The news of the death of popular Tamil film director, writer, playwright and actor Manivannan in Chennai on Saturday left his friends and contemporaries here shocked and deeply pained. The 58-year-old artiste belonged to Sulur, a small town on the outskirts of Coimbatore.
“Manivannan had a creative mind even during his school days. We would enjoy his shows of Kadha Kalatchebam with varied themes on the school stage,” recalls Thangaraj, a classmate of Manivannan at the Sulur Government Boys’ High School and retired superintendent in the Department of School Education.
Before becoming an artiste, Manivannan was a staunch supporter of the DMK. This was so even during his school days. As leaders like C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, Navalar Nedunchezhian and K A Mathiazhagan used to visit his father R S Maniam, who was the DMK town secretary of Sulur then, Manivannan developed an interest in the ideology of the Dravidian movement. However, later he became a Marxist and an activist in the Marxist-Leninist (Naxalite) movement. He had political differences even with his father.
“As his father hoisted the DMK flag atop his house, Manivannan too would hoist the communist flag, showing his opposition to his father,” says Senthalai N Gowthaman, author of Sulur Varalaru.
Rasiannan alias Pulavar Aadhi, a Marxian scholar and author, whom Manivannan regarded as one of the personalities that inspired him for his entry into the Naxalite movement, said, “I introduced him to Soviet literature like Maxim Gorky’s Mother and Swaminatha Sharma’s biography of Karl Marx.”