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A philanthropist till the end

HE WAS more a good person than a star. He used to ask people who came to invite him to grace a social function, to donate a sum for charity. Whatever function he attended he used to take with him a doll or a laminated picture and auction it at the venue and whatever money he got from it he would donate it to an orphanage. He spent considerable time at the `Mercy Home' in Chennai.

Whenever an occasion such as his birthday or his wedding day came, he would feed all the inmates of the home. He was Jaishanker, who was affectionately called `Jai' by all his friends and fans.

Jaishanker was born in Kokkarakulam in Tirunelveli district in 1940. His father K. A. Subramaniam was a magistrate. His mother's name was Yogammal. He was a product of P.S. High school and took his degree from Vivekanda College in Chennai.

In Chennai he was introduced to the stage by Sahasranamam who made him act in some of the plays. One day he met Geeta during the interval of a play. He wanted to marry her. He came to know that her father was also acting in the play. So he sent his friends to ask her parents for her hand. They were married.

It was director and producer Joseph Thaliyath who saw Jaishanker and decided to cast him as the hero in his film ``Iravum Pagalum'' in a dual role. Joseph Thaliyath's associates opposed the decision. But Thaliyath was firm and the film was a hit. From then on Jaishanker ruled the roost for more than a decade. His 100th film was ``Idayam Parkirathu'' which was released in 1974. The 200th film was ``Malaiyur Mammatiyan'' and the 300th film was ``Nalaiya Seithi''.

When social and family sentiment films were the order of the day, Jaishanker's action oriented films were very much appreciated by the public. Modern theatres, Salem, made some interesting action pictures such as ``Iru Vallavargal'' and ``CID Shanker''. These films were made on the lines of James Bond films. He performed the role with vigour and gusto. This made the viewing public hail him as `Thennagathu James Bond' (James Bond of the South). James Bond is a man with a golden gun, but Jaishanker was a man with a golden heart.

It was AVM's ``Kuzhanthaiyum Deivamum'', the third film of Jaishanker which gave him a big boost at the box office. Later his career was revived by one of their productions, ``Murattukalai'', which once again made him busy in character roles. Jaishanker has acted in more than three hundred and fifty films and in two hundred of them he was the hero.

Sripriya has acted in the most number of films (18) with Jaishanker. Then comes K. R. Vijaya who has acted in 12 films with him and the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, has acted in 10 films with him. Jaishanker has performed a variety of roles. He was called a producer's star. He was always generous enough to waive anything due from a producer if the latter was in a hopeless situation.

He received the State Government's `Kalaimamani' award in 1974. AVM's ``Kuzhantheiyum Deivamum'' in which he did the lead role, won the National award. In 1971 he was adjudged the best actor by the Film Fans' Association for his performance in ``Nootrukku Nooru''. He was invited to Sri Lanka and was presented the ``Kalai Selvan'' title by the Padulai city Mayor, Ahamed.

He used to greet everybody with warmth, a smiling face and a friendly ``Hai''. In fact, if one heard the greeting, ``Hai'' in film circles then he could be sure that Jaishanker was nearby. His last film was ``Chinna Raja''. He was very close to all the present day heroes including Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan.

He wanted to do something for animals also. His close friend was to celebrate his birthday in the last week of May. So Jaishanker called up the Blue Cross and donated a certain amount towards the food of animals, on that day.

That was Jaishanker. Till his last breath on the night of June 3, he was merciful and compassionate. He was running from one place to another mainly to get money for the orphanages and `special' children.


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