The tragic story of a comedian, J.P. Chandrababu

Team Udayavani, Aug 10, 2020, 9:46 AM IST

Tamil Industry was once ruled by Sivaji Ganesan and MG Ramachandran, but at those times there was also a comedian who was way popular than the superstars of cinema. He was given the role equivalent to the hero of the film and also earned more than them.

The comedian is Nagaichuvai Chakravarthi: J.P. Chandrababu, a dancer and singing-actor, who introduced yodelling in playback singing. But, his life was a tragedy and in 1974  he died as a pauper.

According to Chennai First, He  was born on August 4, 1927 to father Joseph Pichai Rodriguez and mother Roselin in Tuticorn. His father, a freedom fighter, ran a paper called ‘Sudhandhira Veeran’’ which, along with the family assets, was seized by the British government. His father was arrested in 1929 for participating in the salt Satyagraha and was exiled to Colombo on being released.

After the Second World War, Chandrababu and his family came to Chennai in 1943.

Later, Chandrababu made his debut in the film ‘Dhana Amaravathi’ in 1947. But after that he faced several failures and Babu consumed poison and collapsed in the Gemini theatre canteen. In his suicide note he had written that his body should be handed over to BS Ramaiah, the director of his first and only film.

After being treated in the hospital he was taken for court hearing, there he told the magistrate his sad tale. The judge asked him to prove his acting ability. Babu  impressed the judge and he advised him to keep trying and not give up. One of the witnesses examined in this case was R Ganesh, later to become “Gemini” Ganesan. Also, When SS Vasan came to know of this episode, he promised Babu a role and later gave it in the film ‘Moondru Pillaigal’ (1951).

Then he went on getting various offers and also sang several songs. He became a star and Babu became a household name.

But, he went through a broken marriage as his wife Sheila told him that she loved someone else and they got divorced.

Also, he had differences with M G Ramachandran. It is said that 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. Later, his attempts in film directions and productions failed.

Eventually, he passed away on  March 7, 1974, lonely and penniless.

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