Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar

"Sandow" Marudur Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Devar (28 June 1915 – 8 September 1978) was an eminent producer of Tamil films in the mid-1950s through the 1960s and 1970s. He is best known for his films featuring animals, and has produced numerous movies with M. G. Ramachandran as lead actor (16 movies with under his famous banner: Devar Films).

Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
Marudur Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Thevar

(1915-06-28)28 June 1915
Died8 September 1978(1978-09-08) (aged 63)
OccupationActor, Film producer
Years active1940-1978

He launched all his movies under the Devar Films, which also produced the Rajesh Khanna's Bollywood hit Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) in which he achieved national fame and Dhandayupathi Films banner.[1]

The title of "Sandow" was given to Chinnappa Thevar in tribute (to the father of the modern bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow) and because of his impressive muscles.

Early years

M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar was born in Ramanathapuram locality in Coimbatore to Ayyavoo thevar and Ramakkal. He has one elder brother named Subbiah thevar and three younger brothers named Nataraja thevar, Arumugam (M.A. Thirumugam) and Mariappan. His father was an agriculturist.[2]

Chinnappa thevar studied only till 5th grade due to financial reasons. During his youth in the 1930s, he joined in Pankaja mill for a salary of Rs.9 and started his earnings. He later worked in Stanes motor company for few years. He also earned through milk production, rice shop and soda production.

From a very young age he was interested in gymnasium. He started "Veera Maruthi Deha Payirchi saalai" with his friends in Ramanathapuram area. To join the film industry, he mastered various martial arts and improved his physique.

He and his brother first acted in the 1940 film Thilottama. It was a fight sequence where only their shadows were filmed. Devar earned the title ‘Sandow’ because of his physique and fighting skills.[3]

He had started playing small roles in films that were shot in Central Studios, Coimbatore, until he was roped in by Jupiter Pictures[4] for villain role in the 1947 movie Rajakumari with then-a-relatively unknown lead actor M. G. Ramachandran with whom he formed a deep friendship. In the film Mohini (1948) there was a scene taken in forest, where the character played by M.G.Ramachandran rushes to rescue a family travelling in a bullock-cart from being robbed by a gang and the main robbers role was played by M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar as the main robber.[5]


Chinnappa thevar developed a deep friendship with M. G. Ramachandran. MGR too apparently recommended Devar in the films he worked. This went on till 1956 when Devar started his own production company Devar Films, and asked MGR to be the hero. MGR agreed, and they made Thaikkupin Thaaram. The film was a success, and launched Devar as a filmmaker.

He later during moved to Chennai in the early 1950s, which by then became the South Indian Cinema Hub. He launched his production company the famous "Devar Films" and used the facilities of Vijaya Vauhini Studios for indoor shooting and post production activities.

He is best known for various M. G. Ramachandran movies and introduced Saroja Devi to Tamil Movies who became a celluloid queen.

When MGR became busy with his own production Nadodi Mannan, Devar was forced to make a few other movies.

In 1960, he started to record the music for Thaai Sollai Thattadhe and cast Ashokan as the hero. When the recording was over, MGR heard the songs and wanted the story to be narrated. Apparently, after this there was a promise between them that MGR will adhere to all of Devar's conditions and, in return, Devar would make films only with him and no other ‘big’ hero. This ‘agreement’ led to Devar making 16 films with MGR, the last being Nalla Neram in 1972, the Tamil remake of Haathi Mere Saathi.

Despite working with MGR on several films, he never got a chance to work with Sivaji Ganesan. He once mentioned that he didn't have right story for Mr. Ganesan.[6]

Devar is also known for using animals as a supporting theme in his movies, and at times as the lead character. His brother M. A. Thirumugam was also a successful director was worked predominantly for "Devar Films" production company.

Together the duo gave Rajesh Khanna's biggest blockbuster hit Haathi Mere Saathi, which also introduced the Salim-Javed duo as script writers to Bollywood.

In Tamil film industry he was one of the most successful movie producers and his two recurring subjects were his animals and devotional movies, as he was an ardent devotee of Lord Murugan.

Later years

In his later years with MGR getting more and more into active politics, Devar started to make films in the Socio –mythological Genre. They were films set in modern times with the Central theme that faith and belief in God will solve one's problems.[1]

Chinnapa thevar also planned to make movies with Rajinikanth who was rising popular at that time. Rajini worked on the movie Thai Meethu Sathiyam under the Devar Films banner directed by Thevar's son-in0-law R. Thyagarajan. While shooting for the movie, Chinnapa thevar fell ill and died couple of days later.

Personal life

Chinnapa Thevar married Mari Muthammal at an early age of 21 by 1936. The couple has one son, Dhandayuthapani, and two daughters, Subbulakshmi and Jagadeeshwari. His elder daughter Subbulakshmi married R. Thyagarajan, who became a director later. Vellikizhamai Viratham (1974) and Aattukara Alamelu(1977) are a couple of famous films to his credit.

