Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was a popular star down south. However, many don’t know that her only Hindi film was Izzat opposite Dharmendra. The duo worked in 1968 movie Izzat where Jayalalithaa played a leading lady. Dharmendra had a double role in the film.
The actor was shocked at Jaya’s demise. “I am deeply shocked. She was my co-star. We worked together in Izzat in 1968,” the 81-year-old Dharmendra told TV9 AMARATHI channel, adding, “At that time, we stayed for nearly one-and-a-half months in Kulu-Manali (Himachal Pradesh) for the shooting. She was there with her mother who prepared food for us.”
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An emotional Dharmendra said he would speak to Jayalalithaa on telephone everytime he visited Chennai but had not met her for years. “When I learnt she was very ill, I fervently prayed for her recovery,” he said.
Izzat was directed by T Prakash Rao, who mostly directed films down south but also gave several successful Hindi films with south Indian actresses. Rao directed Vyjanthimala in College Girl and Duniya. Jayalalithaa’s Hindi debut didn’t do well at the box office but it is still remembered for Jayalalitha’s graceful dance on Jaagi re badan mein jawala saiyyan tuney kya kar dala, which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. This hit song was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The lyrics were written by Sahir Ladhianvi.
Jayalalithaa’s sudden demise has sent shockwaves across the country. Dharmendra, who is the only Hindi film actor to have got an opportunity to work with Jayalalithaa, regarded latter as graceful and dignified.
“She was very quiet, very graceful and only focused on her work. She didn’t speak much on the sets. And we all respected her privacy. In the film, she played a chirpy, bubbly character similar to what Hema played in Sholay many years later. But in person, she was quite the opposite. Very dignified, graceful and quiet,” Dharmendra was quoted in an interview with Quint.
Dharmendra played a double role in the film while Tanuja and Jayalalithaa were the two leading ladies. While Tanuja played a grieving woman, Jayalalithaa was a tribal woman who was spunky and bubbly. This was the last time that the actor appeared in a Hindi film.