At the prime of her career, the actress faced a boycott from both NTR and ANR and emerged from it, a trailblazer27 January, 2023 was a sad day for Tollywood. Legendary actress Jamuna passed away at the age of 86 bringing the curtains down on a stellar life that etched her, a permanent place in the hearts of millions of Telugu cinema lovers. She was the last of the surviving superstars from the previous century, fondly referred to by her fans as ‘Hampi Sundari’ (Because she was born in Hampi, Karnataka) and ‘Andhra Nargis’. More importantly, Jamuna was a woman of strong character who would not let anything come in the way of her self-respect. At the peak of her career, she faced a major challenge from two male super stars Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswar Rao who were determined to oust her from the industry.It all started with the movie Bhookailas in 1958. Jamuna was supposed to report for the shoot at Mahabalipuram at 9am in the morning. The production team however sent a car to her residence, 30 km away, at only 9pm. She had to go to AVM Studios to put on her makeup and by the time she came to the location, it was already 12 pm. NTR and ANR were sitting under the shade of a tree and they wryly remarked, “She arrives late to the sets and doesn’t even have the courtesy to apologise.” Both the legends then decided to cut Jamuna to size.The allegations quickly followed! “She is arrogant, she sits with one leg over the other in front of senior heroes, she arrives late for shoots, etc.” For three years, neither NTR nor ANR shared screen space with her. It was a decision that would lead to interesting consequences. Other heroines started acting opposite NTR and ANR and the public did not approve of those combinations which adversely affected the films at the box-office. Jamuna meanwhile started acting with newcomers Haranath, Sridhar, Jaggaiah and Ramana Murthy and some of the movies were successful. Thus, Jamuna proved she could succeed on her own. The biggest development though was that Jamuna being the prime pulling factor in those films, by and large, they tended to be heroine-centric films, a novelty in those days. In that sense, Jamuna can be considered a trailblazer. Finally, seniors from the industry KV Reddy and Chakrapani decided that enough was enough! They worried that this feud would set a bad precedent and usher in an unhealthy culture in the industry. They tried to eke out a compromise and seated NTR and ANR in one room and Jamuna and her father Srinivasa Rao in another room. KV Reddy first talked to ANR and NTR and then told Jamuna and her father, “They want a written apology from you.” Jamuna and her father refused point blank. Srinivasa Rao said, “My daughter shall not apologise because she hasn’t done anything wrong. There’s no problem if she doesn’t have any films. She will either sit at home or get married.” The attempted compromise failed. This was the time when Chakrapani was planning the classic Gundamma Katha and he wanted none other than Jamuna for the role of Saroja in the movie. He approached Srinivasa Rao again who suggested a way out. The plan was to get ANR, NTR and Jamuna together again for a meeting in which KV Reddy and Chakrapani would chastise both parties and then ask them to work together again. This way, no one’s ego would be hurt. The plan worked to a T although ANR could not prevent himself from making one snide remark towards the end of their conversation. “Veladantha unnavu, moodu samvatsatralu torture pettavu,” said ANR addressing Jamuna, the rough literal translation of which goes something like this: Although not of our stature, you tortured us for three years. In later years, recounting this entire episode with the media, Jamuna said, “I’m grateful for the entire experience for it helped me realize as a person, the stuff I was made up of. My inspiration for acting the way I did was Bhanumathi garu who never took flak from anyone in the industry. She was so highly respected that even NTR and ANR used to address her as ‘Madam’. I think Bhanumathi garu and I are the only two heroines in the Telugu industry to have stood up for ourselves, the way we did.”Indeed, there will never be another personality like Jamuna.