A multi-faceted personality who left his imprint in the fields of journalism, theatre and cinema, Cho S Ramasamy was a name to reckon with in Tamil Nadu, with satire and quick repartee being his forte.
The legendary Cho, as he was fondly addressed, was unflinching in his stands on issues and spared no politician from criticism and never minced words while making a point.
Cho moved with political stalwarts with absolute ease but still would never shy away from making a point against them, whenever warranted.
However, he was a master in drawing the line, keeping politics and other differences out of personal life, making him a much respected and even endearing personality among political leaders, ranging from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tamil Nadu stalwarts like M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.
A lawyer by profession, Cho was a popular name in theatre, cinema and journalism.
During Emergency, he had resisted the establishment.
In his ultimate onscreen satire, as it is considered till date, Cho wrote and acted in the titular role of the film ‘Mohammed Bin Thuglaq,’ (1971) an unabashed take on the prevailing political situation of those times.
Cho’s sharp dialogue and critical portrayal of issues left a mark in Tamil cinema. He was featured more in comedy roles, but occasionally played serious characters too.
He had acted in a number of films, including those of matinee idols M G Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan, besides Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.
In his film roles, the actor would seldom let go of an opportunity for a humorous take on politics, using a particular scene to his advantage. His well-timed jokes and witty takes on politics often left the audience in splits.
Cho had penned screeplays for a number of films, besides writing many plays.
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His magazine ‘Thuglaq’, launched in 1970, held an equally critical stance in which his Question-Answer pages, laced with humour and satire, were a huge hit among the readers.
Later, he took this directly to the public, holding an annual event coinciding with Pongal festival where he would take questions from audience and make his trademark replies.
Such events have been attended in the past by various leaders and celebrities including Modi, BJP veteran L K Advani, Rajinikanth and many others.
An influential name in state politics, Cho is said to have played a vital role in bringing together the DMK and G K Moopanar-led Tamil Maanila Congress in 1996 to stitch an alliance that also had the backing of Rajinikanth against the then ruling AIADMK which had a brutal majority. The combine successfully unseated AIADMK in the polls.
However, years later, Cho became one of the most bitter critics of DMK and strongly backed Jayalalithaa during the 2011 elections. DMK was routed in the polls then. He was also a Rajya Sabha member between 1999-2005.