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|Madras Rajagopala Radhakrishnan Naidu|
14 April 1907|
Madras, Madras Presidency , British India
|Died||17 September 1979
Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India
Madras Rajagopala Radhakrishnan Naidu (b 14 April 1907 - 17 September 1979), popularly known by his stage name, M R Radha was an Indian film actor and politician. He was given the title of "Nadigavel" for his acting prowess. After a successful career on stage in his early years, he acted in films from the 1930s to the 1970s, and then, giving up films, he went back to his first love - Stage.
Radha left his home at an early age due to a quarrel with his mother that she declined to give an extra piece of fish to eat. Radha was a popular theatre artist who made more than 5000 stage shows. Starting at the age of 10, he appeared in small roles, grew to a level that stories for dramas were custom made for him.
Radha gained popularity with the success of his stage play Ratha Kanneer. When he acted in the film version of the play,which also showed the versatility of the famous directors Krishnan-Panju, he quickly gained his star status. Rattha Kanneer gave Radha an international recognition and an award.
With his versatile acting, Radha played both villain and comedian roles. After the 1950s, film-makers created roles specially for him, and he often overshadowed even main actors like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. He was an active member of the self-respect movement, and was known for his atheistic views. Towards the end of his career, however, he started acting in Hindu devotional film's like Velum Mayilum Thunai. He often used to ridicule atheism in these film's and was a follower of Thanthai Periyar, the rationalist.
Source: The Hindu
The shooting case was not as simple as it seemed. The investigation and lengthy trail that followed unfolded a complicated story.
K K Vasu, who was with Radha in MGR’s house when the shooting took place, was the key witness. He was a film producer, and in 1966, had borrowed money from Radha to produce a film titled Petralthan Pillaya with MGR in the lead.
The film did well and Vasu repaid the loan with interest. In January 1967, Radha approached Vasu to produce another film with MGR in the lead again. On the morning of 12 January, both met to discuss the project.
The meeting took place @ 5 pm at the Ramavaram Thottam where MGR conducted his official matters. The shooting took place within seconds when M R Radha suddenly got up and shot in MGR's left ear twice before even MGR acted in response. M R Radha had the gun in his right trouser pocket since he was right handed. At the ER, MGR still with his original voice told the attending emergency doctor right away when he got to the hospital by himself: MGR drove himself to the ER. Later an emergency ambulance brought M R Radha to the same ward where MGR was at the time.
By 4.30 pm that evening, both reached MGR’s house in Nandambakkam. They were seated in the reception hall. Radha placed the leather bag he was carrying on the table and waited for MGR to show.
The story is clear up to this point and all the parties broadly agreed with the narration. But the accounts began to vary here on.
As Vasu and MGR recalled in court, when they were discussing the details of the proposed film, Radha stood up. MGR asked Radha to be seated, but he did not heed the words. MGR and Vasu continued talking when all of a sudden, they heard a loud noise.
MGR felt a shooting pain and covered his left ear with his palm to feel blood ooze out. He looked up and saw Radha standing with a revolver in his hand. Radha stepped back, shot himself in the right temple, and then in the neck. MGR managed to walk to the portico and asked his driver to take him to the hospital.
Radha, however, had a different story. According to him, when MGR met them in the reception hall, the matinee idol scolded Radha for writing negative articles about him.
“Brother, you are writing articles saying that I am conspiring to kill Mr Kamaraj (then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu). Thereafter you are threatening to shoot. It does not prevent me from talking on the same lines,” MGR allegedly said.
But Radha denied it. Even as they were engaged in a heated argument, Radha heard a loud noise and felt giddy. He realised he had been shot in the temple and saw MGR pointing a gun at him.
Radha claimed that, as a reflex, he rushed towards MGR, snatched the gun and fired a shot in return. Radha was in the hospital until 30th January. After that he was in the A-class prison of Madras Central jail.
The election campaign was in full swing by then and the iconic picture of MGR sitting on a hospital bed with a heavily bandaged neck was widely circulated.
Election results were announced on 23rd February and DMK trounced Congress to form a new government. MGR defeated his Congress rival by an impressive margin.
On 27th February, the police filed a chargesheet accusing Radha of a murder attempt on MGR, and a suicide bid. The police also said Radha owned the revolver used in the shooting. Its licence had expired in 1964. The trial was to follow.
Radha was imprisoned for the shooting of Ramachandran. His son, M R R Vaasu, avoided visiting him in the fear of losing film chances.
Released from jail, Radha died of jaundice on 17 September 1979 aged 72 at his residence in Thiruchirappalli. His popularity had improved and his funeral procession was one of the largest in South India, as over 2 lakh mourners paid respect. He was survived by his wives late Prema has the privilege of having the tallest samadhi in the whole Coimbatore district which still maintained and worshipped by the whole family.
He was survived by his wife M R Saraswathi, M R Danalakshmi, M R Jayamamal and his son M R R Vasu who was also a leading character artist till mid 80's. His another son Radha Ravi is also an actor while his daughter Raadhika Sarathkumar is an actress and producer.
- Ratha Kanneer
- Aayiram Roobai
- Kai Kodutha Deivam
- Paava Mannippu
- En Kadamai
- Puthiya Paravai
- Bale Pandiya
- Thaikku Pin Thaaram
- Kavalai Illaadha Manithan
- Thayai kaatha thanayan
- Paalum Pazhamum
- Padithal Mattum Podhuma
- Naanum Oru Penn
- Koduthu Vaithaval
- Velum Mayilum Thunai
- Rathinapuri Ilavarasi
- Thai solli Thathathe
- Iruvar Ullam
- Petralthan Pillaiya
- Periya Idathu Penn
- Anandha Jodhi
- Ulagam Sirikkirathu
- Bhaaga Pirivinai
- Aadavantha Deivam (film)
- Kannadi Maligai
- M.R. Radha at the Internet Movie Database
- A news item on a special postal envelope released in his honour
- A scene from "Paava mannippu"