Home / Editorial / Most popular CM Jayalalithaa Jayaraman: Celluloid to Puratchi Thalaivi and Amma

Most popular CM Jayalalithaa Jayaraman: Celluloid to Puratchi Thalaivi and Amma

NEW DELHI, MAIN UDDIN: The condition of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who is hospitalised here since September 22, deteriorated today as she suffered cardiac arrest. “The honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening,” said a statement tonight by Apollo Hospital where she is admitted. “She is being treated and monitored by a team of experts, including cardiologists, pulmonologist and critical care specialists,” Chief Operating Officer and head of transformation of Apollo Hospital Dr Subbaiah Viswanathan said in the statement.

News about the 68-year-old leader suffering the cardiac arrest came hours after her party AIADMK said she will return home “soon” as an AIIMS expert team had confirmed that she has completely recovered after over two months of hospitalisation. Soon after the Apollo statement came, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and enquired about Jayalalithaa’s health.

Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra and holding the additional charge of Tamil Nadu, told Singh that he was rushing to Chennai from Mumbai where he was to attend a Navy Day event today.

During the 10-minute telephonic conversation, Rao briefed Singh about the health condition of the Chief Minister and conveyed that doctors attending to her were taking all necessary steps.

He told the Home Minister that he was reaching Chennai to personally monitor the situation in Tamil Nadu arising out of the sudden deterioration in the health of Jayalalithaa, official sources said.

Earlier in the day, AIADMK spokesperson C Ponnaiyan told reporters, “The AIIMS doctors visited the hospital yesterday and after examining her (Jayalalithaa’s) health, they shared the good news with us that Amma (as Jayalalithaa is fondly called by AIADMK cadre, meaning mother) has completely recovered.”

Ponnaiyan said the Chief Minister was doing physical exercises, undergoing physiotherapy, and was having food on her own besides advising officers on issues related to government and party activities.

Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration. The hospital, which had been issuing bulletins on her health status, had later said she was being treated for infection with respiratory support, among others.

Apollo Hospitals Chairman Dr C Prathap Reddy had recently said Jayalalithaa was in good health and was speaking using a valve attached to the tracheostomy tube.

Whole body physiotherapy was being done, he had said, adding that she was normally recuperating after being in bed for several weeks and would herself decide when to go home.

Meanwhile, Home Ministry officials are in constant touch

with the officials of Tamil Nadu government and assessing the situation.

The official sources in Delhi said that law and order situation in Tamil Nadu was normal so far and adequate central forces were available in the state to assist the state administration.

The central government will provide all assistance to Tamil Nadu government if any help is required, the sources said.

Sources indicated that the chiefs of two central paramilitary forces — CRPF DG K Durga Prasad and CISF DG O P Singh — could be sent to Tamil Nadu to supervise security deployment, if any need arises.

AIADMK supporters throng to Apollo

Large number of AIADMK supporters thronged Apollo Hospitals here tonight following information that ailing Chief Minister and party supremo Jayalaithaa suffered a cardiac arrest after days of showing improvement.

Heavy police deployment has been made in and around the hospital where 68-year-old Jayalalithaa has been undergoing treatment since September 22.

As news about the setback in Jayalalithaa’s health spread, AIADMK workers, including a large number of women, started gathering at the hospital.

Police were seen controlling the stream of people to prevent any untoward incident even as they blocked the main road leading to the hospital.

Barricades have been set up in the vicinity of the hospital and police presence could be seen in arterial roads near the hospital.

Many women, who gathered near the main gate of the hospital, could be seen praying fervently for the well-being of their “Amma” (mother), as she is fondly known among her supporters.

“I only hope to hear a good news about Amma’s health.

Right now, we are very tensed. I got the news about her heart attack one hour back and just arrived here,” an AIADMK cadre told PTI.

Some of the women held photographs of Jayalalithaa and raised slogans “Amma vaazhga, Puratchi thalaivi vaazhga!! (Long live Amma, Long live revolutionary leader).

