Manivannan (MBA) is a popular Tamil actor and director. With over 400 films to his name, Manivannan is one of the most experienced actors in the field. He normally plays the role of a dad or a senior comedian.
Character actor Manivannan hails from a small town called Sulur in Coimbatore district. While doing his P.U.C. in Kovai Govt. Arts College, he made friends with a lanky young man who happened to be his contemporary and the young man is none other than Sathyaraj. Their friendship stood the test of time and proved to be a mutually rewarding relationship. While still a collegian, Manivannan was bitten by the stage-bug and consequently he staged a few performances. Inspired by the impact the film Kizhakkae Pogum Rail" made on him he feverishly scribbled a fan mail to the filmmaker Bharathiraja and the letter ran to more than a hundred pages. Bharathiraja liked the earnest impressions made by the bearded and emaciated man from Coimbatore. He took him under his fold as an apprentice.Manivannan joined Bharathiraja's camp around 1979, when the revolutionary director was acting in and directing a real classic, "Kallukkul Eeram". He learnt the trade hard and fast and penned the story and dialogues for some of his mentor’s films like "Nizhalgal", "Tick Tick Tick" "Alaigal Oayvathillai" and "Kaathal Ovium". Manivannan assisted Bharathiraja in a handful of films like "Puthya Vaarppugal", "Koththa Jeevithaalu" (Telugu), "Kizhakkae Pogum Rail" (Telugu), "Red Rose" (Hindi), "Lovers" (Hindi) and "Kizhakkae Pogum Rail"(Tamil).He had also penned the story and dialogues for a bunch of other films like "Lottery Ticket" acted by Prabhu, "Aagaaya Gangai" acted by Karthik, "Naesam" acted by Ajithkumar. In "Kodi Parakkuthu", directed by Bharathiraja, Manivannan did the villain’s role. "Amaithip Padai", directed by Manivannan, is believed to have given him the headway as an actor. He started getting plush offers and was seen acting in as many as thirty films in a year. Manivannan joined the political party BJP a few years back and campaigned for them during the 2006 Assembly elections.
His favourites are oldies T.S. Balaiya and S.V. Ranga Rao. He is a great fan of the comic genius Charlie Chaplin. Sathyaraj is his pet and favourite in Tamil cinema. He loves to watch MGR in action. Akira Kurosawa (Japan), Satyajit Ray and Bharathiraja are his favourites in direction. His father R. Subramaniam is a rice merchant as well as a textile trader. Manivannan's mother is Maragatham. He has one elder sister and two younger sisters. Manivannan's wife is Sengamalam. This couple has a daughter by name Jothi and a son called Raghu. Manivannan is a simple down to earth person and is known for his good deeds.
Manivannan has directed some films in Tamil. But is most known for his acting. He is likened to a 'cuddly teddybear' by the industry for his wiseness and his character roles. He has acted along many a star including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan among others. He has starred in over 400 films.
Manivannan has so far directed a count of forty-five films including a few ventures in Telugu and Hindi. Manivannan has cast Sathyaraj in a good 25 films. His protégés have proved themselves as successful directors. Vikraman, R.K. Selvamani, Sunder C, Seemaan, K. Selvabharathi, Radhabharathi, C.V. Sasikumar, E. Ramadoss and Jeeva Balan once took orders for Manivannan. Withering irony, and a very cool way of delivering the dialogues is Manivannan’s motif and style in films.
Manivannan died shortly after the release of his 50th directorial venture Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA due to a cardiac arrest (heart attack) on June 15, 2013 at the age of 58 in his Nesapakkam residence at Chennai. His body was wrapped in the flag of Tamil Eelam as he wished.