J. P. Chandrababu

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J. P. Chandrababu
J. P. Chandrababu.jpg
Casual Poster of CB
Born(1927-08-05)5 August 1927
Tuticorin, India
Died8 March 1974(1974-03-08) (aged 46)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
OccupationComedian, actor, director, playback singer, singer and dancer

Joseph Panimayadas Chandrababu Rodriguez (1927–1974) was an Indian actor, comedian, director, singer and dancer, whose Chaplinesque-style on-screen movements and singing style made him popular from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. He had a mastery of the Madras Bashai, a dialect unique to the Madras region. His slapstick style of comedy has been emulated by subsequent actors. Many of his songs have remained popular.

Early life[edit]

Chandrababu was born to a wealthy and eminent Christian Paravar family in 1927 at Tuticorin, India. His father, a freedom fighter, ran a paper called Sudhandhira Veeran which, along with the family assets, was seized by the British government in 1929 when he was arrested for participating in the satyagraha movement. He and the family were exiled to Colombo, Sri Lanka on his release, where his father worked for a Tamil newspaper. Chandrababu was educated at St. Joseph's College, Grandpass, Colombo and Aquinas College prior to his family moving once more, this time to Chennai in 1943. Here they lived in Triplicane, where his father worked for the Dinamani newspaper.[1]

Film career[edit]

Chandrababu was very passionate about acting despite opposition from his family members. His friend Ganapathy was the only person who motivated his acting skills. From his childhood, he was an expert in singing and whenever he got together with his friends or family, Chandrababu was asked to sing. Sri Lanka had a very western outlook in those times and Chandrabubu picked up on western styles of singing and dancing while there.[2] In these early years Chandrababu made acquaintances of the actors Sriram, B. R. Panthulu and, through them, T. R. Mahalingam. He made his debut with a small role in the 1947 film Dhana Amaravathi[2] but struggled thereafter to obtain parts.

He had spent many days starving himself and searching for a chance in films. In 1952, he attempted suicide by ingesting copper sulphate crystals in the canteen of Gemini Studios. He had written a suicide note explaining his reasons, which included that he had been unable to meet the director S. S. Vasan, and that his body was to be handed over to B. S. Ramaiah, the director of his only film at that date. Suicide was a criminal offence and so he was arrested. But when his case came to trial the judge asked him to prove his acting ability. Chandrababu rendered a Shakespearean monologue that so impressed the judge that he was not jailed.[2] One of those who had assisted him in being taken to hospital at the time of his attempted suicide was Gemini Ganesan. When Vasan learned of this episode he gave Chandrababu a small role in the 1952 film Moondru Pillaigal, which impressed Vasan so much that he predicted a successful career.[2] for him. Chandrababu also filmed Chinna Durai and Mohana Sundaram in the same year. It is claimed that, as of 2016, he remained the only person capable of yodelling in south Indian cinema,.[2] Chandrababu loved western music and learned the art of yodelling by listening to singers such as Gene Autry and Hank Williams. In Chinna Durai, produced and directed by T. R. Mahalingam, he sang the song Poda Raja Podi Nadaya, the first time that yodelling had been heard in a South Indian film.[citation needed]Chandrababu was paid Rs 200 for his role in Mohana Sundaram.[citation needed] At his peak he was to command over Rs 100,000, becoming the first South Indian comedy actor to command such a sum.[2]

When A. V. Meiyappan filmed Sahodhari, he found that it lacked an ingredient that would ensure box office success. Chandrababu was called and after watching the film he added a comedy track for himself, wrote it and also sang the song Naan oru muttalunga, converting the film into a hit. It was Chandrababu who first spoke and popularised the Madras Baashai in films. He learned this dialect from the rickshaw pullers and street vendors near his home in Triplicane and later in Mir Sahib Pet.

Sabaash Meena was one of the best Tamil comedy movies of its time, in which Chandrababu acted with Sivaji Ganesan, in dual roles. Chandrababu also established himself as a good singer. He was a playback singer rendering voice for himself in films. He lent his voice for S. Balachander for the song Kalyanam Kalyanam... Ullasamagave Ulagathil in Penn and for Sivaji Ganesan for the song Jolly Life Jolly Life in Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari. Another song for Gundu Karuppaiah is I Love You I Love You in Andhaman Kaidhi.

He sang under almost all of the music directors of the 1950s till the 1960s namely K. V. Mahadevan, T. G. Lingappa, G. Govindarajulu Naidu, S. V. Venkatraman, R. Sudarsanam, Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy, G. Ramanathan, S. M. Subbaiah Naidu, Vedha, S. Rajeswara Rao, T. R. Pappa, P. R. Mani, C. N. Pandurangan, Meenakshi Subramanyam and M. S. Viswanathan.

