Friday, June 20, 2008

More on Tamil Films's History

Dear friend,
Many of you seem to have enjoyed the speeches by kamal and nadigar thilakam Sivaji. Some have asked me as to what the information on early cinema referred to by both of them was.....In response I have posted the entire lecture on Early tamil Film Pioneers in youtube made by my seniors in the field of Tamil film history.
The first speaker Sri Theodore Baskeran was The chief post master general of Tamil Nadu and a great film history buff.His book on Tamil Cinema is a swarna kamal award winner. The Eye of the serpent.His other books include The Message Bearers.His lecture was in Tamil.
The second speaker is the inimitable Randor Guy, a film historian of repute and a film maker too.He was a practicing advocate till his passion for films became too much to handle.He has written several Books ( The classic is Starlight Starbright - now sadly out of print).A great speaker and a prolific writer.His speech is in 3 parts, thanks to youtube,s rules and this is in Tamil too. Apologies to those who do not know the Language

I give below the links

Theodore baskeran's speech -

Randor Guy's - First part
second part
third part

Kamalhaasan's speech

Sivaji's Speech -


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Film Pioneers of the South - History

On the 10th of July 2000 , I had the honour of organising a function to Release a Special PostalCover and cancellation for a number of people who were all the early Pioneers of Tamil, nay, Indian Cinema. They were Mr.Natraja Mudaliar, the man who made the first Feature Film in Tamil Nadu or should I say South India, just a few years after Phalke released his.The film being a silent film cannot be called a "Tamil" film can it? Then Mr. Raja Sandow one of our early Pioneer Directors, Mr.Raghupathy Prakash another one of the early greats and Mr.Narayanan , who set up the first "Sound" studio in Chennai thus ensuring that Tamil Films were made here and not in Mumbai or Kolkatta as was the practice.Indeed the earliest MKT films were not made here, the entire team had to go to one of the two cities. There was also an image of "Warwicks Electric Theatre" - this was south's first Cinema hall, built in 1900 this structure was celebrating its centenary. Happily it is stll there to be seen in the Mount Road Post Office,opposite Shanthi Theatre. It currently Houses the Philatelic Bureau.The other Pioneers were Mr. L.V.Prasad, Mr.K.Subrahmanyam(the man who introduced MKT, T.R.Rajakumari and M.S.Subbulakshmi) and Mr. A.V.Meiyappan. This function was well attended and both the main attractions Nadigar Thilakam Dr.Sivaji Ganesan and Ulaga Nayakan Kamalhassa spoke on that occassion. Watch the film clip to know what they said.Happily with the total support of Nadigar Thilakam's family I continue my homage to these stars of yesteryear...we honour them on the 21st of July every year to mark the passing away of Dr.Sivaji.

