From Bhagyaraj to Mysskin: List of five actor-directors in Kollywood

Kamal Hassan
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'Savarakathi', the Tamil movie directed by G R Aadithya hit the theatres on February 09, 2017. The movie has reportedly impressed critics and audiences alike, and it is receiving unanimously positive reviews from all corners. Interestingly, two acclaimed filmmakers, Mysskin and Ram have played the lead roles in this movie, and surprisingly, they have enacted their characters with finesse on screen. So, can a director become a good actor on screen or vice versa? The history of Tamil cinema says Yes, as this is not the first time that a director has enacted pivotal roles on the big screen. Let us check out five Tamil directors who became actors in the latter part of their career.


Bhagyaraj started his career as a small-time actor working in his mentor Bharathiraaja's films. He was initially shot to limelight when the movie 'Puthiya Vaarpugal' which featured him as the hero became a huge hit at the Kollywood box-office. He made his directorial debut with the movie 'Suvarilladha Chiththirangal', and he even played the lead role in it. As the film was well received by the audiences, he continued directing movies, and in most of them, he himself played the lead roles. Some of the noted hits of Bhagyaraj as an actor-director are 'Oru Kai Oosai', ''Mouna Geethangal' and 'Antha Ezhu Naatkal'.

Even though refrained himself from doing hero roles, Bhagyaraj is still a busy actor, and is one of the most demanded character artists in Kollywood.


Cheran, one of the most talented filmmakers in the Tamil film industry made his grand debut as a director with the movie, 'Bharathi Kannamma'. The film which starred R Parthiepen in the lead role was a critical success and everybody praised Cheran for his uncompromising cinematic language, and raw narratives. In 2002, he made his debut as a lead actor in the movie, 'Solla Marantha Kadhai'. A year later, he made the critically acclaimed 'Autograph', a film in which he did the jobs of both the director and actor.

Some of the other noted movies helmed and acted by Cheran are 'Pokkisham', 'Thavamai Thavamirundhu' and 'Maya Kannadi'. Within a short span of time, he became a demanded actor in Kollywood, and this compelled him to stay away from direction for a while. But now, the acting offers seem dried up for Cheran, and he is now busy developing a story for an upcoming investigation thriller.

R Partheipen

R Partheipen was the associate director of Bhagyaraj in the initial phase of his career, and interestingly, he followed the same career route as his mentor. After appearing in small roles in various Tamil films, Partheipen made his directorial debut in 1989 with the movie 'Pudhiya Paadhai'. Later, he directed many acclaimed flicks including, 'Sughamana Sumaigal', 'Housefull', and 'Ulle Veliye'. Even though busy with his acting projects, Partheipen still finds time to direct movies at regular intervals.

Sundar C

Sundar C may be a good director, and over the course of time, he has proved that acting is not his cup of tea. After working as an associate director to Manivannan, Sundar C made his directorial debut in 1995 with the movie 'Murai Maman'. Later, he established himself as a master craftsman in the industry by directing classic films like 'Anbe Shivam'. In 2006, he acted in the movie 'Thalai Nagaram' as the male lead. Even though the film ran for more than 100 days in Tamil Nadu, acting mettle of Sundar C was panned by critics.

He later acted in some low-budget Tamil movies, but none of them elevated his star value as an actor. Sundar C is now busy with the pre-production works of his mega-budget movie 'Sangamithra'.

Kamal Haasan

Kamal Haasan, the 'Ulaganayagan' in Indian cinema is a multi-talented personality who has successfully made his magical presence felt in all areas of filmmaking. The legendary star has been the part of the Indian film fraternity since 1960, and in the course of time, he has worked as an actor, director, producer, songwriter, scriptwriter and singer. It was in 1997 that Kamal Haasan first directed a movie. The film 'Chachi 420' was a Bollywood flick, and it was the remake of Tamil blockbuster 'Avvai Shanmughi'. The film also featured Kamal Haasan in dual roles, and was an average hit at the box-office.

In 2000, he directed 'He Ram' followed by Virumaandi (2004), and Vishwaroopam (2013). Kamal Haasan is now busy with the post production works of his new movie 'Vishwaroopam 2', a sequel to 'Vishwaroopam'. He is also simultaneously directing 'Sabash Naidu', a Tamil-Telugu-Hindi trilingual.

And now, acclaimed directors Ram and Mysskin are creating magic on screen with 'Savarakathi'. Recent reports from theaters indicate that both of them have performed extremely well in this movie, and in all probabilities, they will get more acting offers in the coming days.

Apart from the noted personalities mentioned above, several other Tamil celebrities including Manivannan, Silambarasan and Pandiyaraj have also worked as actor-directors in movies.