Sandhya had initially never considered a film career for her daughter. But she did want her daughter to become a good dancer. As soon as Ammu came back from Bangalore to Chennai, she was put under the tutelage of K.J. Sarasa, a reputed dance teacher in those days. Jayalalithaa, who later blossomed into a good dancer, was not keen to learn dance.
But Sarasa was a very patient and persuasive teacher and trained her well enough for her to have her arangetram when she was barely twelve years old, in May 1960. A number of film dignitaries turned up to see Sandhya’s daughter’s debut performance, including leading actors, actresses and producers. Sivaji Ganesan, the most talented actor of that time, presided over the function. He praised Jayalalithaa’s performance and said she was as lovely as a golden statue. ‘I wish that she blossoms into a very popular film star.’ Jayalalithaa and Sandhya were happy with his words but did not take them seriously. Both were determined that Jayalalithaa should not join the film world. Nor could Sivaji have imagined that this chit of a girl with ‘laddoo cheeks’ would one day act with him as his heroine.
Excerpted with the permission of Juggernaut Books from Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen by Vaasanthi exclusively available on the Juggernaut app