A movie star who was seen as a sure-shot formula for success in the ’60s and ’70s, and a politician who is best described as the queen of Tamil politics, Jayalalithaa was destined to live her life in the public eye, enjoying the love and affection of lakhs of fans and supporters.
Despite being in the limelight all these years, there are a few aspects of her life that are not so well known.
Here’s a look at 15 things you probably didn’t know about Tamil Nadu’s most popular Cheif Minster:
1. Jayalalithaa Jayaram, fondly called Ammu at home, started learning Bharatnatyam at the age of three. She received training in Kathak, Mohiniattam and Manipuri dance as a child. She was also trained in classical music and western classical piano.
2. Jayalalithaa won the gold state award for securing the top position in class 10 in Tamil Nadu. She wanted to pursue law but was pushed into films by her mother who was a struggling actress. Jaya agreed to take up films after she became aware of her family’s financial troubles.
3. In one of her first movie appearances, she played the role of Lord Krishna in a three-minute dance sequence. It was a 1962 film called Man-Mauji, starring Kishore Kumar.
4. Jayalalithaa’s first Tamil film, Vennira Aadai, in 1965 made history even before its release by getting an “A” certificate as an adults-only film. Before this, a Tamil film had got an “A” certificate in 1951. Apparently the film certification board was upset by a song sequence where Jayalalithaa was bathing and dancing under a waterfall wearing a saree with a sleeveless blouse.
The “A” certificate meant that Jaya herself couldn’t watch the movie as she was only 17. The movie was an instant hit and ran in theatres for over a 100 days. Jayalalithaa got rave reviews. Thousands became her fans overnight. A star was born!
5. Jayalalitha won seven Filmfare awards and six Tamil Nadu Cinema Fan awards for Best Actress.
6. She became the highest paid actress in the Tamil film industry in 1966 after 11 consecutive hits that year. She was also the highest paid Indian actress from 1964-1980.
7. Jayalaitha was the first heroine to appear in skirts, knee-length dresses, sleeveless suits and gowns in Tamil films in the mid-’60s.
8. She acted in over 125 movies and played double roles in eight of them. She holds the record for being the Tamil actress with the maximum number of silver jubilee hits.
84 of her 89 Tamil films were smash hits and all 28 of her Telugu films were a runaway success. She also gave five hits in Kannada and starred in one English and one Hindi film. Her role opposite Dharmendra in the 1968 film, Izzat, was appreciated by many.
9. Jayalalitha sang several songs as a playback singer, where she was performing on-screen as well.
10. When Jayalalitha was first cast opposite MGR, he was 48 years old and she was just 17. Despite the huge age difference, the pair became a superhit. They acted in 28 films together, out of which 24 were box office bonanzas.
What people don’t know is that it was MGR’s wife, Janki, who insisted on him casting Jaya in his first technicolour production.
11. She bought her bungalow Veda Nilayam in Poes Gardens, Chennai for Rs 1.32 crore in 1967. It’s currently valued at Rs 43.96 crore.
12. Jayalalithaa was assaulted at MGR’s funeral, as she stood by his body at Rajaji Hall. She was reportedly hit on the forehead by MGR’s wife’s nephew, Deepan, when she tried to get on to the gun carriage bearing MGR’s body at the start of the funeral procession. Sources say MGR’s wife wasn’t comfortable with her presence.
13. Jayalalithaa claimed she was assaulted by DMK legislators inside the Legislative Assembly on March 26, 1989 while trying to raise an issue as Karunanidhi was presenting his Budget.
The AIADMK alleged that Amma had been molested inside the Assembly – a charge that was vehemently opposed by the ruling party.
After the assault, Jaya reportedly vowed to enter the House only as chief minister, which she managed in the 1991 Assembly polls.
14. Jayalalitha was accused of misusing her office during her first tenure as chief minister between 1991-996 and amassing properties worth Rs 66.65 crore. Assets under the scanner were farmhouses and bungalows in Chennai, agricultural land in Tamil Nadu, a farmhouse in Hyderabad and a tea estate in the Nilgiris.
A raid at her Poes Garden residence in 1997 lead to recoveries of 28kg of gold, 800kg of silver, 91 watches, 750 pairs of shoes and 10,500 sarees, among other valuables.
15. She became the first incumbent chief minister in India to be disqualified from holding office after she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case on September 27, 2014. She was subsequently acquitted by the Karnataka High Court and resumed office as CM.