Links to articles

Samikannu Vincent - who introduced Cinema in Tamilnadu

Paarkadal alai meedhu
ML Vasanthakumari
Music: G Ramanathan
Lyrics: Udumalai Narayana Kavi
Dance sequence: PadminiF
Film: Raja Desingu (1960)
This song had to be removed from the film because it dis not blend with the theme of the movie.  It was however run by the producer Lena Chettiar during the intervals.
Read the news clip at

THE HINDU, Cinema Plus has been featuring a section "Blast from the past" wherein Randor Guy is sharing information about the old Tamil films - every Friday from Sep 7, 2007. An opportunity for us to learn about the actors and technicians of those days. Randor Guy has also recalled interesting incidents about the movies and their making. Here I have provided links to articles on old films by Randor Guy other than those in the section blast from the past.

Valmiki (1946)
December 24, 2009
One of the films announced but not made with Bhagavathar was Valmiki. After Bhagavathar's shocking arrest, Honnappa Bhagavathar substituted him as Valmiki.

Vannakili (1959)
December 10, 2009
Manohar, a stock villain in many Tamil films, played a tough guy who unleashes his belt at the slightest provocation, even against women.

Rishyashringar (1941)
November 26, 2009
Rishyashringar was a major success, establishing Ranjan and Vasundhara firmly on the ladder of fame.

Thaai Magalukku Kattiya Thaali (1959)
November 12, 2009
In spite of Anna’s reformist story and the cast (MGR, Kannamba and others), the film did not do well and people remember it mainly for its puzzling title.

Vijayakumari (1950)
November 5, 2009
Remembered for: the western-style dances by Vyjayanthimala and Lalitha-Padmini, catchy western tunes and good production values.

Anadhai Penn (1938)
October 29, 2009
One of the popular writers of Modern Tamil Literature was Vai. Mu. Kodhainayaki Ammal. Hailing from an orthodox Brahmin family in Triplicane, she wrote many successful novels, including detective fiction (a genre women rarely attempted in those days). Besides, she single-handedly wrote, edited and published Jaganmohini, a magazine which was popular among female readers. Popularly known as Vai. Mu. Ko., she was also a patriot involved in the Indian Freedom Movement. Her most popular novel was ‘Anadhai Penn,’ which was filmed by Jupiter Pictures. The film was directed by the sadly forgotten south Indian pioneer Raghupathi Prakash, whose father Raghupathi Venkaiah brought movies to Madras.
Remembered for: Radha’s performance and his sartorial elegance which became a craze those days, and Kothamangalam Subbu’s comedy.

Katcha Devayani (1941)
October 22, 2009
Pioneer filmmaker K. Subramanyam came out with his Katcha Devayani, starring T. R. Rajakumari as Devayani, daughter of Sage Sukracharya. Her first film was Kumara Kulothungan (1939) and when K. Subramanyam launched Katcha Devayani she was already working on her second film, the Italian cinematographer in Madras, T. Marconi's Mandaravathi. However, Katcha Devayani was her first released movie; the other two came out much later.

Gumasthavin Penn (1941)
October 15, 2009
Gumasthavin Penn, a memorable Tamil movie, turned out to be the biggest grosser of 1941 - it competed with 29 other movies produced that year in that language.

Madanakamarajan (1941)
October 8, 2009
K. L. V. Vasantha, then a successful and attractive heroine with hits such as Bhoologa Ramba and Rambaiyin Kaadhal, played the female lead, while the hero was popular Carnatic musician V. V. Satagopan.

A voice that mesmerised
October 2, 2009
Second part of article on Chandrababu

Blast from the past - Thiruneelakantar (1939)
September 3, 2009
Thyagaraja Bhagavathar had yet another song-studded 52-week-run hit Thiruneelakantar. His own production, it was inspired by the folk tale of the Siva-worshipping potter-saint Neelakanta Nayanar.

Maaman Magal (1950)
August 27, 2009
Remembered for the lead pair’s (Gemini Ganesan & Savithri) romantic sequences, D. Balasubramaniam’s acting and the comic song sequence between Chandrababu and Dorairaj.

Burmah Rani 1945
Friday, Jun 05, 2009
As the Second World War (1939-1945) drew to a close and the Allies were in sight of victory over the Axis, the British Indian government requisitioned leading film producers to make films, highlighting the role of British India in fighting the enemy and putting down fascist forces. The making of such ‘War Propaganda Pictures’, as those came to be known, became imperative to established producers. Some concessions were also held out like the proverbial carrot, and four Tamil producers made such films, all of them released during 1945....
...Indeed, Burmah Rani pleased the British Indian government which patted its maker on the back with cheer. Ironically, a few years later, after India attained freedom, this film was banned for its unkind portrayal of the Burmese and the Japanese!

