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28 August 2013

From Vidur

Sri MGR Year 96, 28th August, Wednesday

Below is an article written by Mr.Kamal Nayan Chaturvedi, known as Vidur in Mumbai.

 

Marudhur Gopala Ramachandran or M.G.Ramachandran or simply M.G.R. needs no introduction in Tamil Nadu. Though he died 25 years ago, still his popularity refuses to wane. I always knew about his phenomenal sway over the masses in Tamil Nadu but I personally experienced it during my recent visit to the state.

One morning when I came out of my room in Subam Lodge, Vaitheeswaran Koil, I noticed that arched are being erected on the streets and photos of M.G.R. are being garlanded everywhere. Old hit songs of the films of M.G.R. were being played. People in large number were queuing in front of his photos and paying respect.

I was astonished. I was astounded by the fact that it is his 25th death anniversary and still people are remembering him. To know the height of his popularity, please go through the description of his death scene, which I am quoting from Wikipedia:

” M.G.R. 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. The police had to resort issuing shoot-at-sight orders. Tamilians from Bangalore rushed to Madras in trains to see the mortal remains of MGR. Govt had announced free train facility for this visit. The violence during the funeral alone left 29 people dead and 47 police personnel badly wounded. This state of affairs continued for almost a month all over the state of Tamil Nadu. Around one million people followed his remains, around 30 followers committed suicide and people had their heads tonsured.

After his death, his political party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, split between his wife Janaki Ramachandran and J.Jayalalithaa; they later merged in 1988.

In 1989 Dr. M.G.R. Home and Higher Secondary School for the Speech and Hearing Impaired was established in the erstwhile Residence MGR Gardens, Ramapuram, in accordance with his will dated January 17, 1986. His official residence at 27, Arcot Street, T.Nagar is now MGR Memorial House and is open for public viewing. His film studio, Sathya Studios has been converted into a women’s college. “

Now non – Tamil people can understand his impact and popularity among the masses. It was well – crafted image with the help of his films. He was the first major film star of India, who became Chief Minister of any state and won 3 consecutive elections in 1977, 1980 and 1984. He became Chief Minister in 1977 and remained in office till his death in 1987. In 1984 assembly elections, though he was in the hospital for treatment and could not participate in electioneering, still he led his party to unprecedented victory. His images, from his hospital bed in the U.S.A., were broadcast through cinema halls. And his party A.I.A.D.M.K. got 56% of assembly seats .

How he created this larger – than – life political image ? You can watch the song  “…….. neenga nalla irukkanum ……… ” of his film ” Idhayakkani ” [1975 ] . In the  ……neenga nalla irukkanum ……… song, he pays homage to his mentor Annadurai, whose image is clearly visible on the screen . His party flag is also fluttering in air and you could see that in the song itself his screen character is doing his philanthropic work. ” Idhayakkani “ was released 2 years before he became the Chief Minister. His last released film was ” Madurai Meeta Sundara Pandian ” [ 1978 ].  This was his 136th film.  It was released 1 year after he became the Chief Minister. So through his 136 films, he created this kind of image, which is unheard of anywhere in the world. After becoming CM, the ongoing project ” Anna En Theivam “ was stopped and later on it was released by Bhagyaraj with modified story in which Bhagyaraj was the hero.

Apart from M.G.R., no one in India or in world could replicate this kind of success. He was the first and till date only actor turned politician, who got this kind of mass popularity and could generate mass hysteria of this magnitude. N.T.R. or Nandamoori Tarak Ramarao was also an actor in Telugu film industry and he did succeed in Andhra Pradesh but his success was short – lived as he was soon toppled by his own son – in – law. President of U.S.A., Ronald Reagan was also an actor in Hollywood but he was not a major star.

On my previous visit to Chennai in 2011, I visited memorial of M.G.R. at Marina Beach to show my respect. In December 2012, when I visited Chennai again, I was again able to pay respect to him on his 25th death anniversary.

It is sad that he died when he was only 70. And 70 is not the age to leave the world. Had he been alive he would have been a formidable Prime Minister of India. In these days of coalition politics it would have been a real possibility.

Alas ! We lost him too early and too soon.

I think it would be fascinating to tell his story to all the students of my acting academy, Vidur’s Kreating Charakters. Who knows? They might replicate M.G.R. story in their lives also.

