Reinvention of Kattabomman, Venkatesh Ramakrishnan, 6th April 2019

Tamil Heritage Trust 
Reinvention of Kattabomman
a talk by

Venkatesh Ramakrishnan

6th April 2019, Saturday 5:30 PM at Arkay Convention Center,
146/3 R.H.Road, OMS Lakshana (Above Shah Electronics), Mylapore, Chennai

About the Topic

“The skies pour rain, and fields yield grain……..”. VEERAPANDIYA KATTABOMMAN is perhaps the most well-known amongst the Tamil freedom fighters. The words he supposedly spoke while opposing the British demand for the tax are legendary.

But then it was not always so. Till the 40s he was remembered only by a small group of dramatists who did a 'koothu' on him.

During the late forties with independence nearing, there was a demand for histories of Tamil freedom fighters of which there were pitifully few with Tamilnadu not participating in the 1857 mutiny. Kattabomman’s history was dusted and rewritten by stalwarts.

The pinnacle of this effort was the movie with Sivaji Ganesan in the title role in a film written by Sakthi Krishnaswamy, but not without opposition. There were bestselling authors like Tamilvanan and poets like Kannadasan opposing glorification of Kattabomman. Quoting names of Pulithevan and Maruthu Pandiyar as better opponents of the British, Tamilvanan even went to the extent of calling Kattabomman as a ‘Kollaikaran’. Kannadasan lost a fortune making a parallel movie on the Maruthu Pandiyar.

The talk traces the period between 1950 to 1960 which was crucial in fixing Kattabomman firmly on the history map of Tamilnadu. There were films, plays, books, and articles from the opposing group denigrating Kattabomman but the movie rose to the level of a cult film.

About the Speaker

Venkatesh Ramakrishnan is a bilingual novelist, historian, and columnist. His ‘Gods Kings and Slaves’ was a bestselling historical novel published by Hachette. He has also written three historical novels in Tamil, one of them being ‘Kaveri Maindan’, a sequel to Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan.

He founded the Cooum Cultural Mapping group to understand the history and culture of a river turned into a sewer. He also founded the largest social media group on Madras history called the Madras Local History (MLH) group with nearly 20000 members. He believes in crowdsourcing of historical snippets to add to the historical fabric of a city

He is a member of one of the worldwide winning teams to spearhead a Dutch government initiative called ‘Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities Asia’. The teams over the course of the next nine months would analyse and build partnerships and develop conceptual designs and proposals for groundbreaking innovative urban climate and water projects for their respective cities.

Venkatesh regularly conducts heritage walks and conducts historical tours. He gives lectures mainly on the history of Madras of the 40s. He writes a weekly column on the same theme ‘Those were the Days’ in Dtnext, a newspaper.

 Entry for the event is absolutely FREE; No registration required. The event will also be available on LIVE. For further details, please visit &

Tamil Heritage Trust
Contact: T Ravishankar 9500074247