During that period the actors themselves used to sing their respective songs. So were the heroes with the best voices. Bhagwatar’s voice, shoulder-length hair and majestic look earned him star status in the very first film.
Tyagaraja Bhagavadhara, who became the first superstar of Tamil cinema, acted as a hero in about 15 films. Out of which 6 films were big hits. Especially his film Haridas, released in 1944, made a record by running for 3 consecutive years in the Chennai Broadway Theater. The film became the only Indian film to see three consecutive Diwali during that period.
Tyagaraja Bhagavatar came from theater to cinema like the actors of that time. Natural singing ability helped in this. Bhagavatar played the role of Arichandra’s son in Natasana Iyer’s Rasika Irachan Sabha’s play Arichandra. Seeing his singing skills, the violinist Ponnu Iyengar offered to teach him music methodically.
Natraj Vathiyar, who was a teacher in theater, gave him acting training for one side musical training. Both of them helped in the entry of Thyagaraj Bhagwat in cinema.
Thyagaraja initially played female roles in Bhagavatar plays. Then men will also play female roles. Bhagavatar’s slim body attracted him to female roles. Bhagavatara is the title given to him by Natesa Iyer, who saw his immense training in both acting and music. Tyagaraja became Bhagavatara with his original name Tyagarajan with the title Bhagavatara.
Tyagaraja Bhagavata had two wives named Kamalam and Rajam. Thiagaraja Bhagavatar was also arrested along with Kalaivanar in the murder of yellow journalist Lakshmikantan at the climax of cinema. The imprisonment tarnished Bhagwatar’s cinematic fame. After years of imprisonment, the fans had forgotten his release. His last film Sivagami was a flop.
Also, the efforts of Kalaivanar’s wife Maduram and the support of the Dravidian movement helped Kalaivanar shine in cinema even after his prison life. Bhagwatar, who ate a plate of gold, worked in poverty in his last days and died on this day on November 1, 1959, disappointed by the neglect of his admirers.
When Bhagwat became popular, he acted in a play organized by the British. Because of Bhagavadhara, the play became a huge success and the English government gifted him one lakh rupees and a town near Tanjore.
He refused to buy the city as a donation and gave one lakh rupees for the freedom struggle.
The life of Bhagavatar, the first Tamil superstar, is proof that cinema fame is an illusion, the fame of film stars can shine like stars in the sky.
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