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)
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.
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.
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…
1. SS 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.