Sitting in an easy chair, 86-year-old C R Seethapathy Naidu, a resident of Ramanathapuram here, vividly recalls the time he spent with MGR when the latter was in the city to act in Marmayogi, which hit the screens in 1951.
The movie was picturised for nearly a year-and-a-half when MGR along with famous screen villain M N Nambiar shared a small rented house at Ramanathapuram. “The house was located in what was then called the Ramasamy Naidu compound where I lived. In those days, they paid a monthly rent of `100. Though MGR had his own cook, he used to often take food prepared by my mother,” recalls Seethapathy.
“MGR always wanted to look like well-groomed in public. He mostly wore full-sleeved white cotton shirts and sported a fur cap and dark glasses, which became his trademark. At that time there were limited bus services in the city and he used to travel in a horse cart for film shoots in the surroundings of Ramanthapuram and Gandhipuram,” says Seethapathy.
An assistant cameraman, who worked in nearly 40 Tamil and Telugu films, Seethapathy takes pride in the fact that he had worked with MGR in Madurai Veeran, a blockbuster, and Naam. “We used to engage in friendly wrestling contests in front of our house. MGR always liked to playfully engage me in wrestling though I was 10 years younger to him. He would call jokingly call me Andavane (God) after each wrestling match,” he adds.
“Though I saw him after a gap of five years in Chennai in 1956, by which time he had become a top hero in Tamil film industry, MGR showed the same affection towards me. He hugged me and called me ‘Andavane’ with the same excitement,” says Seethapathy.
During his free time MGR used to spend time doing charity works, which later earned him fame. The cameraman regrets that MGR’s first wife Bhargavi, who was fondly called Ammu Kutty, did not live long to see his success.
However, Seethapathy regrets that he failed to take a photograph with MGR.