Non Fiction & Auto-Biographies

Book Review: Amma-Jayalalithaa’s Journey by Vaasanthi

Ever wondered why some people’s life fascinate us? Why are they so enigmatic? Dr. J Jayalalithaa was an enigma! She made her rule, in two professions that had always been dominated by men. The reigning movie star way back in the 60s and 70s, and then the queen of Tamil politics in the decades that followed. Her life had seen it all- fame, adulations, humiliation, defeat and victory. She was always under public scrutiny. Yet, she was a mystery in many a ways, and probably would remain so.

Vaasanthi’s book on Amma and her journey from a movie star to a political queen was the trending book on Juggernaut, around the time of her first death anniversary on 5th December 2017. When the book first came out in 2011, it was banned by a court order. However with the twist of fate in the last couple of years, it is now easily available on Juggernaut as well as on Amazon (paperback). The book traces the journey of Jayalalithaa, from a little girl filled with innocence to the political storm that she became. Get a glimpse into her childhood, early film career, the tumultuous relationship with MGR, and her rising to power, against all odds.

Fondly called Ammu at home, Jayalalithaa was a trained dancer, convent educated, with a great love for reading. Keen on pursuing law, or joining the IAS, a chanced meeting with a producer at the age of 16 squashed all her dreams. Coupled with her mother’s persuasion to take up acting to overcome the family’s financial difficulties, the young girl that she was, found herself pushed into a field she seldom had much interest in.

What followed was something no one expected. She became the top actress of her times, and the highest paid heroine in the Tamil film industry. She was paired at the age of 17 with the then reigning super hero MGR who was 48. Yet, despite the difference in age, the crowds loved the pair together. The chemistry clicked on screen and off-screen as well. The book describes her entry into politics with her mentor MGR’s aid. It sketches, her rise and fall, the humiliation at the hand of party workers and opposition, the defeat at polls and of glorious victories that resulted in her becoming the most powerful woman of Tamil Nadu.

Most of the information, though, isn’t really new, and have been published in other sources as well. Yet being compiled into one book made it an interesting read. Many areas of her life have been carefully avoided, such as her relationship with Sasikala, the world inside Pose Garden, and the many layers of her personality. But then for the complex and reserved person that she was, it probably would be difficult to delve deeper.

Juggernaut’s book on Jayalalithaa by Vaasanthi, is a fast paced and crisp biopic. The abridged version gives a fairly decent glimpse about the woman she was. The book at Rs. 80, could be completed in single reading session!!!


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