Friday, March 28, 2008


history of malayalam cinema
he Beginning
The first cinema hall in Kerala, with a manually operated film projector, was established in Trichur by K.W.Joseph in 1907. The first electrically operated film projector too was established in Trichur by Jose Kattukkaran in 1913, the 'Jose Electrical Bioscope'. Soon such cinema halls were established in other major cities of Kerala. In the earlier stage, Tamil, Hindi and English films were mainly exhibited in these cinemas. But it was Tamil cinema which dominated Kerala. The Malayalee audience would have welcomed Tamil films because of the cultural similarities between the two states.
The first Malayalam film was produced and directed by a businessman, J C Daniel who didn't had any prior experience with cinema. His film Vigathakumaran was released in 1928, but failed economically. But it is notable that while mythological films ruled all over the Indian cinema arena, J C Daniel had the courage to produce the first ever Malayalam film with a social theme. The economic failure of Vigathakumaran discouraged him from producing further films.
The ill luck of Malayalam cinema continued. The second film Marthandavarma based on a novel of the same name by C V Raman Pillai, was produced by Sunderraj in 1933. But due to a legal confrontation regarding the rights of the film, the producer had to withdraw the film from cinema halls after few exhibitions. Had it not been for the legal embargo, the film would have had a great impact on the cinema of South India. By Marthandavarma the history of silent Malayalam cinema too came to an end.
Indian cinema had already entered the talkie age even before Marthandavarma was released. Balan, the first Malayalam cinema with a sound track was released in 1938. Produced by Tamilian, T R Sunderam at the Modern Theatres, Balan was directed by Notani. A melodramatic film, with more Tamil influence than Malayalam, Balan featured the struggle of two orphaned children, Balan and his younger sister, oppressed and exploited by their evil stepmother until they are rescued by a kindly lawyer. Even though this film could be considered irrelevant in artistic sense, its economic success created a base to the Malayalam film industry. Followed by the success of Balan, Jnambika was released in 1940. After Prahlada (1941), Kerala had to wait till 1948 for the next film. Nirmala (1948) directed by P J Cheriyan explored the possibility of music and songs in Malayalam cinema. Legendary Malayalam poet, G Shankara Kurup penned the lyrics for this film. Thus song-dance sequences became an essential ingredient for commercial success in Malayalam cinema.
Jeevithanouka(The boat of life)
Jeevithanouka (1951) was a turning point for Malayalam cinema. This highly dramatic musical film, which narrated the story of ego clashes in a joint family, was mainly directed towards the women audience. Jeevithanouka was a huge success, and can be considered as the first 'super hit' of Malayalam cinema. Thikkurishi Sukumaran Nair, an actor from the stage, became the first 'superstar' of Malayalam cinema after the success of the film. But this success had also an adverse effect on Malayalam cinema. Films that were produced after Jeevithanouka were made according to this success formula, and nothing creative was seen for a long time. Superstars took over the driver's seat and directors were forced to the background.
Ramu Karyat
Acclaimed as an innovator of Malayalam cinema of the 1950s to the 1970s, Ramu Karyat (1927-79), is one of the protagonists of Kerals People's Art Club in the domain of the communist IPTA. After Neelakuyi in 1954, he shot Minnaminungu (The Firefly) in 1957, a path breaking film of Malayalam cinema. Thoppil Bhasi's famous play Mudiyanaya Puthran (The Prodigal Son) was filmed by Ramu Karyat in 1961. This film featured Satyan, a specialist in 'macho' roles, which is a convincing melodrama about the irresponsibility of a self-centered young man who deliberately sinks into anti-social behaviour before being reconciled with life by the love of a young 'untouchable' girl and by the warmth of a group of workers. After Moodupadam (1963), a social film about the relationship between three major religious faiths of the State, Hindu, Christian and Muslims, Ramu Karyat made Chemmeen a definite turning point in Malayalam cinema.
P Bhaskaran
P Bhaskaran started as a lyricist for the film Chandrika and made his directorial debut with Ramu Karyat as a co-director and an actor in Neelakuyil. He attempted hard-hitting realism in his earlier films but later works were mainly love stories and melodramas with social concerns. Some of his memorable films are Rarichan Enna Pauran (1956), set in the neo-realistic vein of Newspaper Boy, Anveshichu Kandethiyilla (1967) and Irutinte Atmavu (1967). A Vincent
A Vincent joined Gemeni Studio, Chennai as an assistant cameraman in 1947. He handled camera for the path-breaking film Neelakuyil. He made his directorial debut with Bhargavinilayam (1964), based on story by renowned Malayalam writer Vikom Muhammad Basheer. Nadi (1969) won him the State award and Thulabharam (1968) the National award for second best film. Neelakuyil(The Blue Cuckoo)
Through Neelakuyil (1954) Malayalam cinema for the first time had an authentic Malayalam story. The story for Neelakuyil was penned by renowned Malayalam writer Uroob and directed by the duo of P Bhaskaran and Ramu Karyat. This melodramatic film dealt with the issue of untouchability in the society. Satyan and Miss Kumari were elevated to stardom after the huge success of this film. Malayalam film music till then were cheap imitations of Hindi and Tamil film music, also came up with original Malayalam tunes through this film. The lyrics written by P Bhaskaran were arranged by K Rghavan, influenced by Malayalam folk music, which became popular among the masses. This was also the first Malayalam film to be shot outdoors. Neelakuyil announced the presence of Malayalam cinema in Indian film arena.
