The first great Tamil actor would definitely be Gemini Ganesan. He was nicknamed 'kadhal mannan' (king of love). He was famous as the romantic hero. He has several hit films to his credit. He ruled the box office from 1950s to 1970s. In 1971 he was honored with the Padma Shri by the Indian Government. His debut film in the Tamil films was Miss Malini. But surprisingly it was in a role of an anti hero in Thai Ullam that he was noticed. His first film as the lead actor was Manampol Mangalyam in 1954.
Some of his popular films are as follows
While naming the renowned actor of the Tamil film industry one can never forget Sivaji Ganesan. Born as Viluppuram Chinnaiahpillai Ganesan he was named 'Sivaji' after his impressive stage performance as Shivaji, the Maratha king. Starting off with Parasakthi (1952 film) he has acted in about 300 films in his career. This legendary actor has also acted in Telegu, Kannada and Hindi movies. This Tamil actor is also accredited with acting in the first song less flick in Indian cinema-- S.Balachander's Anda Naal (1954). Till date the film remains to be one of the best films of his career. The background of the film is set in Second World War.
His outstanding histrionic skills have made him a legend in Kollywood. Throughout his lifetime he has been felicitated with awards. He received awards like:
From his end he has always contributed in several ways for the upliftment of the society.
A host of other films followed from 1950s and later. The film career of Sivaji Ganesan lasted till the 90s. While in many films he played the mythological characters in others he played double and even triple roles.
One of the biggest names that has to be included in the list of Tamil actors is that of MG Ramachandran. He started his career in 1935 with the film Sati Leelavati. The film is directed by Ellis Dungan. But the movie that brought him recognition was Rajakumari (1947). After this a string of hit movies followed and MG Ramachandran was established as the finest Tamil actors around. Rickshakaran fetched him the National Award in 1972. His stint in politics was also successful.
The next big Tamil star would undoubtedly be Rajnikanth. He made his debut with the film Apoorva Raagangal in 1975 alongside Kamal Hassan. Hailed as one of the most bankable stars of Tamil film industry, Rajnikanth is still unmatchable today. This mega star has received the Padma Bhushan in the year 2000. The humility of the man makes him more popular amongst his fans. It is said that none of the films of Rajnikanth has ever flopped.
Kamal Hassan began his career with K Balachander's film Apoorva Raagangal. From the very beginning of his career he experimented with his roles and was widely applauded for his performances. He is, probably, a rare actor who has won National Award 4 times. This Tamil actor has also acted in Malayalam, Kaannada, Telegu and Hindi films.
Other popular Tamil actors are: