Ever since she entered politics, Jayalalithaa has been a guarded figure, never letting on more than she wanted to. Looking at the bold and determined Tamil Nadu Chief Minister we knew, no one would have guessed that she was once a little girl who pined for her mother or someone who would cry alone for the vilification to which she was subjected.
TV anchor Simi Garewal interviewed Jayalalithaa in 1999 on her famous show "Rendezvous with Simi Garewal" and it cast Jayalalithaa in a much softer and intimate light.
Jayalalithaa talks about her life as a child, a young girl of five who grew up with her grandparents in Bengaluru, missing her mother every day of those four years.
"When I look back on my life, I seem to have spent so little time with my mother. I have never really been satiated with the kind of love I expected, wanted and needed from my mother, because there simply wasn't enough time," Jayalalithaa says.
At her eloquent best, Simi Garewal manages to do something no interviewer ever really did: she persuades Jayalalithaa to sing her favourite Shammi Kapoor song, "Aa jaa sanam, madhur chandni mein hum".
Jayalalithaa speaks of the person she was before she entered politics as well: the days when she was a brilliant student, who won the best outgoing student of her school. She was also a tongue-tied and shy young girl, who would go home and cry when she felt bad. "But today, I give as good as I get, even more than I get," she adds with a chuckle.
She mentions that though MGR introduced her to politics, he never made things easier for her. Her political career was fraught with difficulty because she was a woman. But Jayalalithaa doesn't regret not knowing the hardships that lay ahead. "If I knew, I'd have died of fear," she exclaims.
In fact, earlier this year, Jayalalithaa, who rarely spoke up on the political churning in the country, came out in support of BSP chief Mayawati who was called worse than a prostitute by BJP leader Dayashankar Singh.
“Mayawati is respected as the peerless leader of the oppressed community and no one can accept criticising a leader in a derogatory manner for having difference of opinion. My heart melts for Mayawati who has been assaulted by whipping words. Everyone should be firm that attacks on women politicians should be brought to an end. I too have had such experiences,” Jayalalithaa had said in her statement.
In the interview to Simi Garewal, Jayalalithaa even talks about her romantic life, or the lack of it. While she admits to having dreams about a prince charming like many other girls, she says that she does not regret not being married or having a family. "I value my freedom, my independence," she says.
Jayalalithaa signs off her most humanizing and charming interview graciously, admitting to Simi Garewal's charms of persuasion "in eliciting answers from her that no one could have dreamed of."