MGR: A Life
Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran, or MGR-founder of the AIADMK founder and three-time chief minister, Bharat Ratna recipient-dominated Tamil Nadu's stratosphere for four decades. In this richly detailed biography of the man often called vathiyar or teacher, R. Kannan traces MGR's life from his early poverty-ridden years-a Class Three dropout-to his rise as a matinee idol, before becoming a politician of repute. He examines MGR's lifelong association with mentor Annadurai and other Dravidian cultural icons, and his tumultuous political friendship with Kalaignar Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, his cine heroine and political protégé.
The book dissects MGR's years in power: His early administration, the legendary midday meal scheme launched in 1982 that fed 92 lakh schoolchildren, his well-intentioned farm subsidies and freebies that strained the exchequer, his largesse to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as well as his unabashed sponsorship of liquor barons and private medical and engineering colleges that aided the transformation of the state, but also fueled corruption. Honest and insightful, MGR provides a portrait of a warm larger-than-life figure, whose legacy has left an indelible stamp on Dravidian politics.