"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 fuelled 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."