N. S. Krishnan

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'Kalaivanar' N. S. Krishnan
N. S. Krishnan.jpg
Born (1908-11-29)29 November 1908
Nagercoil, Travancore, British Raj (now Tamil Nadu, India)
Died 30 August 1957(1957-08-30) (aged 48)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1935–1957
Spouse(s) Nagammal, T. A. Madhuram, T.A. Vembammal

Nagercoil Sudalaimuthu Krishnan, popularly known as Kalaivanar and also as NSK was a leading Nagercoil Tamil film comedian, drama artist, playback singer and writer in the early stages of the Tamil film industry – in the 1940s and 1950s. He is considered as the "Charlie Chaplin of India."[1]

Born in Ozhuginachery, Nagercoil, in the princely state of Travancore, India on 29 November 1908, his stage and cine-screen comedy performances were unique and always carried a message for the people. 'Kalaivanar' N. S. Krishnan died at the age of 49, on 30 August 1957.


N S Krishnan started his career as a Villu Paatu artist (the Tamil way of reciting stories while singing songs and playing a musical instrument in the form of a bow called 'Villu'), He later became involved in Tamil drama and stage shows, as were many film artistes. At one time he owned a touring drama company. When cinema gradually became popular in South India, he entered the Tamil film world to become one of the leading Tamil comedians ever, with a unique style. He generally wrote his own comedy dialogues and expressed them in his drama and films so that the message came across, but the subject was not offended.

He acted in nearly 150 Tamil films and the matinee-duo of N S Krishnan and T. A. Madhuram (later his wife) was very popular in his days; he also did roles along with leading stage and cine artists like T. S. Durairaj, Pulimootai Ramasamy, C.S. Pandian and writers like Udumalai Narayana Kavi and Subbu Armugham and gave a number of hits. He was a talented singer and his hits include Sivakavi, Raja Rani, and Manamagal.

Though he was more popular among the Tamil populace as a film comedian, Kalaivanar was instrumental in bringing a number of leading Tamil stage and film personalities to the fore. He was a Gandhian, patriot and philanthropist, yet a very controversial figure — with his name linked to a murder and marital controversies.[citation needed]


During the mid-1940s he and M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar were arrested for suspicion of murder famously known as Lakshmikanthan Kolai Vazhakku (Lakshmikanthan Murder Case). They were convicted and later released on appeal to the Privy Council.

When Bhagavathar and NSK were flying very high in fame in drama, cinema and concerts, fate interfered in the form of Lakshmikanthan. Lakshmikanthan, a notorious criminal edited a yellow magazine called Hindu Nesan. Lakshmikanthan's target was the small fry and the movie people, business magnates, prosperous lawyers, doctors, famed musicians, landlords, zamindars, rajahs, press barons, religious heads, politicians, etc. He wrote salacious and scandalous sex stories about them purely on the basis of gossips and hearsay. A majority of them were unauthenticated and filthy news.[citation needed] Being afraid of ill fame, some of those celebrities tried to silence him with hush money. Encouraged by this income he continued to write about them regularly and with the result had enemies from all walks of life.

On 8 November 1944, he was attacked by some people with a knife in Purasawalkam, in downtown Madras. He was admitted to the General Hospital, Madras as an outpatient: The wound was not serious enough. In his statement to the police he did not name anyone as the accused but only stated that someone had attacked him. He was found very jovial at the police station as he was in the hospital. During his treatment it was reported that he wanted to expose the murderers involved in the Boat Mail murder. (A train named Boat mail used to run between Madras and the then Dhanushkoti station.) A rich banker from Devakottai was murdered in thetrain between Chengalpet and Madras. A notable singer cum actress who traveled with the banker was missing/fled when the train reached Madras. The political backing this singer had kept the truth about the real killers under the carpet. The killers saw to it that the case should not come to the court for trial. There is another version which says that Lakshikanthan was murdered by this group and not by NSK/MKT.

But on 9 November 1944, Lakshmikanthan died mysteriously in the hospital. He was murdered. The police, based on the statement made by LakshmiKanthan's bodyguard, arrested eight persons as accused for the murder. Among them were Bhagavathar and N. S.Krishnan. This came as a rude shock to their fans and the cine world.

After usual committal proceedings before the Madras Presidency Magistrate, the case came up for hearing at the Madras High court before Justice Vera Mockett. A group of brilliant lawyers – V. T. Rangasamy Iyengar, Rajagopalachariar (Rajaji), Braddel, B.T.Sundararajan, Govind Swaminathan, Srinivasagopal and K. M. Munshi – argued the case for the accused. After prolonged trial, the jury found MKT and NSK guilty with four others.