Getting back to the History of AMMA

Jayalalithaa Jayaraman was born 24 February 1948), commonly referred to as Amma and Puratchi Thalaivi by members in her party; also called as Selvi J.Jayalalitha, or Kumari Jayalalitha or Jaya or Jayalalitha Jayaram, is an Indian politician and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in office since 2015. Previously she served as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, in 2001, from 2002 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2014. She was an actress before her entry into politics and appeared in 140 films which includes Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada films. As a leading actress in films from 1961 to 1980, she was considered as one of the most prolific and most versatile actress having appeared in films of different genres and for performing wide variety of characters. She was also known for her dancing skills.She is referred to as the queen of Tamil cinema. She is the general secretary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). She is popularly referred to as Puratchi Thalaivi, Thanga Gopuram, Thanga Chillai and Thanga Tharagai (Golden Maiden) by her followers. In 2001, an additional letter “a” was appended to the spelling of her name for reasons related to numerology.

As an actress, she frequently worked with another actor-turned-politician, M. G. Ramachandran (MGR). This led to wide speculation that Jayalalitha was introduced to politics by MGR. However, she has denied these claims and stated that she had entered politics by choice. She was a member of the Rajya Sabha, elected from Tamil Nadu, from 1984 to 1989. Soon after the death of MGR, Jayalalitha proclaimed herself his political heir. She is the second female chief minister of Tamil Nadu after Janaki Ramachandran.

Jayalalithaa became the first incumbent chief minister in India to be disqualified from holding office due to conviction in a disproportionate assets case on 27 September 2014. On 11 May 2015, the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case, and she resumed office as Chief Minister on 23 May. She was subsequently re-elected by the electorate of the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency of North Chennai in a by-election held on 27 June 2015.

She was re-elected as Chief Minister on 19 May 2016 and took the oath as Chief Minister for the sixth time on 23 May 2016. Jayalalitha 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 was given her grandmother’s name Koamalavalli at the time of birth. As per Brahmin custom, 2 names are given – one ancestral grandmother name and other being personal name. The personal name Jayalalitha was adopted at the age of 1 for the purpose of using the same in school and colleges. It was derived from the names of two houses where she resided in Mysore. One was “Jaya Vilas” and the other “Lalitha Vilas”. Her paternal grandfather, Narasimhan Rengachary, was in the service of the Mysore kingdom as a surgeon, and served as the court physician to Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV of Mysore. Her maternal grandfather, Rangasamy Iyengar, moved to Mysore from Srirangam to work with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He had one son and three daughters – Ambujavalli, Vedavalli and Padmavalli. Vedavalli was given in marriage to Narasimhan Rengachary’s son, Jayaram. The couple Jayaram-Vedvalli had two children: a son Jayakumar and a daughter, Jayalalitha.Her mother, her relatives and later co-stars and friends referred her as Ammu.

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.The widowed Vedavalli returned to her father’s home in Bangalore in 1950. Vedavalli learnt shorthand and typewriting to take up a clerical position to help support the family in 1950. Vedavalli’s younger sister Ambujavalli had moved to Madras and was working as an air hostess since 1948 and was also acting in dramas and films using the screen name Vidyaavathy since 1951. After a while, on insistence of Ambujavalli, Jayalalithaa’s mother Vedavalli also relocated to Madras and stayed with her sister since 1952. Vedavalli worked in a commercial firm in Madras and began dabbling in acting since 1953 under screen name Sandhya. Jayalalitha remained under care of her mother’s sister Padmavalli and with maternal grandparents from 1950 to 1958 in Mysore. Vedavalli took on the name Sandhya and began to work as an actress, first in local drama companies and then in Tamil cinema. She took on the screen name of Sandhya. While still in Bangalore, Jayalalithaa attended Bishop Cotton Girls’ School. In later interviews, Jayalalithaa spoke emotionally about how she missed her mother growing up in a different city, and she had the opportunity to visit her mother during summer vacations.

