Apart from her charismatic political career, the recently deceased Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, reigned over an enviable acting career for herself in South Indian cinema. However, what is little known, is that the superstar of south cinema featured in a few Hindi films as well.
In the midst of her successful movie career, Jayalalithaa starred opposite Dharmendra in a 1968 Hindi movie, titled Izzat. The film was directed by the popular Tamil-Telugu director T Prakash Rao, who had a distinction of making several successful Hindi films in the 1960s, with leading ladies from the South. Rao's cultural comfort in transitioning between Tamil and Hindi cinema was the reason he was given the responsibility of launching Jayalalithaa in Bollywood.
In the film, she played an ethnic girl who falls in love with a rich boy. Remembering his co-star after her sad demise, Dharmendra said Jayalalithaa’s role in Izzat was similar to that of Basanti (played by Hema Malini) in Sholay (1975). However, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister used to stay quiet on the sets when not acting.
Despite Rao’s track record of delivering box-office successes, Izzat failed to make money and the movie sank without a trace.
However, many remember Jayalalithaa's graceful dancing to Lata Mangeshkar's “Jaagi re badan mein jaala saiyyan tuney kya kar dala” in the film.
Jayalalithaa first appeared as a child-artist in Man Mauji (1962), where she played the role of Lord Krishna in a dance sequence. Kishore Kumar and Sadhna played the lead roles in the film. She was a trained Kathak, Mohiniattam, and Manipuri dancer.