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

20 August 2013

The Man Of The Masses - II

Sri MGR Year 96, 20th August, Tuesday

The concluding part, an article written by Randor Guy

Acting in movies was not peaches and cream and life for MGR was as tough as ever. In those days cinema in Madras was still an infant mulling and puking in nurses arms. Not many movies were being made and roles were few and far between. Tears and tension, privation and penury, stress and strain, life seemed to be only all that and some more. But undaunted MGR toiled sorrowing, rejoicing he went ahead. Minor but significant roles in successful films, he did them all with sincerity.

 

The MGR charisma was already blossoming and making waves. Even though he was not a star or box office draw yet, he was drawing attention and his popularity was now spreading. His good lucks, his sinewy physique… a rare event indeed in Tamil films where paunchy plumpness was more a rule than an exception… his skills in doing orchestrated fights with swords, fists and all… all these and a dash of personal magnetism marked him out as a man destined to go places.

 

In 1947, MGR made the grade as hero in Rajakumari a folk-tale swashbuckler which turned out to be a box office hit. MGR, muscular and manly was hailed as an action hero, compared to Douglas Fairbanks who had been a source of inspiration for MGR.

 

Thus it began and MGR zoomed forward to new heights. Still he was not yet superstar, a status that would come to him within a few years.

 

Love of his fellowmen, affection for the poor, downtrodden oppressed and exploited an urge to do his bit for the have-nots, all these have been impregnated in his personality. He had known the pangs of hunger. He had undergone the pinch of poverty. No wonder he took up cudgels to fight for his convictions. He joined the Congress and wore Khadder and followed Gandhism.

 

And instead of waiting like a Fabian for the inevitability of gradualness, he decided to shake, move the world around him. As an intelligent man he realised the power of his chosen field, movies. He understood that the medium was the best for his message and events proved him right in ample measure.

 

MGR is not as many, think a film actor who clicked in politics. Indeed he is a shrewd politician, socially conscious who exploited the medium of cinema to drive home his message to mould his public, to make them think and change. Like Rousseau used his pen, Karl Marx his ‘Das Kapital’ MGR used the movie screen. Herein lies the secret of his success.

 

MGR’s movies are by and large hits, money-spinners. Flops are rare. Some of them like Nadodi Mannan, Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban, Enga Veetu Pillai, Adimai Penn scaled rare peaks of success. His movies have clean, inspiring message – oriented titles… Nallavan Vaazhvan (Good Man succeeds in life)… Dharmam Thalai Kakkum (Dharma Ever protects) Thaai Sollai Thattathey (Never disobey Mother).

 

The plot line is his movies is simple, clear and moral based. A do-gooder, often poor, a dutiful son brought up by his mother. helps the poor, downtrodden and weak. Fights the idle rich, greedy, unscrupulous anti-social being… exposes evil and misdeeds.. wins battle and lives happily thereafter with his lady love. And the happy mother, his only god, a god he sees, exuding love, affection and kindness. Mother is all…

 

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Another significant factor responsible for the MGR phenomenon is the total absence of the usual vices associated with film folks, especially superstars. He does not drink. No smoking. Not even coffee or tea. In fact, even in his movies he has never smoked. His do-good hero has no addictive habits of any kind and goes out of the way to help damsels in distress, fighting goondas, wolves in sheep’s clothing and their country cousins.

 

One more reason for his films to click is that they are first class entertainers. Fast paced, funny and his message is given in sweet chewable tablets, MGR who exercise rigid control over his films is an excellent film technician. He knows all about scenarios, 360 degree pan shots and jump cutting. Indeed he is good director who knows his craft and his audiences.

 

During the furious fifties many significant changes took place in the Tamil Nadu political scene, which would soon have far-reaching consequences. Men like Congress man turned atheist, social rebel, Periyar E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker and rustic-looking scholar, silver tongued orator, savant, C.N.Annadurai, later deified as Anna developed huge followings stirring the masses with their fiery writing and seductive speeches in sweet scintillating alliterative Tamil prose.