After her aunt Padmavalli’s marriage in 1958, Jayalalitha moved to Chennai and began to live with her mother. She completed her childhood education at Sacred Heart Matriculation School (popularly known as Church Park Presentation Convent or Presentation Church Park Convent) in Chennai. She excelled at school and was offered a government scholarship to pursue further education. She won Gold State Award for coming first in 10th standard in not just her school but also in Tamil Nadu. She appears not to have accepted the admission offered to her at Stella Maris College, Chennai. She is fluent in several languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and English.

Jayalalithaa’s debut in Tamil cinema was the leading role in Vennira Aadai (1965), directed by C. V. Sridhar. She made her debut in Telugu films as lead actress in Manushulu Mamathalu opposite Akkineni Nageshwara Rao. Her last Telugu release was also opposite Akkineni Nageswara Rao in the film Nayakudu Vinayakudu, which was released in 1980. She was the first heroine to appear in skirts in Tamil films.She acted in one Hindi film called Izzat, with Dharmendra as her male costar in 1968.She starred in 28 box-office hit films with M.G. Ramachandran between 1965 and 1973.The first with MGR was B.R. Panthalu’s Aayirathil Oruvan in 1965 and their last film together was Pattikaattu Ponnaiya in 1973.

She had 11 successful releases in Tamil in 1966. In the opening credits of Arasa Katalai, for the first time her name was affixed with the phrase Kavarchi Kanni. In 1967 she bought her bungalow, Veda Nilayam, in Poes Gardens for 1.32 lakhs. Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar was on the lookout for a regular heroine for his production after he had fight with the actress Savithri after the release of Vetaikkaran, and he signed Jayalalitha on in 1965. She became a regular heroine for production house Devar films from 1966.

Jaishankar was romantically paired with Jayalalithaa in eight Tamil films including Muthuchippi, Yaar Nee?, Nee (film), Vairam, Vandhale Magarasi, Bommalattam (1968 film) (1968), Raja Veetu Pillai and Avalukku Aayiram Kangal whereas the films Thanga Gopuram and Gowri Kalyanam had him play elder brother to her. Jayalalitha acted in twelve films as heroine opposite N. T. Rama Rao, in Telugu – Gopaludu Bhoopaludu (1967), Chikkadu Dorakadu (1967), Tikka Shankaraiah (1968), Niluvu Dopidi (1968), Baghdad Gaja Donga (1968), Kathanayakudu (1969 film) (1969), Kadaladu Vadaladu (1969), Gandikota Rahasyam (1969), Ali Baba 40 Dongalu (1970), Shri Krishna Vijayam (1970), Shri Krishna Satya (1971), Devudu Chesina Manushulu (1973). Jayalalitha had 7 films with Akkineni Nageswara Rao in Telugu – Manashulu Mamatalu (1965), Aastiparulu (1966), Brahmachari (1968), Aadarsa Kutumbam (1969), Adrushtavanthalu (1969), Bharya Biddalu (1971), Nayakudu Vinayakudu (1980). She also made guest appearance in Navarthi (1966). In 1969, in Tamil Conference held, she was given the tag of Kaviri Thandha Kalai Selvi. She has been given on-screen credit as Kalai Selvi in most of her Tamil films since 1967.

Jayalalithaa won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress for Thanga Gopuram in 1971, Raman Thediya Seethai in 1972, Suryagandhi in 1973, Thirumangalyam in 1974, Yarukkum Vetkam Illai in 1975. Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress were not given in the years 1971 to 1976. However, in 1977, the awards for Best Actress and Best Actor were announced for the years 1971 to 1976 by way of honorary certificates by the government led by the then chief minister, Ramachandran.

She has done mythological films like Kandan Karunai, Aadhi Parashakti, Shri Krishna Satya, Shri Krishna Vijayam, Shri Rama Katha, Shri Krishna Leelai, Shakti Leelai, Ganga Gowri, Annai Velankanni, and Jesus. Her period dramas include Ayirathil Oruvan, Neerum Neruppum, Mani Magudam, Adimai Penn, Ali Baba 40 Dongalu, Arasa Katalai, and Baghdad Perazhagi. She acquired the reputation of being a multi-faceted actor equally comfortable in fantasy and mythological genres as well as in modern social dramas.She and Saroja Devi have been cited as the first female superstars of Tamil Cinema.

