Thengai Srinivasan was a South Indian actor and comedian who performed in Tamil films and stage plays. He was born on 21st October 1937 in Srivaikuntum in the Tuticorin district Tamil Nadu and died on 8th November 1988 in Bangalore. He is most well known for his comedic roles but has also done other genres and played the role of antagonist. Srinivasan was the son of stage artist Rajavel Mudalier and Subammal. He had two sisters. His family shifted from Tuticorin to Chennai when he was seven. He married Lakshmi with whom he had three children; Geethalakshmi, Rajeshwari and Shivshankar. After school, Srinivasan worked at the Integral Coach Factory before joining the Railway Drama Club. He made his theatrical debut as an actor in his father’s play Galatta Kalyanam. He earned the name Thengai from comedian K. A. Thangavelu for his role as a coconut vendor at K. Kannan’s act Kal Manam.
This role lead to Srinivasan’s debut in the Tamil film industry with the film Oru Viral in 1965. His original debut in Iravum Pegalam, which featured another debutant Jaishankar, was canceled as the distributors were concerned about having two newcomers in lead roles. Regardless of this Srinivasan and Jaishankar would remain good friends and would act together for several movies like Vallavan Oruvan, Sabash Thambi, Kadalithal Podhuma, Thanga Rangan,
Velli Vizha and many others. Srinvasan acted in several movies like Adduku Malli, Sri Ramajayam, Nanadi Karanga, Porter Ponnusami, Mayangukiral Oru Maadhu, Kaliyuga Kannan and many more. But his most notable roles were that of a fake Swami in
Kasethan Kadavulada in 1972 and an idealist industrialist in Thillu Millu in 1981.
In 2013, Forbes India noted his role in Thillu Millu in the article The 25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema alongside superstar Rajinikanth’s performance in the same movie. Srinivasan joined his close friend; the superstar turned politician M. G. Ramachandran’s party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhangam and gave many public speeches for it. In 1987, Srinivasan produced Krishnan Vandhaan with superstar Ganesum Sivaji in the lead role, but the film performed badly at the box office and caused him great financial issue but made it through with the aide of MGR. In 1988, he went to Bangalore to attend his aunt’s funeral when he suffered a brain hemorrhage and expired at the age of 51. After his death, his grandchildren Shrutika and Yogi acted in a few Tamil films.