Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The man behind the sun

Chennai got back to having a mayor in 2022, after almost 6 years of it being suspended; many believe the current mayor, Priya Rajan is the first woman mayor of Chennai. That honour however, goes to Tara Cherian, who served a term from December 1957 to November 1958. And then there was Kamakshi Jayaraman, who was the mayor of the city during 1971-72. With the post now being reserved for women, it will be a long while before Chennai gets to see a male mayor again, if at all. So here is something about one man who was the city's mayor.

Thamarapakkam Sundara Rao Naidu was born in 1891. A lawyer by training, he involved himself in social causes, joining the Justice Party in the 1920s. He was captivated by the movies, but he seems to have been more interested in their potential for communicating social messages than merely as a business. In the 1940s, he acquired a cinema hall, which continued to function until the '90s, well after Sundara Rao passed away in 1949. 

The Corporation of Chennai, having been established in 1688, is the second such in the world. Sundara Rao's tenure as mayor came a good 30 years after that post was first held by an Indian. However, he was the city's mayor when India became independent in 1947; there is a park named in his honour in Egmore. I am not sure if his statue is in that park, but this one can be seen at Sun Plaza, where he once had his cinema hall!


No comments: