N. S. Krishnan & T. A. Madhuram

 Kalaivanar N. S. Krishnan

Born     November 29, 1908(1908-11-29)
Nagercoil, Travancore, India
Died     August 30, 1957(1957-08-30) (aged 48)
Occupation     Actor
Years active     1935-1957
Spouse     T. A. Madhuram

Nagerkoyil Sudalaimuthu Krishnan, popularly known as Kalaivanar and also as 'NSK' was a leading Tamil film comedian, drama artist, playback singer and writer in the early stages of the Tamil film industry - in the 1940s and 1950s.Another Icon of the dominant 'Pillai' community.

Born in Ozhuginachery, Nagercoil, in the princely state of Travancore, India on 29 November 1908, his stage and cine-screen comedy performances were unique and always carried a message for the people. 'Kalaivanar' N. S. Krishnan died at the age of 49, on 30 August 1957.


N S Krishnan started his career as a Villupaatu artist (the Tamil way of reciting stories while singing songs and playing a musical instrument in the form of a bow - called 'Villu') and later became involved in Tamil drama and stage shows, as were so many film artistes in his days, and at one-time owned his own touring drama company; and when cinema gradually became popular in South India, he entered the Tamil film world to become one of the leading Tamil film comedians ever, with a unique style. He generally wrote his own comedy dialogues and expressed them in his drama and films in such a way that the message was carried across, but the subject to whom it was intended was not offended.

He acted in nearly 150 Tamil films and the matinee-duo of N S krishnan and T. A. Madhuram (later his better half) in Tamil films was very popular in his days; he also did roles along with leading stage and cine artists of his time like T. S. Durairaj, 'Pulimootai' Ramasamy, C.S. Pandian and writers like Udumalai Narayana Kavi and Subbu Armugham and gave a number of hits in those days. He was also a talented singer and hits include Sivakavi, Raja Rani, and Manamagal.

Though he was more popular among the Tamil populace as a film comedian (and even in the modern day he is remembered for that), Kalaivanar was instrumental in bringing a number of leading Tamil stage and film personalities of his days to the fore; he was also a Gandhian, patriot and philanthropist, yet a very controversial figure - with his name linked to a murder and also some marital controversies.


During Mid 1940s he and M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar were arrested for suspicion of murder famously known during that time as Lakshmikanthan Kolai Vazhakku(Lakshmikanthan Murder Case), both were convicted and later released on appeal with privy council.

When MKT and NSK were flying very high in fame in drama, cinema and concerts, fate interfered in the form of Lakshmikanthan. Lakshmikanthan, a notorious criminal with a perverted mind, edited a yellow magazine called 'Hindu Nesan'. Lakshmikanthan's target was not only the small fry in the society but also the movie people, business magnates, prosperous lawyers, doctors, famed musicians, landlords, zamindars, Rajahs, press barons, religious heads, politicians etc. He wrote salacious and scandalous sex stories about them purely on the basis of gossips and hearsay. Majority of them were unauthenticated and filthy news. Being afraid of ill fame, some of those on whom Lakshmikantan wrote tried to silence him with hush money. Encouraged by this sort of income he continued to write all sorts of nonsense about them regularly and with the result had numerous enemies from all walks of life.

On 8 November 1944, he was attacked by some people with a knife in Purasawalkam, in Downtown Madras. He was admitted to the General Hospital, Madras but only as an outpatient, for the wound was not serious enough. Even in his statement to the police he did not name any particular person as the accused but only stated that someone had attacked him. He was found very jovial at the police station as he was in the hospital. During his treatment it was reported that he wanted to expose the murderers involved in the Boat Mail murder (In those days a train named Boat mail used to run between Madras and Dhanushkoti station which is not in existence now). A rich banker from Devakottai was murdered in the moving train between Chengalpet and Madras. A notable singer cum actress who travelled with the banker was missing/fled when the train reached Madras. The political backing which this singer had kept truth about the real killers under the carpet. The killers saw to it that the case should not come to the court for trial. There is another version which says that Lakshikanthan was murdered by this group and not by NSK/MKT.

But suddenly, the next day i.e. on 9 November 1944, Lakshmikanthan died mysteriously in the hospital. He was murdered. The police, based on the statement made by LKanthan's bodyguard, arrested eight persons as accused for the murder. Among them were MKT and N.S.Krishnan. This came as a rude shock to their fans and the cine world.

After usual committal proceedings before the Madras Presidency Magistrate, the case came up for hearing at the Madras High court before Justice Vera Mockett. A group of brilliant lawyers namely Mr. V.T.Rangasamy Iyengar, Sri Rajagopalachariar (Rajaji), Mr. Braddel, Mr. B.T.Sundararajan, Sri Govind Swaminathan, Mr. Srinivasagopal and Mr. K.M.Munshi argued the case for the accused. After prolonged trial, the Jury, much to the dismay of many, found MKT and NSK guilty along with four others.