The directors who regularly casted her in their films include C. V. Rajendran, A. Bhimsingh, K. Shankar, B. R. Panthulu, P. Neelakantan, K. S. Gopalakrishnan, A. C. Tirulokchandar, T. R. Ramanna, Muktha Srinivasan and M.A. Thirumugam.

Ramachandran wanted her to be a member of the Rajya Sabha because of her fluency in English. Jayalalithaa was nominated and elected to that body in 1984 and retained her seat until 1989.Her success in her role as propaganda secretary caused resentment among high-ranking members of the party. By engineering a rift between her and Ramachandran, these members influenced Ramachandran to stop her writing about her personal life in a Tamil magazine. Despite these machinations, she remained admired by the rank and file of the party.

In 1984, when Ramachandran was incapacitated due to a stroke, Jayalalithaa was said to have attempted to take over the position of chief minister or the party on the pretext that his health would prevent him from the proper execution of his duties. She successfully led the campaign in the 1984 general elections, in which the ADMK allied with the Congress. Following his death three years later, the AIADMK split into two factions: one supported his widow, Janaki Ramachandran, and the other favoured Jayalalithaa. Janaki was selected as the Chief Minister on 7 January 1988 with the support of 96 members; due in part to irregularities by speaker P.H. Pandian, who dismissed six members to ease her victory, she won a motion of confidence in the house. However, Rajiv Gandhi used Article 356 of the Constitution of India to dismiss the Janaki-led government and impose president’s rule on the state.

Jayalalithaa contested the subsequent 1989 elections on the basis of being MGR’s political heir.

First term as Chief Minister, 1991
In 1991, following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi days before the elections, her alliance with the Indian National Congress enabled her to ride the wave of sympathy that gave the coalition victory. The Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK lost power in the 1996 elections, when it won 4 of the 168 seats that they contested. Jayalalithaa was herself defeated by the DMK candidate in Bargur Constituency.

Second term as Chief Minister, 2001
Jayalalithaa was barred from standing as a candidate in the 2001 elections because she had been found guilty of criminal offences, including allegedly obtaining property belonging to a state-operated agency called TANSI.

Third term as Chief Minister, 2011
In April 2011, the AIADMK was part of a 13-party alliance that won the 14th state assembly elections. Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the third time on 16 May 2011, having been elected unanimously as the leader of the AIADMK party subsequent to those elections.

On 27 September 2014, Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in jail and fined Rs 100 crore by the Special Court in Bangalore. She was convicted in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case that was launched by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy (now member of Bharatiya Janata Party) on 20 August 1996 on the basis of Income Tax Department report on her. Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, her niece Ilavarasi, her nephew and the chief minister’s disowned foster son Sudhakaran were also convicted.

Return as Chief Minister, 2015
The acquittal allowed her once again to hold office and on 23 May 2015, Jayalalithaa was sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time. She was subsequently re-elected by the electorate of the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar (State Assembly Constituency) of North Chennai in the by-election held on 27 June 2015. In a landslide victory, she polled more than 88 per cent votes of the 74.4 per cent turnout, winning by a margin of over 1.6 lakh votes.

Jayalalithaa was again elected as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the May 2016 elections. She retained the R. K. Nagar constituency with a margin of 39,545 votes over her DMK rival. She is the second Chief Minister after M. G. Ramachandran, to serve consecutive terms as Chief Minister. In her victory speech, she commented, “Even when 10 parties allied themselves against me, I did not have a coalition and I placed my faith in God and built an alliance with the people. It is clear that the people have faith in me and I have total faith in the people.
She has received several honorary doctorates and other honours, beginning with an award from the University of Madras in 1991.

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  1. According to a report in DeccanChronicle, 193 people died in Tamil Nadu after hearing the news of her arrest. A day after Indian Supreme Court granted her bail, the former chief minister Jayalalithaa was released from jail on Saturday after spending 21 days behind bars.