Sedapatti Suryanarayana Devar Rajendran commonly known by his stage name S. S. Rajendran (SSR) was born in 1928 at Sedapatti hamlet near Usilampatti, Madras Presidency, India. He is a film actor, director, producer and politician. In acting, attractive personality and correct and clear pronunciation of Tamil words are his two major talents.
S. S. Rajendran, born in 1928, popularly known as SSR, was introduced to Tamil cinema through the hit Parasakthi, released in 1952. He was a cult figure in the early 1950s and 60s who thrilled the fans by his breath-taking dialogue delivery and for his Dictaphone Tamil pronunciation — a feat only matched by the thespian Sivaji Ganesan. SSR got offers to act in stage dramas when he was in the 6th std. He joined Puliya Maanagar Boy's Company, which was famous in south Tamil Nadu, established by P. K. Subba Reddiyar. He started acting in the plays with small roles; soon he was selected to act as "Bala Abhimanyu".
He had his first film offer in Abhimanyu, but the opportunity was lost to S. M. Kumaresan. SSR became a playback singer with the song "Inba ulakile manmadhan poonganai" in the film Andaal — music by G. Ramanathan, produced by Salem Moorthy Pictures. After that Rajendran started his own drama company and made efforts to enter filmdom.
SSR was introduced to Tamil cinema through the hit film Parasakthi in 1952, directed by renowned duo directors Krishnan Panju, in the character Gnanasekharan, as the elder brother of Sivaji Ganesan. Following with block busters Mudhalali, President Panchatcharam, Pillai Kani Amudhu, Thalai Koduthan Thambi, Thedi Vandha Selvam, C. N. Annadurai's Edhayum Thangum Idhayam, M. Karunanidhi's Avan Pithana, Poompuhar and Modern Theatres Kumudham. SSR acted with M. G. Ramachandran in Raja Desingu as Mohamed Khan and in Kaanji Thalaivan as Paranjothi. He had worked in many films with Sivaji Ganesan such as Manohara, Rangoon Radha, Raja Rani, Deiva Piravi, Aalayamani, Pachai Vilakku, Kai Kodutha Dheivam, Pazhani,Kungumam and Shanthi.
Other notable films were Sorgavaasal, Ammaiyappan, Ratha Kanneer, Kuladeivam, Thai Piranthaal Vazhi Pirakkum, Kalyanikku Kalyanam, Sivagangai Seemai, also in AVM's Kaakkum Karangal, Poomalai and K. Balachander's Ethiroli. SSR was one of the hero in demand who acted non-stop, when M. G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan ruled the Tamil industry. S. S. Rajendran carved out a niche for himself and dominated the field. He paired with leading heroines like B. Saroja Devi, Padmini, Vijayakumari, Raja Sulochana, Kanchana and K. R. Vijaya.
Director K. S. Gopalakrishnan was introduced from his film Saradha (a silver jubilee hit) and Saradha Studios was established to commomerate the success of this film by its producer A. L. Srinivasan. Like wise, SSRs film "Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum" in which his co-star was Raja Sulochana, a block buster on the year 1958, its producer/director Pulavar A. K. Velan, from the revenue, established a studio named Arunachalam Studios, in Arunachalam Road, Saligramam, Chennai. Debut of Director Muktha Srinivasan was SSRs film Mudhalali, Devika was introduced in this film. Director A. Bhimsingh's first film was Ammaiyappan in which hero was SSR. Director K. Shankar first Tamil film was Sivagangai Seemai.
He has written songs, scripted movies and directed three films Thangarathinam, Alli and Manimagudam in which J. Jayalalitha paired with him. He was honoured by Vijayakanth and Sarath Kumar by offering him notable rolls in their films Vallarasu and Rishi. He also wrote songs "Thunbam Theeradho" for Thangarathinam (1960) sung by T. M. Soundararajan and K. Jamuna Rani and Indraikku Naan Pirandhen for Erattai Manithan music by M. S. Viswanathan. He has sung a song Senthamizhnattu Katharinesavu Selaigal Vettigal Vanguveer in Pudhumaipenn (1959) tuned by K. V. Mahadevan and written by Udumalai Narayana Kavi. Popularly known as ILATCHIYA NADIGAR, he received Seven President awards including central/state. Founder, member of SOUTH INDIAN ARTISTS ASSOCIATION and was elected as its President for three times. SSR was honoured with Thyagaraja Bhagavathar Award by Tamil Nadu State Government, 1999 and also he has received Kalaimamani award.
He joined the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party and contested from Theni constituency in the assembly election, but lost by a margin. He raised funds for DMK and acted in movies glorifying Dravidian ideologies. SSR was the first elected member of legislative assembly among actors in India when he was elected to the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly as an Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidateTheni (State Assembly Constituency) in Madras State legislative assembly election, 1962. Subsequently, he was elected as a member (MP) of Rajya Sabha. Later, he joined the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and won from Andipatti constituency in the 1981 assembly election,secured highest leading margin more than other constituencies on that assembly election. He was appointed deputy chairman of Small Savings Scheme. Today, he is retired from the politics.
His father Suryanarayana Devar was an official in education department. His mother's is Adhilakshmi. SSR's sister Pappammal married actor D. V. Narayanaswamy. SSR married Pankajammal to whom Elangovan, Rajendrakumar, Kalaivanan, Selvaraj and Bhagyalakshmi were born. A public cinema theatre, film studio,and recording theatre under the banner of SSR PANKAJAM established by them in Chennai. These establishments are a tribute to SSR’s wife Pankajam and hence its christened as the same. He married to C. R. Vijayakumari and had a son Ravikumar. Later he married Thamaraiselvi and had a son and daughter named Kannan and Lakshmi.
SSR had not acted in mythological films; he was a strict follower of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy's policy of rationalism. He added that he had not acted in any film that was against his policy. That was why he was referred to as Latchiya Nadigar (Actor of Principles) by Periyar E. V. Ramasamy and Arignar C. N. Annadurai. Initially, SSR was offered the role of Bharadhan in Sampoorna Ramayanam, but he refused and the role went to Sivaji Ganesan.
SSR was full of praise for playback singer T. M. Sounderarajan (TMS) and his evergreen songs that are very popular. He referred TMS as the 'Golden treasure' of Tamil cinema. At present, SSR is writing his autobiography.
Rajendran (SSR) passes away at the age of 86 on Oct 24th, 2014.