J. P. Chandrababu

Joseph Panimayadas Chandrababu Rodriguez (1927–1974) was an Indian film comedian, actor, director, singer and dancer, whose Chaplinesque style on-screen movements and singing style made him popular from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. He had a mastery of the Madras Bashai, a dialect unique to the Madras region. His slapstick style of comedy has been emulated by subsequent actors. Many of his songs have remained popular.

J. P. Chandrababu
J. P. Chandrababu.jpg
Casual Poster of CB
Born(1927-08-05)5 August 1927
Tuticorin, India
Died8 March 1974(1974-03-08) (aged 46)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
OccupationComedian, actor, director, playback singer, singer and dancer

There is confusion regarding his full name. He hails from Paravar community and his catholic church christian name is Panimayadasa Rodriguez – which is a normal way of naming in Paravar community. Since most Tamils do not have a family name, Indian passport's use of his father's first name, Pichai, is confused as his surname in the media. Both his parents' family names are written in his grave in Tuticorin which followed in some families in Paravar community using Dutch, Portuguese and French cultures in their lifestyle. His father was Joseph Pichai Rodriguez and his mother Roselin Correra.

Early lifeEdit

Chandrababu was born to a wealthy and eminent Christian Paravar family in 1927 at Tuticorin, India. His father, a freedom fighter, ran a paper called Sudhandhira Veeran which, along with the family assets, was seized by the British government in 1929 when he was arrested for participating in the satyagraha movement. He and the family were exiled to Colombo, Sri Lanka on his release, where his father worked for a Tamil newspaper. Chandrababu was educated at St. Joseph's College, Grandpass, Colombo and Aquinas College prior to his family moving once more, this time to Chennai in 1943. Here they lived in Triplicane, where his father worked for the Dinamani newspaper.[1]

Film careerEdit

Chandrababu was very passionate about acting despite opposition from his family members. His friend Ganapathy was the only person who motivated his acting skills. From his childhood, he was an expert in singing and whenever he got together with his friends or family, Chandrababu was asked to sing. Sri Lanka had a very western outlook in those times and Chandrabubu picked up on western styles of singing and dancing while there.[2] In these early years Chandrababu made acquaintances of the actors Sriram, B. R. Panthulu and, through them, T. R. Mahalingam. They appreciated his talent in singing and mimicry of Hollywood stars such as Charles Boyer.[citation needed] He made his debut with a small role in the 1947 film Dhana Amaravathi[2] but struggled thereafter to obtain parts.

He had spent many days starving himself and searching for a chance in films. In 1952, he attempted suicide by ingesting copper sulphate crystals in the canteen of Gemini Studios. He had written a suicide note explaining his reasons, which included that he had been unable to meet the director S. S. Vasan, and that his body was to be handed over to B. S. Ramaiah, the director of his only film at that date. Suicide was a criminal offence and so he was arrested. But when his case came to trial the judge asked him to prove his acting ability. Chandrababu rendered a Shakespearean monologue that so impressed the judge that he was not jailed.[2] One of those who had assisted him in being taken to hospital at the time of his attempted suicide was Gemini Ganesan. When Vasan came to know of this episode he gave Chandrababu a small role in the 1952 film Moondru Pillaigal, which impressed Vasan so much that he predicted a successful career.[2] for him. Chandrababu also filmed Chinna Durai and Mohana Sundaram in the same year. It is claimed that, as of 2016, he remained the only person capable of yodelling in south Indian cinema,.[2] Chandrababu loved western music and learned the art of yodelling by listening to singers such as Gene Autry and Hank Williams. In Chinna Durai, produced and directed by T. R. Mahalingam, he sang the song Poda Raja Podi Nadaya, the first time that yodelling had been heard in a South Indian film.[citation needed]Chandrababu was paid Rs 200 for his role in Mohana Sundaram.[citation needed] At his peak he was to command over Rs 100,000, becoming the first South Indian comedy actor to command such a sum.[2]

When A. V. Meiyappan filmed Sahodhari, he found that it lacked an ingredient that would ensure box office success. Chandrababu was called and after watching the film he added a comedy track for himself, wrote it and also sang the song Naan oru muttalunga, converting the film into a hit. It was Chandrababu who first spoke and popularised the Madras Baashai in films. He learned this dialect from the rickshaw pullers and street vendors near his home in Triplicane and later in Mir Sahib Pet.

