Hero Returns

Wishing all our Blog readers Happy New Year 2009.

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This is an excerpt from Frontline magazine February 1985. The images is by P.Narayanan, write up by V.Jayanth, and I thank Mr.Venkatesan who forwarded the images and magazine.

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Lakhs of MGR Devotees and Fans camped Mohite Stadium prior to MGR’s arrival to India.

A Hero’s return

The mist-covered St.Thomas Mount provided the backdrop, the splendour of dawn and the rising radiance of the sun lit up the Mohite Stadium and the mass of humanity filled every bit of space in the military grounds, after waiting out the night to receive their hero.

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“MGR retains the magical relationship with the masses. A section of the crowd photographed in the morning haze, as the hero responds to the tremendous reception”.

February 4, 1985 seemed to mark yet another turning point in Tamil Nadu’s political journey apart from bearing witness to a medical miracle.

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Tremendously upbeat scene on seeing the people

The one message that the public reception drove home was that MGR was near-normal, except for the speech impairment. The hero of over a 100 film triumphs carried the day, leaving the lakhs of people who turned up to witness the spectacle in a state of delirium.

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And this emotional one for MGR personality on seeing the Love people showered on him

It started at the airport itself. The unexpected 40-minute hold up on the foggy runway, of the Boeing 747 which brought MGR from New York, perhaps gave enough time for the Chief Minister to get over the jet lag to an extent and freshen up for his first public appearance in more than four months.

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At six minutes to the stroke of seven, the familiar green Ambassador with the red blinker lights atop drove up the special ramp to the back stage. A door at the rear of the stage opened up and the charismatic leader in fur cap and dark glasses walked up briskly from end to end, wearing his winning smile and waving his right hand, sending the masses into raptures – yes, the same right hand which had been paralyzed by the October 13 stroke.

Repeated attempts by Finance Minister V.R.Nedunchezhian to make him relax and sit on the chair proved futile, with MGR brushing aside the suggestion that he needed this kind of concession to his health.

If proving his physical fitness was not enough, he lost no time in displaying his mental alertness and consciousness. Spotting Assembly Speaker K.Rajaram, Legislative Council Chairman M.P.Sivagnanam and the various Cabinet Ministers seated about 10 meters away in the VIP enclosure. MGR promptly beckoned them to the rostrum, much to their delight. All of them, women Ministers included, scrambled to the dais and an emotional scene followed.

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MGR pays homage to his mother Sathya at the temple in Ramavaram Gardens

Sensing quickly that the people had become restive since they could not see him, he walked to the front again and gave his characteristic ‘V’ signal, denoting his party’s two leaves symbol. Speech had become redundant in this communication between the leader and the people with whom he retained a magical relationship.

Time was running out and the show could not go beyond the maximum 20 minutes. MGR had to reach his Ramavaram Gardens before the 7.30 a.m. deadline. So he waved to the people and drove away.

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A traditional greeting to the Chief Minister

The murmurs built up to a crescendo, as the enthralled crowd was quick to react and comment. The sceptics had no doubt kept a close watch on his right limbs and the lips. Except that he was a shade slower, emotionally brittle and tired, there was no visible impairment in his movements.

Why should they have published such pathetic pictures of our MGR during the elections? the AIADMK partymen wanted to know. Others opined that the latest video of the reception in Brooklyn before his departure did not do justice to the “miraculous recovery”. Many remembered their promise to some deity to tonsure their heads – a notable development since MGR took gravely ill was the conversion of semi-believers and closet believers into ardent devotees who had no inhibitions about advertising their visits to the nearest temple.

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