Chennai: “I keep my emotions to myself. I have never lost my temper in public. I have never wept in public,” says a serene and composed Jayalalithaa, answering Simi Garewal’s prying and curious questions on her show ‘Rendezvous with Simi Garewal’.
The interview served as one of the few windows into the life of the reclusive Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu, who was otherwise famous for being frigid and opaque.
Though she had done interviews with big-wigs across the media industry like Arnab Goswami and Karan Thapar to cite a few examples, but her encounter with Simi stands out. So much so that she was able to break down the wall of defence and make the Puratchi Thalaivi come out with a few candid confessions including her celebrity crushes.
“I remember having a great crush on Nari Contractor, the cricketer. I used to go to test matches just to watch him. I had another great crush on Shammi Kapoor,” a giggling Jaya confides to an equally excited Simi.
But the highlight of the interview is when the host successfully nudges Jaya to hum “Aaja sanam madhur chandini mein hum’.
But if you think the interview was all about two ‘sweet women’ reminiscing their past, you are wrong. Jayalalithaa did reveal some more interesting aspects from her life.
“I wasn’t at all like this. When I started out, I was very shy, I was terrified of meeting strangers and I hated the lime-light. It is very surprising. I have been propelled by fate into two high profile careers. I am really a behind the scenes person,” she claimed.
Recounting her childhood, Jaya said, “I was brought up in a very traditional way by my grandparents in an orthodox Tamil-Brahmin family.”
Describing her father as a ‘gentleman of leisure’, she said “My paternal grandfather was a palace surgeon in the court of Maharaja of Mysore. And he had built up a great fortune. But my father squandered away the family fortune.”
Remembering her mother as a very beautiful woman, Jaya said that she spent very little time with her mother, and was never satiated with the love she received from her mother, simply because she had very little time.
“Days I spent at school were the most happiest and normal days of my life,” she smiled, and with great pride added that she stood first in all her subjects, and was awarded the student award of the year. “Till today I consider that my greatest achievement.”
Describing herself as an innocent babe lost in the woods, she added, “Everyone could see I was naïve, vulnerable and innocent. Everyone took advantage of me. So I had to learn it all the hard way.”
When questioned about reports that she tried ending her life at that stage, Jayalalithaa said that it was only normal for an emotional person to feel that way, and that she was glad to have overcome it.
Speaking about her foray into politics, she said, “MGR introduced me to politics. He didn’t smoothen the way for me. He didn’t smoothen things for me. I had to fight my way out every inch. If I had known that I had to traverse through such a difficult path, I probably would have died of fear.”
Describing her most difficult time in politics she said that the most difficult time was when she had to consolidate her position in the party.
“If you are hyper-sensitive like I am, you feel the pain magnified a thousand times... But I don’t take any non-sense from any one these days. That old Jayalalithaa, who used to be withdrawn to herself, who used to cringe inwards, who used to wait to go home and shut the door and cry in a dark room, that old Jayalalithaa is gone, dead for ever.”
And displaying her feminist side, she said, “Some of my worst critics have been women. I can’t decide which one is worse, the men or women.”...