MGR – THE MAN OF THE POOR

Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran born on January 17, 1917 and popularly known by his initials MGR, was an Indian film actor, producer and politician. Well known as a Tamil activist, he served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1977 until his death in 1987.

MGR was born in Nawalapitiya near Kandy, British Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), to immigrant Keralite Nair parents Gopala Menon and Maruthur Satyabhama. (Nairs are traditionally matrilineal, hence he shares his matrilineal family surname “Maruthur”). His family was originally from Vadavannur, Palakkad, Kerala, but his father had migrated with his family to Ceylon. MGR was a Hindu and portrayed himself as a devotee of Lord Murugan, as is common practice for many Hindus in Sri Lanka.This was during his early days. Later, when he joined the DMK,a pro-rationalist party,he followed the rationalist ideology, though not appearing very aggressively atheistic.However,in later days after he founded his own party following his expulsion from the DMK, he seems to have shown some leaning towards religious faith. He had asked his followers to pray for the success of his AIADMK party.

His followers even prayed for him when it was determined that he had a kidney illness.After his demise, his wife opened up a temple in his name. After his father’s death, he joined a drama troupe called Original Boys. Later, he entered the world of cinema, becoming an actor, and later a director, producer, and editor.He also had affair with actress jayalalita, MGR married Bargavi also known as Thangamani who died early due to illness. He later married Sathanandavathi who also died soon due to Tuberculosis. M. G. R. married V. N. Janaki a former Tamil film actress as his third wife after the death of his second wife. Janaki divorced her husband Ganapati Bhat, to marry MGR.

Making his film debut in 1935, in the film Sati Leelavati, directed by Ellis Dungan, an American born film director, MGR dominated Tamil cinema during the Fifties and Sixties with multiple blockbusters. Generally starring in romance or action films, MGR got his big breakthrough in the 1947 film Rajakumaari, written by M. Karunanidhi. He rose to super-stardom in 1954 after Malai Kallan. Later, this film was used as a template for other films by playing roles that portrayed him as the saviour of the poor and the oppressed.

He had the maximum number of all-time blockbusters to his credit at that time viz. Nadodi Mannan, Enga Veetu Pillai and Adimai Pen. He was shot by fellow actor Mohan R. Radha, affecting his ability to speak clearly. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for the film Rickshakaran. His film Nadodi Mannan, which was produced and directed by himself and released in 1956, was re-released in 2006 and ran to full houses.He also got Bharata ratna.

MGR was a member of the Congress Party till 1953 and he used to wear kathar. In 1953 MGR joined the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) with the help of M. Karunanidhi. He became a vocal Tamil and Dravidian nationalist and prominent member of the DMK] (“Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam” aka Dravidian Progressive Federation). He added glamour to the Dravidian movement which was sweeping Tamil Nadu. He became a member of the state Legislative Council in 1962. He was first elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1967. After the death of his mentor, Annadurai, MGR became the treasurer of DMK in 1969 after Karunanidhi became the chief minister.

In January 1967, he was shot in the neck by fellow actor M.R. Radha. The bullet was permanently lodged in his neck and his voice damaged. Within hours of the shooting, some 50,000-odd fans had gathered at the hospital where MGR had been taken. People cried in the streets; shops closed. For six weeks, he lay in the hospital as fans awaited each report of his health. He was visited by a steady stream of commoners and luminaries of film industry, polity and bureaucracy. The shooting was supposed to be conspired by his unannounced political rival, M.Karunanidhi. From his hospital bed, he conducted his campaign for Madras Legislative Assembly. He won twice the number of votes polled by his Congress rival and the largest vote polled by any candidate for the Assembly.

In 1972, DMK leader Karunanithi started project his first son M.K.Muthu in a big way in film industry and also in politics. Understanding the tactics played by Karunanithi to corner him, MGR started to claim that corruption had grown within the party after the demise of Annadurai and in a public meeting asked for the financial details of the party to be publicized which enraged the leadership of DMK. Consequently, as expected, MGR was expelled from the party, and floated a new party named Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the only powerful opponent of the DMK. He became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977, remaining in office till his death in 1987. In 1979, members of his party Satyavani Muthu and Aravinda Bala Pajanor, became the first non-Congress politicians from Tamil Nadu to be ministers in the Union Cabinet. The AIADMK won every state assembly election as long as MGR was alive. Although Anna Durai as well as Karunanidhi had acted in stage plays in trivial roles, in their younger days, before becoming chief minister, MGR was the first popular film actor to be a Chief Minister in India.

Once he became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, he placed great emphasis on social development, especially education. One of his most successful policies was the introduction of the “Mid-day Meal Scheme” introduced by the popular Congress Chief Minister and Kingmaker K Kamaraj to a nutritious Mid-day Meal Scheme in the Government-run and aided schools in Tamil Nadu, which encouraged underprivileged children to attend schools. He also introduced Women’s Special buses. He set up a free school for the Cinema Technicians children in Kodambakkam called MGR Primary & Higher Secondary School which provided Free Mid-Day meals in the 1950s.

