Thengai Srinivasan

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Thengai Srinivasan
Thengai Srinivasan.jpg

(1937-10-21)21 October 1937
Tamil Nadu, India
Died9 November 1987(1987-11-09) (aged 50)
Karnataka, India
Cause of deathBrain haemorrhage
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1965–1987
Spouse(s)Lakshmi (till his death)
RelativesYogi (grandson)
Shrutika (granddaughter)

Thengai Srinivasan (21 October 1937 – 9 November 1987) was an Indian actor who appeared in Tamil-language films and plays from the 1960s to the 1980s. He was given the prefix Thengai (coconut) after his role as a coconut-seller in the play Kal Manam. Although originally a comedian, he also performed in other genres and enacted several lead and antagonistic roles.[1]

Early life[edit]

Srinivasan was born to Rajavel Mudaliar (Chennai) and Subammal (Srivaikuntam in Tuticorin district) on 21 October 1937.[1][2] He had two sisters. When he was aged seven years old, his family moved to Chennai. Srinivasan's father was an artist who staged several plays and it was his influence which stimulated Srinivasan's interest in an acting career.[1][3]

After school, Srinivasan joined the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and later started his theatrical career in the Railway Dramatic Club.[3][2] Srinivasan's first stage appearance was in his father's drama Galatta Kalyanam.[1] Srinivasan was also part of the troupe of K. Kannan and portrayed a coconut vendor in one of his plays Kal Manam. Comedian K. A. Thangavelu upon watching the play, announced he should be called Thengai (coconut) Srinivasan thereafter.[3][4]


Srinivasan's first feature film was the mystery thriller Oru Viral in 1965.[5] The film, which saw him playing a detective, was a financial success.[5] Srinivasan was, however, supposed to make his feature film debut in Iravum Pagalum (1965) that marked the acting debut of Jaishankar, but was dropped after distributors raised concerns about two newcomers being featured in the lead roles. He and Jaishankar nonetheless would become close friends later and Srinivasan was featured in almost 80 per cent of Jaishankar's early films.[2]

Srinivasan mostly enacted the role of a comedian or a sidekick. Notable roles in his subsequent career include that of a fake Swami and that of an idealistic industrialist in the cult comedy films Kasethan Kadavulada and Thillu Mullu, respectively.[2][3] In 2013, Forbes India included his performance in Thillu Mullu, along with that of Rajinikanth in the same film, in its list of the "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema".[6] Srinivasan also played antagonistic roles; one of which was that of a blackmailing photographer in S. P. Muthuraman's Mayangukiral Oru Maadhu, which was described as "brilliant" by The Hindu.[2] He played the lead in Vaali's play Sri Krishna Vijayam, which was later made into a feature film named Kaliyuga Kannan. The makers originally intended to cast Sivaji Ganesan in the role, but Ganesan, being impressed by Srinivasan's performance in the play, suggested that Srinivasan may be retained for the film version. Kaliyuga Kannan went on to become a high commercial success and is considered as one of Srinivasan's most notable films.[2] Other films featuring Srinivasan in the lead role were Nandri Karangal, Sri Ramajayam, Porter Ponnusami and Adukku Malli, which was a box office success.[7] In 1987, Srinivasan produced the film Krishnan Vandhaan with Sivaji Ganesan in the lead. The film did not fare well and got him into deep financial trouble.[2]


When Srinivasan went to Bangalore, Karnataka to attend the rituals following his aunt's death, he suffered a brain haemorrhage.[2] Despite intensive treatment, he died on 9 November 1987.[1][8] His body was brought to his house at Ramasamy Street in Gopalapuram, Chennai. His death was marked by tributes from film fans and industry insiders alike.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Srinivasan was married to Lakshmi. The couple have two daughters, Geethalakshmi and Rajeshwari, and a son, Shivshankar.[2] Geethalakshmi's son Yogi,[9] and Shivshankar's daughter Shrutika have also appeared in a few Tamil films during the 2000s.[10]

Partial filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Ref.
1965 Oru Viral CID officer [1]
1966 Vallavan Oruvan
1967 Kadhalithal Podhuma
1968 Ethir Neechal
1969 Naangu Killadigal
Nirai Kudam
1970 En Annan
CID Shankar
1971 Meendum Vazhven
1972 Kasethan Kadavulada Appaswamy [3]
Pillaiyo Pillai
1973 Alaigal
Komatha En Kulamatha
1974 Kaliyuga Kannan Sambu Iyer [11]
Kai Niraya Kaasu
Ungal Viruppam
1975 Pallandu Vazhga
Pattikkaattu Raja 'Meyvakku' Meganathan
Mayangukiral Oru Maadhu
Aayirathil Oruthi Kabalishwaran
1976 Annakili
Uzhaikkum Karangal
Athirshtam Azhaikkirathu
Mayor Meenakshi
1977 Aattukara Alamelu
1978 Vaazha Ninaiththaal Vaazhalaam
General Chakravarthi
Justice Gopinath Bhadrachalam [12]
1979 Dharma Yuddham Robert [13]
Anbae Sangeetha
Kalyanaraman Kittu
Porter Ponnusami
Sri Ramajayam
Aarilirindhu Aruvathu Varai
Neela Malargal Kathavarayan Pillai
1980 Billa J.J [14]
Anbukku Naan Adimai
Yamanukku Yaman Chitragupta [15]
Varumayin Niram Sivappu Rangan
1981 Meendum Kokila Nattuvanar
Ram Lakshman
Thillu Mullu Sri Ramachandramurthy [16]
Tik Tik Tik Lakshmi Narayanan
Ellam Inba Mayyam
1982 Auto Raja
Thaai Mookaambikai
Sakalakala Vallavan Sundaram
Rani Theni Thulasilingum
Moondru Mugam Ramanathan [17]
1983 Thanga Magan
1984 Nalla Naal
Kai Kodukkum Kai
1985 Chain Jayapal
Kaakki Sattai
Udaya Geetham
Aduthathu Albert
Thendrale Ennai Thodu
1986 Naan Adimai Illai
1987 Rettai Vaal Kuruvi
Krishnan Vandhaan


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Majordasan. "Potpourri of titbits about Tamil cinema – Thengai Srinivasan". Kalyanamalai. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Raman, Mohan V. (20 October 2012). "He walked tall in tinsel town". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Guy, Randor (20 June 2015). "Blast From The Past: Kaasethan Kadavulada (1972)". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 14 November 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  4. ^ Sharmila Ganesan-Ram (30 August 2009). "Angry, Crazy, Gemini and Cho". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b Guy, Randor (15 September 2012). "Oru Viral 1965". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  6. ^ "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema". Forbes India. 27 April 2013. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  7. ^ Pillai, Sreedhar (7 September 2010). "Piranha bares its fangs". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  8. ^ "'பேட்ட' படத்தில் அறிமுகமாகும் தேங்காய் சீனிவாசனின் பேரன்!". Samayam Tamil (in Tamil). The Times Group. 12 September 2018. Archived from the original on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Eerie thrills". The Hindu. 20 September 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Sruthika". Sify. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  11. ^ Krishnamachari, Suganthy (12 June 2009). "Livewire of the stage". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  12. ^ Ramachandran 2014, pp. 86-87.
  13. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 95.
  14. ^ "When Rajni was Billa". 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  15. ^ Piousji (17 June 1979). "Khaas Baat". Sunday. Vol. 17. p. 51.
  16. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 106.
  17. ^ Devnath, DPK (23 September 2018). "ரஜினி டூ சூப்பர் ஸ்டார் – மூன்று முகம் – திரை விமர்சனம்". Ezhuthaani. Archived from the original on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.


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