indian cinema heritage foundation



Born on 1955 into an agriculturist family of G Omaiah and Kamalamma, a homemaker, Jayamala was one among the six sisters and a brother. Uprooted from their home following the harbor work in Panamber, the huge family had to move to Chikmagalur in 1963. 

A small non-descript role in the 1974 cult classic Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu saw the attractive young woman take her first step into tinseldom. However, it was in Daari Tappida Maga (1975), with the legendary Dr Rajkumar in the lead, that the spotlight turned on her.  

Bestowed with ethereal good looks it was only to be expect saw the Tulu speaking young girl slowly graduate into the big league of Kannada Cinema. Being paired with the irrepressible Kannada icon Dr Rajkumar was only fortuitous to ensure Jayamala found a strong foothold in the Kannada cinema and thereon being paired with other top stars of the time. 

The actress, who also served as the first woman president of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce as also Minister for Women & Child Development & Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizens in the Congress government, had several popular Kannada films to her scroll such as Premada Kanike (1976), Shankar Guru (1978), Antha (1981) and Chandi Chamundi (1983) among several others. She produced and acted in the award-winning Thaayi Saheba (1997).

The actress married fellow actor Tiger Prabhakar but divorced later. Following his death, she married cinematographer H M Ramachandra who was the cinematographer for her film Thaayi Saheba. The couple have been blessed with daughter Soundarya Jayamala, a popular actress in her own right.

Jayamala was the most glamorous heroine of Kannada cinema during 1980s. After a string of successful movies starring Dr Rajkumar she has starred with Anant Nag, in romantic movies as Janma Janmada Anubandha(1980) and Premave Baalina Belaku (1983), with Vishnuvardhan, in multi-starrer pot-boilers like Naga Kala Bhairava (1981), Hanthakana Sanchu(1980) and Sididedda Sahodara (1983), with late Ambareesh, in the cult classic Antha where she played the tragic role of a cabaret dancer who is his sister and then went on to become his heroine in several movies like Ajith (1982), Prema Matsara` (1982) and Khadeema Kallaru (1982). 

Her pairing with Shankar Nag also proved successful, including heroine-oriented Chandi Chamundi (1983) that made her a household name as an action heroine. Her last successful pairing was with Prabhakar, (who incidentally played her brother in Chandi Chamundi) whom she married in 1985 and then she quit films. Interestingly Jayamala and top heroine Aarathi have costarred in nine films with Jayamala's glamourous image complementing Aarathi’s simpler and more traditional image.

Her first home production Thaayi Saheba was directed by eminent director Girish Kasaravalli winning a National award which also saw her receive a special jury award for her performance in the film.

She became the only actress in the Indian film industry to be conferred a doctorate for writing a thesis. Her thesis was on rehabilitation of rural woman in Karnataka and required her to tour Karnataka and scrutinise several documents. The Doctorate was conferred by Bangalore University on January 18, 2008 and presented by former President late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. She has also served as the Minister for Women and Child Development and Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens in the Government of Karnataka, as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council.