Sunday, March 19, 2023

Sudden turn

In the 1930s and early 1940s, CN Lakshmikanthan was the man who made the who's who of Madras society nervous. Movie stars, prominent socialites, industrialists, even politicians and lawyers were not spared his attention. As a journalist running a film weekly Cinema Thoothu (and later when Cinema Thoothu was banned, Hindu Nesan), Lakshmikanthan had almost perfected the art of extorting money with the thread of publishing scandalous stories about his targets. Most of them paid up, but there were some who were repeated frustrated by him. 

Things came to a head on the morning of November 8, 1944. Lakshmikanthan was returning home after a visit to his lawyer. He had the hand-rickshaw go through the General Collins Road route back home. This road had a blind turn around which his assailants lay in wait. Two of them stabbed Lakshmikanthan while two other kept watch. It appeared that Lakshmikanthan knew the assailants, event though he did not specify who they were to his lawyer, who arranged for him to be taken to the General Hospital right away. Being made of sterner stuff, Lakshmikanthan decided to file a complaint with the Vepery Police Station before going to the General Hospital.

The wounds were more serious than he realised, or maybe more wounds were inflicted on him. He died early the following morning; a trial for his murder put two famous actors and several others behind bars for a few years before they were determined to be innocent, or at least the beneficiaries of reasonable doubt. If only the walls and the trees on General Collins Road, which would well have been there even 79 years, ago could talk! The mystery of who killed Lakshmikanthan wouldn't have become the sensation it has grown to be through all these decades!


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