Movies

The Chennai auto driver who channels his inner MGR

Santhana Krishnan has been entertaining his customers people in the city, dressing and talking like the legendary actor

MG Ramachandran was known for many things — a matinee idol, successful politician, philanthropist and so on. Today, he’s still relevant in Tamil Nadu, but only through statues, station names and stamps. For many reasons, one could argue that his legacy is strongest amongst his fans. The case in point being Santhana Krishnan, the city-based auto rickshaw driver, who’s also a die-hard fan of the actor. For almost three decades now, Krishnan has been channelling his inner MGR — from dressing like him to emulating his mannerisms.

“I met MGR at an event when I was seven years old and I watched his movies eagerly when I was young,” explains Krishnan, adding, “Now, I try to do whatever I can to be like him.” But, to him, MGR was more than an iconic film actor. Krishnan says he was particularly inspired by MGR’s generosity and kindness. “MGR worked really hard and genuinely cared about people. Which is why when he became the Chief Minister, he was loved by all,” he says, “I want people to think about MGR when they see me walking around.” That, indeed, rings true as Krishnan is simply known as MGR among his friends.

Following in his footsteps

If you take a cursory look at his auto-rickshaw, you’ll notice posters and photos of the legendary actor. Krishnan says he wishes to replicate his “idol’s lifestyle” by offering free rides to the elderly and offering food for the poor. Every time Krishnan steps out of his house, he’s considered a celebrity. When he goes to Marina Beach, people rally behind him to click photos. Asked if he thought about turning this into a business prospect, he retorts with, “I’m merely concerned about making people happy.” Krishnan has benefited from being his fan. Today, he’s invited by the AIADMK to speak at election rallies. “They call me during election time because...it’s MGR’s party,” he adds. Krishnan particularly had a tough time when his wife passed away three years back. But whatever he learned from his 'Thalaivar' helped him to come out of the grave situation. “I mourned for 15 days. But after that, I came out of my room, dressed like MGR. Because, being like him gives me a sense of calm.”

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 8:59:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-chennai-auto-rickshaw-driver-who-channels-his-inner-mgr/article28472749.ece

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