Ardent Lord Murugan devotee

Chinnapa Thevar practiced Hindu religion and was an ardent devotee for Lord Muruga. Once Income Tax officials raided his house and was astonished to find so many Viboothi packets of Murugan temples, but no cash. Any profit from the movie he splits into four parts. The first part was given to Murugan temples as he believed that all of his success was because of Lord Muruga. Because of this many Murugan temples like Pazhani temple, Tiruchendur temple and Marudhamalai temple were benefited. The second part he kept for himself. The third part is for his old friends who supported him during his early days who collected few thousands and sent him to Madras for film making. The fourth and final part he gave to the needy people.


On 6 September 1978, during the shooting of the film Thai Meethu Sathiyam at Ooty, Devar complained of chest pain, since he had high blood pressure[2] he was advised by the doctors in Ooty to get admitted in hospital, he was soon brought in his car from Ooty to Coimbatore. He was admitted in a private hospital upon arrival. After treatment he recovered partially and again got chest pain on 8 September 1978 and died by 10 a.m morning in spite of intense treatment. He was only 63 when he died.[6]

The day of his demise was a ‘Shashti’ day, very special to Lord Muruga.

Tribute and cremation

Thevar's body was brought from hospital to his Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore residence and kept for public to pay their last respect. M.G.R, who had a long-term association with Thevar not only paid rich tribute to Chinnapa Thevar but also came to Coimbatore for his funeral. Several eminent personalities like Rajinikanth Jaishankar attended Thevar's funeral.


Films produced by Thevar
1956Thaikkupin TharamTamilFirst Film under Devar Films banner
First Film with MGR
1957Neelamalai ThirudanTamil
1958Sengottai SingamTamil
1959Vaazha Vaitha DeivamTamil
1960Uthami Petra RathinamTamilPresented by Devar Films
Produced by Amara Productions
1960Yanai PaaganTamil
1961Kongunattu ThangamTamil
1961Thaai Sollai ThattadheTamilRe-join with MGR
1962Thayai Katha ThanayanTamil
1962Kudumba ThalaivanTamil
1963Dharmam Thalai KaakkumTamil
1963Needhikkuppin PaasamTamil
1964Deiva ThirumagalTamilFirst Film under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
First and Last Film directed by Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
1965Kattu RaniTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1965Thayum MagalumTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1965Kanni ThaaiTamil
1967Thaikku ThalaimaganTamil
1967MagaraasiTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1967DeivacheyalTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1968Thaer ThiruvizhaTamil
1968NervazhiTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1968Kadhal VaaganamTamil
1969Akka ThangaiTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1969ThunaivanTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1970Penn DeivamTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1970MaanavanTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1971Haathi Mere SaathiHindiFirst Hindi Film
Highest Gross of the Year
1971KettikaranTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1972Nalla NeramTamilRemake of Haathi Mere Saathi
Last Film with MGR
1972Janwar Aur InsaanHindiUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1972DheivamTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1973Komatha En KulamathaTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1973Gaai Aur GoriHindiRemake of Komatha En Kulamatha
Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1974Vellikizhamai VirathamTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1974Shubh DinHindiRemake of Vellikizhamai Viratham
Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1975ThiruvarulTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1976Thayilla KuzhandhaiTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1977Sorgam NaragamTamilRemake of Swargam Narakam
Under Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1977Aattukara AlameluTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1978Pottelu PunnammaTeluguRemake of Aattukara Alamelu
First Telugu Film
1978Mera RakshakHindiRemake of Aattukara Alamelu
1978Thai Meethu SathiyamTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
Films produced after the death of Thevar [By his Son-in-law Sri. R. Thyagarjan B.Sc]
1979Thaayillamal Naan IllaiTamil
1979Annai Oru AalayamTamil
1980Do Aur Do PaanchHindi
1980Anbukku Naan AdimaiTamil
1981Ram LakshmanTamil
1981Anjatha NenjangalTamil
1983Thai VeeduTamil
1983Jeet HamaariHindiRemake of Thai Veedu
Last Hindi Film
1983Apoorva SahodarigalTamil
1983"Sashti viratham"Tamil
1984Nalla NaalTamil
1985Annai Bhoomi 3DTamilFirst 3D Tamil Film
1985Panam Pathum SeyyumTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1985SelviTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1986Piranthaen ValarnthaenTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1987ChellakuttiTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
1988Dharmathin ThalaivanTamilUnder Dhandayuthapani Films banner
Last Film for this banner.


  1. "Mohan's Musings: Sandow M M A Chinnappa Devar". Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  2. ""Sandow" M.M.A.Chinnappa Devar". Antru Kanda Mugam. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  3. "Sandow and superstars". The Hindu. 2012-07-24. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  4. "Rajakumari 1947". The Hindu. 2008-09-05. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  6. "Kalyanamalai Magazine - Serial story, Thiraichuvai - Potpourri of titbits about Tamil cinema, Director Sando Chinnapa Devar". Retrieved 2015-09-04.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.