Despite being a name to reckon with in many aspects of filmmaking, Kothamangalam Subbu chose to be a writer primarily. He asserted his role as a litterateur constantly, and published several memorable poems and novels.

Subbu was capable of more complex forms, but chose to keep his poetry simple and comprehensible to the masses. From his first published work, Mariyaathaa in the magazine Hanuman in 1932, he stuck to his writing style: folksy, witty and timely. His dedication to folklore and fondness of Tamil culture would later earn him the sobriquet, Mannaankatti Kavignar.

Apart from taking on culture-related themes, Subbu established himself as a writer of satirical and nationalist songs. His most popular single poem, Porandha Naatai Nenachu Parthu, was written to welcome home Indian soldiers after World War II. Published in Ananda Vikatan’s Deepavali Malar in the year 1945, the poem was translated in several languages and sold over a million copies countrywide. The state Congress party took up the task of propagating his other compilation of poems during the Indo-China war in 1962, called Cheenavedi.

Subbu’s love for poetry and the language won him an opportunity to write and direct Gemini Films’ magnum opus, Avvaiyar, based on the Tamil saint-poet. Subbu researched on her life and writing for more than two years prior to directing the film, which was a roaring success when it released in 1953.

Marukozhundhu, an anthology of several poems of Kothamangalam Subbu,is being published in his centenary year by Trisakthi Publications. To view his poems, check Poems page


Kothamangalam Subbu has written more than 120 songs for films, on topics ranging from devotion to romance. Kannum Kannum Kalandhu, the song in the film Vanjikottai Vaaliban, immortalized by the performance of dancing duo Padmini and Vyjayanthimala, remains one of Subbu’s most celebrated songs. His song Amma Pasikkudhey in the film Samsaram, was immensely popular and was translated and used for a Hindi film too. Subbu has written songs for many films, including Chandralekha, Valliyin Selvan, Kalathur Kannamma, Motor Sundaram Pillai, Avvaiyar and Deiva Piravi. For complete list, check Filmography page.


In an active writing career spanning 40 years, Subbu has contributed to various magazines, including Ananda Vikatan, Dinamani Kathir, Amudhasurabi, Kalaimagal, Sudesamitran, Pesum Padam, Hanuman, Kalki, Bharatha Mani, Hindustan, Oozhiyan and Sudhanthira Sangu. He wrote his biography with a commentary on contemporary cinema through a column Paaru Paaru Bioscope Paaru in Pesum Padam. He chronicled his journey in filmdom through the column Naan Director Aanen in the magazine Pesum Padam. All his novels were written as weekly columns in various magazines, from which they were later published as novels, owing to their immense popularity.