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[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.
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.
In the Indian subaltern studies tradition, this work of critical social history is recommended to all students of south India.
Pandian nevertheless provides a fascinating and revealing analysis if M.G.R. in film and the filmy politics in Tamil Nadu.
… 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.
Written in a very lucid style, [it] is a must for all interested in understanding Tamil Nadu politics.
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.
[It] is an interesting attempt in trying to resolve this puzzle [of MGR’s unparalleled political success].
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
"...a work of sound scholarship and will no doubt lure researchers to this fascinating field of popular culture and politics ."