Saturday, September 20, 2014


 Kodumudi Balambal Sundarambal  got popularized as K.B.Sundarambal and mesmerized the masses by her unique wonderful voice along with her  her enormous  acting skill.She was born on  26 October 1908 at Kodumudi, a small town in Erode District of Tamil Nadu and was in utter poverty during childhood days.She used to sing songs on moving trains and asked for alms from the passengers those days.
T.G.Natesa Iyer, a Railway Official, who was also a stage actor,impresario,play producer liked her quality of voice and singing style.He noticed that she was rendering the songs exactly the same as their original and she could reach the high octaves with effortless ease.During those days stage actors who rose to the top as heroes and heroines were supposed to sing beautifully and better knowledge of Carnatic music was also a requisite for them.Sometimes they were supposed to act without the aid of  loudspeakers which was not very common thing  during those days and so the actors who could render the dialogues and songs loudly and in high pitch got better chances.At he age of ten K.B.Sundarambal became a stage actress with the help of her mentor T.G.Natesha Iyer.We can assume that she should have undergone music training including Carnatic Music during those days in  her spare time  because later in her life  she conducted numerous music concerts with much expertise.
S.G.Kittappa and K.B.Sundarambal
K.B.Sundarambal with her excellent acting and singing skills rose to the level of heroine very soon and the audience of that period were very much impressed about her talents. She was termed as 'The Queen of  Indian Stage'.Her plays such as 'Valli Thirumanam' 'Pavalakodi' and 'Harishchandra' became very very popular and successful.
When the drama troupe made a Sri Lankan tour, she met the acting and singing exponent S.G.Kittappa and they fell in love at first sight.She married him in 1926 and both of them back in India started a drama troupe by name 'Srigana Sabha' in 1928.
Sundarambal as Lord Muruga
K.B. Sundarambal and Kittappa Bhagavathar as the lead pair presented several plays which were very much liked by the audience.In the Lord Muruga Play they used to exchange roles, such as in one play K.B.Sundarambal if portrayed Devi Vally and Kittappa as Lord Muruga during the next show or next day they used to interchange as Muruga  depicted by Sundrambal and Vally by Kittappa.The audience were very much amused about these skillful actions  also.
Both of them were very much attracted to Indian Freedom movement those days and  actively took part in the struggle.She used to wear white Khadi sarees  and Kittappa Bhagavathar too used white Khadi clothes.
Kittappa Bhagavathar died unexpectedly on 2nd December 1933 which put her in deep sorrow, panic  and loneliness.K.B.Sundarambal  had delivered a baby girl of Kittappa Bhagavathar ealier  but the child died and they didn't get a second child.Life became miserable for her in sorrow and grief  and she quit acting one stage also.
In the year 1935  some film producers approached her with offer to act in film but she was not willing and just for  sending them back she demanded 1 lakh rupees which was a high salary and  not used to pay  to any actor those days.
But the producer of 'Nandanar' film offered her 1 Lakh rupees and it was the highest amount received by any woman artist at that time.
Sundarambal as a staunch believer of God used to give music concerts in temples from that period itself and she demanded only low payment for them and thought it  as a service to God.
She acted in 'Nandanar' movie  directed by Manik Lal Tandon in which K.B.Sundarambal and  Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer were the lead pair.She sang two songs for this film.
In 1940 she acted in 'Manimekalai' produced by T.K.Productions and sang 3 songs also for this film
In 1953 she acted in the lead role of the film 'Avvaiyar' which was produced by Gemini Studios and Gemini Ganesan  was the male lead.The film was made in Tamil and Telugu and both the versions were big success.It contained 15 songs sung by K.B.Sundarambal.The film received audience and critics appraisal as well as good opinion  received from politicians also.
'Thiruvilayadal' was a super hit mythological film of 1965 directed by A.P.Nagarajan in which Sivaji Ganesan,Savithri,Muthuraman,Nagesh etc acted.K.B.Sundarambal acted as an Avvaiyar in it which grabbed much appreciation  and the songs she rendered for this film earned astounding popularity.
'Kandan Karunai' a film about Lord Muruga was directed by A.P.Nagarajan in 1967.Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan,Jayalalitha,Savithri,K.R.Vijaya etc acted in it.Seerkazhi Govindarajan also appeared in this film in a cameo role as 'Nakkeerar'.
K.B.Sundarambal passed away on 19th September 1980.
Selected Filmography
Mahakavi Kalidas
Kandan Karunai
Uyirmel Aasai
Sakthi Leelai
Gnayiru Thingal
Karaikkal Ammaiyar
Thirumalai Deivam

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