Tamil cinema is 97-year-old

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Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

Tamil cinema is 97-year-old

It is 97 years since the first Tamil movie in India was released.  During time when Dadasaheb Phalke started making movies in Maharashtra, the foundation for Tamil cinema was laid. 

Nataraja Mudaliar conducted the first movie shooting.  The studio was in Veppery, Chennai, and the movie was titled ‘Keesakavatham’.  It is a sub story of Mahabharata.  The movie was produced in 1916, and was a silent movie.

There would be lip movement by characters in the movie.  But, no voice would be heard. It is crudely called a silent movie.  Although the movie did not have any language, it was a Tamil movie since it was made by a Tamil in Tamil Nadu.


Before him, in Maharashtra, Dadasaheb Phalke started making silent movies in 1913. In memory of that, the Centenary Celebrations of Indian Cinema are being held.  The second Indian movie was taken in Tamil Nadu, which was an accomplishment by a Tamil. 

We are of the opinion that Tamil movie with dialogues in it was the first Tamil movie.  Thus, we call the talkie ‘Kalidas’ released in 1931 as the first Tamil movie.  Between the silent movie and talkie, about 26 Tamils made movies. 

About 30 silent movies were made. There were many bloody scenes in ‘Keesakavatham’ showing Lord Krishna killing a demon.  Those scenes did not show as much blood as the present cinema does.  The studio pulled down its shutters since there was fire accident, for which they cited making of the scene as reason. 

That was a time period.  In halls screening silent movies, a person used to stand before the stage and would relate dialogues spoken by characters in movies.  There were no theatres. 

There were few sheds in which the movies were screened. Those sheds did not have proper ventilation and fans.  For the picture to be clear, and to make the place dark, they used to shut all the openings. 

Unlike present days when carbon arc electrodes are used to screen movies, there were no advanced equipments to show movies on screen.  Electrodes used during those days emitted fumes which are deadly if inhaled.

Many people who viewed movies used to swoon or vomit.  But, they would not stop viewing the movie.  But still, cinema is a creative form of art invented by man. 

Since cinema has attributes as literature, music, dance, drama and painting, man braced up to relish it even at the cost of his life.  Even today, we are seeing fans committing suicide if the movie starring their favorite actors encounters hassles.

We can trace it to times when silent movies were released. 

A youth who watches a 3D movie in Inox sipping a cup of Pepsi need not know difficulties in cinema during those days. If he had known, he would not have been able to tolerate.  Else, he would not have believed that such things happened. 

Anyway, in another three years, we are to celebrate the 100 years of Tamil Cinema.

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