The 34th anniversary of the passing of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and popular Kollywood actor M.G. Ramachandran was commemorated in Jaffna late last week.
Remembrance of the towering personality in modern Tamil political history is usually organised in Jaffna by Koppay Sundaralingam, a friend and fan of the superstar. This year, however, due to his recent passing, Sundaralingam’s wife led the proceedings by laying a wreath around MGR’s statue and lighting a candle.
Former Northern Provincial Council member M.K. Sivajilingam and the leader of Valvettithurai MGR Organisation were among others who participated in the commemoration in addition to members of the general public and Sundaralingam’s family.
The statue of MGR, located in Kalviyankadu, was established and recently renovated with the funding provided by Koppay Sundaralingam himself.
Ramachandran, fondly known as MGR, was a wildly popular actor and became a cultural icon among Tamils from the 1950s right through the 1960s and 1970s. Through his movies, MGR propagated the Dravidian ideology to the Tamil masses which later helped him launch his political career.
He was born in Kandy, Sri Lanka to an ethnic Malayali family on January 17, 1917. He died on January 24, 1987 in Chennai due to health complications.
MGR was a firm supporter of the Eelam Tamil liberation movement spearheaded by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
A crucial benefactor of the armed liberation group, MGR was known for his generosity and, according to one source, provided Rs. 110 million to help build up LTTE.
LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran maintained a close relationship with MGR and has said in an interview that he fondly called him ‘Anna’. Prabhakaran and the LTTE received crucial help from their proximity to MGR who defied the central government of India to fund the movement.