Paarthibhan Kanavu 1960
Friday, May 29, 2009
'Kalki' (R. Krishnamurthi) was indeed the founding father of the genre of historical fiction in Tamil literature. He created many immortal classics such as "Sivakamiyin Sabatham", "Ponniyin Selvan" and "Alai Osai". Another was "Paarthibhan Kanavu", a historical novel built around the Pallava-Chola dynasties. He wrote it even as he was working for Ananda Vikatan, but began serialising it only when he established his own weekly Kalki in 1941 in association with his friend T. Sadasivam.

Adithan Kanavu1948
Friday, May 22, 2009
'One Thousand and One Nights' or 'The Arabian Nights' has been a treasure trove of story material all over the world, more so in India. There is another collection of stories, 'Kashi Majli Kathalu', inspired by The Arabian Nights, which has been popular in Andhra. Many Telugu and Tamil films have drawn extensively from both these collections.
One of them is the Modern Theatres T. R. Sundaram production, Adithan Kanavu. Sundaram cast Mahalingam as hero. Mahalingam was discovered by AV. Meiyappan when he cast him as little Krishna in Nandakumar (1938).

Andhaman Kaithi 1952
Friday, May 15, 2009
MGR, drawing from his early life, came up with a fine performance. Though not a major star in 1952, MGR showed he had the potential to emerge a cult figure.

Chandragupta Chanakya 1940
Friday, May 08, 2009
The saga of the celebrated Maurya emperor Chandragupta and his advisor Chanakya (also known as Kautilya, the writer of the famous treatise Arthashastra) was brought alive on the Tamil screen by one of the most colourful personalities of south Indian cinema of his day, C. K. Sachi with the singer-actor Bhavani Sambamurthy as Chandragupta and the iconic Carnatic musician N. C. Vasanthakokilam as the queen.

Sri Murugan 1946
Friday, May 01, 2009
MGR who was yet to make a mark as an actor was cast as Lord Shiva with the Telugu actress K. Malathi as Parvathi.
MGR performed a dance number 'Shiva Thandavam' along with Malathi, a highlight of the film. MGR worked hard, rehearsing the dance for weeks and performed surprisingly well. His athletic physique, agile movements, handsome looks and graceful dancing impressed all and proved to be the spring-board for his elevation as a hero, the big break he had awaited for years. He was cast as hero in the Jupiter production and Sami’s directorial debut Rajakumari (1947).

Vijayapuri Veeran 1960
Friday, Apr 24, 2009
The screenplay was written by noted multilingual filmmaker A. C. Thirulokachandar. An MA from the Madras University, he entered films as story writer and assistant director and was earlier associated with the sadly forgotten Tamil cinema pioneer R. Padmanabhan (his son Balasubramaniam was ACT’s college mate.) As assistant director, his name appeared in the credits as ‘A. C. T. Chandar, M. A.’ He also worked with the genius K. Ramnoth. Vijayapuri Veeran gave him the first major break as screenwriter which took him to the house of AVM where he began to climb the ladder of success fast.

Balayogini 1937
Friday, Apr 10, 2009
The story was not only about children but highlighted the adverse impact of western civilisation on traditional Indian values.

Sabhash Meena 1958
Friday, Apr 03, 2009
A good friend of this writer Babu told him later that Chandrababu hired a rickshaw in Mylapore for some time and practised 'the art and craft of rickshaw-pulling', and also spoke to many rickshawpullers of the area to learn their lingo and 'idiomatic expressions'!

Miss Kamala 1938
Friday, Mar 27, 2009
T. P. Rajalakshmi, the first multitalented star of south Indian cinema, is hardly known to the present generation. Hailing from Tiruvaiyaru, Rajalakshmi was married off at the age of 11. She was abandoned by her husband soon after over dowry problems which drove her temple priest father to suicide. Along with her mother, she fought a lonely battle for survival. Breaking all norms of conservative society, she entered Tamil theatre where she scaled great heights. This paved the way for her entry into silent cinema where she tasted enormous success. When the first Tamil movie Kalidas was made in 1931, she was the automatic choice to play the heroine. She played the lead in many hits. She created history by writing, directing and producing a film titled Miss Kamala. She was the first female to achieve such distinction in south Indian movie history and, perhaps, Indian cinema.

Iravum Pagalum 1965
Friday, Mar 20, 2009
The tautly told thriller turned out to be a surprise package and scored well at the box office. A slim, active movie star named Jaishankar was born and he never looked back… It also had melodious music (T. R. Papa) with some songs ‘Iravu varum…’ and ‘Ullathin kadhuvugal….’ becoming hits.

