CHENNAI: Ramavaram Gardens, once the all-important address in Chennai, which used to be frequented by ministers, top politicians and film stars just a few decades ago, has been hit hard by the December deluge. The rising floodwaters that entered this home of former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran has washed away or damaged a considerable number of items that once belonged to the matinee idol.
His family members now residing there told Express that several of MGR’s personal diaries, photo albums, video tapes, trophies, awards, and rare collections, the cot and air conditioner that he used, the television that he watched, all preserved for more than 25 years, were either washed away or damaged.
“The diaries that MGR used to keep right from childhood till his last days were washed away in the floods. Also, more than 150 video tapes of his speeches, functions where he attended with his wife V N Janaki and his foster daughters were damaged. The worst part is that no one else has copies of these tapes,” said V Ramachandran, son of MGR’s foster daughter Sudha Vijayakumar.
Photo albums containing his pictures with other leaders including DMK founder and former Chief Minister C N Annadurai, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and others were damaged; most of the photographs have faded out to white now. Family members added that MGR’s huge portrait drawn by a popular artist Karrupiah in 1986 that was kept in the hall of the bungalow was also damaged.
“I remember he fondly bringing a portrait of Jesus Christ, which was kept along with his awards in the same cupboard. But we are not able to find it today,” Sudha told Express.
That is not all, added her son Ramachandran. The cupboards had all his awards, a miniature of his Bharat Ratna award, several other trophies and gifts, all of which were washed away. The few remaining, he added, have been broken.
“We have taken everything to the private school we run in Vadapalani. Only after they are dried will we know what other precious memories we have lost,” Sudha added.
A good part of MGR memorabilia are housed in the memorial at T Nagar.
The ones in Ramavaram is more connected to his mother Sathyabhama and wife Janaki.
Inside the 7.50 acre premises, the rooms where meetings with ministers took place, poor were given food and his favourite swimming pool in the back carry the signs of the fury of the floods it had to withstand.