Sabaash Meena was one of the best Tamil comedy movies of its time, in which Chandrababu acted with Sivaji Ganesan, in dual roles. Chandrababu also established himself as a good singer. He was a playback singer rendering voice for himself in films. He lent his voice for S. Balachander for the song Kalyanam Kalyanam... Ullasamagave Ulagathil in Penn and for Sivaji Ganesan for the song Jolly Life Jolly Life in Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari. Another song for Gundu Karuppaiah is I Love You I Love You in Andhaman Kaidhi.

He sang under almost all of the music directors of the 1950s till the 1960s namely K. V. Mahadevan, T. G. Lingappa, G. Govindarajulu Naidu, S. V. Venkatraman, R. Sudharsanam, Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy, G. Ramanathan, S. M. Subbaiah Naidu, Vedha, S. Rajeswara Rao, T. R. Pappa, P. R. Mani, C. N. Pandurangan, Meenakshi Subramanyam and M. S. Viswanathan.

He sang along duets mostly with K. Jamuna Rani and L. R. Eswari. Other singers include A. G. Rathnamala, Jikki, A. P. Komala, T. M. Soundararajan, P. B. Sreenivas, A. L. Raghavan, P. Suseela, P. Leela, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, K. Rani and Manorama.


Chandrababu first met Sheila, an Anglo Indian and grand daughter of Coimbatore-based filmmaker Swamikannu Vincent[3] at her residence and subsequently marriage was arranged in 1958. Famous film personalities and politicians including chief minister Kamaraj attended their marriage. The initial days of married life had gone well. One day Sheila confessed that she fell in love with another person. After learning this, Chandrababu was heartbroken and ended up in a confused state. In the subsequent days, she attempted suicide which was foiled by Chandrababu. Considering Sheila's fortune, they divorced formally. He continued to offer support to her until she left for London. After a few days, she married a doctor in London with the acceptance of Chandrababu by a letter communication. In a business mired by sycophancy, he chose not to mince his words and this restricted his opportunities[2] from the 1960s onward. After this, he had decided to take a temporary break from his film career, and he went to Delhi without informing even his close friends. He spent those days consuming alcohol. Later he restarted his career in the industry despite his failed love and marriage.

Financial misfortuneEdit

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. The reasons for Ramachandran's non-cooperation is well explained by script writer Aroordhas, in his 2002 memoirs Naan Muham Paartha Cinema Kannadigal. It's because Chandababu became abusive towards Ramachandran's elder sibling M. G. Chakrapani.Chandrababu's final attempt was to direct and act in Thattungal Thirakkappadumin 1966; it was highly acclaimed for its cinematography but was not a box office success. It should be recorded that despite his indifference to the self-destructive life style of Chandrababu. MGR did offer a helping hand to him, by offering him a comedy slot in his own production, Adimai Penn released in 1969.

Due to his personal problems, Chandrababu spent his last days penniless. During his last years he stayed in the house of his good friend M. S. Viswanathan, until his death on 8 March 1974. It was Shivaji Ganesan who arranged all his final rites and he was buried in Quibble Island, Chennai.[1]

Popular Tamil songsEdit

The following are some of Chandrababu's songs that have remained popular:

