Chennai: An era ends with the death of J.Jayalalithaa. Before assuming power in politics, she was an acclaimed actress in the South film industry. With over 140 films in her kitty, she has ruled the box office for 20 years. Jayalalithaa has acted in several Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Hindi films in her two decade long career.
It was popular film actor Shivaji Ganeshan who discovered the acting potential in Jayalalitha after watching her classical dance performance. She debuted at the age of 13 in Kannada film Sri Shaila Mahathme as a child artiste. There was no looking back since. She played small roles in English and Tamil plays under the theatre troupe United Amateur Artistes (UAA).
Later she forayed into Kannada films as a lead actor in 1964 film Chinnada Gombe at the age of 15. It was helmed as a blockbuster. She debuted in Tamil theatre, but film offers were pouring in. In a span of two years, she acted in around 35 plays. Jayalalithaa’s debut in Tamil cinema was the leading role in Vennira Aadai in 1965 by CV Sridhar. She gave 11 successful films to the Tamil Film industry in a single year.
With mentor-actor-politician M.G Ramachandran, she has starred in 28 films. The first being Aayirathil Oruvan in 1965 and their last film together was Pattikaattu Ponnaiya in 1973.
Jayalalithaa’s feisty role in Hindi film Izzat opposite Dharmendra in 1968 garnered a lot of appreciation. It was her sole Bollywood film. She has given hit films opposite Tamil actors Jaishankar and Ravichandran. She was given a screen credit as Kalai Selvi in most films post 1967.
Among numerous accolades, she has bagged six Filmfare awards for her roles in Tamil and Telegu films. Notably, Pattikada Pattanama opposite Sivaji Ganeshan was awarded the National Award For The Best Feature Film. She also won five State Film awards for portraying various roles. She holds the record for maximum number of silver jubilee hits in her career. She was also the highest paid Indian actress from 1965-1980.
Her last film as a leading heroine was the Telegu film Nayakudu Vinayakudu in 1980, which went on to become the highest grossing film of the year.
Her dauntless determination and daring persona earned her fame. She is the first actress in Tamil industry to appear in skirts. Her male co-stars never objected to the titular characters played by her. She did many female-centric movies. In three such films where MGR was the lead, the story was built around Jaya’s character. A multi-faceted actor, she could play any role with finesse, be it romantic, comfortable or social dramas. Jayalalithaa was rightfully hailed as the first female superstar of Tamil cinema.
A cult political figure, Jayalalithaa or Amma of Tamil Nadu had stroked the perfect chord with cine-goers before venturing into politics. With her prolific film career, she has been beckoned as the Iron Butterfly.
Edited By: Ahana Sen Gupta