MGR Remembered – Part 35

January 12, 1967 Thursday

by Sachi Sri Kantha, April 26, 2016

Part 34

For reasons known only to him, MGR had never described in his autobiography, written between 1970 and 1972, what happened at his Ramawaram Gardens residence on January 12, 1967. It turned out to be one of the most eventful days of his life. Many political commentators were of the view that this particular shooting incident directly influenced the February 1967 Madras State Legislative Assembly elections, in which the ruling Congress Party [of then Chief Minister M. Bhakthavatsalam (1897-1987)] was toppled by the DMK party-led coalition headed by Annadurai. Why MGR omitted that shooting incident carried out by his fellow senior actor M.R. Radha (MRR) remains a mystery. On that day, MGR was 5 days before he reached his 50th birthday. MRR was 3 months and a few days short of his 60th birthday.

MGR with Congress Chief Minister M. Bhakthavathsalam (circa 1966)

MGR with Congress Chief Minister M. Bhakthavathsalam (circa 1966)

Few weeks later (on February 27, 1967), MRR was charged by the police for an attempted assassination on MGR and a suicide bid that followed after the assassination attempt. Thus, for this chapter, I had assembled accounts from four primary sources.

  • Abraham Sukumar, (a surgeon in charge at Government Royapettah Hospital, Madras on that day), recorded in 2010.
  • Script writer Arurdoss’s description of MGR’s version in 1967
  • Sript writer Arurdoss’s description of M.R. Radha’s version in 1972
  • Transcripts of MGR shooting case, recorded in 1967

Items 2 to 4 are in Tamil, and I had transcribed these into English.


Dr.A. Sukumar’s Account of treating a wounded MGR

Thankfully, there is one account written by Abraham Sukumar (b. 1932) who was an assistant surgeon at Government Royapettah Hospital (GRH), Madras, who had described what happened on the evening of January 12, 1967, when both MGR and M.R. Radha (MRR) were admitted due to gun-shot wounds. For its veracity, I reproduce this account below, except for his opinions, indicated with dots. Spellings and punctuations are retained, as in the original script.

“Traffic accidents in that busy residential district and on the main arterial Mount Road that runs close by usually come straight to GRH. In those days general surgeons had to see all surgical emergences for through Orthopaedics, ENT and other departments existed they did not have sufficient number of assistants for night duty postings. At about 5 pm the casualty medical officer called wanting me to come urgently to the department. ‘MGR has been brought here after a shooting accident, ‘ he said.

MGR and M.R. Radha in 'Sabash Mappillai' movie

MGR and M.R. Radha in ‘Sabash Mappillai’ movie

I was in the casualty soon after. The familiar figure of MGR was on one of the two couches of the casualty theatre. Without makeup and wig he looked more handsome than he did on the screen. I asked him what happened and he said that M.R. Radha (the popular movie villain/comedian) had shot him in the ear. I had come with the notion that during film shooting an accident had occurred. Apparently it was not an accident and the shooting was not with camera by with a gun. I examined the ear wound. There was tattooing round the entry wound indicating that the nozzle of the gun was almost touching the skin when the trigger was pulled.

For a person who has received a bullet into his head from such close quarters MGR was quite comfortable. He was not agitated by an event that could well have ended his life and there is no doubt that the passage of the bullet into the sensitive tissues of the back of the throat would have been severely discomforting. But his total nonchalance was quite remarkable. In true life he proved to be the as much the hero he was on the silver screen.

MGR could hear my watch in the affected ear and there was no facial paralysis. His familiar voice was unchanged. Some weeks later when he emerged from hospital his voice was slurred. As the first doctor to have seen him after the injury I can say with certainty that the nerve damage that caused the slurring was not by the bullet. (The Wikipedia entry that says he was shot in the throat and that affected his voice is incorrect.)

The casualty officer now came in with the news that M.R. Radha the person who had shot MGR was being wheeled into the casualty. It appears that he had shot himself in the temple after shooting MGR. I moved to the passage. Radha lay on the stretcher eyes open and alert. He spoke in his familiar rasping voice. ‘Naan thaan sutteen. Policeukku statement koduthacchu.’ (I was the one who shot. I have given statement to the police.)

