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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

April 2015 | 196 pages | SAGE India

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

[This] is by far the most convincing study of the subject… The book is a work of sound scholarship and will no doubt lure researchers to this fascinating field of popular culture and politics. Pandian has offered a splendid model. The added attractions in the book are an exhaustive bibliography and a complete filmography of MGR, which includes films like Thasipenn (1943), invariably omitted in such lists.

S. Theodore Bhaskaran
The Hindu

M.S.S. Pandian’s The Image Trap is a lively, concerned essay in understanding the influence exercised by M.G. Ramachandran [MGR] on a fan following consisting in substantial part of the Tamil poor.

Ravi Vasudevan
The Indian Economic and Social History Review

In the Indian subaltern studies tradition, this work of critical social history is recommended to all students of south India.

Glenn Yocum
Religious Studies Review

Pandian nevertheless provides a fascinating and revealing analysis if M.G.R. in film and the filmy politics in Tamil Nadu.

Robert L. Hardgrave Jr
Pacific Affairs

… it is a bold endeavour for the reason that (the author) has focused his study on the late M.G. Ramachandran… It is not a study just in the techniques of image building but he also brings out fairly successfully the interface and interplay between the media and political processes… The moral of the story is not written at the end of the book… But it is explicit in the very title of the book. An image could be a trap, beware of it.

P.D. Kulkarni
Social Change

Written in a very lucid style, [it] is a must for all interested in understanding Tamil Nadu politics.

Kushal Deb
Social Action

Far from being a mere panegyric to a vanished film superhero and idol of the masses, this  volume is another well published book from SAGE, succinct and to the point… The book is full of fascinating details about the extent to which MGR was successful in creating this image and of what repercussions it had. The Image Trap is a useful book for both students of Indian politics and Indian cinema and a welcome addition to the literature on the connection between image and voter behaviour.

R.S. Newman
South Asia

[It] is an interesting attempt in trying to resolve this puzzle [of MGR’s unparalleled political success].

Sushila Ravindranath

[Pandian’s] book is unconventional in style and organization, a blend of essay-writing, political rhetoric, and scholarship. It is a lively study that should interest all students of contemporary Indian politics.

Pamela G. Price
The Journal of Asian Studies

The author’s writing style makes the book an enjoyable reading even for a lay reader without sacrificing the references, footnotes, and documentation that academic readers look for. Pandian has the academic credentials and proximity to the theme in writing The Image Trap.

S. Sreenivas Rao

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ISBN: 9789351500667