The Lone Empress

The Lone Empress

A Portrait of Jayalalithaa


Jayalalithaa's journey from a glamour queen to a towering political leader is one of the most extraordinary stories of contemporary India. The unlikely heir of the legendary screen idol and AIADMK founder, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), Jayalalithaa Jayaram triumphed over the odds stacked against her-as a woman and as a former actress-to successfully challenge the mainstream values of Tamil Nadu politics.

The Lone Empress candidly chronicles Jayalalithaa's tumultuous political life, examining her battle with intra-party rivalry to become the first elected woman chief minister of India; the long-lasting hostility with her rivals; her pursuit of support from the Centre for political survival; and her discomfort with criticism and dissent. The book also shines light on Jayalalithaa's choice of careers, first in cinema then in politics; the corruption charges that continued to haunt her; and her sudden death. Having breathed her last while in office for the sixth time as chief minister, Jayalalithaa left behind a dramatic power tussle in her wake, and she left Indian politics a little less colourful.

Drawing on interviews with Jayalalithaa's family, school friends, film critics and actors, political commentators and party members, as well as from letters and journals, acclaimed journalist Vaasanthi offers an objective, insightful and empathetic portrait of this fascinating and enigmatic figure.


368 Pages | ISBN13 9780670084296
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Vaasanthi is a well-known writer, journalist and columnist. She has been editor of the Tamil edition of India Today, and has contributed to leading English publications, including the Indian Express, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, the Week and Open. She is the author of Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars: The world of Tamil Politics.
Over a career spanning forty years, Vaasanthi has published thirty novels, six short-story collections, four volumes of journalistic articles and four travelogues in Tamil. Her novels have been translated into a number of languages and adapted into cinema. She is the recipient of the Uttar Pradesh Sahitya Sanstan Award and the Punjab Sahitya Akademi Award.

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