I am the pioneer of kuthu: T Rajendherr

In a career spanning over three decades, T Rajendherr, or TR as he is better known, has given blockbusters and composed evergreen melodies. Yet, he has never worked under another director or in a project that he has not produced. He has decided to break that self-imposed rule with KV Anand’s Kavan, in which he plays a pivotal character.

What made him change his mind? “In 1992, K Balachander requested me to act in a guest role in Jathi Malli, but I had to politely refuse. I need freedom, and, most importantly, be within my comfort zone. KV Anand is my dear friend and I have a lot of admiration for his work. When he narrated the script, I realised my role was close to my real-life personality. My character is bold, strong and outspoken, with a sense of humour. He has a great command over Tamil too. No wonder the director was keen on casting me.”

Making a comeback

His return to the screen comes after a decade. The last film he directed and starred in was Veerasamy (2007). “My political aspirations affected my film career. Political parties started disrupting my film shows and I could not screen my films in many theatres. So, I decided to change my style of filmmaking. I stopped doing the lead role, and projected my son STR {he debuted in 1984 in Uravai Kaatha Kili}, instead.” Would he direct his son again? “I launched him as a hero in Kadhal Azhivathillai. He has worked with other directors and is successful in his own right. I won’t be directing him again.”

TR, the politician
  • Rajendherr, once the DMK’s propaganda secretary, was elected MLA from Park Town in 1996.
  • After he was expelled from the party, he formed his own faction, All India Latchiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in April 2004.
  • In 2016, he said he would extend his party’s support to the AIADMK if it invites him.

Market watcher

TR is now focussing on film distribution. “I have done a complete market study. I now understand how the A, B and C centres work in our state. From this, I’ve learnt that women don’t come for the matinee show as they are hooked to TV. It is college students and the youth that walk into theatres. They are only interested in light-hearted films,” says TR.

Was it market research that made his films high on melodrama, sentiment, action and unrequited love? “In real life, the success rate of love is just 10%. For the present generation, love is synonymous with infatuation and the word has become meaningless. Uyirullavarai Usha (1983) ran successfully for more than a year, and its Telugu remake Prema Sagaram ran for two years. Such films may not be relevant today. But I have not lost touch with the current generation. My work in television programmes {Arattai Arangam and Jodi, a dance reality show} have kept me in sync with the present generation.”

Love for music

Almost all his films have at least one kuthu number with ‘Cut Adippom’ and ‘Enn Aasai Mythiliye’ being the most popular. It’s a trend that has become a norm today. “I am the kuthu paatu pioneer of Kollywood. Whether it’s a celebration or mourning, we have songs for all occasions. Therukoothu is a strong aspect of our cultural tradition. I have rendered kuthu songs for other composers too, the latest being in Theri and Vizhithiru. In Kavan, I have sung ‘Happy New Year’. I thoroughly enjoy singing such songs.”

Will Kavan set the ball rolling for a full-fledged return to acting? “I am enjoying this phase of my life. I am a politician, but I don’t aspire to become the chief minister. My journey started as a Government school teacher in Mayiladuthurai. I willl speak my mind at all times and will always remain a fighter,” he says.


TR made a mark in his chosen field as lyricist, composer, filmmaker, TV anchor and politician. He ushered in the trend of multitasking, wherein he not only produced and directed, but also handled story, screenplay, dialogue, lyrics, music, playback, cinematography, acting and later on he even took up distribution.

In an era when Ilayaraja, Vairamuthu and Vaali, were ruling the roost, TR stormed into the bastion as composer and lyricist in his debut film, Oru Thalai Raagam. ‘Vaasamilla malar idhu’ and “Idhu Kuzhandhai paadum thalaattu’ were were a novelty in terms of lyrics. “While writing that song, I decided not to follow the rules of grammar, and that being the era of Pudhu Kavidhai, I wanted to make a distinctive mark in my debut composition,” says TR, who has given some of the most memorable campus love stories of the 80s as well as ever green hits songs such as ‘Vasantham paadi vara’, ‘vaigai karai kaatre nillu’,’Vizhigal Meydaiyam Imaigal’, and ‘Sollamathaane enn manasu thudikkuthu’ to name a few

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 11:41:37 PM |

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