Year Film Song Music Co-Singer
1947 Dhana Amaravathi Unnalazhagirku Inai Ennatthai Solvadhu K. V. Mahadevan
1951 Mohana Sundaram Hello My Dear Darling Hello My Rose Charming T. G. Lingappa
1Inbam Konjum Velai Jikki
1952 Andhaman Kaidhi I love you..I love you.. Aasaiyanene Un Mele G. Govindarajulu Naidu A. G. Rathnamala
playback for T.N.Sivadhanu
1952 Chinna Durai Poda Raja Podi Nadayaa T. G. Lingappa
1953 Kangal Aalu u uGanam Aanal Moolai Gaali S. V. Venkatraman
1953 Azhagi Onnu Rendu Moonu Photo Ready P. R. Mani
1953 Vazha Pirandhaval Cinema Kalaiyai Elidhaaga Enni S. Rajeswara Rao & G. Ramanathan
1954 Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari Jolly Life Jolly Life T. G. Lingappa playback for Sivaji Ganesan
1954 Penn Kalyanam Kalyanam... Ullasamagave Ulagathil R. Sudharsanam playback for S. Balachander
1955 Gulebagavali Paraanda Mannar Ellam.... Achi Nimirndha Vandi Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy A. G. Rathnamala
1955 Maaman Magal Gova Mambazhame Malgova Mambazhame S. V. Venkatraman
1955 Nalla Thangal Unnai Kandu Mayamgaadha Pergal Undo G. Ramanathan
1956 Marma Veeran O Aiyaa O Ammaa Vedha K. Rani, S. C. Krishnan & Jikki
1957 Mahadhevi Un Thirumugathey Oru Mugama Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy A. G. Rathnamala
Thanthanaa Thaalam Poduvom A. G. Rathnamala
1957 Pudhaiyal Unakkaga Ellam Unakkaga Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy
Hello My Dear Rani A. L. Raghavan
1957 Pudhumai Pithan Araichi Mani.... Thillaana Paatu Paadi Kullathaara G. Ramanathan Jikki
1957 Pathini Deivam Aathukku Paalam Avasiyam Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy T. M. Soundararajan
1957 Manamagan Thevai Bambara Kannale G. Ramanathan
1957 Samaya Sanjeevi Paper Paper G. Ramanathan
1958 Padhi Bhakti Rock Rock Rock Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy V. N. Sundharam
Indha Thinnai Paechu Veeranidam T. M. Soundararajan
Kosari Kosari
1958 Kaathavaraayan Jigu Jigu Jigu G. Ramanathan Jikki
Thanthaane Thane Thanthaane
Sangili Jingili.... Vaarandi Vaaraandi Kutticchaatthaan S. C. Krishnan, A. G. Rathnamala & T. M. Soundararajan
1958 Nadodi Mannan Thadukkaadhe Ennai Thadukkaadhe S. M. Subbaiah Naidu K. Jamuna Rani
1958 Sabaash Meena Erungammaa Summaa Erungammaa T. G. Lingappa T. G. Lingappa & P. Suseela
1959 Sahodhari Naan Oru Muttalunga R. Sudharsanam
1959 Pandithevan Nee Adinal C. N. Pandurangan & Meenakshi Subramanyam K. Jamuna Rani
Solluradha Solliputten
1959 Naan Sollum Ragasiyam Vilaiyaadu Raajaa Vilaiyaadu G. Ramanathan A. P. Komala
1959 Maragadham Kunguma Poove Konjum Puraave S. M. Subbaiah Naidu K. Jamuna Rani
1960 Kavalai Illaadha Manithan Pirakkum Podhum Azhukindraai Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy
Kavalai Illaadha Manithan
1960 Petra Manam Paadi Paadi Paadi S. Rajeswara Rao Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi
1961 Sri Valli Aiyo Machaan Mannaaru G. Ramanathan
1961 Kumara Raja Aan Ondru Aada Penn Ondru Paada T. R. Pappa P. Leela
Onnume Puriyalae Ulagathile
Moodinaalum Thiranthaalum K. Jamuna Rani
Ennai Paartha Kannu K. Jamuna Rani
1962 Paadha Kaanikkai Kadhal Embathu Edhu Varai Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy P. B. Sreenivas, P. Suseela & L. R. Eswari
Thaniyaa Thavikkira Vayasu
1962 Annai Butthiyulla Manidharellaam R. Sudharsanam
1962 Policekaran Magal Porandhalum Aambalaiya Porakka Koodadhu Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy L. R. Eswari
1962 Bandha Pasam Eppo Vachikkalaam Eppadi Vachikkalaam Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy
1962 Senthamarai Thangadhamma Thangadhu Samsaram Thangadhu Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy K. Jamuna Rani
1963 Kadavulai Kanden Konjam Sindhikkanum K. V. Mahadevan K. Jamuna Rani
Ungal Kaigal Uyarattum P. B. Sreenivas
1963 Yarukku Sontham Ennai Theriyalaiyaa K. V. Mahadevan
Oho Meri Bul Bul K. Jamuna Rani
1964 Aandavan Kattalai Sirippu Varudhu Sirippu Varudhu Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy
1966 Thattungal Thirakkappadum Kanmani Paappaa M. S. Viswanathan
1967 Valiba Virundhu Ondra Kannu Doriya R. Sudharsanam
Vaaliba Virundhu T. M. Soundararajan & L. R. Eswari
1968 Nimirndhu Nil Pudichalum Pudhicha Puliyankomba Pudicha M. S. Viswanathan L. R. Eswari
1970 Paadhukaappu Nammalki Pyari M. S. Viswanathan P. Susheela
1972 Needhi Engaladhu Boomi M. S. Viswanathan T. M. Soundararajan, P. Suseela & Manorama


  1. ^ a b http://www.thehindu.com/books/the-tragic-story-of-a-comedian-jp-chandrababu/article4313909.ece
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Guy, Randor (25 September 2009). "Actor with mercurial feet". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  3. ^ Guy, Randor (7 December 2004). "The Hindu : Book Review / Language Books : Pioneer filmmaker". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 July 2015.

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