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Jayalalithaa: The Iron Lady of India

Friday, December 09, 2016

Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram kept everyone on tenterhooks till her death. At the age of 16, a brilliant student, she had little choice on the turn her life took, when she was pushed onto the silver screen. But over three decades later, “Amma” had become her own master, with a devoted fan following, some even willing to give up their lives for her. It was a role reversal from which there was no looking back. Yet there was one aspiration that remained unfulfilled - of becoming the Prime Minister. Jayalalithaa, who was 68 when she passed away, may have become an actor reluctantly, and was unlikely to have visualised becoming the chief minister, but in both worlds she made her mark. Her debut Kannada film 'Chinnada Gombe' became a blockbuster in 1964, following which director CV Sridhar made her an offer for his Tamil film 'Vennira Aadai', which also became a hit. Jayalalithaa then did her first film with Tamil superstar MGR in 1965 and the two went on to do 28 films together, almost all of which were box office hits. Later, Jayalalithaa, who did 140 films, acted with other stalwarts like Sivaji Ganesan and Ravichandran Jaishankar. She even did a Hindi film Izzat with Dharmendra as her co-star in 1968. In the early eighties, MGR realised he was getting old and needed support when campaigning for his party the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). He then turned to his co-star Jayalalithaa and launched her as a party campaigner. Jayalalithaa’s star power however ensured that she continued to draw crowds. Her growing popularity caused MGR to give her more responsibilities asking Jayalalithaa to take over some of the propaganda work. She was made a member of Rajya Sabha, elected from Tamil Nadu, from 1984 to 1989 and after that leadership of the AIADMK. With her demise the country has lost tall leader. May Her Soul Rest in Peace ( R.I.P )

-Bhagwan Thadani, Mumbai

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