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Did Jayalalithaa have a troubled childhood?

  • Jayalalithaa was living with her aunt, away from her mother
  • According to Jaya’s interviews, she missed her mother a lot
  • This ‘separation’ had a large impact on her life
Did Jayalalithaa have a troubled childhood


Born in Mysuru at Cheluvamba Hospital Jayalalithaa was named Komalavalli. Jayalalithaa was her name in the records which was derived from the two houses she lived in Mysuru – Jaya Nivasa and Lalitha Nivasa. She was named Komalavalli after her grandmother.


Her mother’s name was Vedavalli and father was Jayaram. Though he was a lawyer, he hardly went for work. Instead, he wasted all the money his father Narasimhan Rengachary, a surgeon who served as the court physician to Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV of Mysore.


Jayalalithaa lost her father in 1950 when she was just two years old. Following which, her mother Vedavalli moved back to Bengaluru to her father’s house. To make ends meet Vedavalli learnt short hand and started working as a clerk.


But soon she joined her elder sister Ambujavalli in Madras, who was working as an air hostess. She was also acting in dramas. Inspired by her sister, Vedavalli took the stage name Sandhya and ventured into dramas and eventually films.


During this course, Jayalalithaa and her brother Jayakumar was left in Bengaluru to live with her aunt, Padmavalli. Jaya joined Bishop Cottons School in Bengaluru.


In her interviews Jaya had said that she was lonely without her mother and was missing her a lot. She could meet her mother in Madras only during summer holidays. Thus most of her childhood was lonely, and she had a kind of detachment from her mother.


But a sudden change occurred when her aunt Padmavalli was married in 1958. This in the deed was a blessing in disguise for Jaya as she moved to Chennai to live with her mother.


There her mother, by then popular as Sandhya was still trying to meet the ends in Chennai. Jayalalithaa joined the Sacred Heart Matriculation School (popularly known as Church Park PresentationConvent or Presentation Church Park Convent) in Chennai and completed her matriculation there.


A bright student, Jayalalithaa was a topper for the entire Tamil Nadu in matriculation. But by then she had started acting in films and as she needed to support her brother and mother, she decided to continue acting as it brought a lot of money. Thus she rejected an offer of scholarship by the Stella Mary’s College in Chennai.


Fluent in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam Hindi and English, Jayalalithaa was also trained in Classical music, western classical piano, dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Manipuri and Kathak.


She did not let the loneliness she had in her childhood affect her relationship with her mother when she joined her in Chennai.   

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