Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar

"Sandow" Marudur Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Thevar (28 June 1915 – 8 September 1978) was a 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: Thevar Films).

Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
Marudamalai Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Thevar

(1915-06-28)28 June 1915
Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Died8 September 1978(1978-09-08) (aged 63)
OccupationActor, Film producer
Years active1940-1978

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

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

Early yearsEdit

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 the 1930s, 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 Central Studios, Coimbatore, until he was chosen by Jupiter Pictures[4] for villain role in the 1947 movie Rajakumari with a then 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 yearsEdit

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. R. Thyagarajan. While shooting for the movie, Chinnapa thevar fell ill and died couple of days later.

Personal lifeEdit

Chinnapa Thevar married Mari Muthammal at an early age of 21 by 1936. The couple has one son, Dhandayuthapani, and two daughters, Subbulakshmi and Jagadeeshwari. His elder daughter Subbulakshmi married 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 devoteeEdit

Chinnapa Thevar practiced Hindu religion and was an ardent devotee for Lord Muruga. Once Income Tax officials raided his house and was astonished to find so many Viboothi packets of Murugan temples, but no cash. Any profit from the movie he splits into four parts. The first part was given to Murugan temples as he believed that all of his success was because of Lord Muruga. Because of this many Murugan temples like Pazhani temple, Tiruchendur temple and Marudhamalai temple were benefited. The second part he kept for himself. The 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. The 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, but again got chest pain on 8 September 1978 and died by 10 a.m morning in spite of intense treatment. He was 63 when he died.[6]

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

Tribute and cremationEdit

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 a 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 Rajinikanth Jaishankar attended Thevar's funeral.


Films produced by Thevar
Year Film Language Notes
1956 Thaikkupin Tharam Tamil First Film under Devar Films banner
First Film with MGR
1957 Neelamalai Thirudan Tamil
1958 Sengottai Singam Tamil
1959 Vaazha Vaitha Deivam Tamil
1960 Uthami Petra Rathinam Tamil Presented by Devar Films
Produced by Amara Productions
1960 Yanai Paagan Tamil
1961 Kongunattu Thangam Tamil
1961 Thaai Sollai Thattadhe Tamil Re-join with MGR
1962 Thayai Katha Thanayan Tamil
1962 Kudumba Thalaivan Tamil
1963 Dharmam Thalai Kaakkum Tamil
1963 Needhikkuppin Paasam Tamil
1964 Vettaikaaran Tamil
1964 Deiva Thirumagal Tamil First Film under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
First and Last Film directed by Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
1964 Thozhilali Tamil
1965 Kattu Rani Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1965 Thaayum Magalum Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1965 Kanni Thaai Tamil
1966 Mugaraasi Tamil
1966 Thanipiravi Tamil
1967 Thaikku Thalaimagan Tamil
1967 Magaraasi Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1967 Deivacheyal Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1967 Vivasayee Tamil 25th Film
1968 Thaer Thiruvizha Tamil
1968 Nervazhi Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1968 Kadhal Vaaganam Tamil
1969 Akka Thangai Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1969 Thunaivan Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1970 Penn Deivam Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1970 Maanavan Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1971 Haathi Mere Saathi Hindi First Hindi Film
Highest Gross of the Year
1971 Kettikaran Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1972 Nalla Neram Tamil Remake of Haathi Mere Saathi
Last Film with MGR
1972 Jaanwar Aur Insaan Hindi Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1972 Dheivam Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1973 Komatha En Kulamatha Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1973 Gaai Aur Gori Hindi Remake of Komatha En Kulamatha
Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1974 Vellikizhamai Viratham Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1974 Shubh Din Hindi Remake of Vellikizhamai Viratham
Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1975 Raaja Hindi
1975 Thiruvarul Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1976 Thayilla Kuzhandhai Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1976 Maa Hindi
1977 Sorgam Naragam Tamil Remake of Swargam Narakam
Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1977 Aattukara Alamelu Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1978 Pottelu Punnamma Telugu Remake of Aattukara Alamelu
First Telugu Film
1978 Mera Rakshak Hindi Remake of Aattukara Alamelu
1978 Thai Meethu Sathiyam Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
Films produced after the death of Thevar [By his Son-in-law Sri. R. Thyagarjan B.Sc]
Year Film Language Notes
1979 Thaayillamal Naan Illai Tamil
1979 Annai Oru Aalayam Tamil
1980 Do Aur Do Paanch Hindi
1980 Anbukku Naan Adimai Tamil 50th Film
1981 Ram Lakshman Tamil
1981 Anjatha Nenjangal Tamil
1982 Ranga Tamil
1982 Adhisayappiravigal Tamil
1983 Thai Veedu Tamil
1983 Jeet Hamaari Hindi Remake of Thai Veedu
Last Hindi Film
1983 Apoorva Sahodarigal Tamil
1983 "Sashti viratham" Tamil
1984 Nalla Naal Tamil
1985 Anthasthu Tamil
1985 Annai Bhoomi 3D Tamil First 3D Tamil Film
1985 Panam Pathum Seyyum Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1985 Selvi Tamil 75th Film

Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner

1986 Dharmam Tamil
1986 Piranthaen Valarnthaen Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1987 Chellakutti Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1988 Dharmathin Thalaivan Tamil Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
Last Film for this banner.


  1. ^ a b "Mohan's Musings: Sandow M M A Chinnappa Devar". Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b ""Sandow" M.M.A.Chinnappa Devar". Antru Kanda Mugam. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Sandow and superstars". The Hindu. 24 July 2012. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Rajakumari 1947". The Hindu. 5 September 2008. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Mohini 1948". The Hindu. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Kalyanamalai Magazine - Serial story, Thiraichuvai - Potpourri of titbits about Tamil cinema, Director Sando Chinnapa Devar". Retrieved 4 September 2015.

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