TV / Cinema/ Drama

One of the questions often asked to me is why dont you act in films instead of DRAMAS.....I hate that description......ask any Stage person and he will cringe at the fact his efforts are likened to a TV serial.What takes place on Stage is a Stage Play and is called Drama by us in the South.
I have done close to a hundred films and people think I am ONLY in TV .....that apart the ultimate place to be is in Celluloid...that is where all actors want to go as it is a way to become immortal, as Kannadasan sang ....Naan nirandharam aanavan mudivum illai......A serial is popular momentarily , we are all recognised only so long as the serial is on Air.....who talks of Chiththi now ? it is like a newspaper valid and useful for that day ONLY. A film is like a book always being read or re read.....almost everyday some channel or the other will be showing the movie. How do we not gravitate towards that medium.? I started my journey with "Idhayam" in 1991, did a few films for my friends Sathyajyothi Thyagarajan and Sivaji Films Ramkumar....this went on till my Guru..Shri K.Balachander introduced me in his maiden TV venture for Sun TV....thanks to him I have done over 6000 episodes and achieved a certain niche for myself in Television.
What is the benefit of TV.? I have had the opportunity to work with some of the Greats of Tamil Cinema in TV.
KB, Balu Mahendra, A.C.Thirulokachander, SP.Muthuraman to name a few.....the Late Dada Mirasi ( director of Pudhiya Paravai) and Maruthi Rao ( cinematographer of Parasakthi) too have been some of the technicians I have worked with many big producers and some of those who later directed films like Murthy/ Ramesh , JD/Gerry or other technicians like
P.R.Somu or Amirtham. Indeed one of the best comments on me was by Balu Mahendra who said that one of the benefits of his coming to TV was to have met and worked with "fine actors like mohan raman" I really cherish that. Some greats like Naga have not made it to the silver screen but working with him was again a great experience. I am not mentioning all the great actors with whom I have shared space.
I have had a great time learning...I continue to Learn from each day's shoot. The process never ends. TV is also great as it does not slot any actor in any mould...I have played a Good father, A villain, a comedian all in the same channel coming one day after another......Sun TV....Marmadesam , Oviyam , YGM's comedy all in the same week. This is not the same for Films.....I have played an Advocate ( probably because I can speak the "court" Tamil well.) in more than 30 films....Typecast??? to such an extent that I am thought of by many to be an advocate in real life. The fact that my Dad was a famous advocate has also helped in no small way for this idea to spread. Both my younger brothers and my son are all practicing advocates to add to the confusion.
Drama.....where are those glorious days ?
There was a time when in Madras ( Chennai) every weekend had the following doing Stage Plays in various Sabhas. To name a few
Sivaji Nataka Mandram - with Sivaji
Cho's Political satires
Balachanders Plays like edhir neechchal, neerkumazhi
S.V.Sahasranamam's Seva Stage
Manohar's mythologicals
YGP's United Amateur artistes
to name just a few...M.R.Radha was more a rural person as his plays were all laced with rationalism. I dont think there was a greater Golden Age for theatre. All great film stars were products of the it MKT , MGR or Sivaji. They loved the Stage till their last breath.
To call todays TV Serials as "nadagam" or a Play is certainly not correct.
Has TV taken over Cinema....certainly not. It is as true as saying that Cinema took over from the Stage Plays. There will always be a crowd for "Good Entertainment"...
vive le difference.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Politics and Cinema - Stamps

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stars and Politics
Obviously Reagan as the past Prez got his Stamp.Arnold Schwarzenegger... The Guv'nor got his country of birth Austria to issue a stamp...not done in most countries that permit stamps to be issued only for those who are no longer alive. In the US it is a minimum of 10 years post mortem...except in the case of Past Presidents, I think.Please correct me.The shortest time for the issue of a commomerative postage stamp in India was for an Actor, Sivaji Ganesan...just 71 days...this didn't happen even for Nehru,Gandhi and so on.N.T.Rama Rao & M.G.Ramachandran both started their acting careers playing the role of a cop. Both became chief ministers of their States,by starting their own political party...having enjoyed immense popularity as Actors.Murasoli Maran, started as a scenarist,dialogue writer became a Director and Producer as well.He followed his uncle the former chief minister Mr.Karunanidhi into the film world.His son Dayanidhi is today India's Minister for Posts....and thanks to his interest in the subject I , as a collector of Cinema stamps ,am having a number of new issues to add to my collection. Nargis, the actress was a member of the Upper House of Parliament,the Rajya Sabha.She too has a stamp.Eva Peron, of Evita fame too has several stamps so too Grace Kelly...Princess Kelly if I may say so. Next story will have some Ladies' stamps before I anger the Fairer sex.
posted by Mohan V Raman | 7:38 AM | 1 comments

Your Salary Please.????

Hello to all in this BLOGOSPHERE. Thanks to my friend Sunderrajan who helped in goading and creating this page I was able to transfer a few of my earlier scattered posts on Cinema Stamps to this page.

Todays peeve is post this huge "Dasavatharam" film hype everyone is talking of who made how much. Nobody wants to know how much a cardio thoracic surgeon makes in a day doing 6 to 8 open hearts, how much an architecht made in designing a multiplex or how much an advocate made in arguing the case for the Ambanis....But the entire population is taking a guess on what Rajinikanth cleared in Sivaji or kamal in Dasavatharam....why this obsession with what others are earning...? Defenitely not as much as the media will like you to think,,,,So let us leave all this talk of crass and mundane things like money and look at what the actor and the technicians have done.
Most of the Film Industry is based on high levels of secrecy...Only the actor, the producer and their auditors will be privy to the actual figure....needless to say the Tax Man, so all the guessing by "sources close" is a lot of Bull not believe or encourage this talk....If you feel like it, walk up to that Bank clerk who was insolent and ask him for his salary or the waiter in a hotel who gave you poor service for his....Will they answer.?
Then why subject this poor film chap alone to this ignominy....of course a few select cricketeers have joined this exclusive breed of bare your pay packet...
You may well ask, why resume blogging with a peeve, well if I cant pour it all out here, where else can I.....?
Tomorrow on TV Vs Cinema....