Appeals were heard by a bench of the High Court consisting of Sir Linel Leach, Chief Justice of Madras, Justice K.P. Lakshmana Rao and Advocate General K.Rajah Iyer. The appeals were filed by the then leading members of the Bar, V.V.Srinivasa Iyengar and Sri V.C.Gopalarathnam. However, the appeals were dismissed.

MKT and NSK filed an appeal in the Privy Council, London which was then the highest court of appeal. The internationally famous ((British Barrister)), D.N.Pritt appeared for them. Privy Council then referred the case back to India for a fresh appraisal.

The appeal came up before a bench of two judges namely Mr. Justice Happel and Mr. Justice Sahabuddin (who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 during partition of India and retired as Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court). Mr V.L.Ethiraj, a successful Barrister appeared for MKT and NSK and argued that the Judges had not properly directed the Jury and the evidences of doubtful nature have not been properly assessed. Mr. Ethiraj convinced the Judges by his powerful arguments that all the witnesses produced against MKT and NSK were tutored and coached and there were a lot of inconsistencies in their evidence and statements and the case had many loopholes. The Judges agreed with Mr. Ethiraj's arguments and acquitted MKT and NSK. One of the judges who heard the remanded appeal remarked in the Court that the knife produced as evidence cannot even kill a rat !! The judgment was given a few months before India became free.

MKT, NSK and four others came out of prison after thirty months' imprisonment. Experts and even laymen felt that the truth about the real killers of Lakshmikanthan has not come out and MKT, NSK and others were the unfortunate victims of the game of power politics.

The real killers were never pinned down and the truth lies buried somewhere to this day. Indian legal history will record this case as one of the most tragic miscarriages of justice. It ruined the life and career of an astonishingly gifted musician. MKT Bhagavathar never regained his lost fame.

Later NSK resumed acting in Movies, but his jail term and fight for justice made him penurious, his hard earned wealth was lost in fighting the case and so was the case of co-accused MKT Bagavathar, who once ate in Silver and Gold plates and was the first Super Star of Indian Cinema. Haridas, which was released while he was in jail ran for 3 consequent Deepavalies with packed houses. People crowded the theatre as they felt, they would not have a chance to see their superstar in silver screen.


    * The leading Tamil Nadu politician and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu 'Kalaignar' Karunanidhi, when asked once by a journalist (of the Tamil magazine Kumudham) about who the non-political hero in his life was, answered it was Kalaivanar. Karunanidhi knew him well and also worked in some of his film projects.
    * Kalaivanar was an active member of the Dravidian Movement. The Tamil Nadu Government erected a memorial-building in 1979, called 'Kalaivanar Kalai Arangam' (or Kalaivanar Arts Centre) in honour of Kalaivanar's contribution to the Arts, and the building is one of the leading landmarks in the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu.
    * NSK was generous to a fault.The following anecdote was written in Agathiyar Yahoo Group by JayBee (Dr. S.Jayabarathi of Malaysia): "One day, an emaciated looking man came to his house. At that time, NSK was playing carrom board with a friend. When the man approached NSK, NSK did not look up at him. He continued with his game. NSK simply asked him whether he had eaten. The man said he had not eaten for three days. NSK told him to go and eat a hearty meal first. Of course NSK knew that the man was hungry because he had no money. He called one of his friends who were around him watching his game. He told him to reach into NSK's shirt pocket and take out the money. The friend did so. But what came out was a thick unopened wad of five rupee currency notes. The friend tried take out a note. In those days, a five rupee was a big sum. NSK got angry. He scolded him, "ada thariththiraththukku thuNai pOnavanE! innum kuuda thaaraaLamaa pichchuk kuduvEn?". (" O, He who gives company to poverty, why don't you extend your magnanimity and take out some more?") The friend took out a thicker portion containing quite a number of notes and gave them to the poor man. When the man came back, NSK heard his story and needs and gave him substantial help.

