Shone in serious roles too!

Comedy was his forte, but T.R. Ramachandran proved he was also a versatile actor.

July 02, 2015 04:01 pm | Updated 04:01 pm IST

A scene from 'Pon Vayal.'

A scene from 'Pon Vayal.'

(This is the last part of the series on the comedian T. R. Ramachandran)

T.R. Ramachandran, in partnership with the noted screenwriter, director and producer A.T. Krishnaswamy (ATK) and others, produced ‘Pon Vayal’ (1954).

T.R. Ramachandran as hero was paired with Anjali Devi. The cast included K.A. Thangavelu, R.S. Manohar, K. Sarangapani, Mynavathi, V.K. Ramasami, T.P. Muthulakshmi and M. Saroja.

It was based on a novel, ‘Poi Maan Karadu,’ by Kalki R. Krishnamurthi. A hill in Salem resembles a deer (‘maan,’ means deer in Tamil), under which a huge fortune in gold is supposed to have been buried. Ramachandran played Sengodan, who is in love with his cousin, Semba (Anjali Devi). Esraj (K.A. Thangavelu), a counterfeiter, is after the gold and seeks the help of a graduate, Bangaru (R.S. Manohar), and his lover (Mynavathi).

It was a serious role for Ramachandran as there was not much scope for comedy. However his performance was highly rated, although the film did not do as well as expected.

‘Saadhu Mirandaal’ had another serious part for Ramachandran, as a fond parent with young children, who is wanted for a murder he did not commit. The plot was based on a real life incident, which was suitably tweaked for the film.

In 1958, Madras woke up to the shocking news of the murder of a bank official, Suryanarayana, killed in a moving car by two men, who claimed to be his friends, while the third, another friend, drove the car. They killed him for the money he was carrying. A. Bhim Singh, who had several hits in Tamil and Hindi, was inspired by this case. He worked out a screenplay, giving it a twist. He produced it, and his able assistants Thirumalai-Mahalingam directed it.

Ramachandran excelled in the role. The cast included Nagesh, who was making his way up the ladder, and Kalpana, who played the heroine. The banker's kids were played by ‘Kutty’ Padmini and ‘Master’ Prabhakar. A song, ‘A for Apple… B for Biscuit… C for Chocolate…’ (lyrics: Thanjai Vaanan; voices: A. L. Raghavan, L.R. Eswari and chorus), became popular.

The band of comedians, besides Nagesh and Manorama, such as Rama Rao (of ‘Ayyaaa Theriyathaiyya’ fame), A. Veerappan, Aazhvaar Kuppusami, T.P. Muthulakshmi and M. Saroja lent support to the film. Thirumalai-Mahalingam sustained the suspense. The music composer was T. K. Ramamurthi of the Viswanathan-Ramamurthi duo, and his work contributed to the film’s popularity, which won critical acclaim. Ramachandran's performance was highly praised.

‘Adutha Veetu Penn’ (The Girl Next Door, 1960) was a comedy directed by Vedantham Raghavaiah, a top director. It had Anjali Devi, T.R. Ramachandran, and K.A. Thangavelu in lead roles.

The plot was based on a Bengali short story, ‘Pasher Bari,’ by noted writer Arun Chowdhary that was filmed in Bengali in 1952, and was a hit. The Tamil version was a remake of the 1953 hit Telugu movie, ‘Pakka Inti Ammayi.’ Successive remakes include ‘Padosan’ (1969, Hindi), and ‘Pakkadamane Hudugi’ (2004, Kannada).

Produced by Adinarayanana Rao (Anjali Devi’s husband), who also composed the music, it was written by Thanjai Ramaiah Das.

Naïve Ramachandran falls in love with his neighbour Leela, (Anjali Devi), who sings and dances well.

In order to impress her, he seeks the help of his friend, a singer (Thangavelu). The hero lip-syncs as his friend sings in the background, hidden from view. Leela is charmed and falls in love with him. Soon the truth comes out…

There were four songs in the film and two of them, ‘Kannaley Paesi Paesi Kolladhey’ (P.B. Sreenivos) and ‘Kangalum Kavi Paaduthey….’ (Tiruchi Loganathan and Sirgazhi Govindarajan) became hits. This film was a success and Ramachandran proved again his flair for the comic.

In later years, he continued to act regularly - mostly in supporting roles such as the father of the hero in which he showed his class.

But age and health problems plagued him. In 1990, in Los Angeles, he underwent an open-heart surgery, but never recovered. He was 73, when he passed away.


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