S. Manivannan Rajagopal (31 July 1953 – 15 June 2013), better his mononym Manivannan, was an Indian film actor, director and Tamil activist. In a career spanning three decades, he went from being a story and dialogue writer for director Bharathiraja from 1980–82 to a successful director who thrived in experimenting with different genres, before becoming an actor.[3] With over 400 films to his name, Manivannan was one of the most experienced actors in the field and has directed exact 50 films.[4] Manivannan was mainly a supporting actor in films and often played the comedian or the villain's role.[3]

Manivannan in September 2012
Native name

(1953-07-31)31 July 1953
Died15 June 2013(2013-06-15) (aged 59)[1][2]
Kala kuruchi, Tamil Nadu, India
OccupationFilm actor, director, writer, Tamil activist and music director
Years active1978–2013
Political partyNTK
ChildrenJyothi, Raghuvannan
AwardsNational award, 2016

During his lifetime, he supported various political parties, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. He later became affiliated with the Naam Tamilar Katchi and had long supported its ideology of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism.


Manivannan attended the Sulur Government Boy's High School and later enrolled at Government Arts College.[5] While completing his pre-university course in Kovai, he became acquainted with Sathyaraj and became friends. According to Sathyaraj, he provided poor guidance to Manivannan and made him pursue a degree in history in advanced English, which made him struggle with topics such as Shakespeare, forcing him to drop out later.[6] While still at college, Manivannan was bitten by the stage-bug and consequently he staged a few performances. Inspired by the impact the film Kizhake Pogum Rail (1978) made on him, he wrote a fan mail to the film-maker Bharathiraja and the letter ran to more than a hundred pages.[7][8] Bharathiraja took him under his fold as an apprentice. Manivannan joined Bharathiraja's camp around 1979, when the director was acting in and was directing by P S Nivas, Kallukkul Eeram.[9]

He penned the story and dialogues for some of his mentor's films between 1980–82 like Nizhalgal, Tick Tick Tick, Alaigal Oivathillai and Kaadhal Oviyam.[3] Manivannan assisted Bharathiraja in a handful of films like Koththa Jeevithaalu (Telugu), Red Rose (Hindi) starring Rajesh Khanna and Lovers (Hindi).He learned trade hard and fast within two years under Bharatiraja and by 1982 made his directorial début. He had also penned the story and dialogues for a bunch of other films like Lottery Ticket acted by Mohan and Prabhu, Agaya Gangai acted by Karthik, Nesam acted by Ajith Kumar. In Kodi Parakuthu, directed by Bharathiraja, Manivannan did the villain's role.

Although Manivannan has directed 50 films in Tamil and had around 34 films as box-office hits, he was most known for his acting skills among public. He was considered unique in the industry for his wisdom and his character roles. He had acted alongside many a star including Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Sathyaraj, Karthik, Mohan, Madhavan, Vijay, Ajith Kumar, Surya and among others. He has starred in over 400 films. Amaidhi Padai, directed by Manivannan, is believed to have given him headway as an actor. He started getting plush offers and was seen acting in as many as thirty films a year from 1990–2011.

Manivannan directed 50 films including a few ventures in Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi.[10] As a director, he made films in different genres – from romance to thriller to drama.[3] He made his directorial début with Gopurangal Saivathillai in 1982.[11] The Hindu wrote that his film Amaidhi Padai (1994) "has set the standards for political satire in Tamil cinema".[3] In 2013 he directed his 50th and last film Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA, a sequel to Amaidhi Padai.[12] Manivannan directed his best friend Sathyaraj in a good 25 films[7] and gave 12 successive hits as the director of Tamil films with Sathyaraj as the lead hero – Jallikattu, Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi, Ganam Kortaar Avargale, Manidhan Marivittan, Ullathil Nalla Ullam, Vazhkkaichakkaram, Pudhu Manithan, Therku Theru Machan, Government Mapillai, Amaidhipadai.[13]

His protégés have proved themselves as successful directors. Vikraman, R K Selvamani, Sundar C, Seeman, K Selva Bharathy, Radha Bharathi, C V Sasikumar, E Ramadoss, Jeeva Balan and Rasu Madhuravan once took orders for Manivannan.[7] Withering irony, and a very cool way of delivering the dialogues is Manivannan's motif and style in films.


Manivannan was first a staunch supporter of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) as his father R S Maniam was the DMK town secretary of Sulur, which made Manivannan develop an interest in the ideology of the Dravidian movement. However, later he became a Marxist and an activist in the naxalite movement.[5] He had political differences even with his father.[5]

Manivannan was a Tamil patriot and joined the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) political party and campaigned for them during the 2006 Assembly elections.[14] He later joined Naam Tamilar Katchi and has been as supporter of Tamil Eelam.[15] Manivannan once said: "If I were born in Tamil Eelam, I would have certainly joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a warrior and sacrificed my life for the Eelam, since I am born in Tamil Nadu, there is Eelam feeling in me".[16]

Personal life

Manivannan hails from a small town called Sulur in Coimbatore District.[14] He was born to R S Maniam, a rice merchant, textile trader and a well known politician in Coimbatore and Maragatham who has contested in the elections and won a seat in the panchayat. Manivannan married Sengamalam, has a daughter and a son Raghu, who is acting in the films and is popularly known as Raghuvannan.[14]


Manivannan died shortly after the release of his 50th directorial venture Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA due to a cardiac arrest (heart attack) on 15 June 2013 at the age of 59 in his Nesapakkam residence at Chennai.[17] His body was wrapped in the flag of Tamil Eelam as he wished.[18] Two months after his death, his wife died on 15 August 2013.[19][20]


  1. S.R. Ashok Kumar (25 October 2006). "I am not what I look like: Manivannan". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  2. "Tamil actor Manivannan died". The Times of India. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  3. Karthik Subramanian (15 June 2013). "Master of character roles Manivannan passes away". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  4. "Manivannan's death a huge loss: Tamil film fraternity". Business Standard. IANS. 16 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  5. B Meenakshi Sundaram (16 June 2013). "Kovai has fond memories of Manivannan, the entertainer". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  6. Subha J Rao (4 May 2013). "Many shades of grey". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  7. Anupama Subramanian (16 June 2013). "Multi-talented Manivannan passes away". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  8. "dinakaran". Archived from the original on 4 August 2003. Retrieved 14 February 2014.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  9. "Actor-director Mannivannan no more". The Times of India. TNN. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  10. "Tamil actor Manivannan died". The Times of India. TNN. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  11. News, Express. "Comrade takes final bow, friends grieve". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  12. Chennai, 15 June 2013, (PTI). "Actor-director Manivannan passes away". Retrieved 16 June 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. "Manivannan | Successive hits – Who gave the most in Tamil cinema?". Behindwoods. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  14. "Manivannan passes away!". Sify. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  15. Shankar. "என் உடல் மீது புலிக்கொடி போர்த்துங்கள்- மணிவண்ணன் உருக்கம்". OneIndia. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  16. "Seeman covers Manivannans body with Ltte flag and pays homage".
  17. "End of the king of Satire, Manivannan, nagaraja chola ma mla". Behindwoods. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  18. "Videos – Manivannan's Final Request". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  19. Manivannan's wife no more | கணவர் இறந்த இரண்டே மாதத்தில் நடிகர் மணிவண்ணனின் மனைவி மரணம் – Oneindia Tamil
  20. "Manivannan's wife breathes her last – The Times of India". The Times of India.
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