 

Anna’s party DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) was on its way to become a forge – ahead force. And it received a boost when MGR  joined the party. It is no exaggeration to say that MGR is one of the contributing factors for the rapid rise of the DMK. Indeed Anna in one of his memorable speeches hailed MGR as the Idayak Kani (the fruit of his heart). MGR’s charisma, his popularity as a film star, his capacity to draw crowds, helped his party to raise funds for fighting the general elections. And as DMK grew in size, strength and stature, MGR’s image as a super star and popular leader burgeoned. And then, DMK captured power in Tamil Nadu and occupied the Fort St. George. Anna became the Chief Minister. MGR did not seek office, which he could have had for the mere asking. But he was happy acting and making  his message movies and spreading his do-good philosophy. And with his drawing power and superstar status he was now a living legend.

 

During 1972 October, a major event of far-reaching consequence occurred. Charismatic leader, master tactician, super orator writer Muthuvel Karunanidhi more popularly known as Kalaignar was the head of the state and though the two had rubbed shoulders in the world of movies and politics for years, MGR had acted in many movies written and also produced by Mr.Karunanidhi, serious cracks developed in their political relationship. They could not see eye to eye on many issues and MGR accused his old friend of gross corruption, nepotism and such in a retaliatory move Karunanidhi suspended MGR from DMK.

 

Masses were stunned. Thunder rolled. Hills around St.Thomas Mount shook. And MGR founded his own party. Anna DMK (ADMK) later renamed as All India Anna DMK. Five years later MGR swept the polls in Tamil Nadu and became the Chief Minister.

 

Before he could complete his term Indira Gandhi unseated him dismissing his ministry. And when fresh elections held, MGR swept the polls once more and returned to the Gadi. Such is his charisma.

 

His concern for the common man has endeared him to the masses. Many years ago when MGR had his dramatic troupe MGR Nataka Mandram, he had thought of buying a plot of 10 acres. There was a large tract of valuable land nearly 100 acres, at the outskirts of Madras, then in the process of rapid boundary stretching growth. The land belonging to a successful insurance magnate was offered to MGR at a competitive price. MGR felt he could buy and keeping 10 acres for himself give the balance to the members of his troupe. With this objective he visited the site. He found many poor people had been living on the land in dismal huts and his buying would result in their painful eviction. No, no deal built on the tears of the poor, MGR told the surprised vendor and happily forgot all about the land deal. If he had gone ahead like most would have done he could have made a packet in the light of soaring prices of suburban land in Madras. But to MGR, human beings, their feelings and sentiments matter most, not profits and prosperity.

 

His love for his workers in movies is well known. No light boy, no gofer is too small for him and often he had pulled up his producers for not taking care, not providing good food and such, for the ill paid members of the crew who usually remain anonymous or even invisible to most film stars.

 

Wherever destruction lashes out, harming the poor, he rushes in to help. He is perhaps one of the very few persons in the movie world paying up the donations announced. Many movie folks announce donations in the flashlights glare of press publicity and develop amnesia after wards MGR donates without fanfare.

 

MGR weilds a facile besides being a powerful, persuasive speaker. He has served as a newspaper editor and even with his chief Ministership and all, he wrote in the wee hours of the nights for Tamil weekly Thai.

 

In his seventies, his energy, stamina and all are amazing, especially when viewed in the light of his recent illness. That shows the Man… The Man of the Masses, for the Masses… a real phenomenon indeed the likes of whom, we have not seen in recent history.

 

Click here for the first part of the article.

18 August 2013

Netru Indru Nalai 2013 - II

Sri MGR Year 96, 18th August, Sunday

Amalraj Pictures Netru Indru Nalai is running in Mahalakshmi theater. This movie was already re-released in 2011 and in August 2012.

 

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As usual MGR Devotees garlanded MGR banner.

 

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The movie have memorable songs and a long philosophical song showing ADMK flag and the first election victory recorded in the movie.

 

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The print is the same as the last year. I just had a glimpse of the first scene of the movie.

 

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Hand bill circulated by Manithaneya Manickam MGR Bakthargal Kuzhu, Dindukal District.

16 August 2013

Netru Indru Nalai 2013 - I

 Sri MGR Year 96, 16th August, Friday

MGR dual action movie Netru Indru Nalai is re-released in Mahalakshmi theater this week. This movie was re-released previously in August 2012.

 

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This is the main banner fixed in front of Mahalakshmi theater. I strongly feel the print will be the same released during 2012.

 

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When I was capturing these images I faintly heard “Angay Varuvathoo yaro” song oozing from the gap of theater doors.

For last years link about Netru Indru Nalai given below:

First link.

