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Fame in reel life, shame in school

Chennai, Sept. 24: The teacher has lost the right to teach.

Real-life teacher Rama Thilagam, who played Mallika, a sensitive village teacher in the award-winning Tamil film Autograph, was yesterday arrested on the charge of faking her teacher’s training certificate.

The arrest came three months after the government school in Dindigul where she taught fired her when it was found that the certificate was not genuine, sources in the district, about 450 km south of Chennai, said.

Police sources said Thilagam had been teaching in the special school for Dalit and tribal children in Azhakampatti village since 1992, long before she got to act in the film by the young actor-director Cheran.

But after several complaints that she forged her certificate, the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal ordered a verification of her documents. The Dindigul district Adi Dravidar (Dalits) welfare officer ordered her dismissal in June.

A criminal case was also filed against her for having “defrauded” the state. Thilagam was picked up yesterday and produced before a magistrate, who sent her to judicial custody for 15 days.

The arrest shocked film buffs who had hailed the film where Thilagam teaches the hero (Cheran) the Tamil alphabet. The film, which last year won a national award in the Tamil films category, is about a youth who overcomes odds to reach success.

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