Saturday, October 11, 2014


The legend M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar (The word Bhagavathar means Classical music exponent) was an excellent Carnatic Musician,Stage actor and a Film actor in Tamil Nadu .
M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar is claimed as the first Superstar of Tamil Cinema by many film critics and film lovers.In his film career he acted as lead actor in only 14 films which were all hits but 6 of them were super duper hits.One of his films 'Haridas' created history in those period of 40's by running continuously in a single theatre in Madras(Chennai) for more than three years.
'Mayavaram  Krishnamurthy Thyagaraja Bhagavathar' was born to  parents Krishna Murthy and Manikkathammal in 'Mayiladuthurai' of Tanjore District in Madras Presidency in the year 1910.His father was a goldsmith by profession.
The family later moved from there and  settled in Trichy.
The young Thayagaraja was not interested in studying lessons at school but he was keen interested  to listen songs of any types  and could even  sing them back like the original with much expertise.He was also interested to watch stage shows such as drama,dance music concerts etc.The boy used to express his intention to become a drama artist which was declined by his parents since the stage artists in those days  were not getting due respect and the wages was also very low.The little boy left the house at the age of 10 without telling anybody.He went to 'Cudappa' in Andhrapradesh where he managed to get good income by singing.Large mob gathered to listen his singing and he earned name and prestige at that place and the news about the whereabouts of the lad  reached his father through  a travelling  friend.
His father Krishnamurthy immediately went to Cudappa, and found him.He took him to Balaji Temple,Tirupathi and the priest blessed the boy to become a well known musician.They came back to Trichy and the little boy earned fame very soon  there also by participating in certain musical programs like 'bhajans' etc.
During this perid he was chosen to work in professional drama troupe and his first role was as 'Lohitaksha' the son of Raja Harischandra in the drama 'Harishchandra'.During that period most of the professional drama troupes selected plays from Hindu epics or historical themes and the dramas included dialogues,songs and dances.Only actors with singing talents rose to fame and to the forefront.
By watching Thyagarajan's acting skill, a Carnatic musician and violinist 'Madurai Ponnu Iyengar' got much inspired and felt impression about the boy's talent that he offered him to train  Carnatic music.The classical music was taught to him by this 'Guru' for a period of six years and Thyagarajan became 'Thyagaraja Bhagavathar' and started conducting music concerts for which he received much applause.
His acting on stage was also continued during this period.
During that period the leading famous stage actors included 'S.G.Kittappa,N.S.Krishnan,M.G.Ramachandran(MGR),K.P.Kesavan,S.V.Sahasranamam,T.K.S.Brothers,K.K.Perumal,K.B.Sundarambal,K.P.Kamatchi,S.D.Subbu

lakshmi,T.P.Rajalakshmi,Ratna Bai' etc etc.
'Pavalakkodi' was the first play in which Thyagaraja Bhagavathar acted as the lead actor which was in the year 1926.At that time the heroine role was handled by male actors and in this play T.P.Ramakrishnan acted as the female lead.
'T.P.Ramakrishnan,P.S.Velu Nair,K.S.Anantha Narayana Iyer,Rangaswamy Iyengar' etc were some of the actors famed for female roles.
Couple of years later  S.D.Subbulakshmi paired with him in this play which received hearty welcome by the spectators and this pair earned much reputation like 'Kittappa-K.B.Sundrambal pair'.
The songs rendered by Thyagaraja Bhagavathar in the plays earned much accolades and his rendering style,melodious voice etc were much liked by the audience.He  was lovingly called as 'MKT' by the audience.His fame soon reached to other countries like Srilanka,Malasia,Burma,Singapore' etc also.
The habit of MKT was to shift from one troupe to another.He did not like to stick to one company like most of the other stage artists.The daily wages received by Bhagavathar was more than the usual pay of that period.
His first film was made in 1934 and it was 'Pavalakkodi' produced by Lakshmana Chettiyar and Alagappa Chettiyar.His secnd film was in 1935 'Naveena Sarangadhara' which was directed by K.Subramanyam.
Next film was 'Sathyaseelan' and it was produced by Bhagavathar himself under the banner 'Trichy Thyagaraja Films'.
In 1937 a film by name 'Chintamani' became roaring success which ran continuously for more than one year and his role in it was as 'Bilwamangal'.
In the same year he acted in 'Ambikapathy' made by an American film director in which he handled the title role and the film was also a blockbuster success.
It broke the records set by 'Chintamani'.
In 1939 Bhagavathar acted as 'Thiruneela Kantar Nayanar' in the film 'Thiruneela Kantar'.It was about a Hindu Saint.
Bhagavathar earned the love and fame because  of his acclaimed acting style,powerful rendition of songs with much expertise and ease even in high pitch.He was a philanthropist who helped the needy and the poor.He also contributed for social and religious causes.
The film career of Bhagavathar was from the year 1934 to 1959.
He was arrested suspecting that he was involved in a murder case and was jailed in 1944 but later by investigations revealed that he was innocent and got released in 1947.
'Chintamani,Ambikapathy,Thiruneelakantar, and Haridas' were the huge hts in his film career.
Films 'Sathyaseelan, Thiruneelakantar,and Puthuvazhvu' were produced by him and he directed the film 'Puthu Vazhvu'.
M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar passed away in the year 1959.
Naveena Sarangadhara
Ashok Kumar
Raja Mukthi
Puthu Vazhvu

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