Countdown to Suriya 's Soorarai Pottru: 45 times Tamil Cinema explored the biopic genre Published: 02nd October 2020 Biographical films put us on the front seat of the journey through one's life. With Soorarai Pottru getting a release this month, let's look at films that defined the biopic genre in Tamil. The latest biopic to grace the OTT screens was last year's Queen which was loosely based on the life of the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Season 2 is on decks. The only other web-series in this list is last year's Auto Shankar that revolves around the much-dreaded gangster's rise and fall. Appani Sarath played the titular role. Veteran director SA Chandrasekar wore the actor's hat in 2018's Traffic Ramasamy where he played the veteran social activist KR Ramaswamy. Autobiographies are almost non-existent in Tamil cinema and Meesaya Murukku (2017), a partly fictionalised biopic of Hiphop Tamizha Aadhi, added to that small list. Porkalathil Oru Poo (2016) is based on the life of Isaipriya, a TV journalist raped and murdered by members of the Sri Lankan army during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Ramanujan (2014) was based on the life of renowned Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. In 2015, another biopic, The Man Who Knew Infinity came up in English. Ratchagan filmmaker made a comeback in 2014 with Pulipaarvai which is based on Balachandran Prabhakaran, the 12-year-old youngest son of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran There are quite a few films on the notorious forest brigand Veerappan. Vana Yuddham (2013) though, is the only Tamil film. It stars Kishore, Arjun and Vijayalakshmi Social reformer and rationalist Periyar EV Ramasamy Periyar's legacy was told via the 2007 biopic titled Periyar with Sathyaraj playing the titular role. Another important figure from the state and ex-Chief Minister of the state K Kamaraj had a film made on his life that released in 2004. Ilaiyaraja composed music for this film. The Simran starring Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi in 2003 had the actor play a brave woman who battles against untouchability in a village. It was also composer Adithyan's last film. In 1999, Murali played the titular role in Iraniyan which was a fictional biography of freedom fighter Vattakudi Iraniyan who fought for the welfare of his village Mani Ratnam's 1997 political drama Iruvar was inspired by the lives of MG Ramachandran and M Karunanidhi, played by Mohanlal and Prakash Raj respectively Napolean played the titular role in Seevalaperi Pandi (1994) which was based on a man often considered as the Robin Hood of Tirunelveli. The film made Napolean a household name. Kannada filmmaker GV Iyer's only Tamil film Ramanujacharya (1989) was based on the life of Ramanuja, one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition One of the best films of both Kamal Haasan and Mani Ratnam, the 1987 Nayakan was loosely based on the life of the Bombay underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar A dispute for land and identity made way for many prominent figures whose lives have been made into films. Vijayakanth's Karimedu Karuvayan (1986) is also one such film Rajinikanth's 100th film Sri Raghavendrar (1985) was based on the Hindu scholar, theologian and saint Sri Raghavendra Tirtha. The film failed at the box office. 1983's Malaiyoor Mambattiyan starring Thiagarajan, which was later remade in Hindi and Tamil, is based on a Robin Hood life figure who prevailed in Malaiyoor regions. The 1973 Sivaji Ganesan-starrer Rajaraja Cholan had him play the titular character, the Chola emperor. It was the first cinemascope to be released in Tamil. Veteran actor TM Soundararajan starred as the Tamil saint-poet Arunagirinathar, writer of Thiruppugazh, in the 1964 film of the same name. Padmini played the titular role in 1962's Raani Samyuktha that was based on the romance between Prithviraj Chauhan (played by MGR) and the eponymous queen Sivaji Ganesan played the role of VO Chidambaram Pillai in the Indian freedom fighter and leader of Indian National Congress' biopic titled Kappalottiya Thamizhan (1961) The lives of one of the most famous freedom fighters from Tamil Nadu, the Maruthu Brothers, were made into a biopic titled Sivagangai Seemai in 1959 It's Sivaji again and this time the legendary actor played the titular role in Veerapandia Kattabomman (1959), the biopic of the chieftain who rebelled against the East India Company And the actor is far from done from appearing in this list. In 1956 he played Tenali Raman in the film of the same name that had him as the 14th-century poet and scholar In an interesting turn of events, 1948 saw two Tamil biopics of Kashmiri poet Bilhana titled Bilhana and Bilhanan, starring KR Ramasamy and TK Shanmugam respectively The author of Ramayana, Valmiki got his Tamil biopic when Honnappa Bhagavathar played the titular role in 1946's Valmiki that showed the poet's spiritual transformation 1945's Meera starred MS Subbulakshmi as the eponymous 16th-century mystic and poet. The film was produced by the actor-singer's husband Kalki Sadasivam Karaikkal Ammaiyar, based on the life of a Hindu woman saint of the same name, who lived around the 6th century was made twice, in 1943 and 1973 MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar played the lead in 1943's Sivakavi which revolved on the life story of Poyyamozhi Pulavar. The film turned out to be a huge hit 1939's Jothi was based on the life of Saint Ramalinga Swamigal popularly known as Vallalar. No print of the film is known to survive, making it a lost film A biopic on Sant Tukaram Maharaj, a 17th-century Hindu poet, titled Thukkaram was made in 1938. Carnatic vocalist Musiri Subramania Iyer played the eponymous saint Chintamani (1937) was based on the legendary story of a Sanskrit poet named Bilwamangal. It was the first Tamil film to run for a year in a single theatre 1936's Pattinathar was based on the life of a saint who lived in Kaveripoompattinam. Another biopic in the same name later came out in 1962 Sanskrit poet Kalidasa's biopic Kalidas (1931) was the first sound film to be made in a language from South India. Another biopic was made in 1966 titled Mahakavi Kalidas In the list of biopics that are yet to release stands the Suriya starrer Soorarai Pottru that'll release on 30th October 2020. It's inspired from the life of GR Gopinath The Madhavan starrer Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, which is in the post-production stage, is based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, a former scientist and aerospace engineer Bobby Simha's long-awaited Seerum Puli will have him play the role of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) One of many more Jayalalithaa biopics in the offing, Thalaivi, directed by Vijay, will star Kangana Ranaut as the ex-CM of the state, along with Arvind Swami and Prakash Raj Another biopic of Jayalalithaa is titled The Iron Lady and will star Nithya Menen in the lead. Mysskin's erstwhile assistant, Priyadhaarshini is directing the film Kethireddy Jagadishwara Reddy will helm Sasilalitha that will focus on the lives of both Jayalalithaa and Sasikala. The film is expected to release in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi A biopic on Indian Paralympic high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu titled Mariyappan which was announced in 2017. It's not clear if the film will happen anytime soon Vijay Sethupathi will soon be playing the lead in cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan's biopic. Tentatively titled 800, the film is expected to go on floors soon Kamal Haasan's dream project Marudhanayagam will be based on Muhammed Yusuf Khan. The project which was stalled in 1999 is expected to be revived.