Second link.

14 August 2013

Meenava Nanban 36

Sri MGR Year 96, 14th August, Wednesday

Today 14th August 2013, 36 years back Meenava Nanban movie was released. This is the first MGR movie to be released after our beloved Puratchi Thalaivar assumed office as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

 

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Directed by Sridhar, his second MGR movie. The movie had political dialogues that satisfied MGR fans. The first scene of the movie had lot of punch dialogs, that is unusual in MGR movies.

 

Pattathu Rajavum a philosophical song embed with political situation of 1976.

 

Another Philosophical song “Neruku Nerai”

The last stanza of the song is used by Rajni as his punch dialog.

Both the songs were uploaded by Abdul Gafoor.

 

Duet songs of the movies has usual contents with visuals from back projection to miniatures. Below is a duet song.

 

A detailed list of MGR movies released in 1977.

Click here…

 

 

Full movie with less resolution uploaded by Raj Video Vision.

Meenava Nanban was one of MGR hit movies.

10 August 2013

Uzhaikkum Karangal Title Card

Sri MGR Year 96, 10th August, Saturday

The title cards are always different for every movies, some will have animated while some will have artistic. In MGR movies the title cards had background related to the movie or sceneries.

In Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban the title scrolls over bunch of flowers, photos in Rickshawkaran, animation in Anbay Vaa.

In Uzhaikkum Karangal the title card is designed with the image of MGR doing various works relating to the title of the movie (Labouring Hands).

In this movie the title card is thirteen in number with mostly MGR in red shirt.

 

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The first title card showing MGR raising his hands, second embracing the paddy.

 

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The title card shows MGR working in the field with a plough followed by working with hammer.

 

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Various poses of MGR as farming, watering and harvesting and finally showing a thumbs up for the director’s credit.

04 August 2013

The Man Of The Masses

Sri MGR Year 96, 4th August, Sunday

The Man of the Masses an article written by Randor Guy, a film historian, he has done extensive study of Cinema, written English songs for regional films. Has done songs for MGR movies Oorukku Uzhaipavan and Idhayakani.

A fine, breezy, summer evening in the sea kissed sun splashed city, Madras, some thirty odd years ago… prize distribution ceremony was on, in local professional college. Its Tamil Association had as part of its promotional and cultural activities organised competitions and contests, debates and discussions and winners in them all were being honoured with silver cups and medals. And the Chief guest of the evening, a handsome man unusually light skinned for a South Indian, in spotless white dhoti and shirt the common man’s costume in Madras was on his feet, congratulating the winners and handing over the prizes as their names were being called and they came up the dais sheathed in smiles and sprinkled with the sweet smell of success.

And then a spark of restlessness developed behind the line of VIPs and others seated amidst the cluster of young men on the dais, student office bearers of Tamil Association. They were all frantically looking for something. Tick – tock – tick – tock moments melted away… now they were in a near frenzy, searching for something. What? the Chief guest, shrewd and observant, had noticed it all and insisted on knowing. Helpless and on the verge of tears the nail biting boys blurted out… a silver cup was missing! It was there, earlier on the table, but now vamoose!. It was intended for the student for the best essay in Tamil. And the winner was a Gujarati boy whose mother tongue was not Tamil! He was from Sowcarpet, a busy locality of Madras and a stronghold of Gujarathis, Marwaris, Sindhis and such non-Tamil speaking citizens, who were present in large numbers in the audience to applaud this unique achievement.

Obviously some one had pinched the silver cup, a master stroke of mischief. Unperturbed, the chief guest advised the boys to take it easy. The bewildered office bearers wondered quaking in every limb how it would all end. And then the Gujarati student’s name was called. Wild cheering filled the air while the proud winner trotted his way to the dais. The office bearers were now biting the skin of their fingertips. But the chief guest was sunny smiles and effervescent cheer. Patting the winner he made a short speech… “a boy whose mother tongue is not Tamil, wins a Tamil essay contest… a rare feet… deserves a special award…. not a mere silver cup… So I told my young friends here not to give him the cup. I wish to reward this boy on behalf of all of us here”. And he took out his wrist watch and presented it to the surprised student. It was a foreign wrist alarm… a rare novelty in those days in Madras and of course, very expensive.

The audience, especially the stunned Sowcarpet wallah, went wild with sheer delight and cheers there and then some more raised the roof beams high. And the chief guest’s image brightened up by many kilowatts in mere minutes.

