Bishwa Nath Singh
While traveling in train, a young girl rushed up to me and asked as who was the first popular film actor turned to be a Chief Minister of a state in India, my spontaneous reply to her was Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran (M.G.R)who had remained as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from July 30,1977 till his death on December 24, 1987.Let us remember him and pay our respectful homage and floral tribute to him who was great Indian actor & producer turned grass-root politician of repute who had become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu!
(Photo of Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran ,the fomer Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu)
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Bishwa Nath Singh:
Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran was a great political leader and famous actor of Tamil Nadu. He was born on January 17,1917 at Nawalapitiya in Kendi of Ceylone ( now Sri Lanka) to his parents Gopala Menon and Maruthur Satyabhama. He was al...sp populary called by other names as M. G. R., Puratchi Thalaivar.He belonged to a poor family. His father died when he was a child. His family settled in Tamil Nadu. Ramachandran could not finish his studies, as very early in his life he became the bread earner for his family. His family was originally from Vadavannur, Palakkad, Kerala, but his father had migrated with his family to Sri Lanka. After his father's death, he joined a drama troupe called Original Boys. Later, he entered the world of cinema, becoming an actor, and later a director, producer, and editor. He had married V. N. Janaki a former Tamil film actress as his second wife after the death of his first wife. He joined a drama company. Later, he started to get film offers and he soon became a popular actor. His popularity as an actor proved to be a blessing in disguise.He proved successful in his acting career making his film debut in 1935, in the film Sati Leelavati, directed by Ellis Dungan, an American born film director. He had credit to be dominate in Tamil cinema during the 1950 to 1960 with multiple blockbusters. While starring in romance or action films, he had got his big breakthrough in the 1947 film Rajakumaari, written by M. Karunanidhi. He rose to superstardom in 1954 after Malai Kallan. Later, this film was used as a template for other films by playing roles that portrayed him as the savior of the poor and the oppressed. His movies were the medium of communication for the Dravidian movement for which citation were badly felt need for its success. He had the maximum number of all-time blockbusters to his credit at that time were Nadodi Mannan, Enga Veetu Pillai and Adimai Pen. He was shot by fellow actor Mohan R. Radha, affecting his ability to speak clearly. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for the film Rickshakaran. His film Nadodi Mannan, which was produced and directed by himself and released in 1956, was re-released in 2006 and ran houseful. He was a member of the Congress Party till 1953 and he used to wear Khādī.In 1953, he had joined the Dravida Munnetra Kadhagam with the help of M. Karunanidhi. He became a vocal Tamil and Dravidian nationalist and prominent member of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. He had added glamour to the Dravidian movement which was sweeping Tamil Nadu. He became a member of the state Legislative Council in 1962. On the 12th of January 1967, he was shot in the neck by fellow actor M.R. Radha. The bullet was permanently lodged in his neck and his voice damaged. Within hours of the shooting, some half million odd fans had gathered at the hospital where MGR had been taken. People cried in the streets. For six weeks, he lay in the hospital as fans awaited each report of his health. He was visited by a steady stream of commoners and luminaries of film industry, polity and bureaucracy. From his hospital bed, he conducted his campaign for Madras Legislative Assembly. He won twice the number of votes polled by his Congress rival and the largest vote polled by any candidate for the Assembly He was first elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1967..Prior to that he had become a member of the state Legislative Council in 1962. He was first elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1967, and subsequently in the elections of 1971, 1977, 1980 and 1984. In 1972, he founded the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kadhagam (AIADMK), which contested and won the subsequent elections. In 1972, DMK leader Karunanithi started to project his first son M.K.Muthu in a big way in film industry and also in politics. Understanding the tactics played by Karunanithi to corner him, MGR started to claim that corruption had grown within the party after the demise of Annadurai and in a public meeting asked for the financial details of the party to be publicized which enraged the leadership of DMK. Consequently, as expected, MGR was expelled from the party, and floated a new party named Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the only powerful opponent of the DMK. He had mobilized the period between 1972-1977 to spread and preachhis party ambition with films like Netru Indru Naalai(1974), Idhayakani(1975) etc.He became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on the July 30,1977, remaining in office till his death in 1987In 1977, he became the first film actor in India to become the Chief Minister of a state. He continued as the Chief Minister for the rest of his life till December 24,1987 when he had died at the age of seventy at Chennai of India. In 1979, members of his party Satyavani Muthu and Aravinda Bala Pajanor, became the first non-Congress politicians from Tamil Nadu to be ministers in the Union Cabinet. The AIADMK won every state assembly election as long as MGR was alive. Although Anna Durai as well as Karunanidhi had acted in stage plays in trivial roles, in their younger days, before becoming chief minister, MGR was the first popular film actor to be a Chief Minister in India. Once he became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, he placed great emphasis on social development, especially education. His most successful policies were the introduction of the "Mid-day Meal Scheme" introduced by the popular Congress Chief Minister and Kingmaker K Kamaraj to a nutritious Mid-day Meal Scheme in the Government-run and aided schools in Tamil Nadu, which encouraged underprivileged children to attend schools. He also introduced Women's Special buses. He set up a free school for the Cinema Technicians children in Kodambakkam called MGR Primary & Higher Secondary School which provided Free Mid-Day meals since its inception. He was instrumental in setting up the Tamil University and the Mother Theresa Women's University in Tamil Nadu. He personally offered relief in disasters and calamities like fire, flood, drought, and cyclones. He was the first donor during the war with China in 1962, donating Rs. Seventy five thousand to the war fund. He was the founder and editor of Thai weekly magazine and Anna daily newspaper in Tamil. He was the owner of Sathya Studios and Emgeeyar Pictures meaning willed to charity which produced many of the films he acted in. He had gifted a golden sword weighing half a Kilogram to Mookambika temple in Kollur, Udupi district In October 1984, he was diagnosed with kidney failure and rushed to the Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, United States for treatment, undergoing a kidney transplant. He died on December 24, 1987 after his prolonged illness at Chennai.. 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.1960. He had distinction to get many distinguished awards like :National Film Award for Best Actor for the film Rickshakaran in 1972.Honorary doctorate received from University of Madras and The World University (Arizona).He was posthumously awaded with our country India’s highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna :’ in 1988 for his reformation activities and support from Tamil Nadu.He was a grass root distinguished leader of repute. Let us pay our humble obeisance to his lotus feet and offer our respectful homage and floral tribute to him!