Newspaper Boy
Newspaper Boy (1955) was the reflection of neo-realism in cinema, which became popular all over the world. This film was a result of extreme hard work by a group of college students. Newspaper Boy was directed by P Ramadas, who was totally new to cinema and almost all technical works were handled by amateur students. This film was distributed some months before Satyajith Ray's Pather Panchali came out. This film narrated the sad story of a printing press employee and his family reeling through poverty. He dies of extreme poverty and illness, which forces his children to stop their education. His elder son Appu leaves to Madras in search of a job. Failing to secure a job there, he returns and decides to take up the job of a newspaper boy.
The Growth: 1960s
After the success of Neelakuyil, films with authentic Malayalam stories set in the backdrops of Kerala villages started arriving. Minnaminingu directed by Ramu Karyat and Rarichhan enna Pouran by P Bhaskaran were noted films produced during the late 1950s. Takazhi Shivashankara Pillai's famous novel Randidangazhi was also seen on the silver screen.
In 1961 Kandam Bacha Coat, the first full-length colour film in Malayalam was released. This was an adoption of a famous social drama. Bhargavi Nilayam (1964) directed by A Vincent is a notable film of this period. This was a cinematic adoption of renowned Malayalam writer Vykom Muhammad Basheer's novel. Vincent also directed some of the best films of early ages like Murapennu, Nagarame Nandi, Asuravithu and Thulabharam. Irutinte Athmavu directed by P Bhaskaran, based on M T Vasudevan Nair's story, gave a new face to superstar Prem Nazir, who till then was seen only in romantic hero's role.
Chemmeen (1965) directed by Ramu Karyat was the first South Indian film to bag the President's Golden Lotus Award for the best film. Based on a famous novel of the same name by renowned Malayalam writer Takazhi Shivashanakara Pillai, Chemmeen pioneered the growth of Malayalam cinema in technical and artistic aspects. It brought together some of the best technical talents then available in India, Salil Chowdhari (music), Markes Burtly (cinematography) and Hrishikesh Mukhargee (editing). It also had a huge star cast.
Post-Chemmeen Era
The post-Chemmeen Malayalam cinema arena saw an upsurge in quality films, mainly based on literary works of some of the best writers of Kerala. After Chemmeen, Ramu Karyat directed Ezhu Rathrikal which narrated the story of the down trodden. The renowned Malayalam writer M T Vasudevan Nair made his film debut by writing screenplay for Murapennu. Directed by A Vincent, Murapennu was a landmark film. Oolavum Theeravum by P N Menon announced the revolutionary changes Malayalam cinema was about to witness in the early 1970s. A new generation of filmmakers who realized the uniqueness of the language of this medium, ventured into a different kind of cinema.
The Malayalam New Wave
The growth of film society movement and the screenings of world classics forced a drastic change in Malayalee film sensitivity during the early 1970s. A new movement often termed as the 'New Wave Malayalam Cinema' or the 'Malayalam Parallel Cinema' emerged. Adoor Gopalakrishnan made his first film Swayamvaram in 1972, which made Malayalam cinema noticed at International film arena. G Aravindan through his Uttarayanam in 1974 accelerated this radical change in Malayalam cinema.
Another major stream of Malayalam cinema that appeared during the 1970s, which was a synthesis of the highly commercial popular cinema and the parallel cinema from which the masses always stayed away, was the 'middle-stream cinema'. These films, mainly from directors like K G George, Padmarajan and Bharathan, had meaningful themes but had popular forms of presentation and had influenced a generation of film viewers.
The Hit makers
I V Sashi entered the film industry by directing a small budget film with Ummer as the lead, Ulsavam (1975), which became a commercial success. He continued this success in most of his later films, Angadi (1980), Ee nadu, Meen, Trishna (1981), Mi>Ragam, Anubandham (1985), Vartha and Avanazhi (1986) being some of his notable films.
Fazil is considered as the biggest money-spinning director of present day Malayalam film industry. He started his career with the film Manjil virinja pookal, which introduced Mohan Lal who later became a super star of Malayalam cinema. Ente Mamatikuttiammakku, Nokatha doorathu kannum nattu, Pappayude swantham Appus, Aniathipravu and Harikrishnans are some of his commercially successful films.
Balachandra Menon, who entered Malayalam cinema in the 70s is miraculously surviving even today, and has even won a National Film award for best actor. Menon makes his films almost single handedly, looking after direction, editing, writing, music direction and so on. Tharatu, Kelkatha shabdam, Karyam nisaram, Samantharangal and Krishna Gopalakrishna are some of his major films.
Directors, Joshi and Thampi Kananthanam took Malayalam action cinema to the "hi-tech" age. Joshi's New Delhi, Sandharbham, Nair Sab and Pathram are some of the all time hits of Malayalam. Thampi Kananthanam's Rajavinte Makan was a trend setting action film.
Priyadarshan, Sibi Malayil, Kamal, Satyan Anthikkadu and Shaji Kailas are some of the most sucessful directors of present day Malayalam commercial cinema.
Srinivasan who entered the cinema industry as an actor later proved his talent in writing screenplays and also direction. The two films he directed, Vadakkunoki yantram and Chintavistayaya Shyamala could be considered among the best commercial films ever produced in Malayalam. These films had in-depth study of middle class family relationships and also human psychology.

