Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar

Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
Born Marudur Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Thevar
(1915-06-28)28 June 1915
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Died 8 September 1978(1978-09-08) (aged 63)
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Cause of death Heart attack
Nationality Indian
Occupation Actor, Film producer
Years active 1940-1978
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s) Maarimuthammal
Children Dhandayuthapani (Son)
Subbulakshmi (Daughter)
Jagadeeshwari (Daughter)
Parent(s) Ayyavoo thevar (Father)
Ramakkal (Mother)
Relatives Subbiah thevar (Elder Brother)
Nataraja thevar (Brother)
Arumugam a.k.a M.A.Thirumugam (Brother)
Mariappan (Brother)

"Sandow" Marudur Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Devar (Tamil:மருதூர் மருதாச்சலமூர்த்தி அய்யாவு சின்னப்பா தேவர்) (28 June 1915 – 8 September 1978) was an eminent producer of Tamil films in the mid-1950s through the 1960s and 1970s. He is best known for his films featuring animals, and has produced numerous movies with M. G. Ramachandran as lead actor (16 movies with under his famous banner: Devar Films).

He launched all his movies under the Devar Films banner, which also produced the Rajesh Khanna's Bollywood hit Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) in which he achieved national fame.[1]

The title of "Sandow" was given to Chinnappa Thevar in tribute (to the father of the modern bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow) and because of its impressive muscle structure.

Early years

M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar was born in Ramanathapuram locality in Coimbatore to Ayyavoo thevar and Ramakkal. He has one elder brother named Subbiah thevar and three younger brothers named Nataraja thevar, Arumugam (M.A.Thirumugam) and Mariappan. His father was an agriculturist.[2]

Chinnappa thevar studied only till 5th grade due to financial reasons. During his youth in 1930's, he joined in Pankaja mill for a salary of Rs.9 and started his earnings. He later worked in Stanes motor company for few years. He also earned through milk production, rice shop and soda production.

From a very young age he was interested in gymnasium. He started "Veera Maruthi Deha Payirchi saalai" with his friends in Ramanathapuram area. To join the film industry, he mastered various martial arts and improved his physique.

He and his brother first acted in the 1940 film Thilottama. It was a fight sequence where only their shadows were filmed. Devar earned the title ‘Sandow’ because of his physique and fighting skills.[3]

He had started playing small roles in films that were shot in Coimbatore, until he was roped in by Jupiter Pictures[4] for villain role in the 1947 movie Rajakumari with then-a-relatively unknown lead actor M. G. Ramachandran with whom he formed a deep friendship.In the film Mohini (1948) there was a scene taken in forest, where the character played by M.G.Ramachandran rushes to rescue a family travelling in a bullock-cart from being robbed by a gang and the main robbers role was played by M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar as the main robber.[5]


Chinnappa thevar developed a deep friendship with M. G. Ramachandran. MGR too apparently recommended Devar in the films he worked. This went on till 1956 when Devar started his own production company Devar Films, and asked MGR to be the hero. MGR agreed, and they made Thaikkupin Thaaram. The film was a success, and launched Devar as a filmmaker.

He later during moved to Chennai in the early 1950s, which by then became the South Indian Cinema Hub. He launched his production company the famous "Devar Films" and used the facilities of Vijaya Vauhini Studios for indoor shooting and post production activities.

He is best known for various M. G. Ramachandran movies and introduced Saroja Devi to Tamil Movies who became a celluloid queen.

When MGR became busy with his own production Nadodi Mannan, Devar was forced to make a few other movies.

In 1960, he started to record the music for Thaai Sollai Thattadhe and cast Ashokan as the hero. When the recording was over, MGR heard the songs and wanted the story to be narrated. Apparently, after this there was a promise between them that MGR will adhere to all of Devar’s conditions and, in return, Devar would make films only with him and no other ‘big’ hero. This ‘agreement’ led to Devar making 16 films with MGR, the last being Nalla Neram in 1972, the Tamil remake of Haathi Mere Saathi.

Despite working with MGR on several films, he never got a chance to work with Sivaji Ganesan. He once mentioned that he didn't have right story for Mr.Ganesan.[6]

Devar is also known for using animals as a supporting theme in his movies, and at times as the lead character. His brother M. A. Thirumugam was also a successful director was worked predominantly for "Devar Films" production company.

Together the duo gave Rajesh Khanna's biggest blockbuster hit Haathi Mere Saathi, which also introduced the Salim-Javed duo as script writers to Bollywood.

In Tamil film industry he was one of the most successful movie producers and his two recurring subjects were his animals and devotional movies, as he was an ardent devotee of Lord Murugan.

Later years

In his later years with MGR getting more and more into active politics, Devar started to make films in the Socio –mythological Genre.They were films set in modern times with the Central theme that faith and belief in God will solve one’s problems.[1]

Chinnapa thevar also planned to make movies with Rajinikanth who was rising popular at that time. Rajini worked on the movie Thai Meethu Sathiyam under the Devar Films banner directed by Thevar's son in law R. Thyagarajan. While shooting for the movie, Chinnapa thevar fell ill and died couple of days later.

Personal life

Chinnapa thevar got married to Mari Muthammal at an early age of 21 by 1936. The couple has one son named Dhandayuthapani, and two daughters named Subbulakshmi and Jagadeeshwari. His elder daughter Subbulakshmi got married to R. Thyagarajan, who became a director later. Vellikizhamai Viratham (1974) and Aattukara Alamelu(1977) are a couple of famous films to his credit.

Ardent Lord Murugan devotee

Chinnapa thevar practiced Hindu religion and was an ardent devotee for Lord Muruga.Once Income Tax Ofiicials raided his house and was astonished to findso many Viboothi packets of Murugan temples, but no cash. Any profit from the movie he splits into 4 parts, one part for Murugan temples as he believed that all of his success was because of Lord Muruga. Because of this many Murugan temples like Pazhani temple and Marudhamalai temple were benefited. Second part he kept for himself. Third part is for his old friends who supported him during his early days who collected few thousands and sent him to Madras for film making. Fourth and final part he gave to the needy people.


On 6 September 1978, during the shooting of the film Thai Meethu Sathiyam at Ooty, Devar complained of chest pain, since he had high blood pressure[2] he was advised by the doctors in Ooty to get admitted in hospital, he was soon brought in his car from Ooty to Coimbatore. He was admitted in a private hospital upon arrival. After treatment he recovered partially and again got chest pain on 8 September 1978 and died by 10 a.m morning in spite of intense treatment. He was only 63 when he died.[6]

The day of his demise was a ‘Shashti’ day, very special to Lord Muruga.

Tribute and cremation

Thevar's body was brought from hospital to his Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore residence and kept for public to pay their last respect. M.G.R who had long term association with Thevar not only paid rich tribute to Chinnapa thevar but also came to Coimbatore for his funeral. Several eminent personalities like Jaishankar attended the funeral of Chinnapa thevar.

Partial filmography

Films produced after the death of Thevar


  1. 1 2 "Mohan's Musings: Sandow M M A Chinnappa Devar". Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  2. 1 2 ""Sandow" M.M.A.Chinnappa Devar". Antru Kanda Mugam. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  3. "Sandow and superstars". The Hindu. 2012-07-24. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  4. "Rajakumari 1947". The Hindu. 2008-09-05. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  6. 1 2 "Kalyanamalai Magazine - Serial story, Thiraichuvai - Potpourri of titbits about Tamil cinema, Director Sando Chinnapa Devar". Retrieved 2015-09-04.

External links

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