Veteran yesteryear actor SS Rajendran, who was the first cinema artiste to be elected to a state assembly in post-independent India, died on Friday.
Rajendran (86), who had been admitted to a private hospital for lung infection, died on Friday morning, his son Kannan said.
Known for his clear diction and impeccable dialogue delivery, SSR, as he was addressed by fans, earned a name for himself during the period ruled by two stalwarts of Tamil cinema, MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan.
Incidentally he had starred alongside Ganesan in a number of films, including the latter's debut venture, Parasakthi, a revolutionary film scripted by DMK leader M Karunanidhi, and Deivapiravi.
Fondly addressed as Latchiya Nadigar (actor of principles) by his fans, Rajendran started his career as a theatre artiste. He later ventured into Tamil cinema, acting in notable films such as Parasakthi, Poompuhar, Marakka Mudiuma, Kumudam and Naanum Oru Penn, among others.
Drawn by the policies of Dravidian veteran and DMK founder, the late CN Annadurai, SSR later joined the party, and successfully contested the 1962 assembly elections and was also elected to the Rajya Sabha in the latter part of his political career. He later joined AIADMK.
However, he had been staying away from active politics for the last many years.
AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, also a yesteryear actor, described his death as a great loss to Tamil cinema.
Karunanidhi, who described Rajendran as a brother, said he was 'shaken' by his death. The DMK chief recalled that the actor had worked in films like Parasakthi, Manohara, Poompuhar and Marakka Mudiuma in which he had penned the dialogue.
"He had stood besides me in different phases of my life and I cannot believe that we have lost him," he said in a statement while describing Rajendran as a 'rational' individual. He also paid homage to the actor's mortal remains.
Information Minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji paid homage on behalf of the state government.
The Tamil film industry announced suspending operations for half a day on Friday as a mark of respect to the deceased.
Hailing Rajendran as a 'guide' to many professionals, a joint statement from various unions described his death as a 'great loss' to the industry.
MDMK leader Vaiko, BJP state president Tamizhisai Sounderrajan and TNCC chief BS Gnanadesikan also condoled the death.