Though two years have passed since the demise of former CM J Jayalalithaa, there are controversies that still surround her life. Despite efforts in the past to document her entire life history, important chapters of her life have still remained in the dark.
The third episode of Thanthi TV’s Jayalalithaa Enum Naan documentary explored this topic: though she was born in Mysore, Jayalalithaa’s native can be traced back to Nangavaram, a panchayat town in between Srirangam and Karur. This new information is confirmed by CP Rangachaar, son of her paternal aunt. Coincidentally, as the first MLA of Kulithalai, Karunanidhi’s maiden speech in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was on the plight of the Nangavaram farmers.
Similarly, the episode that delves deep into the family’s history, her cousin Amitha Chari says that though Jayalalithaa’s mother (Veda, who later changed her name to Sandhya) hails from Nellore, they were Tamil Brahmins and Tamil was Jayalalithaa’s mother tongue right from the time she was born. There is also an anecdote referring to how many rumours came to the fore after Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was quoted as saying that Jayalalithaa always speaks to him fluently in Telugu.
Apart from tracing some of the houses Jayalalithaa was raised in (incidentally, her name is derived from the buildings ‘Jaya Vilas’ and ‘Lalitha Vilas’), there is one more mystery solved – was Komalavalli (also her grandma’s name) her birth name? In the recent film Sarkar, the controversy also arose due to Varalaxmi’s character being called Komalavalli.
But a resounding ‘no’ is the answer, as Jayalalithaa’s cousins Amitha and Anuradha recall she was always called ‘Ammu’ inside the house and ‘Jayalalitha’ formally in school. A visit to her first place of education, the Bishop Cotton Girls’ School in Bengaluru also brings up an attendance/mark register where her name is recorded as such. One of her school classmates Dorothy also confirms that nobody knew her by any other name.