Malayalam Cinema Today
The spread of cable television and the menace of pirated video cassettes were projected as the reasons for the downfall of commercial Malayalam cinema, which started showing the declining trend during the early 1990s. The superstars of Malayalam cinema, Mammootty, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi were no longer guarantees for the commercial success of films. The number of films produced in Kerala started declining year by year and cinema halls in major towns started closing down. It is at this juncture Shakeela appeared as the 'savior' of Malayalam cinema. Her soft porn films like Kinnara Thumbikal broke all box office records one after another. Inspired by these successes numerous similar films were produced during this period.
Superhuman characters, after a gap of decades, once again started appearing in Malayalam cinema. Films like Narasimham, Aaram Thampuran and Ravana Prabhu became the face of Malayalam commercial cinema for a while. These superhuman films gave way to another unwelcome trend, small budget comedies with superficial themes. Dileep, a star of such comedies was elevated to superstar status. His Meesamadhavan and Kunjikkoonan are considered as all time hits.
Malayalam cinema, which was divided into two entirely opposing groups, the art cinema and the commercial cinema during the last few decades once again, is seen coming closer resulting in films that resemble the peak time of middle-stream cinema era during the late 1970s. Jayaraj's Deshadanam, Karunam and Shantam, Symaprasad's Agnisakshi, T K Rajiv Kumar's Sesham and Lenin Rajendran's Mazha and Anyar were such films.
T V Chandran with films like Susannah, Danny and Padam Onnu, Oru Vilapam is a strong presence in Malayalam cinema. R Sarath's Sayahnam and Stithi, Murali Nair's Maranasimhasanam, Pattiyude Divasam and Arimpara, Satish Menon's Bhavam Rajiv Vijayaraghavan's Margam and Ashok R Nath's Sabhalam are notable films that came out during the recent years. After a long absence of eight years, Adoor Gopalakrishnan is back with his Nizhalkkuthu in 2003.
Saving Cinema ?!
As the result of the combined effort of the film industry and the Government, Malayalam commercial industry seems to be on the track of success. But can this really save Malayalam cinema?
'Cinema industry is sinking', cries out filmmakers, intellectuals, non-intellectuals and the media giants of Kerala. They try to project this as a big social issue. They lament: the cinema industry should be protected, the poor producers are starving, if and only if the industry is saved cinema would be saved, if cinema is saved our culture will be saved and hence our Nation will be saved so on and so forth. To summarise, they make the statement 'if industry improves, cinema would be saved'.
This is a Himalayan lie.
Alcohol, cigarette and beedi may be injurious to health, but Governments till date have and will continue to desire the growth of these industries. All these industries function in accordance to the basic principle of industrialisation, consume, consume more and compel to consume more. This is the expressed policy of any industry.
Similarly, for the cinema industry to reach its zenith, the family audience who finds salvation in front of television sets should return to the theatres. For this they have to use all the tactics of any other industry. The percentage of nudity exhibited by the model for a detergent powder advertisement determines the market for it, rather than its quality. The results of applying these gimmicks by the industry to the art of cinema require a serious analysis. It would degrade to just a commodity in the market from the divine concept of art. The role of our media in the wake of the changed world order, which act as a catalyst for this degradation should also be examined closely.
We will examine some of the resent films projected as backbone of the industrial growth to Malayalam cinema.
Shakeela can claim the role of the saviour of Malayalam cinema industry, by bringing back the mass to cinema halls freeing them from the octopus hold of television. The highly literate, 'intelligent' viewer of Kerala found new meanings of sexuality in this huge, ugly mass of flesh, by which he proved himself as a perfect consumer and perfectly fit for the new 'global' world.
Even in this strong wave of Shakeela, there emerged a huge commercial hit, Narasimham. The Malayalam media celebrated this success. By exhibiting statistics they proclaimed that Narasimham has broken all the previous records in the commercial history of Malayalam cinema. The super human hero who fought against a number of people at a time without even got beaten a single time, he who kicked the backs of whoever came in front of him during song sequences, he who addressed whomever he saw 'mone Dinesha' (a kid, Dineshan), every thing in Narasimham became an instant success.
