Biography of Kothamangalam Subbu

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Tamil Writer Kothamangalam Subbu Biography
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Kothamangalam Subbu ( 10 November 1910 – 15 February 1974 ), a noted Padmashri – Award Winning Poet, Lyricist, Writer, Actor and Director from Tamil Nadu who authored the cult classic of Tamil Novel – Thillana Mohanambal, later made into an enchanted movie.

According to novelist Ashokamitran’s memoirs, Subbu functioned as the No.2 of the giant Gemini Studios of Chennai ( formerly Madras ), South India for over three decades and was a close associate of movie mogul SS Vasan, who also published the popular Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan and established the Gemini Studios in Chennai.

Subbu’s natural name was Subramanian. Kothamangalam Subbu was born in a village called Kannariyenthal, near Pattukoddai in Tamil Nadu. His parents were Mahalingam Iyer and Kangammal. After losing his mother when Kothamangalam Subbu was young, Subbu received patronage from his younger aunt.

Kothamangalam Subbu could continue his studies only up to 8th grade. After marrying a kin, Subbu settled in Kothamangalam and worked as an accountant in a business concern. However, his interests shifted towards Tamil Drama, Acting, Singing and Composing Songs. By late 1930s, Subbu receivd opportunities for acting in the then blossoming Tamil Movies in Madras.

Subbu directed the epic film Avvaiyar, 1953 in which the great artiste of those days Smt K.B. Sunderambal played the lead role. Ashokamitran had profiled humorously, how this film took shape in the Gemini Studios. Subbu, along with his wife Sundari Bai, played a minor role in the movie as the husband of an incorrigible lady who refuses to serve Avvaiyar with food.

Subbu also directed Kannamma En Kadhali, that featured his wife Sundari Bai. Furthermore, Subbu also acted as a hero in Miss Malini that was remade in Hindi as Mr. Sampath. Miss Malini was an adaptation of RK Narayan Novel Mr Sampath. Dasi Aparanji was another movie in which Subbu and Sundari Bai played the lead roles. In addition, Subbu has also acted in Tamil movies, Thiruneelakantar, and Pava Mannippu.

As a writer Subbu’s most well – known work is Thillana Mohanambal that was transformed into a popularly and critically successful Tamil Movie, starring Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini.

Subbu was awarded the Padma Shri for authoring this novel, which originally appeared as a weekly serial in the Anantha Vikatan. Respected for his encyclopedic knowledge of music and satirical writing style, Subbu’s tongue – in – cheek writing won the appreciation of many.

Kothamangalam Subbu also authored Rao Bahadur Singaram, Bandanallur Bama, Ponnivanathu Poonguyil, Miss Radha, and Manju Virattu ( a collection of short stories ).

Kothamangalam Subbu has written several novels using the pen name of Kalaimani and also penned Gandhi Mahan Kathai narrating the life of Mahatma Gandhi in folklore form.

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Ananda Vikatan magazine is currently republishing the works of this writer, lyricist, director and actor. As an exponent of the traditional folk form of narrating stories in Tamil Nadu, the Villuppatu, Kothamangalam Subbu popularised the lives of many Indian luminaries using the Villu Paatu.

Subbu’s wife Sundari Bai was also a popular actor, known for her versatility in essaying character roles in movies such as Kannamma En Kadhali, Sumathy En Sundari, Chandralekha, Bama Rukmani and Avvaiyar.

Year 2010 being Padmashri Kothamangalam Subbu’s birth centenary year, his family members and fans are planning a mega event in Chennai during November to felicitate the multi – faceted artist.

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