The actor & the person

The star, the actor & the woman

Print edition : January 06, 2017

With M.G. Ramachandran in "Aayirathil Oruvan" (1965). She appropriated his legacy, just as he had appropriated C.N. Annadurai's legacy. Photo: The Hindu Archives

With Sivaji Ganesan in "Pattikada Pattanama" (1972). She has done more films with the Sivaji Ganesan and MGR than with anyone else. Photo: The Hindu Archives

As a child with her parents Jayaraman and Sandhya and brother Jayakumar. Photo: A. Muralitharan

Jayalalithaa's Shoba, with Srikanth in Vennira Aadai (1965). Photo: The Hindu Archives

Jayalalithaa's Sowbhagyavathi, with Nirmala, Srikanth and Major Sundarrajan, in "Vennira Aadai". Madness as a narrative device made possible the splitting of the female subject into two, the safe and the dangerous. Photo: The Hindu Archives

With Muthuraman in "Suryaganthi" (1973), the movie in which Jayalalithaa's character enjoyed more agency than the hero. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Jaishankar and Jayalalithaa in "Vandhale Maharasi" (1973). Photo: The Hindu Archives

With Ravichandran in "Maharasi" (1967). Photo: The Hindu Archives

Many of the characters played by Jayalalithaa in her films were dramatisations of patriarchal anxieties, with the female body rendered pleasurable and safe to the male gaze. It was those very feudal narratives that she used to reconfigure herself politically as “Amma”.
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