One should not ask about the relevance of such films. If there is a hero, definitely there should be a heroine; Narasimham has that too. The chauvinist hero replies the heroine, who made a proposal to him: 'I require some body to kick her on the back after being got drunk, somebody to bear my children, if agreed get in 'mone dinesha''. The irony is that, not only this rubbish became a great success but also the star of this film was elevated to a godly figure.
But this super hero also had the same fate of Shakeela. When his misadventures reached its peak by Thandavam the Malayalee viewer discarded him. But this gave way only to further degradation of Malayalam cinema. At this juncture Meesa Madhavan appears.
The hero of Meesa Madhavan, Madhavan is a thief. Not just a thief, the official thief of Cheku village. Madhavan too become a thief out of social compulsions. The villagers of Cheku believe that if Madhavan threads his moustache in front of somebody, he would be robbed that night. In the climax, when a police officer is held responsible for a temple theft, Madhavan's rhetoric goes on like this: 'I am a thief, Cheku's own thief. But I never take out the theft material out of Cheku. I would never allow anybody to do that'.
Dear Lal Jose (the esteemed director), would you please explain this. What are you trying to put forth by your character Madhavan, who distributes the theft materials all over the village after getting his share out of it? Are you trying to establish that exploitation by our own people is better than exploitation by foreign people? That's incredible.
The importance given to Meesa Madhavan by all sectors of Malayalam media is surprising. 'Samakalika Malayalam Varika' one of the highest circulating 'serious' Malayalam weekly made a cover story article about this rubbish film. It may not be surprising if somebody who reads this article mistake this film to be one among the best Malayalam films ever made, because the writer used such a beautiful and strong language to laude this film. Elders with wisdom used to say, 'even if you can't do a good deed, try to avoid doing a bad deed'.
At recent times Kerala witnessed a numerous such socially irrelevant films becoming commercial successes. As if destined to make cinema industry commercially viable, the Malayalam media has taken over the task of creating mountain out of mole, by drumming out that these mediocre films are different and successful. Influenced by these rave reviews many such films became commercial successes, out of which three huge hits are worth noting. Satyan Anthikadu's Yathrakkarude Shradhakku, which cannot be compared even with his own third rated films of yesteryears, Kamal's Nammal, which cannot claim the perfection of even an amateur stage drama and Kalyanaraman, made just for time pass. The reasons for commercial successes of these films require serious analysis.
The Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, after a long period, appears as a 'human being' in Priyadarshan's Kilichundan Mambazham. But while looking closely, we find this film too in the same track as that of his earlier feudal films, which considered the entire feminine gender as a consumable item. The hero of this film loves a girl of a traditional minded Muslim family. When the heroine fails to know anything from the hero, who is now in the Gulf, and when rumours spread that the hero gets married there, the heroine's father forcefully marries her to another man. The hero returns back on the marriage night. The heroine expresses her helplessness to the hero. When the heroine asks him what else she could have done at such a situation, the audience welcomed the hero's reply that she could have committed suicide, with whistles. In this film, the hero's advice to his sisters is also somewhat in the same line. 'If you are forced to marry somebody you don't love, you should not think twice, just go and commit suicide'. This loving brother also was welcomed by the audience.
What is the philosophy of truth? A cinema given birth by a society would definitely reflect the general cultural level of the society. Cinema has degraded to such a level that it is now considered only as a medium to liberate the petty sexual fantasias and other such inferior mental misadventures kept suppressed in the minds of average Indian. When cinema is considered just as an industry, this belief gets materialised as universal truth. There doesn't seem to be any hope of change. It reminds us the frightening truth that the philosophy of truth is decided by the opinion of majority. But it is the other section, the minority who desires a change, the result of which becomes everybody's. Let us hail the system, let more and more false faces emerge. Let us thank the ancient Greek philosopher who thought that the philosophy of truth would only be re-modelled when the flood of such false faces drowns the entire earth.
history of indian cinema

