S. Jayalakshmi was a South Indian actress and singer in the Tamil movie industry. She had started working as an actor in 1934 and has been acting till 1948. She had played roles in about a handful of movies with her career blooming with the film “
” in 1934. She had played the lead roles in many movies in the 1930s and 1940s. However, she got famous for the movie “Sivakavi” which hit the theatres in the year 1943.
Sundaram Jayalakshmi was born on July 24, 1920, in the then Madras into a family of lawyer V. Sundaram Iyer and his wife, Smt Parvathi. She was also the sister of the famous late S. Rajam and late S. Balachander. S. Jayalakshmi and her strikingly handsome brother Rajam were taught music by the popular Papanasam Sivan who was then virtually unknown. Sundaram Iyer became Papanasam Sivan’s friend, guide and patron.
Her career started when Marathi film director V. Shantaram (Shantaram Bapu), one of the greatest filmmakers of India had wanted to make a Tamil movie and placed an advertisement in the Madras-based magazine “Sight and Sound” magazine in the year 1933. Owing to the loss of his Hindi film “Sairandhi” which was India’s first film in color, he wanted to use the props and sets to make a Tamil movie.
Soon the owners of the magazine, G.K. Seshagiri who financially backed them boarded a train Kolhapur from Madras on way to Miraj. Sundaram Iyer took his children Rajam, Jayalakshmi and the youngest son S. Balachandar and also the members of the amateur drama company. Papanasam Sivan accompanied them as a music composer who was then unaware that he was on his way to fame. Sundaram Iyer’s children S. Jayalakshmi and her brother S. Rajam auditioned to act in the movie.
The sister and brother duo got selected for the roles of heroine Seetha and hero Rama for the film Seetha Kalyanam. Thus her debut movie got into a controversy for having a brother and sister to play the roles of husband and wife. Her father too acted in the same project as Dasaratha.
Later, for the movie “Sivakavi,” Jayalakshmi who played the heroine was escorted by her father and brother Rajam to Coimbatore. Her brother played the role of Lord Muruga, and her father played the role of “Patasala” guru in that movie. She was married by that time to K. Swaminathan, and they had three children.
Her granddaughter is actor Jayashree who played the female lead in movies “Thendraley Ennai Thodu” and “Thirumathi Oru Vegumathy.” Jayalakshmi passed away at the age of 86 in the year 2007 at her residence in Besant Nagar, Chennai due to natural causes at 6 am on July 21. Her cremation took place in the Besant Nagar crematorium.