Actor-turned politician J Jayalalithaa, one of Indian cinema’s most prominent artists was born in Mysore on February 24, 1948 to a Tamil Iyengar family. Her father Jayaram, a lawyer by profession passed away when she was just about two-years-old. After her father’s demise, she shifted to Bangalore with her mother Vedavalli and brother Jayakumar.
She studied at the Bishop Cotton Girls' High School in Bangalore and subsequently moved to Chennai to complete her schooling from Sacred Heart Matriculation School (Presentation Church Park Convent).
A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, Jayalalithaa was also proficient in Kathak, Manipuri and Mohiniattam dance forms. Besides Tamil, Jayalalithaa had an excellent command over English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam languages. She was a very qualified lady.
Jaya inherited her mother’s talent and followed in her footsteps to be a part of the film industry.
She began her acting career with an English language film titled 'Epistle' in 1961.
But she made her debut as a lead actress in BR Panthulu’s Kannada film 'Chinnada Gombe' in 1964.
In about a year’s time, Jaya made her debut in Tamil cinema with CV Sridhar’s 'Vennira Aadai'. She rose to stardom following the Box Office success of the love triangle which also featured Sreekanth and Nirmala. Within a year, she made her Telugu film debut with 'Manushulu Mamathalu'.
Her film titled 'Pattikada Pattanama' with Shivaji Ganesan that released in 1972 bagged the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. This film helped Jayalalithaa redefine her space as an actor in the industry.
In the following year, Jaya bagged the prestigious Filmfare award for her performances in 'Pattikada Pattanama', 'Suryakanthi' and 'Sri Krishna Satya'.
'Deiva Magan', a film that featured her opposite Shivaji Ganesan went on to become the first Tamil film to be nominated by India for the Academy Awards.
Besides these achievements, what added more spark to Jaya’s film career was her on screen chemistry with acting legend and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MG Ramachandran.
‘Aayirathil Oruvan’, a film based on time-travel starring MGR and Jayalalithaa turned out to be a blockbuster. The film was screened for over 100 days in Chennai (then Madras).
‘Adimai Penn’ with MGR was another noteworthy film set in the backdrop of a kingdom. She also starred opposite MGR in ‘Ragasiya Police 115’ a spy thriller. Another memorable film - ‘Arasa Kattalai’ - also starred B Saroja Devi besides Jayalalithaa and MGR. It was a classic tale of the triumph of the good over the evil. Power-packed dialogues of the film struck an emotional chord with the audiences.
In ‘En Annan’, a social drama, Jaya essayed the role of MGR’s on screen ladylove. The film echoed the mood of the society of that era and was well received by the audiences.
Besides the above mentioned, Jayalalithaa has been a part of successful films such as ‘Kandan Karunai’, ‘Yaar Nee’ (a remake of Hindi movie ‘Woh Kaun Thi’) and ‘Suryakanthi’.
She also worked in a Hindi film titled ‘Izzat’ starring Dharmendra.