Our first brush with Amma Jayalalithaa.

I think it was Naseeruddin Shah, who once famously remarked, “If Presidential Posts are only ceremonial, let’s have Jayalalithaa as our President. At least we can have a beautiful photo hanging in Government Office Walls.”

She was a Rajya Sabha MP when he made those comments. I completely agreed with the observation. She looked very elegant as a MP and propaganda secretary of ADMK.

She had already retired from film industry when I started watching movies. So, I had not seen her movies and since I had migrated to Pune, I was not following her political career as well. I was in Chennai when MGR passed away and watched on Television how she was treated badly during his funeral.

My first glimpse of her happened many years later.

The year was 1993. JK, my brother and I went on a motorbike trip from Pune to Chennai. We were on road for more than week and had shot many photos in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

We decided to develop these photos and went to Konica lab which was a big lab in Mount Road in the evening around 7.30.

As we were handing over the film rolls, we heard a large commotion outside and sirens were blaring. All the vehicle movement on the road came to an abrupt stop.

The shopkeeper proudly said, “Amma has left the Secretariat and going home. The cars will go at more than 100 Kilo Meter speed.”

I have heard about this and read in newspapers as well. During her first term as chief minister, whenever she left her Poes Garden residence to go to Secretariat or returned home, the traffic was stopped for more than an hour putting people to huge inconvenience.

Coming from Bombay where you hardly noticed the chief minister movement near Mantralaya (Maharashtra Secretariat) this was a huge shock to us. How can an elected representative of people make citizens of the city suffer like this?

I immediately blew up on the shopkeeper, “why are you so happy when thousands of people are suffering on the road. And anyone can go at 100-mile speed if the entire road is empty. Wipe the smirk off your face.”

We stormed out of the shop and saw the huge convoy passing and just had a glimpse of the chief minister Jayalalithaa. Or we assumed the person who we saw sitting in the car was the chief minister.

She gave up blocking traffic for hours during her second term.

I just watched her body being taken in a military convoy at a snail speed to Marina and recollected that incidence. Written on 06-12-2016.

Over the years I started liking her and started respecting her on various issues. But more often than not, I disagreed with her brand of politics. That’s a different story for another occasion.

Today I pay my respects to a great mass leader. RIP

Of course, She could have become the President of India, if she had wanted to.


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