Thirumbi Paar 1953
Friday, Mar 13, 2009
Thirumbi Paar fared well at the box office and acquired the status of a mini cult film because it had political innuendoes.
Remembered for Sivaji Ganesan’s brilliant performance, Karunanidhi’s whiplash political satire and pleasing music.

Manohara 1954
Friday, Mar 06, 2009
During a chat years later, Sivaji Ganesan told this writer that Kannamba stole the film from him with that single line, and at that time he almost wished he played the queen’s role. Interestingly, when he was a stage artiste, he had played the role of the queen in ‘Manohara’! The play, of course, did not have this line, much to his regret.

Kalyani 1952
Friday, Feb 27, 2009
Remembered for being the first film where Nambiar played the hero, for being an early Tamil film revolving around a mentally deranged man and for fine acting by Nambiar and B. S. Saroja.

Pavalakodi 1934
Friday, Feb 20, 2009
Adyar was more wooded than it is now. Numerous crows hovered over the food packs meant for the cast and crew of the film. In those days, all involved in a movie irrespective of their status ate the same food.
With shooting taking place in bright sunshine, the cast and crew would break for food only if a cloud cast its shadow on the sun. The artistes would rush as soon as the cloud cleared, abandoning the food packets, and the crows would swoop down to peck at the food. Their incessant cawing interfered with the recording of dialogue and song (as artistes had to sing songs on location just as they delivered dialogue). The exasperated director brought on board an Anglo Indian to shoot an air rifle into the sky to scare the crows away before he started shooting.
That was not all. There was a credit card in the titles, `Crow Shooter - Joe'. Perhaps the only one of its kind in movie history!

Devadas 1953
Friday, Feb 13, 2009
Sadly CRS (one of the producers) passed away during the making of the film, and some of the songs written but not composed by him were done by his assistants Viswanathan-Ramamurthi. The hit song, 'Wulagey maayam, vaazhvey maayam.', was composed by this talented duo.

Devaki 1951
Friday, Feb 6, 2009
The highlight of the film was the avalanche. Shots staged in the Modern Theaters Studio at Salem were inter-cut with ‘duplicated’ shots from the Frank Capra classic Lost Horizon (1937). (The creative filmmaker Capra shot the mind boggling avalanche sequences, creating snow in a warehouse in Los Angeles, using tonnes of ice and other material. The atmosphere was so cold that in many shots the camera froze and stopped functioning!)

Friday, Jan 30, 2009
In those days, there was an unhealthy practice in the South Indian movie world of a story being filmed by more than one producer simultaneously in competitive spirit. The story of the Panduranga devotee was similarly used by S. S. Vasan and Jupiter Pictures with both launching the production almost simultaneously. Vasan with his drive and dynamism brought out Chakradhari (1948) much earlier, which reaped a rich harvest at the box office, while Sudharshan was in production for a long time and was released only in 1951.

En Veedu 1953
Friday, Jan 23, 2009
While Nagaiah wrote the screen story and composed the music (along with A. Rama Rao), the dialogue was by the famed Tamil writer Sandilyan, a close friend of Nagaiah right from his Vauhini Pictures days (the 1930s).

Annai 1962
Friday, Jan 16, 2009
Hollywood legend Bette Davis rose to great heights with The Old Maid (1939), one of her many hits, in which she and her cousin fall in love with the same man who goes away to fight in the American Civil War. Before he leaves, the Davis character has an affair which ends in premarital pregnancy and he dies in the war. The cousin marries a rich man and in a cruel stroke of revenge takes over the female baby and brings her up as her own, with the child growing into a young woman thinking that she is the mother and Davis is only a poor relation staying along as `the old maid' like a `charity case'.

Kanniyin Kaadhali 1949
Friday, Jan 09, 2009
Ramnoth-Sekhar used a novel gadget which attracted much attention in that day. A palace watchman wears a belt into which a key is tucked. Like most watchmen, he snoozes a lot. When an intruder tries to pull out the key, a hidden mechanism in the belt bursts into loud instrumental music waking up the watchman!
(Ramnoth later told this writer that many people asked him whether this gadget could be made on a commercial scale, patented and sold! Ramnoth, like most creative souls, shrugged it off).

Rajambal 1951
Friday, Jan 02, 2009
This film has an interesting postscript. When RMK sought to renew the Censor Certificate, the then Regional Censor Officer G. T. Sastri, perhaps the toughest Film Censor the movie industry has ever seen, incorruptible to the core, rejected the renewal. Moreover he asked RMK to surrender the negative and all available prints for destruction! Indeed, Sastri commented that J. R. Rangaraju should never have written such a novel! The story is all about a judicial officer who misuses his office to serve his personal ends. This theme, according to Sastri, was illegal, immoral and anti-social! Looking at it today, one is likely to be amused by Sastri’s decision. How times have changed!

Link to articles on old Tamil film songs