Jayalalithaa – The lady who stood against all the odds.
Jayalalithaa Jayaraman commonly referred to as Amma and Puratchi Thalaivi by members of her party, also called Jaya or Jayalalitha Jayaram. She was an actress before her entry into politics and appeared in 140 films which include Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi films.
She was born on 24 February 1948, at Melukote, in Pandavapura taluka, Mandya district, then in Mysore State (now Karnataka) to Jayaram and Vedavalli in a Tamil Iyengar Brahmin family. Jayalalitha’s father, Jayaram, was a lawyer, but never worked and squandered most of the family money. He died when Jayalalitha was two years old.
She was forced to join the Tamil Films by her actress mother Sandhya (Real Name-Vedavathi) at the age of 15. Jayalalitha acted in 140 films across 6 languages – including 92 Tamil films, 1 Malayalam, 1 English film and 1 Hindi film and 28 Telugu films, and 6 Kannada films. She was also known for her dancing skills, she is referred to as the queen of Tamil cinema. Jayalalitha holds the record for having been the Tamil actress with maximum silver jubilee hits in her career – 80 hits of 85 Tamil films and in addition, she also has all 28 films in Telugu as silver jubilee hits. Her one film in Hindi, ‘Izzat’, was also a hit. She was the highest-paid Indian actress from 1965–80. She had 119 box office hits out of 125 films as the lead heroine. Her hits were opposite every artiste – Jaishanakr, Muthuraman, Ravichandran, NTR, ANR, MGR, Sivaji, Gemini Ganesan, Sreekanth.
She was called as Ammu by her parents. She came 1st in the 10th standard in Tamil Nadu. Since she was very young while beginning her career; senior artistes like MGR, Manorama, Sivaji Ganeshan, and contemporaries like Ravichandran, Jaishankar started calling her as Ammu. When she became popular as an actress she was referred to as Thangagoopuram and Thangachillai.
Jayalalitha was an immediately recognizable symbol of political modernity and was an able administrator and a gutsy woman. When she entered as AIDMK worker in 1980 she was out of respect called Amma meaning madam. Later when she as Chief minister abolished the system of female infanticide and she introduced a system of kids not needing father’s name to enter school college but even mothers name was sufficient, and later announced that even transgenders can enroll to schools, etc, such schemes won hearts of people and she was referred as Amma meaning mother since 1991.
Under Jayalalithaa’s regime, AIADMK has spread out beyond Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and state units have been established in the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. She ensured free medical checkups in villages for the poor to prevent the outbreak of disease. When tsunami and floods came she handled the situation properly to ensure diseases don’t spread and insurance claims reach the victims fast. She arranged marriages for many couples especially belonging to the poor sections of society. Jayalalitha was the first to introduce foreign-based automobile plant(Ford USA) in Chennai by 1995, Chennai is now home to all the top 10 world vehicle manufacturers and accounts for 40+% of entire Indian vehicles.
When comes to administration she was one of her kind, she was a multi-talented , powerful speaker, she managed to shine in politics alone beyond the male dominant society. In a male-dominated Dravidian culture she has come a long way and the respect she commands amongst her party cadres is unmatched in the country. Under her Tamil Nadu has become the Most urbanized and most industrialized state in India.