By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
Jayalalithaa Jayaram, a girl born in Melukote, Mysuru district, is revered as ‘Amma’ all over Tamil Nadu. How did this phenomena or miracle happen? She was an actress who spanned across a decade with about 127 movies in 6 languages. It is to her credit that she donned the political mantle so effortlessly after the demise of her mentor late M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), another phenomena of his time.
Every one thinks that MGR suddenly shot to limelight and became the darling of the masses overnight. No. Not at all. MGR had cultivated the masses right from the beginning of his career. Even before his formal entry into politics, MGR used to celebrate Pongal and Diwali in Chennai with mass programmes across the State gifting away rickshaws, cycles, sarees and dhotis every year without fail for twenty years. Even the subject of his movies were carefully chosen. He would always be portrayed as an underdog or a poor man toiling away and bashing up the rich villains, movie after movie. He also started the fan club culture in Chennai.
So much so once I was describing his eating habits in a relative’s house at Chennai and suddenly I was accosted by the maid of the house who accused me of fabricating the story about his eating habits. She was vehement in claiming that her Thailava [leader] would eat only “kanji” [gruel], the poor man’s food and nothing else. I kept quiet, knowing very well that no amount of argument would convince the lady otherwise.
Jayalalithaa was an alumnus of Christ School, Chennai. Excellent student, athlete and was pushed into the film world by her ambitious mother, Sandhya, a part-time failed actress. In an interview with Ram of The Hindu, she once claimed that she hated the film world and was forced into that by her mother. Surprisingly she also hated politics but some how she became a part of it. She had an inherent quality of excelling in anything she did. ...more