Comedian and mimicry artiste 'Rocket' Ramanathan passes away
Conferred with the Kalaimamani Award and the Kalaiselvan Award by the State government, Ramanathan can be credited for popularising mimicry in Tamil Nadu
'Rocket' Ramanathan, considered to be one of the first mimicry artists in Tamil cinema, passed away on Wednesday, at the age of 74, due to age-related ailments. Ramanathan made his acting debut in the RC Sakthi-directed Sparisam in 1982. Though he was part of successful films like Oru Pullaankuzhal Aduppoodhigaradhu and Manakanakku, the actor's stage career far surpassed his onscreen work.
In particular, Ramanathan was known for his impeccable impressions of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MG Ramachandran and thespian Sivaji Ganesan. Veteran actor and mimicry artist Chinni Jayanth recalls his performances fondly and says, "In the 1970s and 80s, when I was in school and college, I used to see a lot of his shows. Personally, I am a big fan of his MR Radha impression."
Conferred with the Kalaimamani Award and the Kalaiselvan Award by the State government, Ramanathan can be credited for popularising mimicry in Tamil Nadu.
Chinni Jayanth concurs: "His audience was mainly in the villages and his routine with a 'steel tin' was extremely popular." He also fondly remembers the time Ramanathan's Nadaswaram act left him and Rajinikanth in peals of laughter.
Actor Robo Shankar, who refers to Ramanathan's demise as a personal loss, says, "I have done a lot of shows with him. He felt Shankar was too normal a name and gave me the moniker of 'Malaysia' Shankar. I still have those visiting cards." Shankar adds that he used to call Ramanathan 'mama' (uncle), and credits the artiste for providing him with numerous stage opportunities.
Known for his unique dialogue delivery, Ramanathan laid the path for future mimicry artistes and proved the field was lucrative. "He was a major inspiration for us. During a time when mimicry artistes hardly got a chance to act in cinema, his courage to follow both, helped me overcome my fear of chances drying up," says Chinni Jayanth.
Talking about his most memorable memory with Ramanathan, the actor recalls, "When I requested him to teach me how to do MR Radha's voice, he said 'vaa pa sishya' and taught me. It was a very proud moment when such a talented artiste called me his disciple. He was a great artiste and an even better human being."
Nadigar Sangam released a statement condoning the actor's death. 'Rocket' Ramanathan is survived by his wife Bhanumathi, and children, Sai Bala and Sai Guru Balaji.