Monday, March 1, 2021

new addition to statues on Marina beach - former CM Ms J Jayalalithaa

The famed Marina beach winds its way alongside the beautiful Bay of Bengal – starting a kilo meter or so away from Fort St George, it has Madras University,  Ezhilagam, PWD,  Presidency College, Vivekananda memorial,  Lady Willington school, Queen Marys College, IG of Police Office, dotting the beach road now named Kamarajar salai.  .. . it also has samadhi of 4 past CMs. .. .. and there are so many statues dotting on each side of the road.

The culture of statues has a long history and is not new to Tamilnadu alone – and there have been some clashes arising out of issues involving statues, it is another colonial vestige.  At important road junctions, at landmark buildings – we have statues of leaders and others lying uncared for in a state of neglect.  There are statues in a row in the Marina.  In the northern State, one CM went berserk installing statues of party symbol and self and the opposition leader appealed to the Centre not to release funds to State fearing that they would create more statues.   Originally, statues were installed to propagate the memory of great leaders, poets and visionaries of the Society and even in a place where rationalists question religion, there arose very many statues to leaders of importance. It was to instill in upcoming generations some knowledge and recalling of the glorious acts of the erstwhile leaders.  

On the Marina beach front – there are statues of  Poets : Kambar, Ilango, Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar, Bharathiyar, Barathidasan standing  amidst Kannagi, Gandhiji, Kamarajar, Nethaji Subash Chandrabose, Annie Besant, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Robert Caldwell, GU Pope, Tamil thatha SaminathaIyer  as also the one of ‘triumph of Labour’ – and now there is a latest addition, a bronze statue at that !



Ms Jayalalithaa [1948 – 2016] served six times as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for over fourteen years between 1991 and 2016. From 9 February 1989, she was the general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK),  a phenomenal rise from tinseldom – as a tiny dot in 1961 Kannada film ‘Sri Shaila Mahathme’  directed by Aroor Pattabhi and produced by Neerlahalli Thalikerappa. The film starred Rajkumar, Dikki Madhavarao, Balakrishna and Hanumanthachar in the lead roles, along with Jayalalithaa and her mother Sandhya in small roles.   She was to make her debut with a lead role in   Vennira Aadai (1965), directed by C. V. Sridhar.  She made her debut in Telugu films as lead actress in Manushulu Mamathalu opposite Akkineni Nageswara Rao.  

Hailed as Puratchi Thalaivi of Tamil Nadu - revolutionary leader - and the Amma of AIADMK, late chief minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram was laid to rest in Chennai's Marina Beach amidst a sea of humanity in 2016.    History would  perhaps remember Jayalalithaa as the Amma of the welfare wagon. Her lasting legacy will no doubt include her pioneering initiative, the Amma Unavagam, or the Amma Canteen which continues to sell a plate of idlis at Rs 1.  From its launch in 2013, the Amma Canteen has grown into a chain of low-cost eateries across the state. Its success had not only ensured electoral victory for the AIADMK supremo, but also got Chief Ministers from Delhi, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh among others taking notes to replicate the Amma Unavagam in their respective states.

Recently, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr.Edappadi K Palaniswami inaugurated a grand memorial built for AIADMK supremo and former CM J Jayalalithaa. Spread over 50,000 square feet, the structure is built at a cost of Rs 79.75 crore alongside the Marina Beach in Chennai. Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, Tamil Nadu cabinet ministers, Speaker P Dhanapal, MLAs, MPS, and other dignitaries took part in the mega event. Tens of thousands of AIADMK cadres thronged the venue – and a day later the Higher Education campus nearer Vivekanandar illam / Lady Wellingdon was named ‘Dr J Jayalalithaa Campus’  and had an imposing 9 ft bronze statue of the former Chief Minister installed.




This statue stands on a broad pedestal – looks imposing and good.  One unnecessarily thinks of the earlier one installed at the party office, which critics wrote thus -  a  woman stands, cast in shimmering metal, before the headquarters of the AIADMK, and holds up her index and middle fingers to evoke the two leaves of her party's symbol. She beams, her smile queenly and confident, reminiscent of a leader who contemplated delirious crowds from a thousand podiums and stages. MG Ramachandran flanks her, aureate and triumphant, unmoved by the melee of cameras and reporters jostling for space. .. ..  seeing the visage, some criticized that it did not properly represent Ms Jayalalithaa – and some questioned whether it was :  Excess of artistic licence? Deficit of talent? Hurried execution? Whatever caused the error, it did not go unnoticed.

This statue of the former Chief Minister does look good and imposing.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18.2.2021. 






 


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