M. G. Ramachandran (17 January 1917 – 24 December 1987) was an Indian actor, producer, and politician. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India, in 1998 after his death.

Early Life

M. G. Ramachandran was born on 17 January 1917, Sri Lanka. When he was just 2, his father Gopalan Meno died. After that, his mother shifted to Kerala.

While he was in school, he started acting and singing. During his active participation in the Boys Company drama troupe, he learned to sing, dance, sword fight, pronounce words well, and memorize things. In shaping his character and political career, he was shaped by the challenges he faced during his childhood and early years. He played female roles overseas for a short time before returning to India, re-joining the Boys Company, and getting his first lead role.

His debut film was ‘Sathi Leelavathi’ in the year 1936, directed by Ellis Dungan. The Tamil film industry underwent a lot of changes in the 1940s and 1950s. Karunanidhi, Annadurai, and other Dravidian movement screenwriters were gaining popularity and producing various kinds of movies. During the decade, Ramachandra played a variety of characters. In 1950 he got a break in the film written by M Karunanidhi. In 1955, he acted in the Tamil film Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum, which was the first ever colour film in Tamil cinema.


Political Career

In 1953, he was inspired by M. Gandhi’s ideology, and he joined the Indian National Congress.

In 1953, he joined the Dravidian Progressive Federation (DMK), attracted by its founder C. N. Annadurai. Apart from being a prominent member of the DMK, he was a vocal Tamil and Dravidian nationalist. In 1962, he was elected to the state Legislative Council. He won his first election to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1967. In 1969, he became the DMK treasurer after his mentor Annadurai passed away.

He formed his own party after leaving DMK, called Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), which later became All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). As time went on, the ADMK grew into the only strong opposition to the DMK.

DMK was defeated in 1977 by his ADMK. Ramachandra became Tamil Nadu’s chief minister. His focus was on education and social development. As part of his ‘Nutritious Meal Scheme,’ he added sugary flour dumplings, saththurundai, to Madras CM K. Kamaraj’s midday meal plan. In Kodambakkam, he set up free schools.

In addition to education, he promoted women’s rights. He made women-only buses. Ramachandran put a lot of effort into saving cultural and historical buildings and monuments, like temples and historical sites. The result was a boom in tourism. He also won the 1980 elections because of his pro-state policies.

His autobiography was published in 2003, Naan Yaen Piranthaen (Why I Was Born).


In 1972, he won a National Film Award for Best Actor for the movie Rickshawkaran.

After his death, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India, in 1998.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Bharat Ratna MGR on his birth anniversary.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said;

“Remembering Bharat Ratna MGR on his birth anniversary. He is widely admired as an effective administrator who placed top priority on social justice and empowerment. His schemes brought a positive change in the lives of the poor. His cinematic brilliance is also widely acclaimed.”


He died on 24 December 1987, in Tamil Nadu, India.


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