He sang along duets mostly with K. Jamuna Rani and L. R. Eswari. Other singers include A. G. Rathnamala, Jikki, A. P. Komala, T. M. Soundararajan, P. B. Sreenivas, A. L. Raghavan, P. Suseela, P. Leela, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, K. Rani and Manorama.


Chandrababu first met Sheila, an Anglo Indian and grand daughter of Coimbatore-based filmmaker Swamikannu Vincent[3] at her residence and subsequently marriage was arranged in 1958. Famous film personalities and politicians including chief minister Kamaraj attended their marriage. The initial days of married life had gone well. One day Sheila confessed that she fell in love with another person. After learning this, Chandrababu was heartbroken and ended up in a confused state. In the subsequent days, she attempted suicide which was foiled by Chandrababu. Considering Sheila's fortune, they divorced formally. He continued to offer support to her until she left for London. After a few days, she married a doctor in London with the acceptance of Chandrababu by a letter communication. In a business mired by sycophancy, he chose not to mince his words and this restricted his opportunities[2] from the 1960s onward. After this, he had decided to take a temporary break from his film career, and he went to Delhi without informing even his close friends. He spent those days consuming alcohol. Later he restarted his career in the industry despite his failed love and marriage.

Financial misfortune and death[edit]

Chandrababu had arranged with a financier, to direct his first film Maadi Veettu Ezhai with M. G. Ramachandran as the hero. Eventually, he failed on this venture as Ramachandran failed to cooperate with him. The film project was also dropped. The reasons for Ramachandran's non-cooperation is well explained by script writer Aroordhas, in his 2002 memoirs Naan Muham Paartha Cinema Kannadigal. It's because Chandrababu became abusive towards Ramachandran's elder sibling M. G. Chakrapani. Chandrababu's final attempt was to direct and act in Thattungal Thirakkappadum in 1966; it was highly acclaimed for its cinematography but was not a box office success. It should be recorded that despite his indifference to the self-destructive life style of Chandrababu. MGR did offer a helping hand to him, by offering him a comedy slot in his own production, Adimai Penn released in 1969.

Due to his personal problems, Chandrababu spent his last days penniless. During his last years he stayed in the house of his good friend M. S. Viswanathan, until his death on 8 March 1974. It was Sivaji Ganesan who arranged all his final rites and he was buried in Quibble Island, Chennai.[1]


Music composers he sang for[edit]

Playback singers he sang with[edit]

He sang memorable duets with mostly comical songs K. Jamuna Rani, L. R. Eswari, Jikki, P. Leela P. Susheela, A. P. Komala, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, A. G. Rathnamala, Manorama and K. Rani.

He also sang with other male singers such as T. M. Soundararajan, A. L. Raghavan, V. N. Sundaram, S. C. Krishnan, P. B. Sreenivas and T. G. Lingappa.

The following are some of Chandrababu's songs that have remained popular:

