When Jaya Prada was fourteen years old, she performed a dance at her school's annual function. A film director in the audience offered her a three-minute dance number in the Telugu film Bhoomi Kosam. She was hesitant, but her family encouraged her to accept it. She was paid only 10 rupees for her work in the film, but the rushes of those three minutes of film were shown to the major figures of the Telugu film industry. Major filmmakers offered her starring roles in quality films, and she accepted them. She became a huge star in 1976 with major hit films. Director K. Balachander's black-and-white film Anthuleni Katha (1976) showcased her dramatic skills; K. Viswanath's color film Siri Siri Muvva (1976) showed her playing a mute with excellent dancing skills; and her title role as Sita in the big-budget mythological film Seetha Kalyanam confirmed her versatility. In 1977, she starred in Adavi Ramudu, which broke box office records and which permanently cemented her star status. The song "Aaresukoboyi Paresukunnanu" performed by Prada and co-star N.T. Rama Rao became a mass hit. Important filmmakers were casting her and repeating her in their films. Filmmaker Vijay introduced her to Kannada cinema in his 1977 super hit movie ""Sanadi Appanna"" alongside Kannada matinee idol Raj Kumar. The movie is also known to be the only movie to feature shehnai rendition by Ustad Bismillah Khan. Jaya Prada repeated her successful pairing with Raj Kumar in films like Huliya Halina Mevu (1979), Kaviratna Kalidasa (1983) and Shabdavedhi (2000). In 1979, K. Balachander repeated her in Ninaithale Inikkum opposite Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth in which she played a terminally-ill patient. She continued to act in more films in Telugu opposite actors such NTR, ANR, Krishna, Krishnam Raju and Sobhan Babu throughout the 70s and 80s. K. Viswanath remade Siri Siri Muvva (1976) in Hindi as Sargam introducing Jayaprada to Bollywood in 1979. The film was successful and she became a star there as well. She earned her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress but couldn't capitalize on her success since she couldn't speak Hindi.