Appeals were heard by a bench of the High Court consisting of Lionel Leach, Chief Justice of Madras, Justice K.P. Lakshmana Rao and Advocate General K. Rajah Iyer. The appeals were filed by the then leading members of the Bar, V.V. Srinivasa Iyengar and Sri V.C. Gopalarathnam. The appeals were dismissed.

MKT and NSK filed an appeal in the Privy Council, London which was the highest court of appeal. A British barrister, D. N. Pritt, appeared for them. Privy Council referred the case back to India for a fresh appraisal.

The appeal came up before a bench of two judges: Justice Happel and Justice Sahabuddin (who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 during partition of India and retired as Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court). V. L. Ethiraj, a successful barrister appeared for MKT and NSK, He argued that the judges had not properly directed the jury and the evidences of doubtful nature have not been properly assessed. Ethiraj convinced the judges that all the witnesses produced against MKT and NSK were tutored and coached; there were many inconsistencies in their evidence and statements; and the case had many loopholes. The judges agreed and acquitted MKT and NSK. One of the judges who heard the remanded appeal remarked in the court that the knife produced as evidence cannot even kill a rat.

MKT, NSK and four others came out of prison after 30 months. Experts and laymen felt that the truth about the real killers of Lakshmikanthan has not come out and MKT, NSK and others were the unfortunate victims of the game of power politics.

The killers were never found. MKT Bhagavathar never regained his lost fame.

Later NSK resumed acting in movies, but his jail term and fight for justice made him penurious. His wealth was lost in fighting the case and so was the case of co-accused MKT Bagavathar. Haridas, which was released while he was in jail ran for three consecutive Deepavalies with packed houses. People crowded the theatre as they felt they would not have another chance to see their superstar on the silver screen.


  • The leading Tamil Nadu politician and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu 'Kalaignar' Karunanidhi, when asked once by a journalist (of the Tamil magazine Kumudham) about who the non-political hero in his life was, answered it was Kalaivanar. Karunanidhi knew him well and worked in some of his film projects.
  • Kalaivanar was an active member of the Dravidian Movement. The Tamil Nadu Government erected a memorial in 1979, called 'Kalaivanar Kalai Arangam' (or Kalaivanar Arts Centre) in honour of Kalaivanar's contribution to the arts,. The building is one of the leading landmarks in the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu.


As Actor[edit]

