The memory of the late hugely popular Bollywood actor and megastar MG Ramachandran or MGR to millions of his fans, is kept alive at the MGR Cafe in Lebuh China, George Town.
The café is set up by one of his ardent fans, P. C Asokkann, 63, who wanted to preserve the memory of the late actor and also once the Chief Minister of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The late MGR had acted in hundreds of hit movies and also won over millions of fans all over the world.
Asokkann became a fan of the MGR from a young age after he started watching MGR movies in cinemas in George Town.
“Among the earliest movies I saw were “Ali Baba” and Gulebakavali” which I watched in 1957 and I was taken up by his acting and dressing style.
“It makes me wonder why the stylish and colourful outfits the actor adorned in those days are still in fashion even till today,” said Asokkann when met at his cafe recently.
Asokkann is supported in his passion for the renowned actor by his wife L. Sumathi and his three children.
He recounted how he managed to meet the actor personally in 1972 when MGR was invited by the late Chief Minister of Penang Dr Lim Chong Eu to Penang at Bangunan Tuanku Syed Putra here.
“I was clad in my school uniform and managed to sneak up to the Penang Chief Minister’s Office but was stopped by a security guard. After much pleading, the guard eventually asked me to wait outside the Chief Minister’s Office till the actor came out.
“I went up to greet MGR and told him about my keen interest and avid following of his movies. He advised me to study hard and to achieve my ambition.
“I also managed to shake his hand and kiss his hands,” said Asokkann, adding that the memory is still fresh in his mind.
His cafe is decorated with many portraits of MGR which were taken from the many movies MGR had acted in over the latter’s long acting career.
“I am going to India soon to secure more of the coloured pictures of MGR to be framed and upgrade my collection in my cafe. I also play a lot of the songs found in his movies and also his hit movies daily at the cafe.
“Patrons who come to my cafe also enjoy the songs and movies as they can relax and unwind while having lunch,” added Asokkann.
Among the favourite dishes in his cafe are chicken paratal, mutton varuval, and curry pot fish.
“We get a mixed crowd of locals and also foreign tourists who want to taste local food. My wife is the chef and handles all the cooking,” said Asokkann, who also lives on the second floor of his cafe with his family.
For breakfast, the cafe offers tosai, itali and puri.
MGR Cafe operating hours are from 8am to 5.30pm and is closed for dinner.