Pre-cinema age
Telling stories from the epics using hand-drawn tableaux images in scroll paintings, with accompanying live sounds have been an age old Indian tradition. These tales, mostly the familiar stories of gods and goddesses, are revealed slowly through choreographic movements of painted glass slides in a lantern, which create illusions of movements. And so when the Lumire brothers' representatives held the first public showing at Mumbai's (Bombay) Watson's Hotel on July 7, 1896, the new phenomenon did not create much of a stir here and no one in the audience ran out at the image of the train speeding towards them, as it did elsewhere. The Indian viewer took the new experience as something already familiar to him.
Harischandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar, who happened to be present for the Lumiere presentation, was keen on getting hold of the Lumiere Cinematograph and trying it out himself rather than show the Lumiere films to a wider audience. The public reception accorded to Wrangler Paranjpye at Chowapatty on his return from England with the coveted distinction he got at Cambridge was covered by Bhatwadekar in December 1901- the first Indian topical or actuality film was born.
In Calcutta, Hiralal Sen photographed scenes from some of the plays at the Classic Theatre. Such films were shown as added attractions after the stage performances or taken to distant venue where the stage performers could not reach. The possibility of reaching a large audience through recorded images which could be projected several times through mechanical gadgets caught the fancy of people in the performing arts and the stage and entertainment business. The first decade of the 20th century saw live and recorded performances being clubbed together in the same programme.
The strong influence of its traditional arts, music, dance and popular theatre on the cinema movement in India in its early days, is probable responsible for its characteristic enthusiasm for inserting song and dance sequences in Indian cinema, even till today.