There was a bullet entry hole in the temple and a swelling surrounding the wound. Both had been shot from close quarters but other than the entry wound neither had any other demonstrable damage to their tissues. The bullets had lodged in the tissues for there were no exit wounds. Later it came to be known that the pistol and bullets had remained unused for years. As I was examining him, Radha spoke again. In movies he had two voices. His usual voice was the rasping one. He had another shriller voice much loved by audiences that he used for his punch lines. He now spoke in that voice.

‘Are any of you Brahmins?’ he asked. Even though he was a high profile member of E.V. Ramaswamy Periyar’s anti-Brahmin DK party it was very surprising that a man who had just tried to kill himself should raise that question. In trauma wards accident victims cowering with fear or being hysterical is a common sight. Here two men with fresh bullets in their heads were unconcerned about it…Radha soon found himself on the other couch next to where MGR lay. There were only two couches in the casualty. The aggressor and victim lay hardly a metre from each other. This is not an uncommon situation in hospital trauma wards. It never causes problems.

…Leading Madras doctors appeared as if by magic though none was called in consultation except my chief Dr. Saratchandra. The ENT surgeon appeared with his head mirror. He demanded that his name must be entered in the accident register. ‘I must be called to court to give evidence,’ he said. The desire for publicity is not confined to those in the show business. MGR personal doctor Dr. B.R. Subramanium now joined the team that had unofficially formed. With the hospital superintendent Dr. M.V. Krishamurthi in charge my role as duty surgeon was not mine anymore not that there was anything to be done in the casualty. I saw to it that only medical personal entered the casualty theatre.”

Though presenting the non-chalant attitude shown by both MGR and MRR on that day in good light, Dr. Sukumar’s description should be accepted with the fact that, more than 42 years had passed by since he witnessed that particular hospital scene on that day. Dr. Sukumar also had mentioned that on that day, he could recognize three individuals who were near the operating room waiting patiently to check on MGR’s health status. These were, C. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi and actor S.A. Asokan.


How it happened? – MGR’s description to Arurdoss in 1967

Script writer Arurdoss had written the following in his 2001 autobiography, about how MGR had explained to his friend cum producer M.M.A. Sandow Sinnappa Thevar and him on what happened.

“MGR picked up the pen from my shirt. Then, explained to us by acting, using the pen as a substitute for revolver. He couldn’t clearly pronounce the words, and talked in babbling words of a child. He said,

Arurdoss memoir

Arurdoss memoir 2006

‘In the hall, producer of Petral thaan Pillaiya movie producer Vasu and I were seated face to face and discussing about the call sheet for the next movie. Radha Annan (Even then, MGR used the honorific Annan to M.R.R’s name.) was walking left to right, while keeping his hand in his stomach. I asked him, ‘Why you are standing? You can easily sit.’ He replied, ‘for lunch I had a vegetable dish, and it’s upsetting my stomach’. I was talking directly to Vasu by looking at him.

Then, I felt that something is being pushed into my ear. Then, he placed one end of the pen in my right ear, and asked ‘Now make a sudden turn.’ As I did what he had asked to do, the pen slipped from ear hole and slipped to the neck. MGR continued further.

‘That’s all. The bullet had landed. Suppose, if I had failed to turn by instinct, the bullet through the ear would have shattered my skull. Immediately, I screamed ‘Anne’ and jumped to hide behind the sofa.

In between, producer Vasu attempted to pick up the revolver from Radha Annan. At that time, to stop the blood oozing out, I closed the ear with palm, ran to portico and sat in the car. I was taken to Royapettah hospital. After that, I don’t know what happened.”


M.R. Radha’s version of events, as told to Arurdoss in 1972

Arurdoss also had recorded M.R. Radha’s version in his 2006 memoir as follows, in a dialogue form.

Radha: “ I hear that his (MGR) dialogue in movies is difficult to comprehend. His voice has trouble.”

Arurdoss: “Yes, of the two bullets you shot, one couldn’t be taken out. It still remains in the body. Anne, don’t be angry for asking this. Why did you shoot MGR? For that Petral thaan Pillaiya movie, you were the one who gave advance to him, like you’ve given me?”

