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04 January 2014

Great Chief Minister

Sri MGR Year 96, 4th January, Saturday

V.R.Lakshminarayanan, who started his Police career as Assistant Superintendent of Police, Madurai, then he was appointed as Additional Director of CBI. Later years he rendered service during our beloved Leader Puratchi Thalaivar MGR reign first as Inspector General of Police and retired as Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu. Below is the article written by V.R.Lakshminarayanan in year 1986.

From Rajakumari to Madurai Meeta Sundarapandian, MGR, the actor has travelled a long way as an actor whose very name brought millions to the box office. There has been great character actors who could play any role with ease and natural fluency, live, so to say, any role best but none of them could predict with confidence that the film would be a sure block buster. MGR’s movies on the other hand had the sure magic touch of Midas. I am not competent to comment on his skills as a movie actor except to say that I am one of his fans.

The real truth about MGR is that through the many roles he played he was not interpreting the character in the movie, but was constantly giving a glimpse of himself, his social and political philosophy, his complete identification with the ‘lowly and the lost’ his vision of a future, in short he was telling us through the celluloid medium that MGR the character in the films and MGR in flesh and blood were the same.

Added to that he had the peculiar histrionic quality of communicating this image with a transparency and adequacy not ordinarily given to other mortals. Carry Grant, Clark Gable and Gregory Peck are some of the all time greats in cinema. We admired their acting, we came back wondering at their astonishing ability to live the role but they never impressed us as projecting their own lives or their ideals. Charlie Chaplin was the nearest, but not complete. Therein lies the secret of MGR, the public figure. His popularity remains to this day a tidal wave, furious and irresistible.


My first contact with him was nearly thirty years ago, when he led a procession to honour a Tamil writer in the blazing heat of a May afternoon, around 1 PM. I was Assistant Commissioner, Law and Order in Madras city and went to Mount Road to watch the arrangements more as an after-thought. At that hour one couldn’t collect even two souls for love or money. And as my jeep was reaching the ‘New Globe’ (now Alankar) theatre, there was a sight one had to see to believe. Traffic for two miles was completely paralysed and virtually more than a lakh of people were jostling, fighting and yelling to get a close-up  view of their idol. Mind you, it was no political demonstration. In any case DMK in 1956 was not much of a force and the gathering was almost impromptu not the pre arranged affairs of today with men and women being brought in trucks and paid for their participation, official machinery being grossly misused but the unadulterated tribute of the masses to their hero who at last incarnating in flesh and blood stood before them. To clear the crowds was out of question, though I had a company of the MSP with me for the job. I felt discretion the better part of valour, and requested MGR to get along with the procession. That was real charisma. Had Karunanidhi witnessed this scene, I am sure he would not have crossed swords with his colleague in the early seventies.

And next I met him during the Sarkaria commission days. It must be said to his credit that throughout the commissions proceedings he kept a certain distance and detachment and never attempted to personally intervene to turn the inquiry against his opponent by any means. In politics as in war, anything his fair, but MGR was a picture of fair play.

Came 1977 and the matinee idol became the Chief Minister wiping out all opposition. He did not have the cultivated sophistication of professional administrators. It is not required in a Chief Minister. But what is needed is that most uncommon quality common sense. This MGR has in plenty. More than that, he has an instinctive grasp of what the people want. This, combined with his idealism and dynamic resolve to get this done, has turned him into a great Chief Minister. I realised in those days I was very close to him that neither ministers nor senior civil servants could fool him with rules or excuses. Kamaraj was another who shared this virtue with MGR. Both have this simple rustic quality before which opposition melts in a jiffy. Some of his scheme at first appear impossible of execution. If Napoleon cut out the word, impossible from his dictionary, Kamaraj and MGR did not know the meaning of the word at all.


Added to that, here is a man of great compassion. If everything else about him is forgotten, he will be remembered for his mid day meal scheme. What a great vision of children well-fed and well-educated, growing up without knowing hunger marching to take Tamil Nadu forward to a great future. People, especially the financial experts and unfeeling men scoffed at the idea and foretold certain collapse of our administration. Now other states are following Tamil Nadu.

It is not that he is without his faults. His state of health, wrecked by incessant over work as of late made him unpredictable. This is the time when he should learn to delegate. He is suspicious of those around him and for a very good reason.

Not all of them share his concern for the welfare of the Tamil people who adore him. Nor all of them have the national interest at heart. Naturally he is fearful of the consequences of putting power in their hands unchecked by his daily supervision. It was the same plight that plagued Pandit Nehru. But he should choose his ministers to do the job, not to do everything himself. If he does, the relief will give him more time and more years to see his beloved people prosper.

I can go on about this good man whom I knew reasonably well. And as the history of this country is chronicled among the many contemporary leaders, Dr.MGR will stand out as a legend.

M.G.R. Blog to you via E mail

M.G.R. Blog to you via E mail
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