No Year Name of Film Language Co-stars Role Other notes
1 1960 Raja Desingu Tamizh MGR, S. S. Rajendran, P. Bhanumathi, Padmini, T. A. Madhuram This movie was released after his death;
2 1960 Arasilangkumari Tamizh MGR
2 1959 Thozhan Tamizh This movie was released after his death;
3 1958 Thanga Padhumai Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini
4 1957 Ambikapathy Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, P. Bhanumathi, T. A. Madhuram N. S. Krishnan died before the completion of this film
5 1957 Chakravarthi Thirumagal Tamizh MGR, Anjali Devi, S. Varalakshmi
6 1956 Yaar Paiyan Tamizh Gemini Ganesan, K. Savithri, T. A. Madhuram
7 1956 Manimekalai Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, P. Bhanumathi, T. A. Madhuram
8 1956 Balya Chakram Tamizh
9 1956 Asai Tamizh Gemini Ganesan, Padmini, T. A. Madhuram
10 1956 Raja Rani Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, T. A. Madhuram
11 1956 Laila Majnu Tamizh
12 1960 Arasilangkumari Tamizh MGR
13 1956 Madurai Veeran Tamizh MGR, P. Bhanumathi, T. A. Madhuram Cobbler
14 1956 Rangoon Radha Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, P. Bhanumathi Naidu
15 1955 Kalacharam Tamizh
16 1955 Kannin Manigal Tamizh
17 1955 Sri Ratna Tamizh
18 1955 Athiroopa Amaravathi Tamizh
19 1955 Paditha Muttal Tamizh
20 1955 Pudhu Vazhvu Tamizh M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Lalitha, Padmini, Madhuri Devi, T. A. Madhuram
21 1955 Maha Sakthi Tamizh
22 1955 Nan Nambikkai Tamizh
23 1955 Governors Cup Telugu
24 1955 Nam Kuzhandai Tamizh
25 1955 Kudumba Villakku Tamizh
26 1955 Doctor Savithri Tamizh
27 1955 Kaveri Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, Lalitha, Padmini, T. A. Madhuram
28 1955 Mudhal Thethi Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, Anjali Devi, T. A. Madhuram
29 1954 Nalla Kalam Tamizh Directed by Krishnan-Panju
30 1953 Thalapathi Tamizh
31 1953 Nadigan Tamizh
32 1952 Amarakavi Tamizh M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, T. R. Rajakumari, B. S. Saroja, T. A. Madhuram
33 1952 Panam Tamizh Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, T. A. Madhuram
34 1952 Manathodu Vazh Tamizh
35 1952 Thottakkaran Tamizh
36 1952 Ragasiyam Tamizh
37 1951 Vanasundari Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. R. Rajakumari, S. Varalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
38 1950 Parijatham Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, T. A. Madhuram
39 1950 Manamagal Tamizh Lalitha, Padmini, T. A. Madhuram
40 1949 Viswamitra Tamizh
41 1949 Rathnakumar Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, MGR, P. Bhanumathi, T. A. Madhuram
42 1949 Pavalakkodi Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam
43 1949 Inba Valli Tamizh
44 1949 Kalvanin Kathali Tamizh
45 1949 Macha Rekai Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, S. Varalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
46 1949 Thambi Durai Tamizh
47 1949 Mangaiyarkkarasi Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, P. Kannamba, Anjali Devi, T. A. Madhuram
48 1949 Nallathambi Tamizh P. Bhanumathi, T. A. Madhuram Zamindar
49 1948 Chandralekha Tamizh M. K. Radha, Ranjan, T. R. Rajakumari, T. A. Madhuram
50 1948 Samsara Nouka Tamizh only T. A. Madhuram
51 1947 Sri Valli Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, Rukmini, T. A. Madhuram
52 1947 Paithiyakkaran Tamizh M. G. Ramachandran
53 1949 Pavalakkodi Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, T. E. Varadhan, T. A. Madhuram
54 1947 Brahma Rishi Vishvamitra Tamizh The film was first released and did not perform well in box-office, then the comedy track was added
55 1947 Pankaja Valli Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. R. Rajakumari, T. A. Madhuram
56 1949 Krishna Bakthi Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, K. R. Ramaswamy, T. A. Madhuram
57 1947 Kannika Tamizh T. E. Varadhan, M. S. Sarojini, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
58 1946 Arthanari Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. R. Ramachandran, T. A. Madhuram
59 1946 Deva Dasi Tamizh
60 1944 Mahamaya Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, P. Kannamba, T. A. Madhuram
61 1945 Burma Rani Tamizh C. Honnappa Bhagavathar, K. L. V. Vasantha, T. A. Madhuram
62 1945 Baktha Kalathi Tamizh C. Honnappa Bhagavathar, K. Thavamani Devi, T. A. Madhuram
62 1945 Paranjothi Tamizh K. Sarangkapani, V. A. Chellappa, T. A. Madhuram
63 1945 Chow Chow – Kalikala Minor, School Drama, Soora Puli Tamizh
64 1945 Saalivaahanan Tamizh Ranjan, T. R. Rajakumari, M. G. Ramachandran, T. A. Madhuram
65 1944 Raja Rajeshwari Tamizh C. Honnappa Bhagavathar, K. L. V. Vasantha only T. A. Madhuram
66 1946 Valmiki Tamizh