Radha: “Trouble started from that. I treat you like my child, and tell the truth. The advance which I gave for Petral thaan Pillaiya movie was not returned. Did not need the interest. But, at least the capital should be returned. Even that didn’t come. They told, that as the movie production was delayed, it was held up. OK. Then, I thought of producing the next movie. I was in contact with a Coimbatore party. They said, they’ll offer the entire amount if the movie is finished quickly. I told all this to Ramachandran. Though he said yes, he was delaying it. He didn’t take the advance too. I don’t know what problem he had with me. You know, we were moving well. Since we started this ‘Petral thaan Pillaiya’ movie, he was avoiding me. I also heard that even in other movies, he was working against my interests. Why that much? Even Devar was also avoiding me. To inquire about these things only, that day I took Vasu and visited his house. He was also in a rush to begin the next movie.”

Arurdoss: “Why did you go with the revolver then?”

Arurdoss autobiography 2001

Arurdoss autobiography 2001

Radha: “That was the mistake. Just to inquire these issues, and I took it to threaten him. That I carried the revolver, even Vasu didn’t know. If I decided to shoot him, should I have to visit his house? And that too I’ve to use the revolver with dud bullets inside his ear? When I showed the gun, he got scared. He said, ‘Anne’ and twisted my arm. Wondering whether the bullet may get fired, I was steady with the revolver. He holding my hand, and I holding his, in between by error the trigger got pulled. Then, Vasu jumped and attempted to pull it from me. When I raised the gun up, the next bullet was fired near my head. Why you ask? All went wrong then.”

Arurdoss: “Why did you shoot yourself?”

Radha: “Me? Did I shoot myself? No – When I struggled with Vasu, it got fired accidentally. I couldn’t realize. Because, when I went there, I was drunk (He raised his right thumb as a sign!). At that stage, I couldn’t know for sure. But, I had a doubt, whether Ramachandran was ‘out’ [had died]. Later only, I realized it didn’t happen. Somehow, he also had escaped. I also escaped. Within few minutes, every thing happened like in a cinema scene. That I was drunk then, was the mistake. If not, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Arurdoss: “Did you state this at the Court?”

Radha: “I did say…Who listened? They didn’t take it seriously, because it was assumed as a set-up of lawyer Vanamamalai [who represented Radha in the court case]. Just leave it there. In my life, not one month, two month. Four and a half years. Four and a half years wasted. Lost my income too.”


Transcripts of MGR assassination attempt Trial

The MGR assassination attempt trial was heard at Saithapettai Sessions Court, by Magistrate S. Kuppuswami from August 1, 1967. I provide below the English translation of the transcripts.

Radha’s initial statememt at the Court case was as follows:

“…First we were seated in the front room of MGR’s house. Then, I began walking. Then, MGR came and asked, “What Anne? You had written in paper that I’m plotting to kill Kamarajar? Since then, you have been talking that ‘I’ll shoot him.’ I was thinking, while walking, ‘He is talking what was in paper. And he was treating me like an enemy. I came, because he (Vasu) asked me join him. You talk dirty that you’ll shoot me. Don’t you think, this is dirty? I continued walking. Then, MGR asked, ‘What will you do, if shot?’ Immediately, I replied, ‘Human life can be snuffed in many ways. Even death by shooting, what is wrong with it?’ and turned. Then, I heard a loud sound.

I felt like being beaten in head by knife. I felt the location with my hand, where I got struck. When I took my hand, it had blood. I didn’t understand a thing. Then, I turned back. MGR had a gun. Then, I realized, ‘He had shot me.’

I felt that I should protect myself. Suddenly, I grabbed MGR’s hand. Then, the blood in my hand tainted MGR’s hand and face. I pulled the gun. Then with my two hands, I shot. Who did I shoot, I don’t know. Maybe, the bullet may have reached him. But, I didn’t know. After this, I didn’t know much. Sometime later, I was hurt by another bullet. But I don’t know, who shot that. Later, I realized that I was in a vehicle which was going in Saithapettai road. I was not sure whether it was a car or another vehicle. When we reached Saithapettai police station, I asked, ‘If there’s a sub inspector, call him.’ Car was stopped. Someone came and saw me in the car. I told, ‘MGR had shot.’ After that, I couldn’t speak. Then, they told, ‘He is in a life threatening situation. Take him to hospital.’ ‘We will write about this. Just place your signature in 2 papers or 4 papers’ they said. I couldn’t tell, where I put my signature and to whom I put the signature’. When I was asked for a statement at the hospital, I told what happened.”


