In 1965, I joined the Independent Newspapers Ltd, as a freelance Reporter. The Newspaper office was located at Mihindu Mawatha, Colombo, and they published, Dawasa - the Sinhala morning Daily, Sun – the English morning daily, Weekend and Radha - a Tamil weekly. The Tamil weekly was edited by Nathan, who was earlier the Editor of the Tamil newspaper Thinakaran, published by the Lake House.
In 1966, I was promoted as a Staff Reporter and in the same year the Company launched Dinapathy - the Tamil morning daily and Chinthamani - the weekly. S.T.Sivanayakam, who was at the time the Associate Editor of Virakesari was made the Chief Editor of Dinapathy, and K.K.Ratnasingham, the present Editor of Sudar Oli was the News Editor and Raja Ariaratnam, former Editor of Eelakesari, became the Editor of Chinthamani.
In 1966, the newspaper company invited the South Indian matinee idol M.G.Ramachandran to Colombo. B.Sarojadevi who acted as heroin with him in many Tamil films, was also in his delegation that visited Colombo. The tour program of M.G.Ramachandran was arranged by our company and I was included on behalf of the newspaper group to accompany them in their visits.When I met M.G.Ramachandran for the first time in Colombo, I found him to be a very friendly person and I had the opportunity to be with him for more than 10 days, during the period he stayed in Colombo. He was taken to Jaffna, Batticaloa, Kandy and Nuwera Eliya. In Kandy, he told me that he was born in a Tea-estate in Kandy and he was very much excited by being in Kandy, his place of birth. He was named as Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran, a Malayalee by birth and was born on 17 January 1917, at Kandy. After the demise of Gopal Menon, his farther, he along with his elder brother Chakrapani and mother Satyabama, left Ceylon to Kumbakonam in South India. The widowed mother was unable to provide education either to his brother Chakrapani or to him. Ramachandran joined the Madurai Original Boys Drama company owned Kanadasamy Pillai. His first film debut was in 1935, a minor role in ‘Sathi Leelavathi.’ In 1945, he had his break and acted as the hero in the film ‘Rajakumari.’ This is how his life in the celluloid world began. When he visited Ceylon, he was one of the top leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (DMK).
When he left for Madras, he told me that, if I ever come to Madras, I should visit him. I never took that invitation seriously. I took that as the conventional parting courtesy words. Meanwhile, I learnt that there was an attempt on his life on 12 January 1967. He was shot by a fellow actor M.R.Radha and he suffered a bullet injury in his neck and was hospitalized. His picture with a bandage in the neck happened to be the biggest vote catcher in the 1967 elections for the DMK. He too got elected from the St.Thomas Mount constituency, by a big margin, from his hospital bed. In 1968, I toured with the Ceylon Cricket team (the name Sri Lanka came into existence after May 1972) to Madras, to play in the three day Gopalan Trophy match with the Tamil Nadu Cricket team. The team’s tour program started with a three day match with an Indian invitation team in Trichirapalli. While the match was on, suddenly there was some disturbances and I saw the spectatotors going towards one direction.I asked the Hari Baskar a high ranking IAS officer, who was seated next to our press box, the reason for the sudden distraction in the midst of the spectators. He told me that, M.G. Ramachandran has come to see the match for sometime and his fans are flocking him. That time, I remembered his invitation and told Hari Baskar about it. He advised me to send a note through his driver and I did accordingly. May be after thirty minutes, I saw a crowd moving towards the press box. In the midst of that crowd was M.G.Ramachandran, the unforgettable character. He came and hugged me and inquired about me. I told him that I came to India yesterday morning and would be in Madras after another three day match in Salem.In the evening after the close of play for the day, he came over to the hotel I was staying and I introduced him to our players and to the manager. He invited us for dinner, but we were unable to accept his kind invitation, as our program was already fixed by the Cricket board of Control. When we went to Madras, we were put up at the Victoria Hotel, Egmore. Here M.G.Ramachandran came and met us and invited all of us for a dinner at his Ramawaram Garden house. We all went and had a fine dinner. It was a memorable one for all of us. “M.G.R.” - he was popularly called and adored by millions all over, was the man of words and deed and I can’t forget about this gem of a person, with whom I happened to be in touch since for a very long time.
M.G.R the man of words and deed--K.T.Rajasingham
Article by :asiantribune website