P. U. Chinnappa was a South Indian actor and singer in the Tamil film industry in the 1930s. Pudukkotttai Ulaganathan Pillai Chinnappa was one the first superstars evolved in the film industry. He was born in Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu. Some of his most notable movies are Kannagi, Uthama Puthiran, Aryamala, Kubera Kuchela, Manonmani, Jagathalaprathapan, and many more. Although P. U. Chinnappa was a very popular actor, his career came to an end after a short but successful period due to his sudden death. P. U. Chinnappa was born on May 5, 1916. He is also known as Nadigar Mannar because of his acting. He was married to A. Sakunthala who is an actress, and they had a child P. U. C. Raja Bahadur. Their son had acted in one movie which went unsuccessful and so he became a dubbing artist. P. U. Chinnappa was born to Ulaga Nathan Pillai who was a stage artist and Meenakshi Ammal. He has two sisters. P. U. Chinnappa had dropped out of school after 4th grade. He was very interested in acting.
He had participated in many shows and theatres groups during school. At the age of five, P. U. Chinnappa became a part of rope production work for a salary of Rs. 5 per month. But he quit after some months. Seeing his interest in acting, his father, the stage artist joined P. U. Chinnappa in Meenalokshani Vidvabala Sabha at the age of eight. Palaniyapillai ran this Sabha, and P. U. Chinnappa was under the care of Sankarandas Swamy. P. U. Chinnappa did not stay there for long as he was not given prominent roles. So he joined Madurai Original Boys Company which conducted stage plays with a three-year contract for a salary of Rs. 15 per month. Apart from acting, P. U. Chinnappa was also interested in Silambam and wrestling. In Madurai Original Boys Company, P. U. Chinnappa was given small roles, but he used to perform other characters out of sheer interest.
The turn came in this routine when once he was singing one of the stage play songs of Sathi Anusaya and Sachidananda Pillai heard him from another floor. Sachidanantha Pillai was so impressed with it that he inquired about the singer and found out that it was P. U. Chinnappa. P. U. Chinnappa got immediately promoted as an actor, and his salary was increased to Rs. 75 per month. Knowing that this company to prone to dispose of actors after some time, P. U. Chinnappa quit the Madurai Original Boys Company. He then started acting in other stage plays. P. U. Chinnappa mastered classical music, improving from Sundaresa Nayakkanar and Vedachala Baghavadar. He was almost a Sangeetha Vidwan, but since he did not earn much in singing, P. U. Chinnappa dropped the plan of master classical music.
He was also talented in sword fighting, wrestling, silambam, and weightlifting. P. U. Chinnappa has acted in stage plays along with M. G. Ramachandran and M. G. Chakrapani. P. U. Chinnappa was cast in the movie Chandrakantha after the production house Jupiter Pictures saw his play of the same name. This project was his debut in the film industry. He acted in five movies after this. However, he gave a break after these movies and soon found himself with no opportunities. Then T. R. Sundaram gave an offer to P. U. Chinnappa to act in the film Uthama Puthiran which became a blockbuster. P. U. Chinnappa's name was ranked next to the first ever superstar M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagwathar. P. U. Chinnappa passed away on September 23, 1951, after fainting and vomiting blood. Thousands of people attended his funeral.