In October 1984, MGR was diagnosed with kidney failure and rushed to the Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, United States for treatment, undergoing a kidney transplant. MGR died on December 24, 1987 after his prolonged illness. His death sparked off a frenzy of looting and rioting all over the state of Tamil Nadu. Shops, movie theatres, buses and other public and private property became the target of violence let loose all over the state. The police had to resort issuing shoot-at-sight orders, something seldom seen or heard of in democratic India.The violence during the funeral alone left 29 people dead and 47 police personnel badly wounded. This state of affairs continued for almost a month all over the state of Tamil Nadu. Around one million people followed his remains, around 30 followers committed suicide and people had their heads tonsured. After his death, his political party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, split between his wife Janaki Ramachandran and his political protégé, J. Jayalalithaa; they later merged in 1988. In 1989 Dr. M. G. R. Home and Higher Secondary School for the Speech and Hearing Impaired was established in the erstwhile Residence MGR Gardens, Ramavaram, in accordance with his will dated January 17, 1986. His official residence at 27, Arcot Street, T.Nagar is now MGR Memorial House and is open for public viewing.

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PABLO PICASSO – THE SCULPTOR(AR)TIST

 

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor. He is one of the most recognized figures in 20th-century art. He is best known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles embodied in his work. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), his portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso demonstrated uncanny artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence; during the first decade of the twentieth century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. Picasso’s creativity manifested itself in numerous mediums, including painting, sculpture, drawing, and architecture. His revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortunes throughout his life, making him the best-known figure in twentieth century art.

After studying art in Madrid, Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900, then the art capital of Europe. There, he met his first Parisian friend, the journalist and poet Max Jacob, who helped Picasso learn the language and its literature. Soon they shared an apartment; Max slept at night while Picasso slept during the day and worked at night. These were times of severe poverty, cold, and desperation. Much of his work was burned to keep the small room warm. During the first five months of 1901, Picasso lived in Madrid, where he and his anarchist friend Francisco de Asís Soler founded the magazine Arte Joven (Young Art), which published five issues. Soler solicited articles and Picasso illustrated the journal, mostly contributing grim cartoons depicting and sympathizing with the state of the poor. The first issue was published on 31 March 1901, by which time the artist had started to sign his work simply Picasso, while before he had signed Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.

Pablo Picasso died on 8 April 1973 in Mougins, France, while he and his wife Jacqueline entertained friends for dinner. His final words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”He was interred at the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Jacqueline between 1959 and 1962. Jacqueline Roque prevented his children Claude and Paloma.Devastated and lonely after the death of Picasso, Jacqueline Roque took her own life by gunshot in 1986 when she was 60 years old.

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ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER – MR.STRONG

Schwarzenegger was born in Thal, Austria, a small village bordering the Styrian capital Graz, and was christened Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger.His parents were the local police chief Gustav Schwarzenegger (1907 – 1972), and his wife, Aurelia Jadrny (1922 – 1998). His father served in World War II with the German Army as a Hauptfeldwebel of the Feldgendarmerie and was discharged in 1943 after contracting Malaria. They were married on October 20, 1945 – Gustav was 38, and Aurelia was a 23-year-old widow with a son named Meinhard. According to Schwarzenegger, both of his parents were very strict.Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian army in 1965 to fulfill the one year of service required at the time of all 18-year-old Austrian males.He won the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965.

Schwarzenegger is considered among the most important figures in the history of bodybuilding, and his legacy is commemorated in the Arnold Classic annual bodybuilding competition. Schwarzenegger has remained a prominent face in the bodybuilding sport long after his retirement, in part because of his ownership of gyms and fitness magazines. He has presided over numerous contests and awards shows.

For many years, he wrote a monthly column for the bodybuilding magazines Muscle & Fitness and Flex. Shortly after being elected Governor, he was appointed executive editor of both magazines, in a largely symbolic capacity. The magazines agreed to donate $250,000 a year to the Governor’s various physical fitness initiatives. The magazine MuscleMag International has a monthly two-page article on him, and refers to him as “The King”.

One of the first competitions he won was the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965.He won Mr. Europe the following year, at age 19.He would go on to compete in and win many bodybuilding contests, as well as some powerlifting contests, including five Mr. Universe (4 – NABBA [England], 1 – IFBB [USA]) wins, and seven Mr. Olympia wins, a record which would stand until Lee Haney won his eighth consecutive Mr. Olympia title in 1991.

Schwarzenegger has been a registered Republican for many years. As an actor, his political views were always well-known as they contrasted with those of many other prominent Hollywood stars, who are generally considered to be a liberal and Democratic-leaning community. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, Schwarzenegger gave a speech and explained why he was a Republican.Schwarzenegger’s first political appointment was as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, on which he served from 1990 to 1993.Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California under the second question on the ballot with 48.6%.Schwarzenegger ran for re-election against Democrat Phil Angelides, the California State Treasurer, in the 2006 elections, held on November 7, 2006. Despite a poor year nationally for the Republican party, Schwarzenegger won re-election with 56.0% of the vote compared with 38.9% for Angelides, a margin of well over one million votes.Governor Schwarzenegger played a significant role in opposing Proposition 66, a proposed amendment of the Californian Three Strikes Law, in November 2004. This amendment would have required the third felony to be either violent or serious in order to mandate a 25-years-to-life sentence.

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