Cho Ramaswamy watched Jayalalithaa's final journey before he breathed his last

Barely 36 hours after Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death, her close friend and adviser for many years, the Editor-in-Chief of Tamil weekly news magazine Thuglak Cho Ramaswamy, 82, passed away in Chennai after a prolonged illness.

From his hospital room, Cho Ramaswamy watched the live coverage of Jayalalithaa’s body lying in state at Rajaji Hall in Chennai before he was put on a ventilator, doctors at Apollo said. Cho Ramaswamy died at 4 am.

Born Srinivasa Iyer Ramaswamy, the ‘Cho’ name stuck after a memorable character from a stage play ‘Thenmozhiyal’.

Cho Ramaswamy. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Trending_Hypers

Cho Ramaswamy. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Trending_Hypers

Ramaswamy leaves behind his wife Soundara Ramaswamy, son Sriram and daughter Sindhu. The funeral is scheduled at 3 pm at the Besant Nagar crematorium in Chennai.

Playwright, stage actor and political satirist rolled into one, Cho Ramaswamy shot into fame for his withering criticism of politicians and stayed fearless until his end. He will be remembered in Tamil Nadu as the one of the only people AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa bowed down to.

Cho’s association with Jayalalithaa goes back to his college days in what was then Madras, when he was in an amateur theatre troupe and met Jayalalithaa’s mother Vedavalli aka Sandhya often.

In 1999, Cho was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the BJP government led by AB Vajpayee. Cho’s political access was not limited to state politics, it extended to New Delhi’s powerful.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s introduction to Tamil Nadu voters happened at Tughlaq’s anniverasary celebrations. Soon after news of Cho's death broke, Modi punched out multiple tweets on his official handle praising the Tughlak editor. Modi visited Cho Ramaswamy in Chennai after his hospitalisation.

"Cho was insightful, frank, brilliant. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and countless readers of Thuglak," Modi wrote.

As a woman who made men prostrate before her, the image of Jayalalithaa seeking Cho Ramaswamy’s blessings is not easy to brush aside as something regular.

Cho lived with his wife in a simple house in the MRC area — a go to location for harassed hacks in search of political soundbites.

Born into a family of lawyers on 5 October, 1934, Cho practised law before moving on to films and journalism. Cho’s grandfather Arunachala Iyer, father Srinivasa Iyer and uncle Matrhubootham were all lawyers.

The 1968 political satire Mohamed Bin Thuglak (stage play) launched Cho Ramaswamy into instant fame. Cho played the titular character, Muhammad bin Tughlak. The play first premiered in 1968 and ran for decades. The play’s runaway success led to a film by the same name in 1971. Apart from politics, Cho Ramaswamy wrote with great authority on religion and culture.

Cho launched his magazine Thuglak on January 14, 1970 and ran it as he would a bristling and vibrant political opposition.

Tughlaq's readers would have wanted to hear what Cho had to say on Sasikala performing Jayalalithaa’s final rites.

Updated Date: Dec 07, 2016 12:15 PM

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