Jayabharathi is an Indian actor and dancer, who primarily is part of the Malayalam and Tamil film industry. As of 2023, she has acted in over 350 films in multiple languages. Some of her noted films are Madhavikutty (1973), Rathinirvedam (1978), and Marupakkam (1990).
Lakshmi Bharathi, popularly known as Jayabharathi, was born on Monday, 28 June 1954 (aged 69 years; as of 2023) in Erode, Madras State (now Tamil Nadu), India. Her zodiac sign is Cancer. Jayabharathi attended school at St. Rita’s Girls High School in Erode, Tamil Nadu. When she was five, she started learning Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form. At the age of 11, she won the first prize in a state-level dance competition. The State Minister of that time, Sundara Vadivelu gave away the prize to Jayabharathi. According to sources, his congratulatory words were that she would become the next big name in the film industry. Though her grandfather initially was against the idea of her being an actor, the minister’s words turned into a blessing.
Height (approx.): 5′ 2″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Family & Caste
Jayabharathi is from a Keralite Hindu Nair family. Her family is originally from Kollam, Kerala. During her childhood days, the family was settled in Erode, Tamil Nadu.
Parents & Siblings
Jayabharathi’s parents are Shivasankaran Pillai and Sarada. She is the eldest of five children. According to her, she was like a strict mother to her siblings.
Husband & Children
Jayabharathi was married to the film producer Hari Pothan for a brief period. They got married in 1973 and divorced in 1974.
Years after her divorce, Jayabharathi got married to actor Sathaar in 1979. Their marriage hit the headlines as Sathaar was a relatively new face at that time in the film industry. Also, intercaste marriages were uncommon in the film industry during that time. Though they separated in 1987, they are not known to legally end their marriage, until Sathaar’s death in 2019. They have a son, Krish J. Sathaar (born as Unnikrishnan), who is an actor and entrepreneur. Some of his films are Ladies and Gentleman (2013), Malini 22 Palayamkottai (2014) and To Noora with Love (2014). Malayala Manorama
The deceased actor Jayan is Jayabharathi’s maternal uncle’s son. They have acted together in many films, such as Kannappanunni (1977), Kanyaka (1978), Sayoojyam (1979) and Agnisaram (1981). Grihalakshmi
Jayabharathi’s nephew, Munna Simon is an actor and filmmaker. Some of his films are Gaurisankaram (2003), Silandhi (2008) and Raavanan (2010).
Jayabharathi was known to be in a relationship with filmmaker Hari Pothan, before their marriage. Even after the divorce, she continued to act in films produced by his production house, Supriya Films. Some of the films in their association are Nakhangal (1973), Itha Ivide Vare (1977), Rathinirvedam (1978), and Alauddinum Albutha Vilakkum (1979). Malayala Manorama
She follows Hinduism and regularly visits temples. She performed dance programs as prayer offerings at major temples across Kerala.
Jayabharathi started her acting career as a child artist in the film Penmakkal (1966) directed by Sasikumar. She acted as the fifth daughter of the character played by Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair in this film.
Her first film in a lead role was as a singer, Ambili, in the film Kattukurangu (1969). She shared screen space with actors Sathyan, Sarada, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, and Adoor Bhasi in this film.
She has acted with Prem Nazir, Madhu, Jayan, M. G. Soman, Kamal Haasan, and Rajinikanth. In 1972, she received her first Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for various films. Some of the films Jayabharathi acted in 1972 are Aaradimanninte Janmi, Azhimukham, Iniyoru Janmam Tharu, Mayiladumkunnu, Oru Sundariyude Katha, and Manushyabandhangal.
She received the Kerala State Award for Best Actress in 1973 for the film Madhavikutty. She played the lead character Madhavikutty in the film.
Jayabharathi’s role as Rathi in the film Rathinirvedam (1978), by director Bharathan, marked a place in the history of Indian Cinema for its subject and theme. The film caused the debate of whether Malayalam films were favouring sensuality over the subject. In spite of that, the film went on to become one of the blockbusters of that year. It was remade later with the same name in the year 2011.
Jayabharathi’s characterization of Janaki in the Tamil film Marupakkam (1990) won her the National Award – Special Jury Award.
She has acted in various Tamil films throughout her career. Some of the noted films are Pudhiya Vazhkai (1971), Michael Madana Kama Rajan (1990), Muthu (1995), and Aavathum Pennale Azhivathum Pennale (1996).
She has acted in two Hindi films – Pratishodh (1980) and Nagin Aur Lootere (1992). Her last appearance in the Malayalam industry was in the film Onnaman (2002). She acted in her first Telugu film Lakshmi (2006) as the mother of the protagonist.
She acted in some of the television serials such as Peythozhiyathe which aired on Surya TV, Kottaipurathu Veedu aired on DD Pothigai and Nimmathi Ungal Choice aired on Vasanth TV.
Though dance performances took a back seat during her busy acting schedule, it was always a part of Jayabharathi’s career. In 2003, she announced her return to Bharatanatyam performances. She started a dance school named, Aswathi Arts Academy, in Chennai.
Awards & Honours
- In 1972, Jayabharathi received the Best Actress Award at the Kerala State Film Awards for various films.
- In 1973, she won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for the film Madhavikutty.
- In 1990, she won the National Film Award – Special Jury/ Special Mention called the Rajat Kamal or Silver Lotus Award for the film Marupakkam.
- In 2014, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 61st Filmfare Awards – South for her contributions to the film industry.
- The only song that the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar sang in Malayalam, Kadhali Chengathali, is for the film Nellu (1974). Jayabharathi was the actor in that song sequence in the film. The Times of India
- Jayabharathi acted in a song sung by Lataji’s sister Asha Bhosle for the 1977 Malayalam film, Sujatha.
- The film Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum which was released in multiple languages in the year 1979, had Jayabharathi in the lead role with Kamal Haasan as hero and Rajinikanth in a negative role.
- Jayabharathi, during the AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) general body meeting held in June 2023, put forth the demand to the Kerala State government to ensure the Padma award to the veteran actress, Sheela. Malayala Manorama