Year Film Language Song Music Co-Singer
1947 Dhana Amaravathi Tamil Unnalazhagirku Inai Ennatthai Solvadhu K. V. Mahadevan
1951 Mohana Sundaram Tamil Hello My Dear Darling Hello My Rose Charming T. G. Lingappa
Inbam Konjum Velai Jikki
1952 Andhaman Kaidhi Tamil I love you..I love you.. Aasaiyanene Un Mele G. Govindarajulu Naidu A. G. Rathnamala
playback for T. N. Sivadhanu
1952 Chinna Durai Tamil Poda Raja Podi Nadayaa T. G. Lingappa
1953 Kangal Tamil Aalu Ganam Aanal Moolai Gaali S. V. Venkatraman
1953 Azhagi Tamil Onnu Rendu Moonu Photo Ready P. R. Mani
1953 Vazha Pirandhaval Tamil Cinema Kalaiyai Elidhaaga Enni S. Rajeswara Rao & G. Ramanathan
1954 Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari Tamil Jolly Life Jolly Life T. G. Lingappa playback for Sivaji Ganesan
1954 Penn Tamil Kalyaanam Kalyaanam... Ullasamagave Ulagathil R. Sudarsanam playback for S. Balachander
1955 Gulebagavali Tamil Paraanda Mannar Ellam.... Achi Nimirndha Vandi Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy A. G. Rathnamala
1955 Maaman Magal Tamil Gova Maambazhame Malgova Maambazhame S. V. Venkatraman
1955 Nalla Thangal Tamil Unnai Kandu Mayamgaadha Pergal Undo G. Ramanathan
1956 Marma Veeran Tamil O Aiyaa O Ammaa Vedha K. Rani, S. C. Krishnan & Jikki
Thillaalangadi Kuyile Adi P. Leela
1957 Mahadhevi Tamil Un Thirumugathey Oru Mugamaa Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy A. G. Rathnamala
Thanthanaa Thaalam Poduvom A. G. Rathnamala
1957 Pudhaiyal Tamil Unakkaaga Ellam Unakkaaga Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
Hello My Dear Rani A. L. Raghavan
1957 Pudhumai Pithan Tamil Araichi Mani.... Thillaana Paatu Paadi Kullathaara G. Ramanathan Jikki
1957 Pathini Deivam Tamil Aathukku Paalam Avasiyam Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy T. M. Soundararajan
1957 Manamagan Thevai Tamil Bambara Kannaale G. Ramanathan
1957 Samaya Sanjeevi Tamil Paper Paper G. Ramanathan
1958 Padhi Bhakti Tamil Rock Rock Rock Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy V. N. Sundaram
Indha Thinnai Paechu Veeranidam T. M. Soundararajan
Kosari Kosari
1958 Padhi Bhakti Telugu Rock Rock Rock T. Chalapathi Rao V. N. Sundaram
Kosari Kosari
1958 Kaathavaraayan Tamil Jigu Jigu Jigu G. Ramanathan Jikki
Thanthaane Thaane Thanthaane
Sangili Jingili.... Vaaraandi Vaaraandi Kutticchaatthaan S. C. Krishnan, A. G. Rathnamala & T. M. Soundararajan
1958 Nadodi Mannan Tamil Thadukkaadhe Ennai Thadukkaadhe S. M. Subbaiah Naidu K. Jamuna Rani
1958 Sabaash Meena Tamil Erungammaa Summaa Erungammaa T. G. Lingappa T. G. Lingappa & P. Susheela
1959 Sahodhari Tamil Naan Oru Muttaalunga R. Sudarsanam
1959 Pandithevan Tamil Nee Aadinal C. N. Pandurangan & Meenakshi Subramanyam K. Jamuna Rani
Solluradha Solliputten
1959 Naan Sollum Ragasiyam Tamil Vilaiyaadu Raajaa Vilaiyaadu G. Ramanathan A. P. Komala
1959 Maragadham Tamil Kunguma Poove Konjum Puraave S. M. Subbaiah Naidu K. Jamuna Rani
1960 Kavalai Illaadha Manithan Tamil Pirakkum Podhum Azhukindraai Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
Kavalai Illaadha Manithan
1960 Petra Manam Tamil Paadi Paadi Paadi S. Rajeswara Rao Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi
Manathirkugantha Mayile
1961 Sri Valli Tamil Aiyo Machaan Mannaaru G. Ramanathan
1961 Kumara Raja Tamil Aan Ondru Aada Penn Ondru Paada T. R. Pappa P. Leela
Onnume Puriyalae Ulagathile
Moodinaalum Thiranthaalum K. Jamuna Rani
Ennai Paartha Kannu K. Jamuna Rani
1962 Paadha Kaanikkai Tamil Kaadhal Enbadhu Edhu Varai Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy P. B. Sreenivas, P. Susheela & L. R. Eswari
Thaniyaa Thavikkira Vayasu
1962 Annai Tamil Butthiyulla Manidharellaam R. Sudarsanam
1962 Policekaran Magal Tamil Porandhaalum Aambalaiya Porakka Koodaadhu Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy L. R. Eswari
1962 Bandha Pasam Tamil Eppo Vachikkalaam Eppadi Vachikkalaam Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
1962 Senthamarai Tamil Thangaadhamma Thangaadhu Samsaaram Thangaadhu Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy K. Jamuna Rani
1963 Kadavulai Kanden Tamil Konjam Sindhikkanum K. V. Mahadevan L. R. Eswari
Ungal Kaigal Uyarattum P. B. Sreenivas
1963 Yarukku Sontham Tamil Ennai Theriyalaiyaa K. V. Mahadevan
Oho Meri Bul Bul K. Jamuna Rani
1964 Aandavan Kattalai Tamil Sirippu Varudhu Sirippu Varudhu Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
1965 Preminchi Pelli Chesuko Telugu Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy & B. Shankar Rao
1966 Thattungal Thirakkappadum Tamil Kanmani Paappaa M. S. Viswanathan
1967 Hanthakuni Hatya Telugu M. S. Viswanathan & Pamarthi
1967 Valiba Virundhu Tamil Ondra Kannu Doriya R. Sudarsanam
Vaaliba Virundhu T. M. Soundararajan & L. R. Eswari
1968 Nimirndhu Nil Tamil Pudichalum Pudhicha Puliyankomba Pudicha M. S. Viswanathan L. R. Eswari
1970 Paadhukaappu Tamil Nammal Ki Pyaari M. S. Viswanathan L. R. Eswari
1972 Needhi Tamil Engaladhu Boomi M. S. Viswanathan T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela & Manorama


  1. ^ a b Kolappan, B. (17 January 2013). "The tragic story of a comedian, J.P. Chandrababu - the Hindu". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Guy, Randor (25 September 2009). "Actor with mercurial feet". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 6 May 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  3. ^ Guy, Randor (7 December 2004). "The Hindu : Book Review / Language Books : Pioneer filmmaker". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2015.

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