Sri MGR Year 93, 3rd June Thursday
More than thousand authors have written about MGR, mostly in Tamil and seldom in English. Recently (handed over to me a year back) I read a book which was given to me by my friend Pastor Senthil Kumar an English book about MGR titled MGR The Man and The Myth, 1995 Edition. I have read the Tamil version of this book during my College years (titled MGR Nijamum Nizhalum).
The book was authored by DGP Mohandas a.k.a. MGR’s eyes and ears, a trouble shooter and bogey man, this book some what gives the ring side view of MGR’s rule. He had first met MGR in 1969 when he was Superintendent of Police for Madurai region during the shooting of Mattukkara Velan and then after some years he was serving CBI in New Delhi he returned back during the hearing of Sarkaria Commission in 1976. From then on till MGR’s death he was beside MGR and he knows how well MGR administered Tamil Nadu.
Many authors have said from their respective point of view, DGP Mohandas book about MGR is a point of view from the Police side, how MGR played his part, how secretive and how he kept his cards close to his chest. To make clear what I say is that many writers when they write about MGR were already turned Devotee in some way or other and MGR have helped in their problem or got any financial or support from him, but Mohandas point of view is not a Devotee point of view, and entirely differs from other writers.
Lot of interesting incidents have been written in the book, how MGR tackled some different situation with absolute ease even his educational level is basic. Mohandas accepts that he is not able to judge MGR correctly every time. He also says that MGR’s face does not show any reaction even the matter was serious one. Whenever MGR has to take a decision he will close his eyes and be in a trance state.
The cover of the book with ADMK colour background and an Enigmatic smile of MGR is the best choosen image for the book. He always says that MGR smile is bewitching.
MGR often referred to him as Namma DIG to his security men and his household. A different book makes us feel that still MGR is Enigma.
Some of the interesting lines from the Book.
His first meeting which you have already read.
1980 Return of MGR in General Elections
The real MGR, with all his charisma, surfaced, and the people – especially in the rural areas – pledged him their solid support. As in his films, he was at his best when fighting a battle – with or without swords – with his back to the wall. The Congress (I) – DMK alliance, born after much difficulty and reluctance, was no match for the swashbuckling one-man Army of MGR. And he came out vanquishing his rivals, with his party securing a majority higher that the one it had before its dismissal. as the magazine Link put it: With a massive popular mandate, demoralised opposition, devoutly loyal party and close-knit ministry, MGR should surely be the envy of many a Chief Minister in the country.
MGR a Great Showman:
I would like to cite one or two examples to illustrate how the showman in him projected me as his ‘bogeyman’. One evening I got a summons from him (over the hot-line) asking me to meet him immediately in the Secretariat. When I entered his chamber, I was surprised to find him discussing some cinema film with three of his Cabinet Ministers. He signaled to me to sit by his side, and the mirthful conversation went on for a few minutes. Suddenly he got up with seriousness writ all over his face and asked me, Shall we go? I was puzzled but nodded assent. He walked straight to his car, accompanied by me, but ignoring all the sycophantic farewells of his Cabinet colleagues. As the car drove away MGR started humming a Carnatic tune. I gently reminded him about his urgent summons and enquired what it was all about. He had a hearty laugh and said that it was only a drama. He suspected one of the three Ministers of being involved in some corrupt deals and he (MGR) wanted to frighten him. The Minister, MGR continued, would ponder what the grave matter involving me (with my walrus moustache) was, he would have a sleepless night, (so went the argument), and would think twice before transacting any more of his corrupt deals. MGR slapped me on the back and said, Well done, keep it up. I could do nothing but stare at him. He dropped me at my office – which was another strange display of showmanship ostensibly to impress my staff and others in the building (of my closeness to him) with his pilot and escort cars zooming past. I was left standing, a trifle dazed. When I reached my chambers, my private secretary informed me that there were calls from all the 3 Ministers. I asked him to put them through – and MGR was right! All of them nervously enquired of me as to what was going on. I assured them that MGR was only discussing with me some matter relating to New Delhi. They were surely not convinced but could do noting about it.
Naxalite (Communist Party – Marxist – Leninist) activities reached their peak in pockets of North Arcot and Dharmapuri districts in the mid 80’s. While an Inspector of police and two constables were escorting a known extremist in a jeep to Tiruppathur police station, the latter exploded a powerful bomb hidden in his loins killing all of them and destroying the jeep beyond recognition. MGR was quick to react, rushed to Vellore, accompanied by DGP, T.T.P.Abdulla and participated in the funeral of the slain police personnel. He gave a funeral oration which was soul-stirring. He promised to eradicate the naxalite menace in the area within a month. He gave encouragement to the police and local population. He put me in charge of master-minding “Operation Naxalite” with the then DIG (Vellore) Walter Devaram being put in charge of field operations. He finished the job in 20 days and there has been no naxalite activity in the area ever since…
A comparison with the present situation in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Maharashtra (to name a few) where naxalites are whipping up riots and indulging in not only terrorist activity but also kidnapping high civil officials for ransom would justify the police action in Tamil Nadu in 1980 and the foresight of MGR in accurately analysing the shape of things to come, if such activities were not nipped in the bud.
(Just look at News Papers a week before we have to thank our Thalaivar’s effort in 1980)
As written by Mohandas that he was the person who suggested for video coverage of MGR in the Brooklyn Hospital. There are lot of incidents in the book and the last words about MGR by Mohandas is “In the death he looked peaceful. To me he was one of the few Winners in Life. He looked a Winner even in Death. He had nothing more to look forward to, with a life full of achievements – whether it was in film world where he reigned supreme for a record number of year or whether it was in the political field where he captured power within five years of forming his own party. His election in absentia (while convalescing in Brooklyn Hospital) and his party sweeping the polls were indeed incredible.The Tamil Nadu massess gave him abundant love, affection, respect and the status of a Demi-God. To them, whatever he did was right and his word was law, till the end…
When he first won the elections and assumed power as Chief Minister, he pad a visit to New Delhi, where seasoned Politicians like A.B.Vajpayee stared at him in wonder. Even the usually stern Moraji Desai, politically crafted Indira Gandhi and the sophisticated Rajiv Gandhi had a soft corner for him and were always pleased to meet him as a person, though not necessarily as a politician. If MGR’s charisma could work on such eminent personalities, one can easily estimate and understand how the MGR magic worked on the masses of Tamil Nadu – whatever be the opinion of armchair politicians and the intelligentsia…
MGR, the myth was very much a part of MGR the man. Future historians will find in him a fascinating subject. As for the present, nearly five years after his death (1992) the MGR cult persists and his soul hovers over the huts of lakhs of his fans. They worship him by installing his statues in wayside temples, and old MGR movies still run to packed houses.
What a man! What a myth!
Published by Panther Publishers, Bangalore.