Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa breathed her last at Apollo Hospital on Monday night, sending a wave of sadness among her admirers. Her followers had thronged the hospital since Sunday night after the news broke that the charismatic leader had suffered a cardiac arrest. With her condition touted critical, all her followers did was looked up in the sky with prayers on their lips and hoped for a miracle. The actor turned politician had over the years gained the image of a demi-God in Tamil Nadu. As her death at the age of 68, sent her followers in deep mourning, take a look at her life in pictures.
Jayalalithaa began her movie career when she was just 15 years old, with the Kannada movie Chinnada Gombe in 1964. She was professionally trained in classical music, western classical piano, and various forms of classical dance, including Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Manipuri and Kathak.
In 1965, her first movie with veteran actor M. G. Ramachandran, Aayirathil Oruvan helped Jayalalithaa become a prominent face of the regional film industry. The movie ran for 100 days and MGR-Jayalalithaa became an immortal on screen pair.
Apart from MGR, Jayalalithaa’s on screen pair with another superstar Sivaji Ganesan was equally popular. The first Tamil movie Deiva Magan to be submitted by India for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language, featured these two icons.
Jayalalithaa and MGR featured in 27 movies. The superstar called the young girl ‘Ammu’ and promised mother Sandhya to always look after her. It was MGR who founded All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam AIADMK and introduced Jayalailthaa to politics.
After MGR’s death in 1987, Jayalalithaa stepped into her mentor’s shoes and took the party to new heights. She got elected as the Chief Minster for the first time in 1991. Jayalalithaa became the first woman CM of the state, moving beyond MGR’s wife Janaki and other senior leaders of the party.
But in 1996, AIADMK lost badly in elections and Jayalalithaa couldn’t keep her seat either. Down but now out, Jayalalithaa campaigned religiously and became the CM for the second time in 2001.
Jayalalithaa returned for a third term in 2011. In 2014, she was sentenced to four years of prison in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case. During her jail term, followers of Amma stayed put outside the prison to tell her she wasn’t alone. Such was the stature she enjoyed, that Jayalalithaa’s followers shaved their heads and organised rituals for her return.
Their prayers were answered when Jayalalithaa was acquitted in the case in 2015 and returned to her position. Citizens of Tamil Nadu put their faith in her once again when Jayalalithaa won the elections in 2016. She is the second CM after MGR, to serve consecutive terms as Chief Minister.
Referred to as Amma, Puratchi Thalaivi the revolutionary leader and many other names Jayalalithaa considered green as her lucky colour. There have been many incidents when ‘Amma’s’ followers fell in her feet with folded hands to prove their allegiance. It was their love that made them beat their chests and say loud prayers outside the hospital for two days, hoping for her return. Sadly, their Amma didn't!