Dada Saheb Phalke
Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (1870 - 1944) affectionately called Dadasaheb Phalke is considered as the 'father of Indian Cinema'. Central in Phalke's career as a filmmaker was his fervent belief in the nationalistic philosophy of swadeshi, which advocated that Indians should take charge of their own economy in the perspective of future Independence.
Phalke, with his imported camera, exposed single frames of a seed sprouting to a growing plant, shot once a day, over a month-thus inadvertently introducing the concept of 'time-lapse photography', which resulted in the first indigenous 'instructional film'- The Birth of a Pea Plant (1912) - a capsule history of the growth of a pea into a pea-laden plant. This film came very handy in getting financial backing for his first film venture.
Inspired from an imported film - Life of Christ - Phalke started mentally visualising the images of Indian gods and goddesses. What really obsessed him was the desire to see Indian images on the screen in a purely Swadeshi venture. He fixed up a studio in Dadar Main Road, wrote the scenario, erected the set and started shooting for his first venture Raja Harishchandra in 1912. The first full-length story film of Phalke was completed in 1912 and released at the Coronation cinema on April 21, 1913, for special invitees and members of the Press. The film was widely acclaimed by one and all and proved to be a great success.

Raja Harishchandra
The opening tableaux presents a scene of royal family harmony- with a space "outside" the frame from where the people emerge, and to which space the king when banished seeks shelter. The film's treatment is episodic, following the style of the Indian flok theatre and the primitive novel. Most of the camera set-ups are static, with plenty of movements within the frame. The bathtub sequence where Harishchandra comes to call his wife Taramati, who is in the tub, with her fully drenched attendants is indeed the first bath-tub scene in Indian cinema. All the females in their wet sarees and blouses clinging to their bodies are in fact all males in female grab.
Phalke hailed from an orthodox Hindu household - a family of priests with strong religious roots. So, when technology made it possible to tell stories through moving images, it was but natural that the Indian film pioneer turned to his own ancient epics and puranas for source material. The phenomenal success of Raja Harishchandra was kept up by Phalke with a series of mythological films that followed - Mohini Bhasmasur (1914), significant for introducing the first woman to act before the cameras - Kamalabai Gokhale. The significant titles that followed include - Satyawan Savitri (1914), Satyavadi Raja Harischandra (1917), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kalia Mardan (1919
Regional Cinema
The first film in Southern India was made in 1916 by R Nataraja Mudaliar- Keechaka Vadham. As the title indicates the subject is again a mythological from the Mahabharata. Another film made in Madras - Valli Thiru-Manam (1921) by Whittaker drew critical acclaim and box office success. Hollywood returned Ananthanarayanan Narayanan founded General Pictures Corporation in 1929 and established filmmaking as an industry in South India and became the single largest producer of silent films. Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra was another centre of active film production in the twenties. In 1919 Baburao K Mistry - popularly known as Baburao Painter formed the Maharashtra Film Co. with the blessings of the Maharaja of Kolhapur and released the first significant historical - Sairandhari (1920) with Balasheb Pawar, Kamala Devi and Zunzarrao Pawar in stellar roles. Because of his special interest in sets, costumes, design and painting, he chose episodes from Maratha history for interpreting in the new medium and specialised in the historical genre. The exploits of Shivaji and his contemporaries and their patriotic encounters with their opponents formed the recurring themes of his 'historicals' which invariably had a contemporary relevance to the people of a nation, who were fighting for liberation from a colonial oppressor. The attack against the false values associated with the Western way of life and their blind imitation by some Indians was humorously brought out by Dhiren Ganguly in his brilliant satirical comedy - England Returned (1921) - presumably the first 'social satire' on Indians obsessed with Western values. And with that another genre of Indian cinema known as 'the contemporary social' slowly emerged. Baburao Painter followed it up with another significant film in 1925 - Savkari Pash (The Indian Shylock) - an attempt at realistic treatment of the Indian peasant exploited by the greedy moneylender.
In Bengal, a region rich in culture and intellectual activity, the first Bengali feature film in 1917, was remake of Phalke's Raja Harishchandra. Titled Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra, it was directed by Rustomjee Dotiwala. Less prolific than Bombay based film industry, around 122 feature films were made in Calcutta in the Silent Era.
The first feature film in Tamil, also the first in entire South India, Keechakavatham was made during 1916-17, directed by Nataraja Mudaliar.
Marthandavarma (1931) produced by R Sunder Raj, under Shri.Rajeswari Film, Nagercoil, directed by P V Rao, got into a legal tangle and was withdrawn after its premiere. Based on a celebrated novel by C V Raman Pillai, the film recounts the adventures of the crown prince and how he eliminates the arch-villains to become the unquestioned ruler of the Travancore State. The film has title cards in English and Malayalam, some of which are taken from the original text. A few of the title cards and action make obvious reference to the Swadeshi Movement of the time. Had it not been for the legal embargo, the film would have had a great impact on the regional cinema of the South.
Indian Cinema Starts Talking
In the early thirties, the silent Indian cinema began to talk, sing and dance. Alam Ara produced by Ardeshir Irani (Imperial Film Company), released on March 14, 1931 was the first Indian cinema with a sound track.
Mumbai became the hub of the Indian film industry having a number of self-contained production units. The thirties saw hits like Madhuri (1932), Indira,M A (1934), Anarkali (1935), Miss Frontier Mail (1936), and Punjab Mail (1939).

V Shantaram
Among the leading filmmakers of Mumbai during the forties, V Shantaram was arguably the most innovative and ambitious. From his first talkie Ayodhya ka Raja (1932) to Admi (1939), it was clear that he was a filmmaker with a distinct style and social concern whose films generated wide discussion and debate. He dealt with issues like cast system, religious bigotry and women's rights. Even when Shantaram took up stories from the past, he used these as parables to highlight contemporary situations. While Amirt Manthan (1934) opposed the senseless violence of Hindu rituals, Dharmatama (1935) dealt with Brahmanical orthodoxy and cast system. Originally titled Mahatma, the film was entirely banned by the colonial censor on the ground that it treated a sacred subject irreverently and dealt with controversial politics. Amarjyoti (1936) was an allegory on the oppression of women in which the protagonist seeks revenge. It could perhaps be called the first women's lib film in India.
Duniya Na Mane (1937) was about a young woman's courageous resistance to a much older husband whom she had been tricked into marrying. Admi (1939) was one of Shantaram's major works.

Calcutta film Industry
Madan Theatres of Calcutta produced Shirin Farhad and Laila Majnu (1931) well composed and recorded musicals. Both films replete with songs had a tremendous impact on the audience and can be said to have established the unshakeable hold of songs on our films. Chandidas (1932, Bengali), the story of a Vaishnavite poet-priest who falls in love with a low caste washerwoman and defies convention, was a super-hit. P C Barua produced Devdas (1935) based on Saratchandra Chatterjee's famous story about frustrated love, influenced a generation of viewers and filmmakers.

The South Indian Cinema
Tamil cinema emerged as a veritable entertainment industry in 1929 with the creation of General Picture Corporation in Madras (Chennai). Most of the Tamil films produced were multilingual productions, with versions in Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada until film production units were established in Hyderabad, Trivandrum and Bangalore. The first talkie of South India, Srinivas Kalyanam was made by A Narayanan in 1934.
The Golden Fifties
Fifties saw the rise of great directors like Mehboob, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor who changed the fate of Indian cinema. These directors entered the film industry during the 1930s and '40s, which were traumatic years for the Indian people. The fight for independence, famines, changing social mores, global fight against fascism all contributed to the ethos in which the directors grew up.

