Jaya Prada (born 3 April 1962) is an Indian film actress and politician.
Jaya Prada was born as Lalita Rani in a middle-class home in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India. Her father Krishna was a Telugu film financier. Her mother Neelavani enrolled her in dance and music classes at an early age.
When she was fourteen years old, she performed a dance at her school's annual function. A film director was in the audience, and he offered her a three-minute dance number in the Telugu film Bhoomikosam. She was hesitant, but her family encouraged her to accept it. She was paid only 10 rupees for her work in the film, but she also received much greater opportunities, as the rushes of those three minutes of film was shown to the major figures of the Telugu film industry, and the floodgates opened. Major filmmakers offered her starring roles in quality films, and she accepted them. She became a major star in 1976 with a trio of hits: K. Balachander's Anthuleni Katha showcased her dramatic skills; K. Viswanath's Siri Siri Muvva showed her playing a mute with excellent dancing skills; and her title role as Sita in the big-budget mythological film Seetha Kalyanam confirmed her versatility. In 1977, she starred in Adavi Ramudu, which broke box office records and which permanently cemented her star status. The song "Aaresukoboyi Paresukunnanu" picturized on her and co-star N.T. Rama Rao became a mass hit. She branched out to star in Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada films, and had hit films in all of them.
K. Viswanath remade Siri Siri Muvva (1976) into the Hindi film Sargam and introduced Jayapradha to Bollywood in 1979. The film became a huge hit and she became an overnight star there as well. She earned her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress but couldn't capitalize on her success since she couldn't speak Hindi. It took three more years before director K. Vishwanath relaunched her again in Hindi films, with the hit film Kaamchor(1982) where she spoke Hindi fluently for the first time. She was now able to consistently work in Hindi films and earn two more Filmfare nominations as Best Actress for playing Amitabh Bachchan's endearing girlfriend in Prakash Mehra's Sharaabi (1984) and for her challenging double role in K. Vishwanath's Sanjog (1985 film).
Along with her Bollywood film career, she continued to star in acclaimed films in the South, such as K. Vishwanath's Telugu hit film Sagara Sangamam (1983). She earned fans, not just with the masses, but also with the great Indian director Satyajit Ray, who has said she was one of the prettiest women in the world.. Although, she has acted in Bengali films, she has never worked for Ray. (She claimed that Ray had her in mind for a film, but his illness and subsequent death prevented their collaboration.)
Jaya made a successful team, not just with Amitabh Bachchan and Jeetendra, but also with her immediate screen rival Sridevi, with whom she has acted in about a dozen films. Their hit Telugu film Devata (film) (1982) where they played sisters who made big sacrifices for each other, was remade into the hit Hindi film Tohfaa(1984). These films endeared Jayapradha to the traditional conservative section of filmgoers. It was an image that would serve her well when she started a new career as a politician.
In 2002, she stepped into the Marathi film industry by being a guest in the movie Aadhaar. Thus far, she acted in seven languages and has completed 300 films during a 30-year film career. She started playing mature roles in 2004.
She also owns the Jaya Prada Theater in Chennai.
In 1986, she married producer Srikanth Nahata, who was already married to Chandra and had 3 children. Needless to say, this marriage stirred a lot of controversy, especially since Nahata did not divorce his current wife and had children with his first wife after marrying Jayaprada. Jayaprada and Srikanth have no children together, but she expressed desire to have children. Both Jaya Prada and her husband's first wife have cordially agreed to share a husband.
Jayaprada was initiated into the Telugu Desam Party by her former co-star N.T.Rama Rao in 1994. She later broke away from him and joined the Chandrababu Naidu faction of the party. She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha representing Andhra Pradesh in 1996.
Following differences with party Supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, she left TDP to join Samajwadi Party and contested from Rampur parliamentary Constituency in UP during the last General election in 2004 and got elected. During her campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, she was issued a notice by the Election Commission for violating the code of conduct by distributing bindis to women in Rampur's Swar locality. On 11 May 2009, Jaya Prada alleged that senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan was distributing nude pictures of her. She was re-elected with a margin of more than 30,000 votes.