Indian Stamps on Cinema

I have been remiss in blogging and a big sorry to those who have been kind enough to see my blog and comment.I promise that there will be a weekly edition on this topic STAMPS ON CINEMA.Just a few days ago a stamp for the famous actor Gemini Ganesh was released but let me talk of those that came a bit earlier.
Many may not know that the famous Magasaysay award winning singer M.S. acted in movies in the 1930s and her all India fame came because of her role as the singing saint 'Meera'.
A.V.Meiyappan started the famous AVM Studios,probably the oldest movie making studio in Asia, by this I mean the Studio continues to make movies , in this its 60th year.He has directed a few films too.
Charlie Chaplin needs no introduction, the Indian Government issued this stamp in 1978 to mark his birth centenary....the only film person of non Indian origin to be so honoured, we have had stamps for Beethoven,Michelangelo(actually his paintings on the sistine chapel) etc.
more to follow....something interesting about M.S. and postage stamps.
send me your comments to

more of the same

Here are some of the great Indian Cinema Directors.Phalke was the father of Indian cinema, he made the first full length feature film called "Raja Harischandra" in 1915.The greatest film award,for lifetime achievement in Cinema given by the Government of India is called the Phalke award. Phalke , it seems was offered some seed capital by Bal Gangadhar thilak to establish the "Indian " Film Industry, he refused the offer but went on to establish the Hindustan Film company.It was his desire to make the mythological stories of India in films.He was inspired by a film made on the life of Christ.
Guru Dutt, the master of the black and white...has his stamp aptly in Black and white.His classics like the autobiographical "kagaz ke phool",Pyaasa,Sahib bibi aur Ghulam will live forever.With his cameraman V.K.Murthy he set visual standards that still remain.As an actor he chose the soft,romantic roles....tragedy too was welcome.
Director V.Shantharam can verily be called one of the Doyens of Hindi Cinema. His works including the life of Dr.Kotnis , Do aankhen barah haath will remain classics.
The stamp designer has chosen to put in some handprints (haath)in the stamp if you notice carefully. They appear as smudges below 4 oo and all around the standing image of Shantharam.He was one of the few who started with the silent era and made movies well into the talkie era as well.
All great Directors who made great movies.

Postage stamps on Cinema

As an Airport Official with part of the Indian Cricket Team - Shooting for a Samsung TV Ad.
Like most youngsters I too started a stamp collection and like most gave it up. Many years passed and I had entered the world of Television and Cinema as an actor and one day I came across an article in a magazine, it was either Time or Newsweek , on a stamp released by the U.S Postal Services to honour Marilynn Monroe.That caught my fancy....I started to check out on such issues honouring Film personalities and to my surprise found a large number of stamps. The world had celebrated the centenary of Cinema in 1995 and there was a huge lot waiting to be collected.This was the first step.
I then joined a local Stamp club- The South India Philatelists Association and got to know what Philately was all about. Thanks to a number of friends and classmates in the US and the internet, access to Stamp dealers was possible. I have since then been an avid collector of these Stamps on Cinema. In fact I have been responsible in a small way for the Indian Government to issue Postage Stamps honouring a few Famous Film personalities , in that I prodded the families of these great men to apply for the issue of a stamp, followed up with the authorities, helped collect data,suggest designs and in short played a supportive role, a bridge between the Government and the families of these great film makers.
I hope to get some kind of proficiency in this blogging so that I can attach pictures of some of the nice stamps that India has brought Charlie Chaplin , Raj Kapoor, Shantha Ram, Guru Dutt, N T Rama Rao and many more.......yes,I was as surprised as many when I found that India has honoured the "Tramp" with a Stamp. In fact a surprising piece of that After Mahatma Gandhi , who has been the single most honoured person world over.....charlie chaplin probably gets the next spot.......Yes , Princess Di, Marilynn Monroe happen to decorate a number of stamps but a large number of these are from countries like Tajekistan, Krygystan,Fujeira, a number small islands in the caribbean which do not have great Philatelic Value..... Most of these countries are using Philately as a means of raising foreign is not actually postally used......indeed , many of these countries probably have lesser number of Post Offices than some of the smaller towns in India. The Judges at most Philatelic exhibitions frown at these country's stamps.
I wish there were more collectors on this subject for me to exchange information , stamps and learn.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.