Rare! This is Rare!!!: MGR’s Autobiographical Words on BBC
Many of the accepted notions of the history of Dravidian Political CInema remain on a plane of contestations borne of divergent views of the yesteryears stars and their associates (who collaborated in the making of the Dravidian political cinema) about how it all started. If one hears S.S.Rajendran, one gets the impression that his entry into Dravidian theatre and cinema pre-dated other Dravidian political stars by years. If one hears Mrs Kalyani Ramasamy, W/o K.R.Ramasamy, one gets the impression that K.R.Ramasamy started it all. If one comes to terms with the sources that defined the making of Nallathambi , one can not doubt the seminal role of NSK. Less documented and acknowledged is the contributions of M.R. Radha, who stayed on with E V Ramasamy Naicker as his rationalist theatrical and cinematic voice all his life. M.R Radha’s dramas and films took the message of E.V.R in a much more unadulterated manner than the political films made possible by the votaries of C N Annadurai after his formation of DMK in 1949. Rathakanneer (1954), for instance is a much more devastating political film against the socio-political ills of the then Tamil society than many of the mainstay films produced by the followers of DMK.
One of the icons of Dravidian Political Cinema who took to great heights the Dravidian political and social communication through his films was MGR. We all know about his experiment in political communication through a film like Nadodi Mannan (Vagabond King) released in 1958 which pushed the political fortunes of MGR and DMK exponentially.
We all know that MGR was a staunch supporter of Congress party during the 1920s and 1930s and made his film entry through small roles during mid 1930s and his first film was Sathi Leelavathi (1935). In a rare interview given to BBC in 1974, on his return from Moscow after attending a film festival, MGR goes into the autobiographical mode about his early life and his entry into filmdom and politics. He is eloquent in looking back at his early childhood, the implications of matriarchy on his childhood, his poverty-stricken family conditions etc., in this interview. The interview starts on a casual note, with MGR poking fun at the interviewer, Mr Dakshinamoorthy. In this interview, MGR claims that he was an ardent admirer of Mahatma Gandhi since late 1920s and worked for Congress since then, but became a member during 1935. After some time, he was disenchanted with the party because of its policies and practices and left the party. He remained without any political contacts for some four years, but remained a staunch nationalist who did not forget his Khader, even after his exit from the party. In the BBC interview, MGR claims that his entry into DMK was spurred by his reading of C.N Annadurai’s books. He found in C.N. Annadurai a great leader who personified the Gandhian values he cherished. He found in Anna a unique leader and felt convinced that only through the realisation of Anna’s just demands the people of Tamil Nadu and sub-continent would benefit.
One must thank the blogger behind one of the remarkable online MGR fan communities for unearthing and posting this rare interview on the net.