History of Tamil Cinema
History of Tamil Cinema from 1916 the first silent film in South India was done by Nataraja Rangaswamy Mudaliar made Keechaka Vadham. Lead actors of Keechaka Vadham were Jeevarathnam, R. Nataraja Mudaliar and Raja Mudaliar. Other films by Nataraja Mudaliar are Draupadi Vastrapaharanam in 1917, Mayil Ravana in 1918, Lavakusa in 1919, Kalinga Mardanam in 1920, Rukmini Kalyanam in 1921 and Markandeya in 1923. Other names to be mentioned from the distant past of Tamil cinema are R.Prakash, R.Venkaiah, A.Narayanan and K.Subramanyam.
The first talkie in Tamil was H.M.Reddy’s Kalidas in 1931. It had a cast consisting of P.G.Venkatesan, T.P. Rajalakshmi, and M.S.Sabthanalakshmi. Folklores,
Mythologicals, pseudo historicals and photographed stage plays were the themes of Tamil cinema in the thirties films had more songs nearly 30. Musicians like Dandapani Designer, G.N.Balasubramanian, Musiri, M.S.Subhalakshmi and others were cast in the Tamil movie. A.Narayanan’s 1934 film Srinivasa Kalyanam was the first Tamil talkie .In 1935, South India Film Corporation made Kausalya with contemporary theme. The first female director and producer of Tamil cinema was T.P Rajalakshmi .Chinthamani in 1937 was the first Tamil film to run for more than a year in a single cinema house.
Other notable Tamil films of the thirties were Meerabai and Thenali Raman, etc.
Stardom in Tamil films had its birth in the thirties itself. The first female superstar of Tamil cinema was K.B.Sundarambal, that year itself she got 1lakh rupees for her film.
The directors of fourties were S.S.Vasan, L.V.Prasad, A.V.Meiyappan and T.R.Sundaram.S.S.Vasan’s Chandralekha film was produced on a high budget and is among the most expensive tamil films of all time. T.R Rajakumari, Ranjan, M.K.Radha, and N.S.Krishnan were the leading artists of Chandralekha.
A.V.Meiyappan’s 1947 film Nam Iruvar was important movie of the decade. Nam Iruvar was the first production venture of AVM Productions was established in 1945. It is the largest and oldest production studio currently active in Tamil industry.
Popular stars of this time were M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, M.K.Radha P.U.Chinnappa, Ranjan, K.R.Ramaswamy, T.R.Mahalingam, T.R.Rajakumari and Rukmini. M.K Thyagaraja Bhagavathar(MKT) was the most popular among them and is widely regarded as the first superstar of Tamil cinema.
The late fourties witnessed the excellent exploitation of Tamil cinema for achieving with political aims. C.N.Annadurai, who later went on to become the chief minister of Tamilnadu was the leader of this phenomenon in the history of world cinema. Annadurai wrote the script for Velaikkari(1949), by director A.S.A.Swamy. Velaikkari was a successful movie and it sets a new trend in Tamil cinema.
M.Karunanidhi, Annadurai’s trusted assistants and wrote screen plays for several films. Karunanidhi also rose to the level of Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.
50’s and 60’s
They were M.G.Ramachandran(M.G.R), Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan.
M.G.Ramachandran made his debut in Ellis R Dungan’s 1935 film Sati Leelavati. He played the hero in a number of blockbusters M.G.R is considered the numero uno in the history of Tamil cinema and was fondly called Puratchi Thalaivar. He became the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu in 1977.
Sivaji Ganesan was one of the first and finest method. He was fondly called as Nadigar Thilakam. Sivaji Ganesan entered film world through the 1952 film Parasakthi movies like Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Paasamalar, Vasantha Maligai,etc.
Gemini Ganesan, nicknamed Kadhal Mannan. Then he played Lord Krishna in Chakravarthi Master, films like Parthiban Kanavu, Kalathur Kannamma, etc.
Other popular actors are Sivakumar, Muthumaran, Jaishankar, Balaji, Vijayakumar, Nagesh, M.N.Nambiar, P.S.Veerappa, Asokan, R.S.Manohar and Major Sundera Rajan, Anjali Devi, Savithri, P.Bhanumathi, Padmini, Pushpalatha, Sowkar Janaki,etc.
