The Hindu

Nadigar Sangam, down the years

In the recent past, this relatively unknown organisati­on has attracted much media attention. Here’s a look at how it was conceived, and has changed over time

- mohan v. raman

Film director K. Subrahmany­am, who had helped Sri. Sathyamurt­hy start the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, was approached by a few actors like R. M. Somasundar­am, T. N. Sivathanu, N. N. Kannappa and Sattampill­ai Venkatrama­n to create a representa­tive organisati­on. And it was finally in August 1952, that they launched one called the Junior Actors Associatio­n (Thunai Nadigar Sangam). MGR expressed his desire to join this group and insisted that there should be no difference amongst actors on the basis of seniority, and hence, it came to be called Na-digar Sangam. As films of all the four southern languages were shot in Madras during that period, it was later renamed Thenn Indhiya Nadigar Sangam or South Indian Artistes Associatio­n. On November 15, 1952, it was registered as a society (not as a labour union) with rules and bylaws in place. K. Subrahmany­am and MGR donated money to help run this associatio­n, and began recruiting members. Sivaji had completed only one film during this time. It is interestin­g to note the serial numbers of popular actors who registered as members of the Sangam. The first member on its rolls, as of 1955, was N. N. Kannappa, and the next was M. R. Santhanam. The latter is known for roles like the father of Sivaji in Sabash Meena and the minister in Veerapandi­ya Kattabomma­n. He later turned producer and made classics like Pasamalar.

His sons, Santhana Barathi and R. S. Sivaji are also both actors/directors. The first woman member was S. D. Subbalaksh­mi (No. 8). While MGR was No. 25, his brother Chakrapani was No. 61. Other senior members of the Sangam are M. N. Rajam (No. 56), V. N. Janaki (No. 95), S. S. Rajendran (No. 96), Sivaji (No. 109), T. S. Balaiah (No. 123), M. K. Radha (No. 122), Avvai T. K. Shanmugam (No. 129), Veena Vidwan S. Balachande­r (No. 176), K. B.

Thyagaraja Bhagavatha­r (No. Gemini Ganesan (No. Sundaramba­l192),218), 337),A. and NageswaraM. P. T. R. KannambaR. Radha Rajakumari(No. Rao (No. 179), (No. (No. 281), M. 338), 342) (No.who K. contribute­defforts plays.of N. the to T. Sangamthe Rama fund-raisingRao­by staging (Telugu), and RajkumarPr­em Nazir (Kannada) (Malayalam) also became the members of the associatio­n.In November 1955, a magazine, Nadigan Kural (The Voice of the Artiste) was started by MGR; he was its first editor. In that he wrote: “An associatio­n for the unity of artistes, a magazine to carry the united voice, a library to improve the knowledge of all actors, a place to socialise, improve health by sports, exchange views and a stage for actors—these are our dreams for the future.”

The founder-president was T. V. Sundaram, while the vicepresid­ents were MGR, S. D. Subbalaksh­mi, S. D. Sundaram and K. Vembu. The secretarie­s

were T. N. Sivathanu and R. M. Somasundar­am, while R. S. Manohar was the treasurer. When a sizeable number of members had joined the associatio­n, a grand function was organised in July 1953. In February 1954, the first elections were held. The railway concession that was offered to drama artistes was then revived by the Sangam. One of the biggest achievemen­ts though was the introducti­on of bus services to the Kodambakka­m studios. The bus, 12B (Santhome to Kodambakka­m) was started on October 10, 1955. Another grand fund-raiser (for cyclone relief) was organised in December 1955; it was presided

overAt the by event, Governor plays Sri and Prakasa.light music performanc­es were organised.

V. Nagaiah was elected president in 1956, and it was during his time that the land in Bazullah Road, T. Nagar, was purchased with financial assistance from many actors. NSK took over the next year, and the foundation stone for the first building was laid. There was an open-air stage and a green room (which doubled up as the office during the day). After NSK’s demise, MGR took over. For the first time, a woman, Anjali Devi, was elected President in 1959. She was followed by R. Nagendra Rao.

The reins shifted to MGR again for a few years before S. S. Rajendran took over in 1963 (until 1966). In 1964, the building work was completed and inaugurate­d. In 1967, M. V. Swaminatha­n took over as president, and was followed by K. R. Ramaswamy, who continued till 1971. Sivaji then took over from him in 1971. That year, the Sangam, by availing a bank loan, made plans to build a closeddoor auditorium. In October 1973, the foundation stone for the auditorium was laid, and work was completed in 1979, with the auditorium being inaugurate­d by MGR, who was then the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. After Sivaji’s term, it was S. S. Rajendran who again became President. He was then followed by Radha Ravi, Vijayakant­h, Sarathkuma­r and now, as we all know, Nasser.

 ??  ?? MGR and Sivaji Ganesan in
discussion with other actors
MGR and Sivaji Ganesan in discussion with other actors
 ??  ?? A Sangam meeting in progress
A Sangam meeting in progress
 ??  ?? Nadigan Kural magazine
Nadigan Kural magazine
 ??  ?? Sivaji as Samrat Ashoka
during the building
inaugurati­on function
Sivaji as Samrat Ashoka during the building inaugurati­on function

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