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Birth Centenary of MGR: TN Declares Holiday, a Nation Remembers

MGR or MG Ramachandran founded the AIADMK which challenged M Karunanidhi’s DMK party.

Published
India
4 min read
A garlanded picture of MG Ramachandran. (Photo: PTI)

The Tamil Nadu government has declared a public holiday on 17 January in view of the 100th birth anniversary of former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran.

MGR was first a popular Tamil films actor and later a politician whom the people loved and trusted. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/rgvenkateshgnfi/status/810042262352629760">Twitter</a>)
MGR was first a popular Tamil films actor and later a politician whom the people loved and trusted. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

MG Ramachandran is a name of legendary aura when it comes to Tamil Nadu politics and the film industry.

Even as the newly appointed AIADMK chief VK Sasikala struggles to hold the party together, she knows the fact that mentioning MGR and his protege J Jayalalithaa evokes passion among party workers.

The famous look. (Photo: <a href="https://twitter.com/dt_next/status/811820971946639360">Twitter</a>)
The famous look. (Photo: Twitter)
On Sunday, Sasikala asked her party men to ensure “enemies” did not exploit the “crisis” created by the “sudden” demise of her predecessor, the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, and said she had taken over the party’s reigns on their “affectionate order”.
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To thwart the nefarious designs of the “defeated enemies” who are looking for a “fissure in the strong castle” and redemption, should be the motto of the party workers on the birth centenary of MG Ramachandran, says Sasikala.

MGR: The Journey To Kollywood



MGR as a student. MGR is also popularly known Puratchi Thalaivar MGR (Revolutionary Leader). (Photo: <a href="http://actorschildhoodphotos.blogspot.in/2015/07/mgr-childhood-photos.html">Tamil Actors Childhood</a> Photos)
MGR as a student. MGR is also popularly known Puratchi Thalaivar MGR (Revolutionary Leader). (Photo: Tamil Actors Childhood Photos)

MGR was born Marudur Gopala Menon Ramachandran on 17 January 1917 at Kandy, Sri Lanka, to Maradhur Gopala Menon and Satyabhama who were Nairs from Kerala. When his father died, MGR’s mother moved to Tamil Nadu where the boys began schooling. But poverty meant MGR had to forego completing his education and seek a means of livelihood instead.

The hero who stole many hearts. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/ChennaiUngalKai/status/812607940553310208">Twitter</a>)
The hero who stole many hearts. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

After a few years of acting in plays, he made his film debut in the 1936 film Sathi Leelavathi in a supporting role. By the late 1940s he graduated to lead roles and for the next three decades dominated the Tamil film industry.

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The Political Foray

MGR was a member of the Congress Party till 1953, and he used to wear khādī. In 1953, MGR joined the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) attracted by founder CN Annadurai.

Ticket to the Assembly. (Photo: <a href="https://twitter.com/MinaliyaMedia/status/803820392884436993">Twitter</a>)
Ticket to the Assembly. (Photo: Twitter)

The Day a Producer Shot At MGR

On 12 January 1967, MGR was shot by fellow actor MR Radha at the former’s residence in Nandambakkam, St Thomas Mount, around 5 pm.

The bullet, permanently lodged in his neck, affected his voice. But he continued his campaign for the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1967 from his hospital bed. He defeated his Congress rival by polling the largest number of votes polled by any candidate for the Assembly.

MGR, wearing a neck cast, is seen in his hospital bed signing his nomination papers for the St Thomas Mount constituency. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://peopleofindia1868-1875photos.blogspot.in/2011/09/posted-by-beyondet.html">Blogspot</a>)
MGR, wearing a neck cast, is seen in his hospital bed signing his nomination papers for the St Thomas Mount constituency. (Photo Courtesy: Blogspot)

After the death of his mentor Annadurai, MGR became the treasurer of DMK in 1969 after Muthuvel Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister.

MGR in a campaign rally. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://peopleofindia1868-1875photos.blogspot.in/2011/09/posted-by-beyondet.html">Blogspot</a>)
MGR in a campaign rally. (Photo Courtesy: Blogspot)

Expelled From DMK, Forms ADMK

In 1972, after M Karunanidhi expelled him from the DMK, MGR went on to found the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the only powerful opponent of the DMK.

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Jayalalithaa Roped In

Jayalalithaa became his political protege. But she was not anointed as the successor and had to struggle a lot after MGR’s death. (Photo: The Quint)
Jayalalithaa became his political protege. But she was not anointed as the successor and had to struggle a lot after MGR’s death. (Photo: The Quint)

In 1982, when MGR was chief minister, Jayalalithaa joined the AIADMK, the party he founded. She was his favourite co-star from his movie days and had acted in over 25 films with him.

MGR’s Death Plunges State Into Grief

On 24 December 1987, MGR died in Chennai’s Apollo hospital of a heart attack. A diabetic and a kidney ailment patient, death swooped down upon him when he was 68.

News of his death confused party cadres who had not been readied for a second rung of succession.

As MGR's body was brought to Rajaji Hall for public viewing, police and government officials were unable to contain the vandalism that spread through the city.

MGR’s body lies in state at Rajaji Hall in Chennai. Jayalalithaa can be seen standing beside his body. (Photo: <a href="http://MGR’s body lies in state at Rajaji Hall in Chennai. Jayalalithaa can be seen standing beside his body. (Photo: kmhouseindia Blogspot)">kmhouseindia blogspot</a>)
MGR’s body lies in state at Rajaji Hall in Chennai. Jayalalithaa can be seen standing beside his body. (Photo: kmhouseindia blogspot)

How his partymen sparred over the succession issue and the rise of J Jayalalithaa is a completely different story that can be read here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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