The little girl who dreamt of becoming an IAS officer

Jayalalithaa was a brilliant student who aspired to become a doctor or join civil service during her school days. Although her mother was an actor, she never had an ambition to enter the cinema industry. But her life took a different turn.

The little girl who dreamt of becoming an IAS officer

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Ammu (Jayalalithaa’s pet name) was never interested to join the film industry. Her ambition was to become a doctor or join the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). She was a brilliant student who always came first in the class. But her dreams remained as just dreams since she had to start pursuing an acting career soon.

During her childhood, she used to visit her mother, Sandhya’s shooting locations. Once  when she went to the location of an MGR movie, MGR asked her name in Tamil, “un peyar ennamma?” Ammu replied in English surprising the maestro. “Unakku Tamil theriyathaa?” (don’t you know Tamil?), asked MGR and she again replied in English. He laughed and left. How could he imagine that one day this girl would deliver speeches in Rajya Sabha, in English!


Y G Parthasartathi, a famous Tamil playwright, was searching for a girl to act in his English drama, but he couldn’t find someone who can speak English fluently. A friend of YG suggested Jayalalithaa’s name and after meeting her he got impressed. He requested Sandhya to send her daughter to act in his drama and she agreed. Ammu who was fluent in English got a role of a French girl who doesn’t speak English.

[caption id="attachment_333952" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Jayalalithha was a brilliant student who always came first in the class
Jayalalithha was a brilliant student who always came first in the class[/caption]

Later she was called to act in an English documentary film directed by Sankar Giri, son of the then Indian President V V Giri, but Sandhya refused the offer saying “I don’t like Ammu to act in movies, she also doesn’t like it.”

Sankar told, “Education is most important, I know that. I shall plan shooting on weekends and holidays, so that Ammu’s studies won’t be disturbed. This would be joyful for your daughter too.”

Finally, Sandhya agreed and Ammu acted in an English movie named 'Epistle'. That was the beginning.

Meanwhile, she had learned Carnatic music and classical dance. Her debut dance performance was in 1960 at Rasika Ranjini Sabha in Mylapore. The chief guest for that 'arangetram' was legendary actor Shivaji Ganesan. Shivaji was very much impressed with the girl’s performance and praised her a lot in his speech. He also urged her to enter into the world of cinema.

Though it took a while, in 1965 Jaya got and offer to act in a movie. ‘Vennira Adai’ produced and directed by CV Sridhar was her first film in a lead role. The movie was given ‘A’ certificate as an adult only film, thus Jaya, then a teenager couldn’t watch her debut on screen. The film was a commercial success and offers started pouring in.

Slowly, her dreams of becoming IAS started fading away and embarked on a career in cinema.