Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran (17 January 1917 – 24 December 1987), popularly known as M. G. R., was an Indian actor, filmmaker and politician who served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for ten years between 1977 and 1987. He is a cultural icon in the state and is regarded as one of the most influential actors of the Tamil film industry. He was popularly known as “Makkal Thilagam” (People’s King) as he was popular with the masses.He was a philanthropist and a humanitarian icon.
In his youth, Ramachandran and his elder brother M. G. Chakrapani became members of a drama troupe to support their family. Influenced by Gandhian ideals, MGR joined the Indian National Congress. After a few years of acting in plays, he made his film debut in the 1936 film Sathi Leelavathi in a supporting role. By the late 1940s, he graduated to lead roles and for the next three decades dominated the Tamil film industry. He became a member of the C. N. Annadurai-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK party) and rapidly rose through its ranks, using his enormous popularity as a film star to build a large political base. In 1972, three years after Annadurai’s death, he left the DMK, then led by Karunanidhi, MGR’s once friend and now rival, to form his own party—the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Five years later, he steered an AIADMK-led alliance to victory in the 1977 election, routing the DMK in the process. He became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the first film actor to become a chief minister in India. Except for a six-month interregnum in 1980, when his government was overthrown by the Union government, he remained as chief minister till his death in 1987, leading the AIADMK to two more electoral triumphs in 1980 and 1984.
Ramachandran’s autobiography Naan Yaen Piranthaen (Why I was Born) was published in 2003 in two volumes. After his death in 1987, he became the second Chief Minister from the state of Tamil Nadu to receive the Bharat Ratna.