{ Page-Title / Story-Title }

Article Tamil

Birth anniversary special: Revisiting 5 films of Jayalalithaa, the actress

A fascinating actress, Jayalalithaa combined power and beauty in her performances to become one of the most recognised faces of Tamil cinema.

Shriram Iyengar

Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth's overtures to politics are, political analysts, suggest the result of a vaccum in the state's power centre. That vaccuum was created with the passing of J Jayalalithaa. The late chief minister of Tamil Nadu was one of the last great political powers that emerged from the world of Tamil cinema. Though she is now known for her politics, it is important to remember that Jayalalithaa was as capable an actress as she was a politician. 

A winner of the Tamil Filmfare award for best actress an incredible five times, Jayalalithaa possessed expression, grace, and natural ability to rival any of her top peers. Whether it was Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, or the inimitable MG Ramachandran, the actress stood toe to toe with the top billed stars of the industry during the time. Such was her popularity in the post MGR period that she would often be billed alongside her leading men. It was a rare honour in a dominantly patriarchal industry. 

On her 70th birth anniversary (she was born on 24 February 1948), we take a look at five films that defined her as an actress. 

1. Vennira Aadai (1965) 

Though she made her debut in Telugu cinema in 1961, it took her another four years before she made her foray into the Tamil industry. Cast opposite Sreekanth, Jayalalithaa played a young widow who loses her mind, and her memory of the incident. A complex character was brought to life by the actress marking her out for future success. 
2. Ayirathil Oruvan (1965) 

The first film that saw the combination of Jayalalithaa and MGR come together. Aayirathil Oruvan remains a blockbuster to this date. The film had pirates, sultans, princesses, fights on the ship and several other larger-than-life elements that would set the tone for MGR and Jayalalithaa's careers. It also began a partnership that remains the most productive off screen and on screen partnership in Tamil cinema till date. 

3. Chandrodyam (1966) 

Think, It Happened One Night (1934) or Chori Chori (1956). Well, Jayalalithaa played the part that would make Nargis into an icon in Hindi cinema. Playing the naive, but feisty heiress who is rescued by an idealistic reporter (MGR, who else!), the actress showed equal parts charm and poise. It was one of the romantic comedies that established her partnership with MGR on the screen. 

4. Yaar Nee (1966) 

A remake of Woh Kaun Thi! (1964), the film saw the actress take on the part of Sadhana's mysterious femme fatale in the original. A wonderful work of noir, it was raised to another level by the music of SS Vedhasalam. It was one of the actress's most successful films from her prolific times during the 1960s decade. 

5. Suryakanthi (1973) 

Romance and comedy were not the only things the actress was good at. In this progressive film, she played a woman who pursues her own ambition and career. The conflict between love and career was as prevalent then as it is now, and like in her real life, the actress chose her career. The film won her a Filmfare award for best actress and is remembered as one of her iconic performances before her entrance into politics.