'Amma aada Ammu': A Kannada book on Jayalalithaa's family roots in Karnataka

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Former journalist, writer and theater personality N.K. Mohanram has written a book on late CM of Tamil Nadu J.Jayalalithaa. Mainly, the book is focused on her family background in Karnataka and relatives. The book, written in Kannada, is divided into six chapters which runs into 250 pages. It covers Jayalalithaa's childhood, stardom, political rise and interestingly ends with a psychological analysis of her personality.

'Amma aada Ammu': A Kannada book on Jaya

About N.K. Mohanram:

Mohanram started his career as reporter in Kannada newspaper 'Lankesh'. He had the privilege to work with noted Kannada playwright BV Karnath. He has served in Delhi, Chennai, Gauhati and Kolkata Doordarshan stations. Currently, he lives in Bengaluru.

During his days in Chennai, the author has witnessed last days of MG Ramachandran and a simultaneous political rise of Jayalalithaa. He recalled that in mid 80's Tamil Nadu political debate was centered around Jayalalithaa.

Q: How different is your book on Jayalalithaa?

A: The word mystery might be synonymous with Jayalalithaa. In her lifetime she never discussed in media about her parents and past life in Karnataka. There are numerous rumors claiming she was born either in Melukote or Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. Also, books talk only about her rise in politics from stardom, not the place of birth or family ties. My book mainly focuses on the childhood of Jayalalithaa. I prove that Jayalalithaa was either born in Mysore or Bengaluru.

Q: What evidence you have to prove your claim?

A: At the beginning of the book, family tree has been given to help readers to trace Jayalalithaa's web of relatives. Most importantly, legal documents presented in my book establish Jayalalithaa's roots in Karnataka. Jayalalithaa mother Vedamma (later known as Sandhya) was the second wife of Jayaram, a rich Ayyangar man, when his first wife Jayammal was still alive. After Jayram's first marriage was going through rough patch, Jayammal filed a suit in District Court of Mysore Division demanding a share in Jayram's property. In that suit, Vedamma appeared on behalf of her children Jayakumar and 3-year-old Jayalalithaa. Sadly, Jayaram passed away before the dispute was resolved. Later, both Jayammal and Vedamma reached an agreement to settle the property dispute. However, throughout her life, Jayalalithaa never admitted that she was a daughter of the second wife of his father.

Q: Did you ever interact with Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu?

A: As a reporter, I saw her from a close distance when she was standing next to the body of MGR at Rajaji Bhavan. She heard me speaking in Kannada with my colleague. Later, she sent her brother Jayakumar to collect video clippings of her presence next to MGR's body. The second time, I went to interview her at 'Vedam Nilaya' in Poes Garden. In fact, I had to interview her because a journalist friend of mine who was supposed to interview her didn't turn up that day. We spoke to each other for more than hour in Kannada. I was asked more questions than I asked her in the interview. She was curious to know how Ramakrishna Hegde, a Brahmin leader, managing non-Brahmin castes in Karnataka. However, she did not speak anything about her family background. Unfortunately, I could not publish the article.

Q: Why did you name the book as "Amma aada Ammu"?

A: Only MGR and her mother Vedamma called Jayalalithaa as 'Ammu'. Nobody else.

Q: Why did you write the book now?

A: It is well known that she never held press conferences until her last day due to her utter contempt towards Tamil press. Media gave only positive stories and discussed her political life in Tamil Nadu. In fact, I got the opportunity to write about Jayalalithaa after she passed away in 2016. I did publish it Kannada magazine 'Bhanuvaar' but, it had some factual errors. Some readers even pointed out mistakes. As a result, my friend Mahadev Prakash encouraged me to continue the effort and write a book on Jayalalithaa. Now, I am done.

Q: What outcome are you expecting from the book?

A: I have been transparent and honest in my attempt to give a full stop to all the rumors about Jayalalithaa. The book strives to give a new direction about what people think about Jayalalithaa's past. I say, whatever Jayalalithaa was in her life is the impact of what she had gone through in her formative years. That humiliation, uncertainty, loneliness made her an adamant 'Amma' in public life.

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