Few pointers before going to the second movie.

1. Thank you readers for commenting and supporting me on the series.. Thank you Ravi for tweeting about it.

2. I am not doing any kind of rating here. I am not an expert to do so. I am just making a list of wonderful movies in Tamil Cinema, which I believe are master pieces.

3.I am trying to go back and forth the years in order to make the posts different from each other..its a deliberate attempt to make the posts more interesting.

4.I am not writing about the movies just by researching Internet. I have seen all the movies at least once (most of them more than once) and so the movies are definitely hand picked.

Now for the second movie… From a serious thriller to the most extravagant movie ever made in the history of Tamil Cinema ( even India)

Chandralekha (1948)

Whom do you think is the most flamboyant movie maker in Tamil Cinema? Some would say producers like AM Rathnam, Aascar Ravichandran, Kalaipuli Dhanu or the director Shankar. I can think of only of only person, a man by the name S.S.Vasan.

 Chandralekha_drum_dance_scene

S.S.Vasan was an entrepreneur and also one of the most extravagant film producer. Chandralekha was his magnum opus made at over Rs.30 Lakhs in the year 1948. The inflation adjusted value would be almost $29 Million dollars in the current year (unimaginable). The movie was a bilingual in both Hindi and Tamil. It was a pan-world release with 609 prints all over and was released with English Subtitles. The beauty was that the release was done  solely by Gemini Pictures (production house of SS.Vasan) without any foreign collaboration. The cast includes MK Radha, TR Rajakumari, Ranjan, NS Krishnan and Madhuram. The music was done by Saluri Rajeshwara Rao, lyrics by Kotha Mangalam Subbu and Papanasam Sivan. Written and directed by SS Vasan. I could not find info about the camera man and the art director who are the prime movers of this movie.

The story is simple. Its the power struggle between two brothers for the country and a lady.MK Radha is ousted by his tyrant brother Ranjan. MK falls in love with poor village dance girl ( TR Rajakumari) while building a army to get the nation back. Ranjan falls in love with the girl too and kidnaps her for marriage. She asks for a drum dance before the wedding so as to help her love MK Radha. The MK Radha’s army hides in the big drums and make a surprise attack at the end of the dance ( Inspiration from Helen of Troy?) MK fights one on one with Ranjan to kill him and save the country and the girl.

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Chandralekha - Climax Sequence
Chandralekha is a magnum plus directed and produced by SS Vasan - arguably the most expensive movie in Tamil cinema - this article is part of 50 Tamil movies to watch before you die

Why the movie is so special?

1. The extravagant and lavish production values make the movie unimaginable in comparison to the dates it was produced. The art direction and the camera work are so perfect in this movie. The movie was in production for almost 5 years.

2. Nobody can beat the drum dance. The music, the dance movements, the editing according to the beats of the song, the way the drums are designed and placed, the combination of long and close up shots – fantabulous.

3. The final fight sequence is considered to be the longest sword fight in the history of cinema. The camera moves along with the two actors during the fight.

4. Although there were good performances from the lead characters, especially Ranjan’s Villiany and TR Rajakunaris graceful acting, its the making that stands out in the movie.

Why it makes to the list?

This movie announced the arrival of Tamil Cinema to the world. This was the first high budget movie in India. The first Indian movie to be released overseas. It showed that the Tamil movie makers will not make only emotional pot boilers but they know how to make the big budget extravaganza too.

I could not imagine what SS Vasan would have done if he had lived in the current era. Just imagine it for yourself…

Trivia

1. ssvasanSS Vasan was also the person behind the success of Anandha Vikatan, the weekly in Tamil. He has this midas touch as he buys ailing companies to make it a success. He also bought the burnt Motion Picture Producers Combine to make the Gemini Studios. He is hailed as the Cecil B.DeMille of Indian Cinema

2. Gemini Studios was situated in the heart of the city at the junction of Nungambakkam and Mount Road. The Park, a 5 Star hotel and the Anna Flyover is built over that place now. The flyover is still popularly called Gemini Bridge ( although it was named Anna Flyover).

3.TR Rajakumari is considered to be the first Tamil Superstar. It was said that she drew more salary than the lead actors sometimes.

4. The rights for the Gemini Pictures was bought by Director Saran and he is producing movies in that name with the same famous Gemini Logo.

5.Gemini Ganesan got his name from the studios as he was working as a assistant in the studios.

References

1.http://www.indolink.com/tamil/cinema/Memories/98/fna/fna3.htm

2.http://library.thinkquest.org/11372/data/film.htm#30s

3.http://entertainment.indianetzone.com/films/1/tamil_film_industry.htm

YouTube link of the movie

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Chandralekha Tamil Movie
Chandralekha is a magnum plus directed and produced by SS Vasan - arguably the most expensive movie in Tamil cinema - this is part of 50 best Tamil movies

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Sylvian

Posted by Sylvian

Marketing Analyst by profession, a quizzer by passion, a blogger by choice, a poet by chance, a non-conformist by gene and a rebel by birth

8 Comments

  1. Flamboyant – a very good word to use for S. S. Vasan.
    He was a perfectionist, too, which is why it took him five years to complete Chandralekha.
    The movie has many interesting situations, comic interludes, chills and thrills (the gypsy camp scene and the abducted Rajakumari sliding out of the villain Ranjan's grip), which can be enjoyed , if one is not prejudiced by the fact that it was made more than half a century ago.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for the comment Raji…You are right, he is a perfect perfectionist. I wish he lived in the current era too…( I have deleted the other comment )

      Reply

  2. malcaluffin April 20 at 2:19 am

    Lovely writing…takes you back to that period.

    Onw movie which I would love to see in this review is Digambara Samiyar, wherein M N Nambiar essayed an unprecedented 11 roles (I think).

    I’m not a sucker for old movies. But I saw it without batting an eyelid in Podhighai channel last week. The screenplay and the story-telling was really absorbing.

    If you can get some more info about it, it will be great.

    Reply

    1. I can find out some info on that through the books. I have heard about the movie but didn\\'t a chance to see it. Should settle down with Podhigai for some time.

      Reply

  3. Good series sir!

    I can suggest a lot of movies from my side since I have conducted a Bollywood/Kollywood quiz and done a lot of research on Tam movies for that. My friend Sridhar can also help out a lot there. I'll ask him to have a peek at this.

    Since I commented here…I'll mention two movies which impressed me no end – Panathottam – absolute stunner. Amazing songs, great suspense and MGR to top it all!!

    The other movie is Aandavan Kattalai which starred Sivaji. These two are offbeat and often neglected by many film enthusiasts and I wanted to get some amount of spotlight on them!

    Reply

    1. Thanks Sana…I am just researching on some movies… Aandavan Kattalai is a good add according to me. And also i don\\'t want to stick in to particular genre…Will try to cover as much good gems as possible

      Reply

  4. rajuviswanathan November 2 at 2:03 pm

    SSVasan all the way! and, …..for many years after 1948, fans recalled cheerfully dialogues like "Uraiyile Thakkaru"! (NSK&TAM comedy couple!), and, with excitement, the duel MKRadha–Ranjan!

    Reply

  5. wer can i download this movie?,, please help. I wanna give this movie as a surprise to my dad.

    Reply

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