By the late sixties Tamil cinema witnessed the screenwriter, and director K.Balachander. He did the movies with bold themes. His films with unusual and complicated relationships and social themes. His movies like Ethir Neechal, Arangetram, Aval Oru Thodar Kathai, Naan Avan Illai, Apoorva Raagangal, He introduced and gave breaks to many artists including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vivek and Prakash Raj.
70’s and 80’s
By the late seventies three more directors were K.Bharathiraja, Balu Mahendra and K.Bhagyaraj.
Bharathiraja’s films like 16 Vayathinile in 1977. Bharathiraja himself wrote the script for 16 Vayathinile which had Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth and Sridevi in lead roles. He concentrated mainly in village side themes.
Balu Mahendra’s films were remarkable and his was Azhiyadha Kolangal. His other movies include Moodupani, Veedu, Sandhya Raagam, Moondram Pirai, and Sathi Leelavathi.
K.Bhagyaraj’s films were laced with earthy humour and the characters were honest and straight forward. He made his entry into direction with the 1979 movie Suvar Ellatha Chitrangal. His notable movies include Vidiyum Vari Kaathiru, Mouna Geethanagal, etc.
The mid-late seventies and early eighties actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth to Tamil cinema.
Kamal Haasan performed as a child. He got his first break in Tamil cinema with K.Balachander’s 1975 movie Apoorva Raagangal, which was also Rajinikanth’s debut movie. He worked with K.Balachander in a number of movies including Moondru Mudichu, Avargal, Manmadha Leelai,etc. Over the years Kamal Haasan has done a variety of roles in films like Raaja Paarvai, Vazhve Mayam, and many films.
More actors entered are Vijayakanth, Sathyaraj, Karthik, Sarat Kumar, Arjun and Murali, Prabhu Ganesan, Mohan. Popular heroines were Khushboo, Radha, Gouthami, Ambika, Saranya and Rupini.
Introduction of directors like Mani Ratnam, S.A.Chandrasekhar, Manivannan, T.Rajender, Vikraman, R.K.Selvamani, Santhana Bharathi, K.S.Ravikumar and S.Shankar. Mani Ratnam and S.Shankar stand out among the others. Mani Ratnam had scripted and directed critically and commercially successful films like Mouna Raagam, Nayagan, Agni Natchathiram, Anjali,etc. S.Shankar is known for his excellent treatment of commercial cinema and has won accolades for his films like Gentleman, Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Boys, Anniyan and Sivaji:The Boss.
90’S and 2000
In the nineties actors like Aravind Swamy, Vijay, Ajith, Prasanth and Prabhu Deva entered Tamil filmdom. Heroines like Nagma, Rambha, Soundarya, Madhoo, Meena, Devayani, Roja and Simran gained popularity during this period. Directors like Sundar C, Rajeev Menon, S.J.Sooryah, S.Ezhil, Selva and Cheran entered Tamil film industry during the nineties.
Tamil cinema has produced some of the most talented music directors are Ilayaraja and A.R.Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Deva, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Devi Sri Prasad, Vidyasagar and Srikanth Deva.
Behind them Vijay, Ajith, Vikram, Surya and Madhvan also rake in the moolah. Younger stars like Jayam Ravi, Dhanush, Silambarasan, Vishal, Arya, Jeeva, Bharath, Jai and Karthi Sivakumar have done good business at the box office in the recent past. Comedians Vadivelu and Vivek are other prominent actors. Heroines of kollywood are Asin Thottumkal, Nayantara, Trisha Krishnan, Shriya Saran, Tamanna Bhatia, Sandhya, Reema Sen, Sadha, Sneha, Bhumika Chawla and Namitha. The directors at present are Mani Ratnam, S.Shankar, Gautham Menon, Bala, Linguswamy, Vishnuvardhan, Cheran, Hari, Saran, P.Vasu, K.S.Ravikumar M. Raja, Susi Ganesan, Myshkin, Perarasu, Prabhu Deva, Balaji Sakthivel, A. R. Murugadoss, Selva, Ameer and Boopathy Pandian.