History of Tamil Cinema
Tamil films are among the oldest movies in Indian cine-world. It is rich in variety and diverse in form and content. In fact, it was Chennai (formerly Madras) that produced the initial Malayalam films since Kerala did not have any film studio till 1947. Tamil film also contributes in the form of sending heroines in the Bollywood. Several Hindi heroines have their origin in Tamil Nadu.
A small time trader, Nataraj Mudalier produced the first Tamil film Keechak Vadam in 1917. The story was a mythical one drwan from the great Indian epic Mahabharata. The next one Meenakshi Kalyanam was jointly produced by a father and his son Venkaiah and Prakash. They used Anglo-Indian cast since the locals refused to play in it.
Prakash, already trained in cinematography in Britain, released Bhisma Pratigna.It was also a story of the Mahabharata. One A Narayanan played the role of Lord Krishna in the film. Narayanan later produced several Tamil films including Gajendra Moksham (1930), Pandava Nirvana (1930) Sarangadhra (1930) and Bhoja Raja (1931). Leila, which had female cast, was a box office hit.
Before the arrival of Tamils talkies, several other Silents were produced and those include Anathai Penn (1930) Rajeswari (1931) Usha Sundari (1931) and Bhakthavatsala (1931).
Rajeswari was a landmark film in Indian cinema since T P Rajalakshmi who played the heroine in the movie was a theatre personality, a film actress and later became a producer. She was also the first woman director of Indian cinema and perhaps in the world.
More than a hundred Tamil silent films were made in the early 1930s.
The first Tamil talkie was Kalidas that came out in 1931.The film was produced by none other than pioneering personality in Indian cinema, Ardeshir Irani and was directed by H M Reddi.
Galavarishi (1932) and Seethakalyanam (1933) were other notable early talkies. Valli Thirumanam (1933) was the first hit in Tamil cinema in which T P Rajalakshmi played the heroine.
1940s witness a transformation of Tamil films. S K Vasan was the first to realize that films were for entertainment only and not for imparting education. His first production Madana Kamarajan (1941) was made on his this purpose and it was a success. Velaikkari (1949) set a new trend and became a milestone in Tamil film
.Ore Iravu (1951) was a family drama having its cast line with leading Telugu actors A. Nageswara Rao, T.S.Baliah and B.S. Saroja, Lalitha..
Another success was Malaikkallan (1954), which was a Robin Hood tale. This film boosted the popularity of its hero M G Ramachandran who later became chief minister of Tamil Nadu for a considerable period of time. Malaikkallan won the President’s Silver Medal, a feat first achieved by any Tamil film.
Versatile Anna Durai used the cinema as a medium for social changes. The idea had helped Anna politically when he launched a party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagame (DMK) that often rules Tamil Nadu. Tamil films have great contribution in the state’s political field. The two major political parties – AIADMK, launched by Tamil film’s icon M G Ramchandran, and DMK by Anna Durai. Anna became chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1967. Ramchandran’s protégé, roaring Tamil actress Jayalalitha, with whom he had living relationship, also became chief minister of the state for a number of times.
Tamil film institutes has a great role in making films. From 1970 to 1980 these institute students made significant contributions to the area of filmmakings. They set up a new trend.
Oomai Vizhigal was a case in point. Senthura Poove of this new trend was a hit. Next in line were Urimai Geedham, Pudhiaya Vanam, Kizhakku Vassal, Urudhi Mozh, Ponnumani, Chinna Gounder and Singaravelan.
Majority of Tamil commercials became photocopies of Bollywood films in content since 1990. With this, Tamil films have lost much of their originality for which they were so famous. There were over 1,600 films released since 1990 till date. In January, 2007 the new films released were Kasu, Guru, Pokkiri, Aalwar, Santhani, Latchiya and Thamivabhara. And there are many more to come.