As Actor

    * Raja Desingu (1960) .... This movie was released after his death; co-starred with M.G. Ramachandran
    * Tholan (1959) .... This movie was released after the death of N S Krishnan
    * Yar paiyan (1956)
    * Manimekalai (1956)
    * Balya Chakram (1956)
    * Ambikapathy (1956)
    * Asai (1956)
    * Raja Rani (1956)
    * Laila Majnu (1956)
    * Arasilam kumari (1956)
    * Thanga Pathumai (1956)
    * Madurai Veeran (1956) .... Cobbler with MGR in lead
    * Rangoon Radha (1956) .... Naidu with Shivaji Ganesan in lead
    * Kalacharam (1955)
    * Kannin Manigal (1955)
    * Sri Ratna (Kannada) (1955)
    * Chakravarthi Thirumagal (1955)
    * Athiroopa Amaravathi (1955)
    * Paditha Muttal (1955)
    * Pudhu Vazhvu (1955)
    * Maha Sakthi (1955)
    * Nan Nambikka (1955)
    * Governors Cup (Telgu) (1955)
    * Nam Kulandai (1955)
    * Kudumba Villakku (1955)
    * Doctor Savithri (1955)
    * Kaveri (1955)
    * Mudhal thethi (1955)
    * Nalla kalam (1954)
    * Thalapathi (1953)
    * Nadigan (1953)
    * Panam (1953)
    * Amarakavi (1953)(Telgu film)
    * Manathodu Vazh (1952)
    * Thottakkaran (1952)
    * Ragasiyam (1952)
    * Vanasundari (1951) ...... with P.U.Chinnappa/TR.Rajakumari, and T.A.Madhuram
    * Parijatham (1950)
    * Manamagal (1950)
    * Viswamitra (1949)
    * Ratna Kumar (1949)
    * Pavakkodi (1949)
    * Inba Valli (1949)
    * Kalvanin Kathali (1949)
    * Macha Rekai (1949)
    * Thambi durai (1949)
    * Mangaiyarkkarasi (1949)
    * Nallathambi (1949) .... As Zamindar with Maduram and Banumathy in lead
    * Chandralekha (1948) .... Comic relief w/TA Madhuram, SundariBai; MK Radha/TR Rajakumari film
    * Samsara Nonga (1948) .... only T A Mathuram acted
    * Sri Valli (1947)
    * Payithiyakkaran (1947)
    * Pavalakkodi (1947)
    * Brahma Rishi Vishvamitra (1947) ....The film was first released and did not perform well in box-office, then the comedy track was added
    * Pankaja valli (1947)
    * Krishna Pakthi (1947)
    * Kannagi (1947)
    * Arthanari (1946)
    * Deva dasi (1946)
    * Maha maya (1945)
    * Burma Rani (1945)
    * Baktha Kalathi (1945)
    * Chow Chow - Kalikala minor, School Drama, Soora Puli (1945)
    * Salivahanam (1945)
    * Raja Rajeshwari (1944) .... it had T A Mathuram only
    * Valmiki (1944)
    * Haridoss (1944) .... For the first time in Tamil cinema history, Haridoss ran successfully for 110 weeks in ‘Chennai Broadway Talkies. Was screened from 16.10.1944 to 22.11.1946
    * Poompavai (1944)
    * Panthru hari (1944)
    * Jagathala Prathaban (1944)
    * Prabhavathi (1943)
    * Ilandha Kathal (1943)
    * Aswini (1943)
    * Bakya Lakshmi (1943)
    * Hari Cchandra (1943)
    * Mangamma sapatham (1943)
    * Sivakami (1943)
    * Kubera Kuchela (1943)
    * Arunthathi (1943)
    * Emantha Sonagiri (1942)
    * Kathambam (1942)
    * Manonmani (1942)
    * Prithiviraj (1942)
    * Panchamirtham or Thiruvalathan (1942)
    * Thasippen or Kilattu Mappillai (1942)
    * Sivalinga Satchi (1942)
    * Kannagi (1942)
    * Krishna Pidaran (1942)
    * Aarayichi mani or Manuneethi Cholan (1942)
    * Iru Nanbargal (1941)
    * Vedha vathi or Seetha Jananam (1941)
    * Chandra hari (1941)
    * Elandha Kadhal (1941)
    * Ashok Kumar (1941).... with MKT Bagavadhar in lead
    * Aryamala (1941)
    * Alibabavum nanpathu thirudarkalum (1941)
    * Sakunthalai (1940) ..... with MS.SubbaLakshmi/GN.Balasunbramaniam, Madhuram, DS.DuraiRaj
    * Parasuraman (1940)
    * Manimekalai or Bala Saniyasi (1940) .... In those days there were movies that had 2 titles
    * Poologa Rambai (1940)
    * Sathi Murali (1940)
    * Naveena vikramatityan & Puthiman Balavan Aavan (1940)
    * Chandraguptha chanakya & Tharuthalai Thangavelu (1940)
    * Naveena Tenali raman (1940)
    * Uthama puthiran (1940)(Older Version) .... with P.U.Chinnappa, T.A.Madhuram
    * Sirikkathe (1940) .... Consist of five stories under one single title (an innovative idea in those days) the titles where:Adanka pidari, Puli vettai, Poli panchali, Malai kkannan, Yama vathanai
    * Kalamegam (1939)
    * Prahalatha (1939)
    * Rambaiyin Kathal (1939)
    * Pommi Kalyanam (1939)
    * Madurai veeran (1939)
    * Sri Math Ramalinga Swamigal (1939)
    * Maya Machindra (1939)
    * Manikkavasagar (1939)
    * Thiruneelakandan (1939)
    * Anandashramam (1938)
    * Krisgna Toodhu (1938)
    * Dakshayagna (1938)
    * Balamani (1937)
    * Chandra Kantha (1937)
    * Baktha Thulasidas (1937)
    * Ambikapathy (1937)
    * Vasantha Sena (1936)
    * Sathileelavathi (1936)
    * Menaka (1935) .... with T K Shanmugam


sunil on February 20, 2015 at 2:40 AM said...
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