67 1944 Haridas Tamizh For the first time in Tamil cinema history, Haridas ran successfully for 110 weeks in Chennai Broadway Talkies. Was screened from 16 October 1944 to 22 November 1946
68 1944 Poompavai Tamizh K. R. Ramaswamy, U. R. Jeevarathinam, T. A. Madhuram
69 1944 Bharthruhari Tamizh Serukulathur Sama, B. Jayamma
70 1944 Jagathalaprathapan Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. A. Madhuram
71 1944 Prabhavathi Tamizh C. Honnappa Bhagavathar, T. R. Rajakumari, T. A. Madhuram
73 1943 Aswini Tamizh
74 1943 Bagya Lakshmi Telugu
75 1944 Harischandra Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, P. Kannamba
76 1943 Mangamma Sapatham Tamizh Ranjan, Vasundhara Devi, T. A. Madhuram
77 1943 Sivakavi Tamizh M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, S. Jayalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
78 1943 Kubera Kuchela Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. A. Madhuram
79 1943 Arunthathi Tamizh C. Honnappa Bhagavathar, U. R. Jeevarathinam, T. A. Madhuram
80 1942 Emantha Sonagiri Tamizh
81 1942 Kathambam Tamizh
82 1942 Manonmani Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. R. Rajakumari, T. A. Madhuram
83 1942 Prithiviraj Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, A. Sakunthala, T. A. Madhuram
84 1942 Panchamirtham (Naadaga Medai & Thiruvaazhatthaan) Tamizh
85 1943 Dhaasippen or Jothi Malar Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, M. G. Ramachandran, T. A. Madhuram
86 1942 Sivalinga Satchi Tamizh
87 1942 Kannagi Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, P. Kannamba, T. A. Madhuram
88 1942 Krishna Pidaran Tamizh Kothamangalam Seenu, T. A. Madhuram
89 1942 Aaraiychi Mani or Manuneethi Cholan Tamizh P. B. Rangachari, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
90 1941 Iru Nanbargal Tamizh
91 1941 Vedha Vathi or Seetha Jananam Tamizh M. R. Krishnamoorthi, M. G. Ramachandran, T. A. Madhuram
92 1941 Chandra Hari Tamizh T. A. Madhuram
93 1941 Izhandha Kadhal Tamizh C. S. Jayaraman, T. A. Madhuram
94 1941 Ashok Kumar Tamizh M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, M. G. Ramachandran
95 1941 Aryamala Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, T. A. Madhuram
96 1941 Alibabavum Narpadhu Thirudargalum Tamizh T. A. Madhuram
97 1940 Sakunthalai Tamizh M. S. Subbulakshmi, G. N. Balasubramaniam, T. A. Madhuram, T. S. Durairaj
98 1940 Parasuramar Tamizh U. R. Jeevarathinam, T. A. Madhuram
99 1940 Manimekalai or Bala Saniyasi Tamizh K. B. Sundarambal, Kothamangalam Seenu, T. A. Madhuram In those days there were movies that had 2 titles
100 1940 Bhoologa Rambai Tamizh T. K. Shanmugam, K. L. V. Vasantha, T. A. Madhuram
101 1940 Sathi Murali Tamizh M. K. Radha, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
102 1942 Naveena Vikramadityan or Buddhimaan Balavaan Avaan Tamizh T. A. Madhuram
103 1940 Chandraguptha Chanakya Tamizh N. C. Vasanthakokilam, T. A. Madhuram
103 1940 Tharuthalai Thangavelu Tamizh T. A. Madhuram
104 1940 Naveena Tenali Raman Tamizh T. A. Madhuram
105 1940 Uthama Puthiran Tamizh P. U. Chinnappa, M. V. Rajamma, T. A. Madhuram
106 1940 Sirikkathe Tamizh Consist of five stories under one single title (an innovative idea in those days) the titles where:Adangka Pidari, Puli Vettai, Poli Panchali, Malai Kannan, Yama Vathanai
107 1940 Kalamegam Tamizh T. N. Rajarathnam, S. P. L. Dhanalakshmi, T. A. Madhuram
108 1939 Prahaladha Tamizh T. R. Mahalingam, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, R. Balasubramaniam, M. G. Ramachandran
109 1939 Rambaiyin Kaadhal Tamizh K. Sarangkapani, K. L. V. Vasantha, T. A. Madhuram
110 1939 Pommi Kalyanam Tamizh
111 1939 Madurai Veeran Tamizh
112 1939 Sri Math Ramalinga Swamigal Tamizh
113 1939 Maya Machindra Tamizh M. K. Radha, M. G. Ramachandran
114 1939 Manikkavasagar Tamizh M. M. Dandapani Desikar
115 1939 Thiruneelakantar Tamizh M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar
116 1939 Aanandha Ashramam Tamizh P. B. Rangachari, C. V. V. Panthulu
117 1940 Krishna Toodhu Tamizh Serukulathur Sama, P. Kannamba, T. A. Madhuram
118 1938 Dakshayagnam Tamizh V. A. Chelappa, M. M. Radhabai
119 1937 Balamani Tamizh
120 1936 Chandra Kantha Tamizh Kali N. Rathnam, P. U. Chinnappa
121 1937 Baktha Thulasidass Tamizh
122 1937 Ambikapathy Tamizh M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar
123 1936 Vasantha Sena Tamizh V. A. Chellappa, S. P. L. Dhanalakshmi, M. S. Vijayal
124 1936 Sathi Leelavathi Tamizh M. K. Radha, MGR
125 1935 Menaka Tamizh T. K. Shanmugam, T. K. Baghavathi, T. K. Sankaran, T. K. Muthurswamy

As Director[edit]

  • Panam (1952) – Dialogues by M Karunanidhi
  • Manamagal (1951) – Dialogues by M Karunanidhi
  • Pelli Koothuru (1951)


External links[edit]