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Friday, December 25, 2015

People remember MGR even now !!!

In my school days, I saw only a handful movies – remember seeing “ Nalla Neram” – MGR starrer, directed by MA Thirumugam at a theatre in Dharmapuri in 1974 ! .. for those who are more acquainted with Tamil tinseldom – would well know and remember the song which years after its release was screened in all the theatres of Tamilnadu in 1980s.  It was the song ‘Andavane unthan pathangalil naan kanneeral” from the film Oli Vilakku [ஒளி விளக்கு ] released in 1968. 

Melakkath Gopalan Ramachandran (1917 – 1987) [was that Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran !!], popularly known as MGR, was a legendary film actor who rose to dizzy heights of popularity becoming the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu successively for three terms. Those visiting Chennai from rural parts of Tamilnadu visit Marina primarily for visiting the samadhi of  MGR.  The tomb of MGR was  refurbished a couple of years ago and became a court case for different reasons has nothing to do with this post.

Sathi Leelavathi, released in 1936 had MG Ramachandran in a supporting role but that was to change the fate of the State was not known for sure.  He graduated to leading roles and for the next three decades dominatin the tinseldom as ‘Do Gooder Hero’ who could nothing wrong and who would always care for the poor. In 1972, he  challenged those at the helm; was promptly expelled  from DMK, came out to  form his own party the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK). In 1977 he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu - the first film actor in India to become the Chief minister of a state. He remained as chief minister till his death in 1987.  He had built a mass following and glorious  reputation for philanthropism idolized by his followers  as Puratchi Thalaivar (revolutionary leader).  MGR was posthumously honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

In October 1984, MGR was diagnosed with kidney failure, which was further complicated by diabetes, a mild heart attack and a massive stroke.  MGR died on December 24, 1987 after his prolonged illness. He was 70. His death sparked off a frenzy of looting and rioting all over the state of Tamil Nadu. Shops, movie theatres, buses and other public and private property became the target of violence let loose all over the state.  Around one million people followed his remains, around 30 followers committed suicide and people had their heads tonsured.  I had earlier posted an article restating from one in The Hindu of Nov 1984   titled “Flying out MGR safe: an epic effort” which in depth recounts the efforts made in bringing a special plane to take ailing MGR to USA - remember that air traffic was a microscopic % of what it is today. 
You can read that article here :  Flying Out MGR safe

Dr Kanno, a Neurosurgeon from Japan came all the way from Tokyo.  At a time when wire transfers and easy cash availability ~ were not available  even to the Government, finding that huge money , chartering aircraft and logistic were handled exceptionally well.  A refurbished aircraft flew to Madras at 2.45 pm on Nov 4, 1984.  Everything was in place and special efforts were planned to manage the crowds en route to airport from hospital.  Under Federal Aviation Authority rules Boeing 707 was not permitted to land in New York, as it was small and noisy aircraft – a special permission was granted.

MGR was  taken to Brooklyn Hospital – then returned back to Madras, won the elections and ruled the State for some more time, eventually died on Dec 24, 1987 is history.  There are thousands of his followers who adore, admire and remember him still ~ it is almost 30  years since his death, this year too saw people especially rickshawmen placing his picture and offering their obeisance on his death anniversary.

Here is a photo taken near NKT Girls High School Triplicane, on 24.12.2015.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Dec 2015. 

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