K. B. Sundarambal
||This article may be written from a fan's point of view, rather than a neutral point of view. (June 2009)|
October 11, 1908|
Kodumudi, Erode District, Tamil Nadu, India
|Died||October 15, 1980(aged 71)|
|Spouse(s)||S. G. Kittappa (m. 1927–33)|
Kodumudi Balambal Sundarambal (1908–1980) was a renowned stage artist and singer from Erode, Tamil Nadu. She was popularly referred to as the "Queen of the Indian stage." She was noted both for her resonant, vibrant voice and for the dignity of her performances. A political activist during the Indian independence movement, K.B. Sundarambal was the first film personality to enter a state legislature in India.
K.B. Sundarambal was born on 11 October 1908 in the town of Kodumudi (also spelled "Kodumadi"), on the banks of the Kaveri, in the city of Erode in Tamil Nadu. Though little is known of Sundarambal's father, it is hearsay that 'Milli Subbanna' was her father her mother Balambal and her brother Kangasabapathy barely managed to eke out a living. Indeed, so penurious was the family that Sundarambal, as a child, is said to have made some much-needed money by singing ditties on trains and receiving tips from the passengers. She rose to become the first lady member of Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly.
That was Sundarambal's training in music. According to some sources, it was while singing thus on a train and begging for alms that the 19-year-old Sundarambal attracted the attention of F. G. Natesa Iyer, an amateur stage actor, producer and talent-scout, later municipal chairman of tiruchchirapalli district, in chennai. According to other sources, it was a police official named Krishnaswamy Iyer, an acquaintance of Balambal, who discovered the talent in Sundarambal and introduced the 19-year-old girl to P. S. Velu Nair, one of the reigning dramatists of that era.
In either case, Sundarambal is believed to have made her debut in 1927, on the Tamil stage, as a member of a travelling theatre troupe. This was the turning point in her life. The talented young girl honed her voice while performing small roles on stage and keeping audiences entertained between acts. Soon enough, she was essaying leading roles on stage. Her early stage plays like "Valli Thirumanam," "Pavalakodi" and "Harishchandra" proved to be great hits. In particular, "Valli Thirumanam", where she co-starred with S.G. Kittappa, was a phenomenal success.
While working together in the theatre, Sundarambal and S. G. Kittappa fell in love. They were married in 1927. For the next few years, Sundarambal lived a life that was both personally and professionally satisfying. The couple became cult figures with theatre aficionados. Unfortunately, the phase came to a sudden end with the untimely death of S. G. Kittappa in 1933. Sundarambal left the stage sometime after this happened, preferring to pursue a career as a concert artiste.
A celebrated theatre personality and an accomplished concert artiste, Sundarambal was to find success in films as well. Although she accepted only a few film offers, they have proved to be landmarks. Her performance as Avvaiyyar, the Tamil poet-saint, was so convincing that she has become almost synonymous with the legendary personality. Since no portrait of the historical poetess exists, Avvaiyar is depicted using Sundramabal's image! "Nandanar"'in which she played the protagonist Nandan and "Avvaiyar," in which she played Avvaiyar, were runaway hits. Her other great successes were in "Manimekhalai," "Thiruvilayadal," "Karaikal Ammaiyar" and "Kandan Karunai." Sundarambal's golden voice and the devotional fervour of her singing set the box offices afire. Her voice is so unique and melodious that few ever have managed to mimic her songs.