Mehboob made his films down to earth, dramatic, even melodramatic. Roti made in the early 1940s inspired by the German Expressionism, is a real critique of Indian society with prophetic insight. It deals with two models - one of a millionaire, possessed by money and power in an industrial civilisation, the other of a tribal couple living in a primeval state of nature. The millionaire is saved by the couple after an air crash, the tribal couple emigrate to the city, do not find happiness and return. The millionaire is ruined in the city, tries futilely to find salvation among the tribal.
Mehboob remade his film Aurat (1940) in colour and with drastically different imagery as Mother India (1957), which was a massive success and later even acquired an epic status. The story revolves around Radha, played by Nargis, one of the strongest woman characters of Indian cinema. Her husband having lost both arms in an accident leaves her. Alone, she raises her children while fending off the financial as well as the sexual pressure from a moneylender. One of her sons, Birju becomes a rebel and the other one Ramu remains a dutiful son. In the end the long suffering mother kills her rebel son, as his blood fertilises the soil.
Highly successful and critically acclaimed, Mehboob's films often derive from clash between pre-capitalist ruralism and an increasingly modernised state with its commercial-industrial practices and values.

Bimal Roy
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Bimal Roy entered the field of cinema as a camera assistant. His directorial debut was with Udayer Pathey (1944). He introduced a new era of post World War romantic-realist melodramas that was an integration of the Bengal School style with that of De Sica.
Do Bigha Zamin (1953) and Sujata were two of the most notable films of Bimal Roy, who basically was a reformist, a humanist liberal. Do Bigha Zamin was one of the Indian first films to chart mass migration of rural people to cities and their degradation in urban slums. Though the situation was tragic, Roy sought to relieve the starkness by brave and hopeful songs and dances. Sujata dealt with the disturbances created to a lost soul from the world of untouchable underclass who escaped accidentally to the world of the urban middle class.

Guru Dutt
Born in Bangalore and educated in Calcutta, Guru Dutt entered into the Hindi film industry as an actor. He took up the job of choreographer and assistant director before his directorial debut Baazi. His earlier films were entertainers like Aar Paar (1954), Mr and Mrs 55 (1955) and C I D (1956). With the darkly romantic Pyaasa (1957) Duttt launched a cycle of films that have remained India's most spectacular achievements in melodrama. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) the first Indian film made in Cinemascope was autobiographical in nature. It tells in flashback the story of a famous film director, his disastrous marriage, the entry of an actress into his life that leads to gossiping, his failure as a director and eventually his death. His work encapsulated with great intensity the emotional and social complexities affecting the artist at a time when the reformism associated with Nehruite nationalism disintegrated under the pressure of industrialism and urbanisation. The commercial failure of Kaagaz Ke Phool resulted in a real life repetition of the plot of his film when Guru Dutt committed suicide in 1964.

Raj Kapoor
Born in Peshwar, now in Pakistan as son of Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor acted the role of a megastar, successful producer and a director. He started as a clapper-boy in the Hindi film industry and latter became one of the most successful directors of the industry. He set up the R K Films in 1948 and made his first directorial venture Aag. His earlier films Awara (1951) and Shri 420 (1955) evince a sentimental approach to social reforms, presenting political Independence as a loss of innocence in exchange of stability. Later he made sexually explicit films like Bobby (1973) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), which became huge hits, after the commercial failure of his most ambitious project Mera Naam Joker (1970).

Vigatha Kumaran - J.C. Daniel

Marthandavarma - Sundar Raj

Balan - T R Sunderam

Njanambika –

Prahladha –

Nirmala – P.J Cheriyan

1. Jeevitha Nouka K. Vembu
2. Kerala Kesari V. Krishnan
3. Rakthabandham M.R. Vittal
4. Prasanna Velswamykavi
5. Vanamala G. Viswananthan
6. Yachakan R. Velappan Nair

Amma K. Vembu
Suhurthe Joseph Pallippad
Athmasanthy Joseph Thaliyath (jr.)
Athmasakhy G.R. Rao
Visappinte Vily Mohan Rao
Marumakal S.K. Chari
Premalekha M.K. Ramani
Alphonsa O.J. Thottan
Kanjana Sri. Ramalu Naidu
Atchan M.R.S. Mani
Desabhakthan (dubbing)

