MGR Year 93, 11th June Friday
Reproduced here without the consent of the Author the original post appears here:
This is a true first hand account
Thursday 12 January 1967
I was duty assistant surgeon for the day in the Govt Royapettah Hospital, Madras. I was in my room after evening OP. It had been an unusually quiet day. Traffic accidents in that busy residential district and on the main arterial Mount Road that runs close by usually come straight to GRH. In those days general surgeons had to see all surgical emergences for though Orthopaedics, ENT and other departments existed they did not have sufficient number of assistants for night duty postings. At about 5 PM the casualty medical officer called wanting me to come urgently to the department. ‘MGR has been brought here after a shooting accident,’ he said.
I was in the casualty soon after. The familiar figure of MGR was on one of the two couches of the casualty theatre. Without makeup and wig he looked more handsome than he did on the screen. I asked him what happened and he said that M.R. Radha (the popular movie villain/comedian) had shot him in the ear. I had come with the notion that during film shooting an accident had occurred. Apparently it was not an accident and the shooting was not with camera by with a gun. I examined the ear wound. There was tattooing round the entry wound indicating that the nozzle of the gun was almost touching the skin when the trigger was pulled.
For a person who has received a bullet into his head from such close quarters MGR was quite comfortable. He was not agitated by an event that could well have ended his life and there is no doubt that the passage of the bullet into the sensitive tissues of the back of the throat would have been severely discomforting. But his total nonchalance was quite remarkable. In true life he proved to be the as much the hero he was on the silver screen.
MGR could hear my watch in the affected ear and there was no facial paralysis His familiar voice was unchanged. Some weeks later when he emerged from hospital his voice was slurred. As the first doctor to have seen him after the injury I can say with certainty that the nerve damage that caused the slurring was not by the bullet. (The Wikipedia entry that says he was shot in the throat and that affected his voice is incorrect.)
The casualty officer now came in with the news that M.R. Radha the person who had shot MGR was being wheeled into the casualty. It appears that he had shot himself in the temple after shooting MGR. I moved to the passage. Radha lay on the stretcher eyes open and alert. He spoke in his familiar rasping voice.
"Naan thaan sutteen. Policeukku statement koduthacchu." (I was the one who shot. I have given statement to the police.)
There was a bullet entry
hole in the temple and a swelling surrounding the wound. Both had been shot from close quarters but other than the entry wound neither had any other demonstrable damage to their tissues. The bullets had lodged in the tissues for there were no exit wounds. Later it came to be known that the pistol and bullets had remained unused for years. As I was examining him Radha spoke again. In movies he had two voices. His usual voice was the rasping one. He had another shriller voice much loved by audiences that he used for his punch lines. He now spoke in that voice.
"Are any of you Brahmins?" he asked. Even though he was a high profile member of E.V. Ramawamy Periyar’s anti-Brahmin DK party it was very surprising that a man who had just tried to kill himself should raise that question. In trauma wards accident victims cowering with fear or being hysterical is a common sight. Here two men with fresh bullets in their heads were unconcerned about it. Show business must be a good training ground for meeting crises in life. A lifetime spent pandering to the unpredictable tastes of the fickle public is good training ground for political life too. When actors take to political leadership no doubt they do well. Radha soon found himself on the other couch next to where MGR lay. There were only two couches in the casualty. The aggressor and victim lay hardly a metre from each other. This is not an uncommon situation in hospital trauma wards. It never causes problems.
It was then that I noted that the news had spread and a crowd was gathering. In fact in that short while the crowd had become quite dense. The hospital compound was kept relatively free by police but Westcott road in front of the hospital was jam packed and blocked by a mass of humanity. People packed the veranda and terrace of the YMCA building opposite. Senior police officers were active in the casualty. Leading Madras doctors appeared as if by magic though none was called in consultation except my chief Dr. Saratchandra. The ENT surgeon appeared with his head mirror. He demanded that his name must be entered in the accident register. ‘I must be called to court to give evidence,’ he said. The desire for publicity is not confined to those in the show business. MGR personal doctor Dr. B.R. Subramanium now joined the team that had unofficially formed. With the hospital superintendent Dr. M.V. Krishamurthi in charge my role as duty surgeon was not mine anymore not that there was anything to be done in the casualty. I saw to it that only medical personal entered the casualty theatre.
There were two unusual visitors. A middle aged woman of a rural cast rushed in anxiously asking if Radha was in danger. The nurse assured her that he was not and sent her away with some difficulty. Soon another woman came in with the same agitated query. We reassured her also of Radha’s safety and sent her away. Off duty nurses from the quarters now came in a group to see the matinee idol suitably dressed for the occasion. I asked them to have a peep and then go away lest they be mistaken for M.R. Radha’s friends. They took the hint and left.
Four men were standing at the casualty theatre door in clear view of the patients. They stood there with respect to hospital regulations without trying to get in though they would have been bursting with desire to have a word with MGR. Three of them I recognized. One was actor Asokan. He was visibly upset. The other was C.N. Annadurai head of the DMK party of which MGR was a prominent member and was in fact a candidate in the election due shortly. Standing by his side was M. Karunanithi. I have attended C.N. Annadurai’s meetings and heard his fiery speeches. I have not seen M. Karunanithi before. He was youthful and handsome and in spite of his relatively small size had a presence. They stood there quite calm and collected. If anyone had told me at that moment that three future Chief Ministers of Tamilnadu were in within metres of each other in that small space I would have put that man down as a lunatic.
Back in GRH it was apparent that the patients needed to be in the General Hospital. Soon a convoy led by a lorry packed with MGR fans with the president of the fans association standing on top shouting slogans left for General Hospital. Westcott road reopened to the public and once again asthmatics could come to the casualty for their injections. In GH surgeons failed to extract the bullet. Some days after discharge feeling something loose in the back of his throat MGR went back to hospital where a surgeon removed the bullet by a simple incision. The bullet had loosened and eroded towards the surface as foreign bodies often do. In the court case that followed M.R. Radha was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He was released in due course and died a free man. C.N. Annadurai became chief minister but he passed away within two years (3 Feb 1969) and M. Karunanithi took over. The M. Karunanithi – MGR rivalry that followed is too fresh to need retelling. MGR’s splinter party won the election in 1977 and he was Chief Minister till his death in 1987 after a long illness.