Veteran film-maker Bharathiraja has revealed that it was Jayalalitha, the chief minister, and not Sridevi who was his ‘first’ heroine. Bharathiraja debuted with the classic 16 Vayathinile in 1977 and is credited as the director who ‘rewrote’ the style of filmmaking in Tamil. His realistic depiction of villages in films still remains unmatched.
16 Vayathinile witnessed the trio of Kamal Haasan, superstar Rajinikanth and Sridevi, all of whom went on to make an indelible impression in the minds of the national and global audiences for the next three decades. In fact, though Sridevi hasn’t been actively involved in films now, Kamal and Rajini are very much part of it and are going strong.
Replying to a query from a reader in his weekly column in a popular regional magazine, Bharathiraja has said “Before launching 16 Vayathinile, I and Selvaraj wanted to make a film titled Sontha Veedu and narrated the script to Jayalalitha (who was a very popular actress in the seventies) and even got a 28-day call-sheet schedule from her. However, another director intervened and I missed the chance directing Amma in my first film.
“The script, which was to feature Jayalalitha in the lead role, was made some years later by me as Pudhumai Penn in 1984 starring Revathy as the protagonist. As such, Jayalalitha is the first heroine I should have worked with,” concluded Bharathiraja in his reply to the reader’s query.