N. S. Krishnan

'Kalaivanar' N. S. Krishnan
Born (1908-11-29)29 November 1908
Southern Division,
(now part of 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 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.

Personal life

He was married to actress T. A. Madhuram. His grandson NSK Rajan has acted in a film Nagareega Komaali (2006).[2][3] His granddaughters Anu Vardhan and Ramya NSK are working as costume designer and playback singer in film industry respectively.[4][5]


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. C. N. Lakshmikanthan or Lakshmikantham was a famous film journalist of Madras Presidency. His foray into journalism began in 1943 when he launched a film weekly called Cinema Thoothu which was extremely successful. He wrote extensive columns devoted to the personal lives of some of the top actors and actresses of the day. Many actors and actresses responded by paying large amounts of money to "buy" his silence. As a result, Lakshmikanthan set up a prosperous vocation..

Eventually, matters reached a standstill when film actors M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and N. S. Krishnan and film director Sreeramulu Naidu submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Madras, Arthur Oswald James Hope, requesting him to revoke the license for the magazine. Hope obliged and the license for the magazine was cancelled. Lakshmikanthan tried to run the magazine with forged documents but, after a few months, he was forced to close shop.

Unfazed, Lakshmikanthan set up a new magazine called Hindu Nesan in which he continued his scandalous stories on Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Krishnan and a few other top actors, actresses and movie people of the day. The tactics paid huge dividends and Lakshmikanthan purchased his own printing press.[1]

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.


N.S. Krishnan had been undergoing treatment for hepatitis since August 12, 1957. He died at the General Hospital, Madras on August 30, 1957 following complications of the disease.[6]



As Actor

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

As Director


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