ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Jayalalithaa’s Journey

A Colossus of Tamil Politics

Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen by Vaasanthi, New Delhi: Juggernaut Books, 2016; pp xiv + 175, ₹290.

The book under review, Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, captures the life of a highly enigmatic personality who fought against the odds to reach a status where many worshipped her. It is layered with interesting details and deals with the subject critically as well as sympathetically. The book talks about a woman who cultivated her image meticulously, ever attentive to the symbolic needs of Tamil politics. It was published just before Jayalalithaa—who followed her mentor, M G Ramachandran (MGR), to become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time—passed away while in office.

Jayalalithaa was a paradox: a Brahmin who was highly religious and believed strongly in astrology, who headed a party that had emerged from the Dravidian ideology of anti-Brahminism (and was anti-Brahmin, too) and rationalism. The paradox remains even if the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), founded by former matinee idol and Chief Minister MGR, was comparatively less committed to the original tenets of Dravidian ideology. As the unparalleled leader of the AIADMK since the 1990s, Jayalalithaa stood like a colossus in the highly masculine, misogynistic world of Tamil politics, and invoked both admiration and fear amongst her political allies and opponents.

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Updated On : 16th Jan, 2018
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