Question and Answer session between the Magistrate and the Accused Radha

Reference to Kovai party relates to the Coimbatore party mentioned above. Then, Satya studio was owned by MGR. To the questions from Magistrate, Radha answered as follows.

Question: Actor MGR belonged to DMK party, and he lived in his house with wife V.N. Janaki, Appu, servant Paripooranathammal.

Answer: I know, MGR lives there. But I don’t know whether others also live there.

Q: There was talk at Satya Studio about producing a movie by the Kovai party, according to MGR and Vasu.

A: I don’t know that.

Q: Did MGR say that I’ll act if the party is ‘good’.

A: I don’t know.

Q: MGR says that after he returned from vote campaigning, he received a phone from Vasu.

A: I don’t know.

Q: Did you ask Vasu that the Kovai party had arrived in Chennai, and make preparations to meet with MGR?

A:  I didn’t say that. It was Vasu who requested me to meet with MGR and state something.

Q: Did MGR say that he was tired, and may have a meeting later?

A: I don’t know.

Q: That day at 2:00 pm, you had a lunch with vegetarian dish.

A: Yes. After lunch, I took a nap.

Q: That day, did you have a leather bag, spectacles and shawl?

A: Yes, [I] had them.

Q: That day at 4:00 pm, did Vasu say that there was a phone from MGR and you have to leave immediately.

A: I don’t know about the phone message as I was resting. I was taken there.

Q: Did you visit MGR’s house at 5 pm?

A: Yes, we went.

Q: Did Ratnam from MGR’s household received you, made you stay at reception room and phoned MGR?

A: That, I don’t know. After reaching that house, I was walking here and there. No one were there.

Q: Did you keep the leather bag in the table?

A: yes.

Q: Did you sit in the sofa?

A: For a while I was seated. Then, while keeping the leather bag in the table, I was walking here and there.

Q: After a while, did MGR visit the reception room?

A: Don’t know.

Q: At that time, was MGR wearing a blue color terylene shirt and a verti with blak and red borders?

A: It’s true that he was wearing dress.

Q: Did Vasu sit in the chair located in North?

A: False.

Q: Did you cough?

A: I might have.

Q: Did MGR asked you to sit?

A: No.

Q: You did tell him that you were having a stomach problem and walked here and there?

A: That type of words were not stated there.

Q: Vasu told MGR that they had a talk with Kovai party for producing a movie. Then, did MGR respond that after a month, he can give 10 call sheets for a month, and the remaining can be done in entirety subsequently?

A: That type of words were not stated there.

Q: Then suddenly MGR had said, ‘He is asking all call sheets.’ and turned; at that time, he felt a pressure in his ears, and experienced a piercing feeling?

A: False. I don’t know.

Q: When MGR looked ahead, did you stand with gun in your hand?

A: No. False.

Q: Did MGR ask, ‘What Anne? Why you did this?’

A: Nothing happened like this. False.

Q: Vasu says, ‘as MGR had agreed to act in the movie of Kovai party, he bent his head and smiled, suddenly heard a ’daba’ sound, and then he saw you standing in front of MGR with a gun’?

A: Completely false.

Q: Did MGR closed his ears?

A: It didn’t happen like that.

Q: Vasu says, he had shouted, ‘Sinner! You had cheated’ and came to grab you. You had backed up two feet and shot yourself in temple?

A: That type of incidence didn’t occur. False.

Q: Vasu says, you had shot yourself, fell face down?

A: False.

Q: MGR and Vasu say, ‘There was blood in MGR’s ears, and he moved to portico and called for a car, and left for hospital in car.’?

A: I don’t know that incidence.

Q: MGR had told Vasu, who was attempting to enter the car with him, ‘Go and check Radha’?

A: Don’t know.

Q: When Vasu returned, did you looked around all four sides?

A: I don’t know anything.

Q: After this incident, did you move towards the gate?

A: Don’t know.

