History of Tamil Movies

In the early 1930’s no facilities for talkie film production were available in Madras. Producers had to go to Bombay, Calcutta, Poona (now Pune) and Kolhapur for their productions where sound recording was available. Narayanan built the first talkie studio in Madras in 1934. The maiden Tamil talkie produced by him was ˜Srinivasa Kalyanam (1934). Its main artistes were P.S.Srinivasan Rao and R.B. Lakshmi Devi. Narayanan’s talkie unit was named “Srinivasa Cinetone”. The studio was also known as “Sound City”. M.L. Tandon directed “Nandanar” (1935) a film of unusual interest. A woman K.B. Sundarambal, a stage star and an accomplished musician played a folk myth figure the hero, an untouchable, and a devotee of Lord Siva, with an impressive voice. She created film history as the first person to receive a remuneration of Rs.100, 000 for the film, an undreamt figure of those days!.

This popular folk epic has been filmed five times, twice in silent version and thrice as talkie.1934 was the emergence of M.K.Thyagaraja Bagavathar popular singing stages star as a movie star. He made his debut this year in “Pavalakkodi”. A lawyer-turned-film maker Krishnaswami Subramaniam, also making his debut directed it. K. Subramaniam became a successful filmmaker with many film classics to his credit like “Balayogini” (1937) “Sevasadanam” (1938) and “Thyaga Bhoomi” (1939). He realised the cinema was an effective tool of communication to be used as a mirror to hold-up and reveal the workings of society. Â

“Menka” (1935) based on popular Tamil stage play was one of the earliest Tamil films with a contemporary theme and story. Such films came to be known as “Socials” in India. The famous stage troupe TKS Brothers who had staged the play earlier participated in the film produced by a group of businessmen in Bombay and directed by Raja Sandow. T.K. Shanmugam the most famous of the Brothers played the hero. His brother T.K.Muthuswami played the role of a widow. As no actress was willing to shave her head for the role and “bald wigs” were not yet in vogue Muthuswami who played the role on stage did in the film too with shaved head! Intelligent stage comedian named N.S. Krishnan made his debut in “Menaka”. Quickly he became extremely popular and rose to be a living legend and cult figure. He and his star wife T.A. Maturam acted in almost every other film in Tamil during a certain period. “Menaka” was a box office success and also won an award from the Madras Provincial Government.

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