“I think it’s a tribute to your charm and your charms of persuasion, your talent, that you’ve been able to elicit answers from me which no one could ever dream of doing until today.”
With these words, late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa concluded a special two-part episode of “Rendezvous With Simi Garewal”. Appearing on the talk show in 1999, it is perhaps one of the most candid interviews of the leader, where one sees her sing, talk about childhood crushes, and engage in wistful sentimentality, giving honest answers about matters close to her heart.
Garewal had flown to Chennai to interview the woman many considered a cornerstone of Tamil Nadu politics, and who had held that position for a considerable number of years. Unable to evade the many gently prodding questions from Garewal, Jayalalithaa eased into the conversation and opened up about a life that perhaps many did not know she lived. Yes, there was the public figure and face, deliberately plastered across large expanses of her state, but there was also the shy young school girl suddenly burdened with the responsibility of supporting her family.
Jayalalithaa passed away at 11.30 p.m. on December 5, at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai after a long struggle with heart and lung failure. Her distinguished political career began in 1982 when she joined the AIADMK, a party that she would go on to lead as Chief Minister for not one but six full terms.
One of the few women in Indian politics, Jayalalithaa had cultivated a personality that was reserved. Garewal questions her about this, and expertly brings out several hidden sides to this larger-than-life leader.