Director KS Ravikumar’s cameos in his films are expected by the audience as his signature. And when he appears, it’s often a surprise. Sometimes, it’s in a song, like when he dances with Rajinikanth in Padayappa. He’s also played speaking characters, like the quirky and hilarious manager of a millionaire in Minsara Kanna or the episode in which he kisses Rajinikanth in Muthu. Other directors, too, have played extended character roles in their own films like Samuthirakani in Nadodigal or Gautham Vasudev Menon in Paava Kadhaigal. There are also directors who’ve played full-fledged protagonists, like Mysskin in Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum or Ram in Thanga Meengal.
Tamil cinema also has a tradition of directors taking up acting, with directors like K Bhagyaraj, Manivannan, R Sundarrajan and Mano Bala having become prominent actors either during or after their directorial careers. Here’s a list of recent, memorable cameos and acting appearances by Tamil directors in their own films:
One of the most enduring song appearances has to Singeetham Srinivasa Rao’s appearance as a bioscope operator at the beginning of Michael Madana Kama Rajan. Another immediately memorable appearance has to be that of KS Ravikumar’s surprise entry in ‘Kikku Yerudhey’ from Padayappa, wearing clothes that match Rajinikanth’s.
In ‘Adungada’ from Pokkiri, Vijay and Prabhu Deva combine their dancing prowess to make this a memorable song cameo for Prabhu Deva, even though he is a director and an actor in his own right. There are few other blink-and-you-miss appearances in songs like Atlee and AR Rahman appearing in ‘Singapenney’ from Bigil or Shankar, KV Anand and Thotta Tharani making a super-brief appearance in ‘Ballelakka’ from Sivaji or Shankar in Nanban.
Cameos With A Bit Of ‘Mass’
AR Murugadoss in Kaththi
Towards the climax of the movie, we can spot the director with a kodam on his shoulders, shutting down the privileged guy in the scene where he says ‘What the hell you are talking? We are poor, but educated, mind it!’ You can imagine that the director was playing himself, putting him on screen briefly as the voice behind the message in the film.
Lokesh Kanagaraj in Master
Lokesh Kanagaraj (along with writer Ratna Kumar) appears in the climax as a prisoner with a lot of attitude in Puzhal Jail, the same place that Thalapathy and the rest of the accused get locked up in. It’s a nice meta-touch to the film’s ending. The director sets up a cool punching by making a reference to his earlier film, Kaithi, with a character introducing Vijay to him as nothing that he’s seen before, a Master.
Perarasu in Sivakasi
In a completely mass opening of the movie we can see the director describing the heroism of Thalapathy, with his credits rolling right next to him!
Gautham Vasudev Menon in Kaakha Kaakha
GVM did a cameo in his film, Kaakha Kaakha starring Suriya and Jyothika as Vasudevan Nair, a retired police officer from Mumbai, who was helping Suriya and the other police officers as a criminal adviser. He adds a good value to that point in the film and we can also see GVM doing a cameo in almost all his films.
KS Ravikumar in Panchatanthiram
This iconic flight scene between KS Ravikumar and Kamal Hassan is unforgettable! KSR played the role of the pilot in the cockpit, who is being held hostage and Kamal Hassan communicates to him directly through his headphones. This comical encounter between the two gives the movie a great start!
Balaji Mohan in Vaayai Moodi Pesavum
Balaji Mohan appears as a news reporter in this film, through whom the audience gets to know about the ‘mute flu’ in Panimalai. Often he’s saying ridiculous things, and sometimes he can’t help himself laugh, but mostly he maintains a deadpan face that’s hilarious.
Sasikumar in Subramaniapuram
Sasikumar starred in his directorial debut Subramaniapuram, alongside Jai, Swathi, Ganja Karuppu. The movie revolves around a group of friends, usually wasting their time by drinking alcohol. This completely Madurai based movie keeps you engaged throughout and comes with a lot of unexpected twists and turns.
GVM in Paava Kadhaigal
GVM acted and directed the third episode in the anthology drama film, Paava Kadhaigal streaming on Netflix called Vaamagal alongside Simran. He plays the role of Sathya, and the story revolves on the after-effects of his family, after their daughter gets sexually abused by a rich son in their town. It was extremely different to see GVM direct and play the role of a non-urban character and his surroundings.
Sundar C in Aranmanai
Sundar C directed and acted in a lead role in the Aranmanai movie franchise. In the first film he acted alongside an ensemble cast; Hansika Motwani, Vinay Rai, Andrea Jeremiah, Raai Laxmi, Santhanam, Kovai Sarala, Manobala, Chitra Lakshmanan, Nithin Sathya. This horror-comedy film set a high standard after the first movie that the sequels did not match.
Directors Starring In Their Own Films
SJ Suryah in New
SJ Suryah directed and played the lead role in this film, also starring Simran. He plays the role of Pappu, an 8 year old who is turned into a 28-year-old man by a scientist. He starts to live as a young man physically but he is child-like psychologically. This movie did have some unnecessary obscene scenes and didn’t not have a very elegant portrayal of the woman character. This movie was definitely a new concept for Tamil Cinema in terms of story and direction.
Mysskin in Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum
Mysskin directed and played the lead villain in the film, also starring Sri. He plays the role of The Wolf, who is portrayed as a villain for most of the film. But then later, we get to learn his backstory through a brilliant monologue in the film’s second half. Mysskin had previously appeared in his film, Nandalala, playing a man with mental challenging looking for his mother along with a little boy.
Naveen in Moodar Koodam
Naveen starred in his directorial debut Moodar Koodam alongside Sendrayan, Kuberan, and Rajaji in lead roles. In this black comedy four friends frustrated by their poverty try to break into a house and rob it but things escalate into a hostage situation that ends in chaos.
Vijay Kumar in Uriyadi
Vijay Kumar’s directorial debut Uriyadi was a political-thriller, where he starred alongside Mime Gopi. This movie revolves around the lives of 3 students (Vijay Kumar portraying one of them), and how they get pulled into mindless violence due to politics. The film highlighted the extent of caste-based politics.
Ram in Thanga Meenkal
This national award winning film is a beautiful story about a father-daughter relationship that is conveyed through the eyes of the 8-year-old daughter. It is an emotional rollercoaster with the director of this movie, Ram playing the role of the father alongside Sadhana.
Parthiepan in Oththa Seruppu Size 7
This unique movie was directed, written, produced and acted in by Parthiepan. The film stars Parthiepan who plays the role of a murder suspect, Masilamani, who is taken for investigation by Police as the only character. Having only voice overs for the rest of the characters of the movie gives a very different perspective, and more than entertainment, this movie is definitely an experience.
Samuthrakani in Appa
Samuthirakani plays Dayalan, an ideal appa. There is never any gray area in Samuthirakani’s worldview and Dayalan is an unremittingly good person with high ideals. But what the film lacks in writing, it makes up for in the sincerity of Samuthirakani’s performance that at least a section of the audience identified with.
Cheran in Autograph
Cheran directed and played the lead role in this romantic-drama film as Senthil, whose flashbacks of the three women who shaped his love life is what the movie revolves around. Though he was already a well-known director before the film, Autograph also made Cheran a recognized actor. This national award film is an evergreen classic.