HYDERABAD: Renowned Telugu film actor and stage artiste Jayaprakash Reddy, popularly known as JP, died of cardiac arrest at his residence in Guntur on Tuesday.
The 74-year-old was born on October 10, 1946, and was a native of Sirivella, Allagadda Mandal in Kurnool district. He is survived by his wife and a son.
JP attained fame for portraying villainous and comedic roles and was known for his sharp and witty dialogues with a typical Rayalaseema slang. It were his expressions, diction, and antics that had directors write roles specifically for him.
Ever since the suspension of film shootings due to the COVID-19 outbreak, JP had been staying in Guntur and participated in stage plays every week at the Sri Venkateswara Vignana Mandiram. According to family members, JP was worried over his son and daughter-in-law testing positive for COVID-19.
JP began acting on stage from an early age and worked as a Mathematics teacher at a municipal school before foraying into films. His first stage play saw him convincingly enact the role of a female character. This performance earned him an award in the Best Actress category.
Recalling his association with JP, theatre artiste Mahanti says, “He was a close friend, a mentor and a soul mate. Nobody can replace him in these difficult times, but his work will continue to inspire us in the days to come.”
The septuagenarian acted in over 100 movies and termed late theatre artiste and Telugu film actor Nagabhushanam as his inspiration. He burst onto the scene with Venkatesh Daggubati-starrer Brahmaputrudu (1988). But it was in 1997 with Preminchukundam Raa, which again had Venkatesh in the lead, where JP carved a niche for himself.
He got a major break as a villain in Nandamuri Balakrishna-starrer action drama Samarasimha Reddy (1999). His body language and unique style of dialogue delivery as the factionalist Veeraraghava Reddy made the character an instant hit. He won the Nandi award for the best villain role in Jayam Manadera (2000).
Noteworthy Tollywood comedian Ali fondly remembers the time he spent with JP and says, “I first met him in 1989, and ever since, he was so affable and gentle with me. He had an immense love for art. He was the only actor who brought popularity to faction films with his impeccable portrayal in films like Preminchukundam Raa, Samarasimha Reddy, and Jayam Manadera.”
JP tickled the funny bone of millions of movie audiences as he made a transition from negative to comedic roles. Director Srinu Vaitla, who explored the comic side of JP in films like Anandam (2001), Dhee (2007), Ready (2008), and Baadshah (2013), says, “He was the villain in my debut film Nee Kosam (1999) and he turned into a comedian in my other film Anandam (2001). He was a regular in my films and was an actor par excellence. He was an enthusiastic person, who never spoke ill of others and was never money-minded. His obsession with Telugu theatre and films is second to none.”
Condolences pour in
Celebrities across the two Telugu States mourned JP’s death with many of them remembering their association with him.
From Chiranjeevi, Nandamuri Balakrishna, Mohan Babu to Prakash Raj lamented the death of JP. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy also expressed his grief over JP’s death.