Velakkaran E.R. Kooper
Thiramala Vimal Kumar, P.R.S. Pillai
Lokaneethi R. Velappan Nair
Aasha Deepam G.R. Rao
Janova F. Nagoor
Sheriyo Thetto Thikkurussy Sukumaran Nair
Ponkathir E.R. Kooper

Avakasi Antony Mitradas
Sandehi F. Nagoor
Puthradharmam Vimal Kumar
Avan Varunnu M.R.S. Mani
Neelakkuyil Ramu Kariyatt, P. Bhaskaran
Manasakshi G. Viswanath
Balyasakhy Antony Mitradas
Sneehaseema S.S. Rajan

Kidappadom M.R.S. Mani
Harishchandara Antony Mitradas
Kalam Marunnu R. Velappan Nair
Newspaper Boy P. Ramdas
C.I.D M. Krishnan Nair
Aniyathi M. Krishnan Nair

Rarichan Enna Pouran P. Bhaskaran
Aatmarpanam G.R. Rao
Manthravathi P. Subramanian
Koodapirappu J.D. Thottaan
Avar Unarunnu N. Sankaran Nair

Paadaatha Painkily P. Subramaniam
Atchanum Makanum Vimal Kumar
Minnaminungu Ramu Kariyatt
Minnunnathellam Ponnalla R. Velappan
Jail Pulli P. Subramaniam
Thaskaraveeran Shri Ramalu Naidu
Devasundary M.K.R. Nambiar

Nayaru Picha Pulival P. Bhaskaran
Lilly F. Nagoor
Mariakutty P. Subramaniam
Randidangazhi P. Subramaniam

Chathurangam J.D. Thottan
Naadodikal S. Ramanathan
Minnal Padayali G. Viswanath
Aana Valarthiyal Vanampady P. Subramaniam

Umma M. Kunjako
Seetha M. Kunjako
Poothali P. Subramaniam
Sthreehridayam J.D. Thottan
Neeli Saali M. Kunjako

Christmas Rathri P. Subramoniam
Kandam Bacha Kotte T.R. Sundharam
Ummini Thanka G. Vishwanath
Unniyarcha M. Kunjako
Seetha Rama Kalyanam (dubbing)
Ara Pavan K. Sankar
Sabarimala Ayyappan Shri Ramalu Naidu
Bhaktha Kuchela P. Subramoniam
Krishna Kuchela M. Kunjako
Njanasundari K.S. Sethumadhavan
Mudiyanaya Puthran Ramu Kariyatt


Laila Majnu P. Bhaskaran
Velu Thampi Dhalava S.S. Rajan, G. Viswanath
Snehadeepam P. Subramaniam
Shreekovil S. Ramanathan, P.A. Thomas
Shree Rama Pattabhishekam P. Subramaniam
Palattu Koman M. Kunjako
Kaalpadukal K.S. Antony
Puthiya Aakasham Puthyiya Bhumi M.S. Mani
Kannum Karalum K.S. Sethumadhavan
Vidhi Thanna Vilakku S.S. Rajan
Bhagya Jathakom P. Bhaskaran
Santhi nivas C.S. Rao
Swargarajyam P.B. Unni
Viyarpintae Vila M. Krishnan Nair
Bharya M. Kunjako


Nithya Kanyaka K.S. Sethumadhavan
Ninamaninja Kaalpaadukal N.N. Pisharady
Doctor M.S. Mani
Snapaka Yohannan P. Subramaniam
Moodupadam Ramu Kariyatt
Sathyabhama M.S. Mani
Susheela K.S. Sethumadhavan
Kadalamma M. Kunjako
Kaattu Mynah M. Krishnan Nair
Chilamboli G.K. Ramu
Ammaye Kaanaan P. Bhaskaran
Rebeka M. Kunjako
Kalayum Kaminiyum P. Subramaniam


Thacholi Othenan S.S. Rajan
Kutti Kuppayam M. Krishnan Nair
Anna K.S. Sethumadhavan
Devaalayam S. Ramanathan, N.S. Muthukumar
School Master S.R. Puttana
Manavatty K.S. Sethumadhavan
Atom Bomb P. Subramaniam
Orral Koodi Kallanaayi P.A. Thomas
Karutha Kai M. Krishnan Nair
Pazhassi Raja M. Kunjako
Shree Guruvayoorappan S. Ramanathan
Aadhiya Kiranangal P. Bhaskaran
Omanakuttan K.S. Sethumadhavan
Bhargavi Nilayam A. Vincent
Bharthavu M. Krishnan Nair
Kalanju Kittiya Thankam S.R. Puttanna
Aayisha M. Kunjako
Kudumbini P.A. Thomas
Althaara P. Subramaniam