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Jaya out of focus in MGR museum

Even a bandh couldn’t stop the crowds. They streamed in, young and old, scrutinising for hours galleries of framed pictures of late matinee idol...

Written by JAYA MENON | Chennai |
April 1, 2007 1:26:17 am

Even a bandh couldn’t stop the crowds. They streamed in, young and old, scrutinising for hours galleries of framed pictures of late matinee idol and one of the most remarkable politicians of Tamil Nadu, M G Ramachandran, who was Chief Minister from 1977 until his death in December 1987. As an actor, MGR had the biggest fan following which he later converted into votes when he floated the AIADMK in 1972.

But interestingly, the just unveiled museum, tracing MGR’s life as an actor and later a politician, has just one blurred picture of his protégée, former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who now heads the AIADMK, and about 20 framed pictures showing him with his political rival, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi, who he split from in 1972.

Incidentally, Jayalalithaa was MGR’s favourite heroine, whom he fondly called ‘Ammu,’ and acted in most of his films. MGR was also Jayalalithaa’s political mentor and guide and after his death in 1987, Jayalalithaa took over the party. After the initial split, when MGR’s wife Janaki entered the political fray, the 1991 Assembly election saw Jayalalithaa lead her party to an impressive win riding on the crest of a sympathy wave following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on May 21 and become Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time.

On Friday, the much awaited MGR museum was thrown open by DMK Ministers Durai Murugan (PWD) and Parithi Ilamvaruthi (Information), who declared that while their leader, Karunanidhi and MGR were in different political camps, they always respected each other.”

Constructed at a cost of Rs. 38.50 lakh, the museum showcases stills from MGR’s successful films, showing him with various heroines, Padmini, Bhanumathi, Savithri, Saroja Devi, his wife Janaki and Lakshmi (of Julie fame). The photo gallery, however, has just one fading picture of him with his favourite actress, Jayalalithaa, from the hugely successful film Aayirathil Oruvan.

Interestingly, the museum-cum-photo gallery back in Karunanidhi’s native Thirukuvalai near Thanjavur had a picture of him handing over a film award to Jayalalithaa. But, just before the May 2006 Assembly election, the picture was pulled out from the gallery.

At the museum, there are pictures of MGR with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and the late N T Rama Rao, another actor who stormed the political scene, but in Andhra Pradesh. And with Dravidar Kazhagam founder E V Ramasamy Naicker, DMK founder C N Annadurai, late Congress leader and former Chief Minister, K Kamaraj and a young Prince Charles and Mother Teresa.

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