T. R. Rajakumari

  • Birthplace: Thanjavur, Madras Presidency, British India


Thanjavur Ranganayaki Rajayee (c. 1922 - d. September 20, 1999), popularly known by her screen name T. R. Rajakumari was a Tamil film actress, Carnatic singer and dancer. She has been called the first "dream girl" of Tamil cinema.

Rajayee was born in 1922 in an Isai Velalar family of carnatic musicians. Both her mother and her grandmother wanted Rajayee to become a singer and trained her in Carnatic music. Tamil movie director T. R. Ramanna is her brother who is married to Sakkubai.

Rajayee made her film debut as "T. R. Rajakumari" in the 1939 Tamil film Kumara Kulothungan which was an average grosser. Her second film Kacha Devayani (1941) was a hit and helped launch her career in movies. There is some confusion about in which film she actually made her debut as Kacha Devayani's director K. Subramaniam later insisted that he was the one who introduced her to films. In 1944, Rajakumari starred in the record-breaking film Haridas alongside M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and gained recognition for her glamorous portrayal.

In her Tamil film career, Rajakumari acted as the female lead to many major film stars including Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, T. R. Mahalingam, K. R. Ramaswamy, P. U. Chinnappa, M. G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. She also started a film production company (with her brother T. R. Ramanna) called "R. R. Pictures" and produced films like Vaazhapirandhavan (1953), Koondukkili (1954), Gul-E-Bagaavali (1955), Paasam (1962), Periya Idathu Penn (1963), Panam Padaithavan (1965) and Parakkum Paavai (1966). Her last film as an actress was Vaanampadi (1963).