Sreevidhya Rajeev/ Chennai, Jan 18 (BPNS)
Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran (MGR) actor turned politician was born in 17 January 1917 at the place called Nawalapitiya town in the Kandy district of Sri Lanka. He was the son of Melakkath Gopalan Menon and Maruthur Satyabhama. At a very young age, he lost his father. After the death of his father, the family struggled a lot. During his school days, he joined a drama troupe and from there he started his acting career. He got himself involved in various training programmes arranged by the troupe that involves singing, dancing, sword fighting, diction, and memory. With the help of Madras Kandasamy Mudaliar, he played a small role then he again rejoined the Boy’s company drama troupe and started doing lead roles for the first time. MGR was first married to Chitarikulam Bargavi who died early due to an illness. The second marriage was to Satyanandavati, who also died soon after marriage due to tuberculosis. Thirdly he married V. N. Janaki who was a Tamil actress. MGR had no children from any of his marriages.
MGR’s debutant film was Sathi Leelavathi which was released in 1936. The movie was directed by Ellis R. Dungan and written by Madras Kandaswamy Mudaliar. It is based on S. S. Vasan’s novel. MGR got his breakthrough in 1950’s film Manthiri Kumari written by M. Karunanidhi. Meanwhile, In 1967 Because of being shot MGR had to undergo an operation after that his voice changed. Due to the operation, MGR’s speaking parts in the film Kaavalkaaran were reduced. This was the only film in which MGR spoke with old and new voices. Despite all these problems, he did not give up and continued his acting life. In 1972 he won National Film Award for Best Actor for the film Rickshawkaran. A blockbuster 1973 film Ulagam Sutrum Valiban was one of his box office hit and the film was screened abroad. His last film was Ullagam Suthi Paru,1978 film in which he acted even though he had been diagnosed with kidney failure.
MGR was the mentor of J Jayalalithaa a powerful politician and versatile actress who served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for more than fourteen years. The pair of MGR and Jayalalithaa is considered as one of the best onscreen pairs of Tamil Cinema. They had a combination in 28 Tamil movies and most of them are regarded as blockbuster films.
During early days MGR was a member of the Congress Party. In 1953 he joined Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), founded by C. N. Annadurai. In 1962 MGR became a member of the state Legislative Council and in 1967 he was first elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. After the death of Annadurai, M.G.R. became the treasurer of DMK in 1969 after Muthuvel Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister. Owing to some issues in the party MGR left DMK. Later formed a new party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). The First Ramachandran ministry was in 1977 when MGR was elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 30th June 1977. He continued to be in the same role until his death in 1987. On 19th March 1988, MGR was honored with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award posthumously.
A person who has had superstardom in both cinema and politics for decades,MGR was the first film actor to become a chief minister in India. His contribution as a politician and as an actor is remarkable and still, he lives in the mind of Tamil people.