Thursday morning, the senior minister in Ramachandran's Cabinet, V. R. Nedunchezhiyan, was sworn in as active chief minister of the state. The Cabinet member considered most powerful, however, is the food minister, S. Ramachandran, who has previously acted as an unofficial regent while his leader was recovering from his strokes and surgery. That recovery was only partial, however, and the late Ramachandran was left with a speech defect.
The Tamil leader was born in Sri Lanka to a very poor Indian Tamil family. He once said he did not attend school after the third grade.
Rapid Success as Actor
Although handsome, with curly black hair and broad shoulders, he was never a good speaker and only a fair dancer. But almost as soon as he became an actor, he was the most popular performer in Tamil-language films. Tamil Nadu film audiences are among the world's most intense and the state boasts more theater seats per capita than any other state in India or country in the world.
On occasion, his film life spilled over into his public life. In 1967, he was wounded when a man who played the villain in several of his films attacked him with a handgun.