Birth Centenary of MGR: TN Declares Holiday, a Nation Remembers
MGR or MG Ramachandran founded the AIADMK which challenged M Karunanidhi’s DMK party.
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.
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.
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”.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
After the death of his mentor Annadurai, MGR became the treasurer of DMK in 1969 after Muthuvel Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister.
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.
Jayalalithaa Roped In
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.
How his partymen sparred over the succession issue and the rise of J Jayalalithaa is a completely different story that can be read here.
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