When Sivaji Ganesan and MGR was ruling the Tamil screen, there was a comedian who commanded salary on a par with them. And this actor was Joseph Panimayadas Rodriguez Chandrababu (1927–1974), who was a dancing and singing –actor. This actor had introduced yodeling in the playback singing, and his movements were like
Charlie Chaplin, that made him popular from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s. He sang in his first film Dhana Amaravathi (1947) and had never looked back later. But the tragedy was that, such a successful actor died a pauper in 1974. Chandrababu acted in 76 movies and showed much versatility, many actors compared his style of singing, dancing and acting with Danny Kaye and Bob Hope. He liked to lead a royal life. So he purchased a 20-acre plot on Greenways Road and began a house construction, where he used to drive the car straight to the first floor. He learnt the dialect from rickshaw pullers and street vendors near his home in Triplicane and had essayed many roles that needed such dialects. He wanted to sign MGR for Maadi Veettu Yezhai, but MGR never co-operated with him. So the film did not see light of the day, even though few scenes were shot. He met with financial crisis as the film Maadi Veettu Yezhai could not get complete and he became penniless. He again tried his luck with Thattungal Thirakkappadum, which was known for its cinematography work, but was not a box office success.
The actor-singer was paid Rs 200 for his first film, but when he achieved stardom, he used to command Rs 1 lakh, a sum which no comedy actor in South Indian cinema had commanded earlier.
His marriage was a total failure and he was heartbroken. Later, he reduced his assignments and became a confused man. He has acted in 76 movies.
He died on 8 March, 1974.