatever is shown in the films are untrue and they are customised on larger than life image, in fact most of the heroes and heroins are ordinary human beings without having supernatural capabilities. Jaya Bacchan’s innocence in the film amazed the viewers.
Within short time, Gulzar understood the acting capabilities of Jaya Bacchan and did cast her opposite Sanjeev Kumar in Koshish, in 1972, in a deaf and dumb role. She exhibited the pleasure, pain and other emotions of deaf and dumb only through her eyes and facial expressions. She also displayed the feelings for her father played by Sanjeev Kumar in Gulzar’s film Parichay in 1972. She was the eldest of the 5 children who became orphans and their grandfather Pran brought them to his own house for education. She was hostile towards her grandfather who did not accept her mother as daughter-in-law and compelled Sanjeev Kumar to create his separate establishment who died out of sickness. She influenced the other children who became naughty and stubborn and the film ends with Jeetender’s victory in transforming the children with love and affection. The story has reflections of Hollywood film The Sound of Music and Uttam Kumar’s Bengali film Joyjoyanti.
Jaya Bacchan moulded her image into a woman who understood middleclass sentiments and sacrificed her priorities for benefit of her family and the society as a whole. She depicted the image in Rishikesh Mukherjee’s film Abhimaan, where she was asked to perform on stage by established singer played by Amitabh Bacchan who later could not accept her popularity which superseded Big B’s image as singer. She sacrificed her singing for the benefit of the family and the story depicted the helplessness of middleclass women who never can reach their destination for the social taboos. She won the film fare award for the best actress in 1974 for Abhimaan. The next year she again won the film fare award for the best actress for performance in the film Kora Kagaz where again she showed the level of compromise of Indian women who always try to balance and adjust the priorities of the inlaws and their own parents and most often fail in their attempt if the husbands are unreasonable. Her performance in Milli opposite Amitabh Bacchan, where she dies at the end of the film due to sickness, after engaging the entire flat complex with her childish activities, brought tears in the eyes of the audience who were not prepared to see her die at the end.
Jaya Bacchan also provided immortal performances in commercial films like Anamika, opposite Sanjeev kumar, Zanjeer and Sholay opposite Amitabh Bacchan. In Sholay, the flashback showed her youth and exuberance and she became calm, quite after the death of her husband and made a last outburst at the end of the film with the death of Amitabh Bacchan. In the film Naya Din Nayi Raat, she depicted the character of a woman who leaves home for declining to marry the husband who was arranged for her and met 9 different persons in the nine days where Sanjeev Kumar played the character of all those nine persons, including a doctor, a drunkard, a patient suffering from leprosy, etc. Films like Nauker, where she again won film fare award for best actress opposite Sanjeev Kumar, bolstered the myth that she balanced the dynamic acting skills of Sanjeev Kumar and critics claimed that Jaya Bacchan and Sanjeev Kumar formed the most powerful acting pair in bollywood and no other pair excepting Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil, and Om Puri and Shabana Azmi could show the variety of performances that they had shown.
In the mid-80s she faded away from the film arena as she was busy with her family, but she made a comeback in character roles in films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Fiza, etc., where she played the role of the mother of Rithwik Roshan. Jaya Bacchan’s films should be preserved in an archive to inspire the new generation of actors and actresses to know the skill of natural acting.