Jaya Bachchan turns 59 Monday ...

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By Arpana, Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) As wife of Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and mother of emerging star Abhishek, Jaya could have easily slipped into their shadows. But the veteran actress, who turns 59 Monday, has continuously reminded everyone that she continues to stand on her own.

Till date she is remembered as the simple, deglamourised, girl next door of "Guddi", who entered the hearts of millions of movie buffs. She is known to be a graceful, ideal woman both on and off screen.

Unlike her husband who has vowed to stay away from politics, Jaya is in the thick of things as a Samajwadi Party MP.

Recently, the Election Commission issued a notice to her on allegations that she had hidden details about two plots in her husband's name in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. She is to reply to the Commission April 15.

Jaya has remained undeterred by such political crises and is more active on the political front than on the big screen. But right now she is busy with preparations for her son Abhishek's wedding to actress Aishwarya Rai that is fixed for April 20.

Her oeuvre is not as huge as her husband but she's left an everlasting impression on the minds of Indian movie buffs with her performances in films like "Guddi", "Mili", "Abhimaan", "Koshish", "Anamika" "Piya Ka Ghar" and "Silsila".

Jaya, a Bengali, was born to Indira and Taroon Kumar Bhaduri -writer, journalist and stage artiste. After completing her schooling from St. Joseph's Convent School, Bhopal, Jaya got an opportunity to play a small role in Satyajit Ray's Bengali film "Mahanagar" at the young age of 15.

She later joined the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. After completing her course there, she made her Bollywood debut in 1971 with "Guddi", where she played a schoolgirl obsessed with film star Dharmendra. And after that there was no looking back for this talented actress.

However, she wasn't too keen on pursuing her acting career after marrying Amitabh. She found a homemaker's job more fulfilling and quit acting while at her prime.

Her acclaimed performances got her several awards and accolades but she has nevertheless had her share of problems.

First the rumours of her husband's romance with co-star Rekha cast a shadow on her married life. But Jaya remained calm and composed, not uttering a single word on it in public.

But Amitabh's near-fatal accident on the sets of "Coolie" in 1982 turned her life upside down. Once again, just like her on screen image, she fought with grace. She has kept the media at bay and given very few interviews.

In one of the rare interviews, she was quoted as saying: "Motherhood means everything to me. I don't care what the world thinks as long as my children have faith in me. My children are more important to me than even my husband."

She is probably the biggest and most important influence on children lives.

Terming herself a strict mother, Jaya confesses that the love and respect her children give her are "more important to me than any other kind of success in the world".

It's not really easy being Jaya when she and her family have been under constant media surveillance. But she has maintained her dignity and poise throughout life's ups and downs.

While staying away from the silver screen, she produced popular television serial "Dekh Bhai Dekh". Jaya made a grand comeback to movies after a gap of 18 years in the acclaimed "Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa" in 1998.

In 2000, she played mother to Karisma Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan in "Fiza" and received the Filmfare award for best supporting actress.

Several offers came her way but she chose to sign Karan Johar's family saga "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" and "Kal Ho Naa Ho".

Jaya will next be seen in Pradeep Sarkar's "Laaga Chunari Mein Daag" releasing later this year. She will be seen for the first time with son Abhishek in the film, which also stars Rani Mukerji and Konkona Sen Sharma. She is also working in director Jayabrato Chatterjee's English film "Lovesong".