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Krishnan-Panju: The Pioneering Duo Who Once Ruled The Tamil Cinema

Krishnan and S. Panju, famously referred to as Krishnan-Panju, primarily worked in Tamil cinema. The duo created several milestone films like Parasakthi and Ratha Kanneer. The duo established a cinematic blueprint for others to follow.

It is fairly usual for director duos and writers to split after working together for a considerable period. However, Krishnan and Panju were quite opposite the flow. They remained together until the latter died in 1984.

They collaborated in Kandhan Studio on the Tamil film Araichimani or Manuneethi Chozhan (1942), helmed by P. K. Raja Sandow. At the time, Krishnan and Panju became pals. When Raja Sandow recognised their abilities, he sent them to his next venture, Poompavai. Poompavai (1944) was their debut film as directors. They created Nallathambi in 1949, inspired by Mr Deeds Goes to Town, in which C. N. Annadurai, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, made his screenwriting debut.

They created Parasakthi in 1952, with dialogues written by M. Karunanidhi, who eventually became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Parasakthi became a cult classic in Tamil cinema, influencing the formation of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a regional political organization in Tamil Nadu.

Thespian Sivaji Ganesan also debuted with Krishnan-Panchu’s directorial attempt.

They collaborated on 56 films in various languages alongside MGR, SSR, Bhanumathy, Sharada, MR Radha, Nagesh, Sivakumar, and others.

In 2017, actor Suriya and his father Sivakumar premiered a documentary titled The Pioneering Duo on Krishnan-Panchu, the famed writer-director-producer-editor tandem of Indian film, at the Russian Cultural Center in Chennai. The documentary was directed by G. Dhananjayan, who won the Best Critic Award at the National Film Awards.

At the premiere event, Suriya said, “After witnessing the body of work of Krishnan– Panchu via this documentary, I ask myself, ‘what have I achieved so far?'”

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