It’s a known fact that Jayalalithaa spent her formative years in Karnataka, before moving to Tamil Nadu. Born in Melkote, Karnataka, she had a deep love for the language, which surprised many of her political peers in Karnataka, and those from Sandalwood.

 

 

Of Kannada, Politicians and Cauvery:
It was over a discussion on the Cauvery issue in 2012, when she and the then Karnataka CM Jagadish Shettar spoke in Kannada. This was not the first time she had fluently conversed in Kannada. The last time she did was in 2002 with SM Krishna. Basavaraja Bommayi, the former irrigation minister can attest to that. He said, “I was astonished by her Kannada slang and fluency.”  Shettar, too, was impressed by her Kannada-speaking skills. He recalled her saying that she enjoyed speaking Kannada. Not missing a beat, he immediately asked her about her unwillingness to budge on the Cauvery issue, to which she replied, “Tamil people trust me. I have to take a firm stand on the issue. It is  my duty.” Shettar concedes that despite a political tug of war between both states, she maintained good relationships with Karnataka state politicians.



Sandalwood:
Actress Saroja Devi, too, remembers Jayalalithaa conversing in Kannada regularly as they were close friends and would talk to each other only in Kannada.




Controversy:
In 1972, while shooting for a Tamil film in Karnataka, she is reported to have said that despite being born in Melkote, she always considered herself a Tamil. This led to her short-lived film career in Sandalwood, as pro-Kannada activists were enraged and demanded an apology. According to a report a TOI, film historian, Puttaswamy said: “I think Jayalalithaa would have been a popular Kannada film star if the unfortunate incident had not happened,"