Saturday, January 15, 2011

MGR - The Leader of Masses

I have been thinking to write something about this great personality and finally I found time to do so. M.G.Ramachandran's(popularly known as MGR) birthday falls on January 17th and so let this post be a token of respect to him.

Let me start about MGR's acting.In my opinion MGR is not a method actor like Sivaji, but still a good actor and entertainer.If you want to know what I actually mean by 'method' acting means,you have to watch movies like Deiva Magan,RajapartRangadhurai etc. Sivaji's acting will be mindblowing in these movies.But when it comes to MGR,he has not done such movies.He started off with small roles in cinema.He got his first break in the movie MandhiriKumari.After that slowly his career graph as an actor progressed well and he became an action hero.

The moment we talk about MGR,the first thing that may come to our mind will be his movies' songs. MGR-TMS-MSV-Kannadasan/Vaali is a golden combo.MGR's movie shooting will commence only after song recording is over(this info I got from elderly people :)).Its not so easy to work with MGR.He is such an intelligent artiste.He had a thorough knowledge in almost every aspect of film-making.He will listen to the tune and lyrics.Only after he gives his nod to go ahead with recording,the song recording will be done.It is said that while working for the movie Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban(directed by MGR himself),M.S.Viswanathan told MGR that he can't work with him any more and he urged MGR to go for someother music director.Reason - MGR was not satisfied with the tunes given by MSV.But MGR had faith in MSV and he asked for better tunes.And finally the movie released and its one of the all-time top-grossers in the history of Tamil Cinema.MGR called MSV and pesonally thanked him for giving good music and told only to get the best out of him,he made him toil so much.

When he saw the preview show of the movie "Alaigal Oivathillai",directed by Barathiraja,he called the director personally and asked him that "I think you have shot an alternative climax too".Barathiraja got astonished,because none knows that he had shot another climax.He got stunned on MGR's knowledge about cinema.

He is a macho-man in real life too.He was well-versed in martial arts(sword fight,silambam etc).While shooting the song "Kashmir beautiful Kashmir",some rogues were passing silly comments on the female dancers and were teasing them.MGR performed a live stunt-show.He beat them severely and handed over to police.He has directed 3 movies and all the 3 were mega hits. Nadodi Mannan,Adimaippen and Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban.

Many think that using his cinematic image MGR became CM easily.Of-course,his fame in cinema helped him very much,no doubt at all,but he didn't become the CM of Tamil Nadu just like that.He has gone through lot of troubles and difficult situations before becoming CM.

He joined the DMK party in the beginning.He worked for the party very much.He was a close friend to Mr.Karunanithi(Tamil Nadu CM).But it was after Anna's death the political scenario changed in TN.MGR was sidelined by Kalaignar.He didn't get the much needed importance.After his expulsion from DMK,MGR started his own political party and named it as Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(ADMK).He faced several obstacles before coming to power.

The DMK threw mic at him.MGR with frustration,threw an open challenge that he will come to the assembly only after he becomes Chief Minister.He became the CM on 30th July,1977 and he remained in the office as CM till his death.In 1979,he supported the Janata Party at the center,which is considered one of his significant political moves.He first supported Charan Singh,but later on he was ready to support 'Babu' Jagajivan Ram. When he extended his support to Mr.Jagajivan Ram,the then president of India,Mr.Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy dissolved the house for obvious reasons.

In 1980,MGR's democratically elected government was dissolved by the congress party,which gave no good reason for it.The congress was in alliance with DMK in 1980.And since the Janata Party couldn't give a stable government at center,people lost confidence on Janata Party and they voted for congress.Because of this the DMK-Congress alliance almost swept the parliament elections held in 1980.So the DMK was of the opinion that if the elections are announced in Tamil Nadu,they can win comfortably.Many predicted a land slide victory for the DMK-Congress alliance.The congress too wanted to take revenge on MGR for supporting Janata Party,so they dismissed the government and fresh elections were conducted.

