Bengaluru: Hundreds of people across the State on Tuesday fondly recalled its ‘daughter’ and late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and paid glowing tributes to her, as she was born at Melkote near Mysuru and spent her early days in Bengaluru. Having spent her childhood in the state capital, she had moved to Chennai in the late 1950s.
As the news about her death spread on Monday-Tuesday night, a pall of gloom descended on Melkote in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district, about 130 km from here, and her contemporaries remembered her origins and recalled her parents. “Jayalalithaa, who was born on February 24, 1948 at Melkote near Mysuru, was named Komalavalli by her father Dr Jayaram and mother Vedavalli, whose screen name was Sandhya,” said Sidda Lingappa, a native of Mandya.
When Komalavalli entered the tinsel world in then Madras, she chose to be Jayalalithaa, with ‘Jaya’ from ‘Jaya Vilas’ and ‘lalithaa’ from ‘Lalitha Vilas’, the two houses her grandfather N. Rangasamy Iyengar lived at in Mysuru and where she spent her holidays with her brother and mother. Iyengar had migrated to Mysuru from Srirangam in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu state.
When Jayalalithaa’s father Dr Jayaram died in 1950-51, she moved to Bengaluru from Mysuru with her mother and aunts Ambujavalli and Padmavalli for schooling. As Hindu goddess Chamundeshwari atop a hill near Mysuru was also her family deity, Jayalalithaa used to regularly visit the temple to worship and pray there.
Jayalalithaa’s step-brother N.J. Vasudevan, born to her father’s first wife L.K. Jayammal, still lives at Srirangarajapuram village in T. Narsipur taluk of Mysuru district.
Before shifting to Madras to join her actress mother Sandhya, Jayalalithaa went to Bishop Cotton Girls High School in the city centre for studying up to Grade IV from nursery. “I vividly remember Komlavalli with wide eyes and a pony tail, as she was one of my classmates in the primary school during the mid-1950s,” said Stella Samuel.
“Though she migrated to Madras and became a popular actress, she maintained contact with her relatives and remained in touch with her fans and supporters at Mysuru and Bengaluru,” recalled 70-year-old Lingappa, a farmer.
Veteran lensman Bhavni Lakshminarayana from Chikkaballapur, has a collection of Jayalalithaa’s pictures, more in black and white, as he did still photography for two Kannada films in which she acted as heroine.
“I had shot her pictures atop Nandi Hills near Bengaluru when the shooting of a Kannada movie ‘Maavana Magalu’ took place with Kalyankumar as hero,” Lakshminarayana told a local news channel earlier in the day.
Ironically, Jayalalithaa’s last visit to the state and Bengaluru was over two years ago when a trial court convicted and sentenced her to a four-year jail term on September 27, 2014 in a disproportionate assets case here. She spent three weeks in Central Jail on the city’s outskirts before flying back to Chennai on October 18, 2014 after the Supreme Court granted her bail a day earlier.