Like many of his contemporaries, K R Ramasamy started his life in theatre, joining the Madurai Original Boys Company when he was 11, which had also launched several other actors and Superstars such as P. U. Chinnappa, M. G. Ramachandran and Kali N. Rathinam. It was here that, KRR met Kalaivanar N. S. Krishnan and formed a bond that would last several years. He had travelled to Ceylon with the troupe and played several roles. One memorable one was the title role in the play Menaka — yes, he was the heroine!
He was playing Hemanatha Bhagavathar in Siva Leela in Kumbakonam when he heard that his father was dying. He would attend to his father the whole day and turn up for his role at night. So conscious was he of his professional responsibility that even on the day his father died, he completed the rituals and turned up for the night’s performance of Ramayana, where he was playing Hanuman.
KRR’s first film was Gumasthavin Penn (The Clerk’s Daughter) in 1941, where he played a troublesome film director called V. P. Var to great acclaim. It was during this time that he became a follower of Periyar and Anna. Anna wrote a review, praising KRR’s performance. The film’s assistant directors, Krishnan and Panju, promised KRR that they would cast him as hero when they directed a film. And in 1944, when they made Poompavai, they cast KRR as Thirugnanasambandar, a role he played to perfection, singing the songs himself.
Around this time, NSK handed over Yedhartham Ponnuswamy’s drama troupe to KRR to run. With the subsequent arrest of NSK, KRR fell out with T.A. Mathuram and S.V. Sahasranamam, left the troupe, and started his own Krishnan Nataka Sabha. He staged Anna’s play Velaikaari in 1946, which ran one full year at Ramanathan Chettiar Hall in Thanjavur. It was made into a film with KRR playing the lead in 1949. It had a court scene where the hero rids society of irrational beliefs and practices, repeated later by Karunanidhi in Parasakthi, Sivaji Ganesan’s launch pad.
KRR continued to act in plays even after he became a popular screen hero. A close follower and confidante of Anna, his plays were great fund-raisers for the fledgling DMK party.
He staged the play Or Iravu, written by Anna, and acted in the film version. He was with Anna and his party right from its inception in 1949. MGR has said that it was KRR who brought him to Periyar and Anna. Sivaji, too, considered KRR the senior actor in the party. In fact, Sivaji played the female lead when KRR acted as Manohara! Read more about him from the original source here.
This song is from the movie Sathaaram starring KRR, Banumathi, Gemini and others. Music by G Ramanathan, Lyrics by Thanjai Ramaiah Dass and sung by KRR himself.