The chief guest was Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran, more popularly known in India and beyond as MGR.

Another time, another place… burly, bearded, box office film producer Krishnamachari Balaji was driving down a lonely deserted bone dry highway in his imported car when a shriveled, shivering old lady stopped and asked for alms. Taking pity he pulled out a hundred rupee note from his well lined wallet and gave it to the poor woman. She thanked him profusely and blessed him and his family and said “Thanks, once more, you must be MGR.”

A man of the masses, for the masses, they, the masses called him Makkal Thilagam (darling of the people) Puratchi Thalaivar (revolutionary leader)… his fans affectionately refer to him a Vadhyar (Ustad). One of the most popular Indians of our time, his following among the masses is phenomenal. The crowds that assemble to hear him are incredibly vast, like the ones of yester years that turned up to hear Gandhiji, Pandit Nehru and the likes.

His charisma is unbelievable and popularity stunning. According to some he is the second most well known India abroad, the first being Indira Gandhi.

He is a movie star turned chief minister. True, but he is not as his critics and political foes tick him off, a mere movie matinee idol who has made it to the top exploiting his film-star-handsomeness, his box office draw and all. He, a hundred times, no!. Indeed in Tamil Nadu, movie stars, good looking and box office bahadurs have tried their hand, shoulder and sinew in politics, but nobody ever reached even the first base. In fact MGR would have made it in politics and public service even if he had never seen a movie camera or heard anyone yelling cut!

MGR born was born in Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon where, in Kandy, his father Mr.M.Gopalan was a popular Principal of a college. The family consisting of the college Principal father, a doting dear mother Satyabhama and the two sons, Chakrapani and Ramachandran the blue eyed baby of the house looked forward to happy, peaceful middle class life. But the cruel claws of destiny took away the loving father suddenly. Widowed at a young age, friendless and helpless in an alien land, alone with two small kids poor Satyabhama had no option than to return to her native land.

She settled down in the temple town, Kumbakonam near Tanjore, where young Ramachandran and his elder brother attended school. Life in Kumbakonam was a long, lingering struggle. Money was a scarce commodity and the lot of any widow, in those days in a typical small town was harsh, hard and heartrending. And she was no exception. Making both ends meet was a day to day challenge and the hear crushing decision could no longer be put off. Her sons could not go to school any more.

She took her sons and had them admitted in the Madurai Original Boys Drama company to be trained as stage artistes. In those days the play was the thing and movies were still a far away novelty. There was a renaissance in Tamil theatre and dramatic troupes like the Madurai Original Boys played a unique role. These groups had a special feature. The troupes consisted only of boys and hence its name mostly in their early and pre-teens who donned even female roles with long hair wigs, coconut shell falsies and all. The boys were fed, clothed and housed and in the process of growing they learnt a calling too. The future superstar was taken charge of by the moving spirit of the MOBDC, Madras Kandaswamy Mudaliar a pioneer of the Tamil stage theatre was in his blood and he sacrificed his all for his love. His son M.K.Radha latter a movie hero famous for his roles in Gemini’s super  movie hits, like Chandralekha, Strange Brothers, Samsaram and others, recalls the early days of MGR with nostalgic delight. Elder by a few years Radha filled the real life role of elder brother teaching and taking care of him through thick and thin.

Life as a stage actor growing into a young man was no bed of roses. Indeed it was more thorns that petals. Young Ramachandran struggled hard to make the grade and make his mother happy. “I have known and seen her struggle to feed us and it is my ambition to see that no mother ever undergoes such hardships”, he would say years later to his fellow men.

Movies had begun to talk even in India and the struggling young stage actor began to look for chances to face a movie camera. In the world of lens and lights even talent of high order has never been recognised fast unlike the other fields of human endeavour. Not surprisingly he had to pound on many doors before he could done pancake and powder for a Tamil talking movie named Sati Leelavathi. It had a somewhat misleading title for it was not a page from any Hindu epic. It was, in the peculiar and private lingo of the film world a social written by an enterprising magazine editor destined to create history later in the world of entertainment. His name was T.S.Srinivasan, better known as S.S.Vasan MGR played that lingo again a side role as a police inspector wearing khaki shorts laced turban, stick and all. It was in 1936.

Will continue.

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