Way back in 1964, on Independence Day, Tamil film star S S Rajendran, the first Tamil hero who tried his luck in politics and contested an election, raised eyebrows when he hoisted a black flag at his residence at Eldom’s Road in Chennai. Within a few minutes, police rushed to his residence to take him into custody. SSR, as he was familiarly known, did not oblige. By the time police could start to search his three-storey bungalow, SSR was seen on the terrace with a microphone in his left hand and a revolver in the other. Raising his revolver, he declared over the microphone that his residence is his personal property and that he has every right not to celebrate Independence of the country. He asked the police to vacate his compound or face consequences. Police, under the direction of then chief minister M Bhaktavatsalam, withdrew amidst raised slogans from Dravida Kazhagam cadres. Superstar SSR who became a hero in real life passed away Friday morning. He was 85. He is survived by two wives and eight children.
Sometime in August 2013, an ailing SSR recalled this story from an era when the DK party was the nerve point of Tamil Nadu politics. “After Independence, I was active in politics. Despite getting freedom in 1947, we believed the actual independence is yet to come and the state continues to suppress people’s movements. Those days, as a political decision, party workers would pin black badges and boycott any celebrations on Independence Day,” he said.
A strong follower of Periyar and rationalist ideology, he joined DMK and contested from Theni in 1962. Despite his failure in the first election, he played a major role in building the party in southern districts and acted in several propaganda movies of Dravidian ideology. Later, he joined AIADMK and won the election from Andipatti constituency in the 1981 assembly election. However, towards the end of his life, he was a strong critic of M Karunanidhi and DMK’s family politics. He has acted in over 50 Tamil films including Parasakti, Poompuhar and Manimagudam.