Q: While on his way to hospital, MGR had told to Appu that, you had shot him, and you also shot yourself?

A: Don’t know.

Q: MGR says, that after he received treatment in General Hospital, he was released without bullets taken out from his body. Then, the bullet was retrieved after another operation?

A: I did learn from newspaper report that bullet was retrieved from MGR’s body.

Q: Vasu says, that he grabbed the gun from you and passed the same to Rathnam?

A: Don’t know.

Q: He says, then he went to General Hospital first in a Fiat car. After realizing that MGR was not there, he moved to Royapettah hospital?

A: Don’t know.

Q: Vasu says, that when he grabbed you, there was blood stain in his shirt and shirt got torn slightly?

A: I don’t know.

Q: He says, your blood got spilled in the carpet.

A: Don’t know.

Q: Vasu says, you are an important person for him.

A: Not an important person. He was like everyone in cinema.

Q: In the statement MGR had given to police, he had stated that you cannot be called an enemy of him?

A: I also don’t have enmity.

Q: MGR says that in the Nathiham journal, you had defamed him.

A: I didn’t write the article.

Q: That Nathiham issue in which that article appeared was shown.

A: I don’t know. I didn’t write. They might have composed what I have spoken.

Q: MGR says, he doesn’t think that there is enmity because it’s his routine habit. I’m always respectful to him?

A: Don’t know.

Q: MGR says that, in the Tholilazhi movie, for him using the ‘rising sun’ symbol, you had charged to mix politics in cinema?

A: I’ve told that to everyone. Like that, I told the same then too.

Q: He says, because you said that like, that was an issue of contention, and later Devar had to make peace with all?

A: It was not an issue of contention. That phrase couldn’t kindle enmity.

Q: MGR says that in politics, there is difference of opinion between both of you.

A: There isn’t any.

Q: MGR says, that difference of opinion couldn’t enhance enmity.

A: I know for sure that I didn’t have enmity. I don’t know what he thought.

Q: Vasu says, ‘It happened unexpectedly’.

A: Don’t know.

Q: Muthu says, that while you were carried in a stretcher at the hospital, you had given a paper (letter) from your packet.

A: I don’t know, that incidence happened.

Q: He says, that letter states, after Eetu [Note by Sachi: probably a guy’s name] comes ‘My Death’.

A: No sort of paper was given like that.

Q: He says, there was blood stain there.

A: Don’t know.

Q: Eetu says, in that letter, ‘blood donation’ and ‘life donation’ was written.

A: I didn’t write it.

Q: The Commissioner says that the license period of your gun had expired and it was not renewed.

A: When it expired, I was out of town.

Q: The clerk at the Commissioner office says that you had kept a license-less gun.

A: I did purchase the gun with a valid license. I was out of town, when the license expired. Then, I didn’t renew it. No one inquired me about this. The status of my drink permit is also the same. I guess, even the date for this had expired.”

Part 36

Cited Sources

Aroordoss: Cinema Nijamum Nizhalum (Cinema – Real and Shadow) Memoir, Arunthathi Nilayam, Chennai, 2001, pp. 275-276.

Arurdoss: Kottaiyum Kodambakkamum (Fort and Kodambakkam) Memoir, Vikatan Prasuram, 2nd ed., 2006, pp. 130-132.

Malaimalar com. Transcipts of the MGR shooting case, published between May 31, 2012 and June 15, 2012, in Tamil. (

MGR: Naan Yaen Piranthaen? (Why I was Born?) – autobiography, 2 volumes, Kannadhasan Pathippagam, Chennai, 2014.

  1. Srivatsan: Radha pleaded innocence; was found guilty. The Hindu (Chennai), Dec. 24, 2012.

Abraham Sukumar: The day M.R. Radha shot MGR., dated Feb.15, 2010 (accessed Mar. 15, 2016)

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No Responses to “MGR Remembered – Part 35”

  1. Arul

    Thanks Dr. Sachi for researching and providing details on this event which influenced the outcome of 1967 elections and became a turning point in the history of Tamil Nadu. It is amazing to know the courage of these two individuals after the bullet injuries. Compared to the present day heroes/villains they are remarkable in their character. The shooting episode itself deserves to be a brilliant script for a thriller movie!