Monday, August 31, 2009

Cinema A Time capsule part 2.

T.R.Sundaram of modern theatres



raja sandow as raja harischandra


Raghupathy Prakash.

Nataraja Mudaliar went on to make a few more films in his banner “Indian Film Co. His second venture was “Draupadi vastrabharanam” made at a much lesser cost but collected more than Rs. 75,000. Ms. Violet Berry , a British lady ( ? ) played the role of Draupadi and hence an English knowing actor called Doraiswamy Pillai was cast as Dussasana. In 1920 he made “Lava Kusa” and “Rukmani sathyabhama” – for the first time a Brahmin lady named Janaki came forward to act as Rukmani while Jeevarathnam played Sathyabhama. He went on to make “Markandeya” and “mayilravana”. Thus making a total of 6 films between 1917 and 1923.
His success went on to inspire people like Raghupathy Venkaiah Naidu and his son Raghupathy Prakash to enter film production. Venkaiah Naidu had earlier set up the first Cinema Theatre in Gaiety , Crown and Globe (later re named Roxy). They set up a studio with a Glass roof behind Roxy and made several films. People like Raja Sandow , joined the fray , and the silent film Industry flourished. Sadly a fire struck Nataraja Mudaliar’s studio and gutted all his equipment , this was followed by the death of his son , these two disasters proved to be too much for him and he wound up shop.
Then came an era in which a number ( more than a 100) films were made , all silent and mostly from the efforts of Pioneers like R.Prakash, Raja Sandow, A.Narayanan, Y.V.Rao,T.J.Huffton, H.Desai, P.V.Rao, M.Seshaiah, Jiten Banerji and Sundararao Nadkarni to name a few of the major producer/ directors. Notable among these was A.Narayanan who went on to set up South India’s first “Sound” studio in Poonamallee High Road. His Studio was Srinivasa Sound City and made the first Talkie from the South – Srinivasa kalyanam. His wife was the first lady sound engineer in India , probably the first in Asia or the world. Of course , T.P.Rajalakshmi , the heroine of the first “Tamil” talkie – went on to become a much bigger star than she was , and even became the first “lady” to Direct a film. The funny part of the first “Tamil” talkie – Kalidas (1931) , directed by H.M.Reddi was that the heroine spoke in Tamil, the hero in Telugu and a few others even spoke in Hindi…..Truly a “tamil” Talkie !!.....then strode a colossus in to the field in the form of K.Subrahmanyam , who held sway over the Industry much after he stopped making films – he was one of the earliest “Movie Moghuls” of the South.
He started his Studio in Madras and a few years later , it was bought in auction by S.S.Vasan and converted to Gemini Studios. It is this Time capsule like quality which is being used to take a peek at how Madras looked in the years gone by. Some of these sights, like the Gemini Circle before it became Anna Flyover, many may remember.

Thereafter more and more people entered the fray – A.V.Meiyappan , S.S.Vasan , Nagi Reddy , Modern Theatres T.R.Sundaram , L.V.Prasad, Jupiter Somu and many many others who firmly established the Film Industry in Chennai. A few from overseas too joined the list of those early “directors” , the most notable being an American called Ellis R Dungan – who made those classics like Meera and Shakunthala. To his credit must go the introduction of M.G.R in the film Sathileelavathi.
I wish to acknowledge the following –
1. The Hindu .
2. The Message Bearers by Theodore Baskaran.
3. Chithralaya Magazine.
4. Roja Muthiah Research Library.
5. Randor Guy.
6. Filmnews Anandan.
7. S.Muthiah and V.Sriram of madras musings...


RV said...

Dear Shri Mohanram,

Have been reading your posts for a while. I love old movies - most of the time, I make fun of them, but I still love them. :-) I am really into old Tamil film songs. You may remember me for my "offensive" comments about the Sivaji statue.

I have written a couple of posts about your blogs in my blog -

Anonymous said...

Wow all I can say is that you are a great writer! Where can I contact you if I want to hire you?

Unknown said...

Thank you, please write to me

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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.