|1935||Nandanar||piththam theLiya marundhondRikkirathu||Asandas Classical Talkies|
|1935||Nandanar||vazhi maRaithirukkudhE||Asandas Classical Talkies|
|1940||Manimekalai||maasindRi kulamaadhar||T. K. Productions|
|1940||Manimekalai||siRaichAlai enna seiyum||T. K. Productions|
|1940||Manimekalai||paavi yEn piRandhEn||T. K. Productions|
|1953||Auvaiyar||katRathu kaimaN aLavu||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||muthmizh deivamE vA||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||ayyanE anbarkku meiyyanE||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||ulaginilE thamizhnAdu uyarga||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||kUriya vALaR||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||poRumai enum nagai aNindhu||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||aRam seiyya virumbuvElanE||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||vElanE senthamizh viththAga....mayilERum vadivElanE||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||koodi nadandhukoLLa vENdum||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||kanni thamizh naattinilE veNNilaavE||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||ganNanaathanE varuga||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||aalai palaavaakkalAmO||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||periyathu kEtkin||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||nellukku iraitha nIr||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1953||Auvaiyar||munnai nAL pArikku||Mayavaram Venu, M. D. Parthasarathi & Parur Anantharaman||Gemini Studios|
|1964||Poompuhar||vAzhkai enum Odam||R. Sudharsanam||Mekala Pictures|
|1964||Poompuhar||thappithu vanthAnappA||R. Sudharsanam||Mekala Pictures|
|1964||Poompuhar||andRu kollum arasan||R. Sudharsanam||Mekala Pictures|
|1964||Poompuhar||thunbamellAm||R. Sudharsanam||Mekala Pictures|
|1965||Thiruvilayadal||gnAnapazhathai pizhindhu||K. V. Mahadevan||Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures|
|1965||Thiruvilayadal||pazhaniyappA||K. V. Mahadevan||Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures|
|1965||Thiruvilayadal||vAsi vAsi endRu||K. V. Mahadevan||Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures|
|1965||Thiruvilayadal||ondRAnavan||K. V. Mahadevan||Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures|
|1966||Mahakavi Kalidas||sendru vA maganE||K. V. Mahadevan||Kalpana Kalamandir|
|1966||Mahakavi Kalidas||kAlathil azhiyAtha||K. V. Mahadevan||Kalpana Kalamandir|
|1967||Kandan Karunai||ariyathu kEtkinndRa||K. V. Mahadevan||ALS Productions|
|1967||Kandan Karunai||murugA murugA||K. V. Mahadevan||ALS Productions|
|1967||Uyir Mel Aasai (unreleased)||kELu papa, kELu papa, kELvigaL aayiram kELu papa||S. M. Subbaiah Naidu||Ayyappan Productions|
|1969||Thunaivan||gnAnamum kalviyum||K. V. Mahadevan||Dandayudhapani Films|
|1969||Thunaivan||koNdAdum thiruchendu||K. V. Mahadevan||Dandayudhapani Films|
|1969||Thunaivan||pazhanimalai meedhilE kuzhandai vadivaagavE…jayamuNdu bayamillai||K. V. Mahadevan||Dandayudhapani Films|
|1972||Sakthi Leelai||amma…sakthiyenum deivam koNda padai veedu||T. K. Ramamoorthy||Raman Pictures|
|1972||Sakthi Leelai||T. K. Ramamoorthy||Raman Pictures|
|1973||Karaikkal Ammaiyar||OdungAl Odi uLLam urugi....thagathagavena aada vaa||Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan||Eveeyaar Films|
|1973||Karaikkal Ammaiyar||iRaivaa un pugazh pAduvEn||Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan||Eveeyaar Films|
|1973||Karaikkal Ammaiyar||piRavAtha varam vENdum||Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan||Eveeyaar Films|
|1973||Karaikkal Ammaiyar||pAdugingEn unnai pAdugingREn||Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan||Eveeyaar Films|
|1973||Thirumalai Deivam||yEzhumalai irukka namakkenna manakkavalai||Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan||Shanthi Combines|
|1973||Thirumalai Deivam||nAllelAm undhan thirunALE||Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan||Shanthi Combines|
|19||Gnayiru Thinggal (unreleased)||seeru thamizh paaluNdu vetRikku vEl koNdu||M. S. Viswanathan|
|19||Gnayiru Thinggal (unreleased)||vaguthaal vagutha pagai allaar||M. S. Viswanathan|
|19||Gnayiru Thinggal (unreleased)||kEtta varam kodukkum keerthi uLLa vEl muruga||M. S. Viswanathan|
Sundarambal and her husband S.G. Kittappa had been much influenced by the Indian independence movement and they became ardent supporters of the Indian National Congress. They had harnessed their popularity and talents to further that cause. Sundarambal continued to champion the movement, recording several gramophone discs extolling the struggle and sacrifices it entailed. She also made it a point to always wear khadi. She often actively campaigned in support of Congress party candidates at various elections. After India gained independence, K.B. Sundarambal entered the Legislative Council of Madras State in 1951 as a Congress nominee, thus becoming the first film artist to enter an Indian legislature.
K.B.S had received two National Awards for her singing.
K.B. Sundarambal, artiste extraordinaire, died in September 1980.
- Kodumudi Kokilam K.B. Sundarambal varalaru. Biography in Tamil by P. Chozhanadan. Published by Rishabham Pathippagam, K.K. Nagar, Chennai 600 078.
Footnotes and References
- Full name as per national awards website of India
- Photo description in Hindu Images
- From the UMICH website
- Archived copy of biography on Sangeetam.com
- Biography on the Sony website
- from The Hindu, 4 February 2001 - "During the district board election at Tirunelveli in 1934, where the strength of the Justice Party was unquestionable and unshakeable, Kodhainayaki, with 12 other women among whom was the popular K. B. Sundarambal, took upon herself to storm the Justice Party bastion with her mesmerising oration."
- K.B.Sundarambal's entry in the IMDB Database
- Review of a biography on K.B.Sundarambal
- Indian government website on Padmashri
- Two awards in 1969
- K.B.Sundarambal - One Hundred Tamils of 20th Century
- From the Hindu newspaper
- Political activism