Kali N. Rathnam

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Narayana Padaiyatchi Rathnam
Kali N. Rathnam Sabapathy.jpg
Kali N. Rathnam in the movie Sabapathy (1941)

c. 1897
DiedAugust 1950 (age 52 or 53)
Occupationstage and film actor, singer
Years active1923–1950
Spouse(s)C. T. Rajakantham

Narayana Padaiyatchi Rathnam (c. 1897 – August 1950), popularly known as "Kali" N. Rathnam, was a Tamil stage and film artist known for his roles as a comedian in Tamil movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Renowned Tamil actor and politician M. G. Ramachandran was a protege of Rathnam.

Early life[edit]

Rathnam was born at Malaiyappanallur near Kumbakonam in Tanjore District in the year 1897 to Narayana Padayatchi and Thangathammal. His parents were agriculturists and Rathanm was acquainted with rural songs and folk arts from a very early age. As a young boy, Rathnam learned to act from a stage actor named Parameswaran Iyer.[1] Seeing Rathnam perform the role of Kali in a stage play, Iyer christened him "Kali" N. Rathnam.[1]


Rathnam joined the Madurai Original Boys Company in 1923 and acted in Pathi Bhakthi (1936), the first movie produced by the Company. Rathnam's second movie was Mannarswami (1936). But Rathnam's first hit was Chandrakantha (1936). Following the success, Rathnam acted in hit movies such as Uthama Puthiran, Sathi Murali (1940), Sabapathy (1941), Manonmani (1943), Burma Rani(1945)'', Sau Sau (3 combined short movies"(1945), "Paranjothi"(1945), [[Sri Murugan]](1946)'', Arthanari (1946), Aravalli-Sooravalli (1946), Sahada Yogam (1946), Uthayanan Vasavadhatta (1947), Kannika (1947), Sulochana (1947), Sri Aandal (1948), Athithan Kanavu (1948), Theva Dasi (1948), Pizhaikum Vali (1948), and Bhojan (1948).

Personal life[edit]

While in a drama tour of Coimbatore, Rathnam was impressed by the histrionic skills of C. T. Rajakantham, daughter of the owner of the house in which they stayed and inducted her into his troupe. The two became a successful[weasel words] comedy pair and acted together in a number of movies. The two were eventually married and had a daughter - Rajalakshmi who married the popular playback singer Tiruchi Loganathan.


Rathnam died in August 1950 at the age of 52 or 53. His last completed film role was in the Ellis R. Dungan-directed Ponmudi.[citation needed]


Year Film Language Notes
1936 Pathi Bhakti Tamil First film role as a detective
Mannarswami Tamil
Chandrakantha Tamil
1937 Raja Mohan Tamil
1938 Punjab Kesari Tamil
Meenakshi Kalyanam Tamil
1940 Sathi Murali Tamil
1941 Sabapathy Tamil
1942 Manonmani Tamil
1945 Burma Rani Tamil
1946 Sri Murugan Tamil
Valmiki Tamil
1947 Aayiram Thalai Vaangi Apoorva Chinthamani Tamil Kali
1950 Ponmudi Tamil


  1. ^ a b Guy, Randor (5 February 2015). "The Rathnam brand of comedy". The Hindu.