Over the period of last three decades, actor Jayalalithaa may have been overshadowed by the deeds of politician Jayalalithaa. For many, it would be hard to imagine that the no-nonsense chief minister was once a slim and captivating beauty. The influential leader who always dressed in thick clothes of dark colours, showing a lack of interest in fashion, back then, had pushed the envelope in portraying onscreen glamorous roles, while, in fact, many leading ladies of her time played within the confines of short-sighted morality.
Legendary thespian Sivaji Ganeshan, who was the chief guest at Jayalalithaa’s ‘Arangaetram’ or first Bharatanatyam dance performance in 1960, described her as “thangachilai” (golden statue) in reference to her slim physique. And he also predicted that one day she will be a very successful actor in the film industry, which came true sooner than he expected.
In 1964, Jayalalithaa was just 15 when she became a heroine with blockbuster Kannada film, Chinnada Gombe.
Born and raised in Karnataka, Jayalalithaa was well-versed in Kannada. She acted in Chinnada Gombe during her summer holidays to ensure her studies were not affected. However, the success of the film, directed by BR Panthulu, opened up new doors for the young talent, prompting her to become a full-time actor.
In her decorated acting career, Jayalalithaa had made audience cry, laugh, think and experience a gamut of emotions with her onscreen characters. She had acted in more than 120 films in several languages. However, the majority of them were in Tamil and her movies with co-actor and political mentor MG Ramachandran were all box office smashes.
However, before she joined the AIADMK party in 1982 under the guidance of MGR, her last released film as an actor was in Telugu titled Nayakudu Vinayakudu in 1980. This is the last reel that serves as the reminder of how ravishingly beautiful and elegant Jayalalithaa was before she transformed herself into a charismatic and powerful politician, who millions of people now know as Amma (mother).