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Bharatidasan (1891-1964)

Major Tamil poet, playwright and scenarist. Seminal figure in the Tamil nationalist movement, prefiguring the regional political ideology of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (cf. DMK Film). Changed his name in 1908 from Kanaka Subburathnam to Bharatidasan, ‘disciple of Bharati’, in honour of his mentor, the poet Subramanya Bharati. Wrote religious poems and was briefly a follower of Gandhi; later became an atheist under the influence of Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker and joined the Dravidar Kazhagam. Published his first anthology, Bharatidasan Kavitaikal in 1938 (collected works published in 1977). Mounted several attacks on religious brahminism using a demotic Tamil; militantly affirmed a Tamil identity against Northern hegemony. Film début in P.V. Rao’s Balamani (1937) as dialogue writer-lyricist. His dialogues for Duncan’s Kalamegham (1940) led to a long- term association with Modern Theatres where he wrote e.g. T.R. Sundaram’s Subhadra (1945) and Sulochana (1946), achieving mass popularity with Sundaram’s Apoorva Chintamani (1947), followed by the story/dialogue/lyrics of Duncan’s Ponmudi (1949). Also wrote Sundaram’s Valayapathi (1952). Poems have been used as lyrics in numerous Tamil films, notably P. Neelakantan’s Ore Iravu (1951).