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The Image Trap

The Image Trap
M.G. Ramachandran in Film and Politics

First Edition
  • M. S. S. Pandian - Late of Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

February 2015 | 196 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd

The Image Trap analyses the phenomenon of M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), the legendary film star-cum-politician of Tamil Nadu, as a modern-day political myth.

This book offers fascinating details about the extent to which MGR was successful in creating a stereotypical cinematic persona, and what repercussions it had on Tamil Nadu. Delineating the cultural elements that were meticulously mobilised to constitute MGR’s on-screen image, it analyses the popularity he enjoyed among the poor whose interests he constantly violated. This is done by means of what Pandian termed as constructed biographies which are popular narratives that ingeniously present the cinematic as real. It brings out the interface and interplay between the media and political processes. A blend of essay writing, political rhetoric and scholarship, the book features the complete filmography of MGR and is a must for understanding the contemporary politics of the state.

The Image Trap
Appendix I: A Brief Chronology of MGR’s Life
Appendix II: MGR’s Filmography
Appendix III: Electoral Performance of the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu

In the absence of any worthwhile work on the Tamil phenomenon, who strode the film industry and the state political arena like a colossus for over two decades, Pandian’s is a seminal contribution. It has attempted to see MGR in a meaningful way, neither glorifying him nor denigrating him.

P.K. Balachandran
The Sunday Observer

Pandian’s book is exhaustive, in spite of its slim 145-page stretch. There is a delightful bibliography, and an exhaustive filmography to go with it …it makes gripping reading too.

L. Narayanan
The Hindustan Times

But despite the familiarity of the ground covered, the terrain is still interesting, especially at a time when established political parties turn increasing(ly) to actors and actresses in the hope that their screen images will bring the votes home.

Ranjana Sengupta
The Times of India

[The book] unravels the complex terrain of Tamil politics…offers fascinating details about the extent to which MGR was successful in creating a stereotypical cinematic persona and what repercussions it had on Tamil Nadu.

Free Press Journal

"...a work of sound scholarship and will no doubt lure researchers to this fascinating field of popular culture and politics ."

The Hindu

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ISBN: 9789351500667