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Jayalalitha Before She Conquered Tamil Nadu
Jayalalitha was a successful actress before her entry into politics and appeared in 140 films which includes Tamil,Telugu, and Kannada films. As a leading actress in films from 1961 to 1980, she was considered as one of the most prolific and most versatile actress having appeared in films of different genres and for performing wide variety of characters.
1. Jayalalitha completed her childhood education at Sacred Heart Matriculation School (popularly known as Church Park Presentation Convent) in Chennai.
2. She excelled at school and was offered a government scholarship to pursue further education. She won Gold State Award for coming first in 10th standard in not just her school but also in Tamil Nadu. She is fluent in several languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and English.
3. Her Bharatanatyam Guru was K J Sarasa, one of the finest dance teachers and choreographers of her time. Under Sarasa's tutelage, Jayalalithaa became an accomplished dancer, and gave her debut dance performance at the Rasika Ranjani Sabha in Mylapore in May 1960. The Chief Guest at the Arangetram was Shivaji Ganesan who predicted to Sandhaya, that her daughter will be a huge film star.
4. She acted as child artiste in Sri Shaila Mahathme (1961) in Kannada. Y G Parthasarathy ran the drama troupe United Amateur Artistes (UAA), which staged English and Tamil plays. Soon Jayalalithaa while a school girl began acting in some plays of Y.G.Parthasarathy along with her mother and aunt. She acted in small roles in plays such as 'Tea House of the August Moon' and 'Under Secretary' between 1960 to 1964. Former Indian President V.V. Giri's son Shankar Giri saw her small role in the English play - Tea Houses of August Moon and was impressed. Shankar Giri approached her mother Sandhya and told he wanted to cast her daughter in an English film called 'The Epistle'. Sandhya reluctantly agreed with the condition that shooting should be held only during weekends or school holidays.
5.Sandhya had acted in the 1964 Tamil film Karnan (film) produced and directed by Kannada filmmaker B.R. Panthulu. A success celebration party of that film was held at the Woodlands Hotel for which Jayalalithaa accompanied her mother. B.R. Panthulu saw her and immediately decided to cast her opposite Kalyankumar in the Kannada movie 'Chinnada Gombe' and asked for permission from Sandhya. Since Jayalalitha would be studying for her PUC in two months' time, Sandhya declined the offer. Panthulu promised to finish all shooting within two months. Sandya agreed and Jayalalithaa started acting and she was paid Rs. 3,000. Panthulu kept his promise and completed shooting in six weeks. Jayalalithaa had forgot all about films after acting in her Kannada debut film and had got ready to attend classes at Stella Maris as she had ambition to be a lawyer. But the Kannada debut film became a blockbuster in 1964 and she became a well known face. Meanwhile Jayalalitha continued acting in plays of Y.G.Parathasarathy.
6. She made her debut as the lead actress in Kannada films while still in school, age 15, in Chinnada Gombe(1964). Besides that, she also appeared in a dance sequence of a song named "Malligeya Hoovinantha" in the movie Amarashilpi Jakannachari (1964). It was during the year 1964, financial debts had increased of Sandhaya and she suggested her daughter to make use of the increasing film offers coming her way.
7. She made her debut in Tamil dramas in April 1964 under YGP group in the drama named Undersecretary, wherein YG Parthasarthy and Sandhya were the lead hero-heroine, as the drama was based on middle aged couple lives. Jayalalitha and Cho Ramaswamy were paired together in this drama and AR Srinivasan was her co-star in this drama. Jaya played her character of sales girl in the drama. She did this play when she was idle sitting at home and YG Parthasarathy thought she can do this small character. Though it was her debut in Tamil drama circle, she acted as if it was not her first role in Tamil drama. Her performance made YGP decide to make her lead heroine in a drama named Malathy. Meanwhile the film she had shot for during her vacation in April-May 1964, that is her debut films in Kannada Chinnada Gombe and Manushulu Mamathalu in Telugu, became blockbusters. By end of 1965 she had become popular in film circles among producers and directors. She was approached by C.V.Sridhar for her Tamil film debut as well. Between 1964 to 1966 she did around 35 shows of drama named Malathy and later discontinued as she became very busy in films.
8. Jayalalithaa's debut in Tamil cinema was the leading role in Vennira Aadai (1965), directed by C. V. Sridhar. She made her debut in Telugu films as lead actress in Manushulu Mamathalu opposite Akkineni Nageshwara Rao. Her last Telugu release was also opposite Akkineni Nageswara Rao in the film Nayakudu Vinayakudu that was released in 1980.
9. She was the first heroine to appear in skirts in Tamil films. She acted in one Hindi film called Izzat, with Dharmendra as her male costar in 1968. She starred in 28 box-office hit films with M G Ramachandran between 1965 to 1973. The first with MGR was B.R.Panthalu's Aayirathil Oruvan in 1965 and the last film together was Pattikaattu Ponnaiya in 1973.
10. She had 11 releases in Tamil in the year 1966, spread across 12 months and each of them became successful. In the opening credits of the film Arasa Katalai, for the first time her name was affixed with the phrase Kavarchi Kanni.