Tamil Nadu on Tuesday celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of former chief minister and founder of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) M.G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, with hundreds of his followers paying homage at his memorial at Marina Beach in Chennai.
The Tamil Nadu government has already declared Jan 17 as a public holiday.
On his birth centenary, here are 10 lesser-known facts about the iconic actor-turned-political leader:
1. MGR’s full name is Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran.
2. He was a Malayali born in Sri Lanka.
3. MGR’s acting career spanned over 42 years (1935-1977).
4. He acted in the first Tamil and South Indian full-length colour film – “Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum” (1956).
5. He joined the Congress and stayed with the party till 1953. Later, starstruck by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) founder C.N. Annadurai, he joined the party and contributed hugely to the Dravidian movement in the state.
6. In 1967, he had a narrow escape from an assassination attempt when during a conversation, his fellow actor M. R. Radha shot him twice in his left ear before trying to shoot himself.
7. Three years after Annadurai death, in 1972, MGR was expelled from the DMK by party head M Karunanidhi.
It was post his ouster that MGR floated his own party Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), which was later renamed as All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
8. He became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977 and retained his position till his death in 1987.
9. MGR and J Jayalalithaa (who later headed AIADMK and became the CM) were one of the most celebrated pairs on and off screen.
On screen, they acted together in 28 films, out of which 24 were box office superhits. Off-screen, MGR, who was 31 years older to Jayalalithaa, was her mentor, guide and companion.
It was MGR who brought Jayalalithaa into politics and made her join AIADMK.
10. He was married thrice. His first wife was Chitarikulam Bargavi (Thangamani), who died young succumbing to illness. He then married Sathanandavathhi, who also passed away shortly due to tuberculosis.
He was married a third time to former Tamil actress V. N. Janaki in 1965.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.