People proved the predictions wrong.The MGR led ADMK won convincingly while the opposition ended up with egg on its face.In 1984,MGR didn't even visit his constituency for election campaigns.He was getting treatment in America.Some miscreants even spread rumors that MGR was not alive.Again they ended up with egg on their face,as MGR without even visiting his constituency won with a great margin.

In Tamil Nadu till today there is no naxalite problem.When MGR was in power the naxal problem surfaced in TN too.MGR gave a free-hand to police to eliminate naxalites.His bold and tough decision completely eradicated naxalism from TN.Not many politicians in India,has this much guts to fight terrorism,goondaism etc.

MGR brought the free meals scheme for children studying in govt. schools.Now it is one among the World Bank's model schemes.In MGR's rule,there was no caste based politics.He didn't abuse the media by calling it as 'paarpana oodagam'(Brahmin Media).Many use to say that you can light up your stove and then go to MGR's house to get rice(which means you will get rice from his house definitely).He gave almost his entire Ramapuram garden to blind school.

There is a complaint that he used cinema for his political advantage.Yes,he used it.His movies used to carry lot of political dialogs and most of his songs will have politically motivated lyrics too.People who complain on this should understand the very fact that every reputed hero at one point of time will use the mass media in his favor.But not many could taste success in this aspect.If MGR was able to do that successfully means,its purely his intelligence and the dialogs will be very much within the screenplay.If you watch the movie 'Nadodi Mannan',you can understand this.

MGR's roles is that of a communist in that movie(Nadodi Mannan) and accidentally he will be made the king. At that time the ministers will tell him, 

"வீராங்கா நாங்கள் உன்னை நம்பி தான் அதிகாரங்களை உன்னிடம் ஒப்படைக்கிறோம்"
for which MGR will reply,
அமைச்சர்களே என்னை நம்பாமல் கெட்டவர்கள் நிறைய பேர் உண்டு நம்பி கெட்டவர் இன்று வரை இல்லை.

One more dialog in the same movie.He will reveal to the queen that he is not her husband and he is his lookalike.He will say he will quit and go,but the queen(M.N.Rajam was the actress), will urge him to continue as king,for which he will ask,
"சகோதரி இன்னும் என்னை நம்புகிறாயா"
for which she will reply,
"நான் மட்டும் இல்லை அண்ணா இந்த நாடே உங்களை நம்பி தான் இருக்கிறது".
So these dialogs are well within the story and screenplay and the political intention it was appealing to the masses too.When someone tries to copy this approach,they end up with some funny stuff. 
This movie was re-released in the year 2006 and see the crowd gathered at Albert theater.
Let me type some political lyrics in his songs:
"மக்கள் நலம் மக்கள் நலம் என்றே சொல்லுவார் 
தம் மக்கள் நலம் ஒன்றே தான் மனதில் கொள்ளுவார் " - from the song "Thambi naan padithen",movie Netru Indru Naalai.

"அங்கே சிரிப்பவர்கள் சிரிக்கட்டும் அது ஆணவச் சிரிப்பு" - Rickshawkaaran
The above songs were written by none other than Vaali(as I said MGR had control on songs and lyrics too,though credit goes to lyricist).

Somehow or other he will bring Anna in his songs.What is the connection between Anna and Kashmir?But he brought in Anna's name in the song describing Kashmir as follows:

"அண்ணாவின் பேர் சொல்லும் காஞ்சியைப் போல் 
நேருவின் புகழ் சொல்லும் பூமி இது  "
 The above song was written by Pulamaipithan.

Its really sad that TN is yet to get such intelligent,pro-poor,truly secular,development minded leader as CM.

Finally MGR died on 24th December,1987.

Actually I want to write an even lengthy post about MGR,but this space is not enough for that,so I would like to quote the following lyrics(written by evergreen Vaali) from the MGR starrer Panampadaithavan and end this post:

"இருந்தாலும் மறைந்தாலும் பேர் சொல்ல வேண்டும்
இவர் போல யாரென்று ஊர் சொல்ல வேண்டும் "