On September 21, 2013 Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa presented an award to actor Rajnikanth during the inauguration of the four-day centenary celebrations of Indian cinema in Chennai. From direction to production to acting to music composing, members from different crafts of cinema were bestowed upon with the award.
Delivering the presidential address, Jayalalitha looked back at her own days as an actress. She even remembered some of the biggest contributors to Indian Cinema.
The list includes names such as MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesh, Gemini Ganeshan, NT Rama Rao, SV Ranga Rao, Prem Nazir, Satyan, Rajkumar, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Raj Kapoor, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Naushad, Asha Bhonsale, Lata Mangeshkar, T.M. Soundarajan, PB Srinivas, Vishwanathan Ramamurthy and Ghantasala among many more.
The main impacts of the early cinema were the culture change of the country. The Tamil language was the medium in which many plays and stories were written since the ages as early as the Cholas.
The Bharatnatyam, a classical dance was the oldest performed dance form of India and so impacted the cultural heritage to a very great extent. The theory of rasa dating back to ancient Sanskrit drama is believed to be one of the most fundamental features that differentiate Indian cinema from other cinemas.
The Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana have also exerted a profound influence on the thought and imagination of popular Indian cinema.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a 1959 Tamil feature film written by Sakthi T K Krishnasamy and directed by B R Panthulu. The cast includes Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganeshan, Padmini. It is based on the story of the Tamil chieftain who rose against the East India company and fought with British rulers.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman is notable for being the first Tamil film to be shot in Technicolor. This movie ran for 100 days in 28 theatres in those days which is worth to mention for all time.
Kappalottiya Thamizhan is a 1961 Indian Tamil patriotic film directed by BR Panthu. The film features Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan in the lead roles. The film is based on the biography of VO Chidambaram Pillai. Chidambaram Pillai, founded the Swadeshi Stream Navigation Company to break the monopoly of the British over maritime trade out of India.
The film remains a perfect showcase of the Independece Movement in the South.
Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran popularly known by his initials MGR, was an Indian film actor, director, producer, and politician who also served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu successively for three terms. MGR was acting as a role model for the common people. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for the film Rickshawkaran in 1972. His film Nadodi Mannan, released in 1958, was the most attractive film. He introduced a liquor ban in the state and preservation of old temples and historical monuments, ultimately increasing the state’s tourism, income.
Mani Ratnam is highly credited for having revolutionised the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema.
With his idea of combining art and commercial elements, Ratnam was referred for bringing new dimension to the South Asian film industry. Many of his films have taken inspirations from real-life incidents such as Nayagan, Bombay, Iruvar and films like Thalapathiand Raavan were based on Indian epics.
In 1987, Ratnam directed Nayagan starring Kamal Haasan, and the film became a huge success and brought him recognition at the national level. The film was based on the real-life story of underworld king Varadarajan Mudaliar.
Mani Ratnam later made another underworld-themed Tamil film, Thalapathi starring Rajinikanth and Mammootty. The film was an adaptation of Mahabharata, dealt with the friendship between Karna and Duryodhana portrayed by Rajinikanth and Mammmooty respectively. The film met with both critical acclaim and commercial success upon release. Ilaiyaraaja’s musical score and Ratnam’s work were highly appreciated as they both went on to win the Music Director and Best Director awards respectively at the 39th Filmfare Awards.
The venture was successful, earning Ratnam various awards. Roja, a romantic film, was about terrorism in the Kashmir region. Starring Arvind Swamy and Madhoo, it was nominated for the Golden St. George Award at the 18th Moscow International Film Festival. It became highly popular, gaining an iconic status in Indian cinema and was dubbed into other languages and met similar success in other regions.
Film for National Integration:
In 1995, Ratnam returned to Tamil language drama through Bombay starring Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala, which told the story of a Hindu-Muslim couple in the midst of the 1993 religious Bombay riots and bombings. It won a number of awards, such as Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.
In 1998 came the third part of his “terrorism trilogy”, named Dil Se starring Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala, with the latter fabricating the second collaboration. It showed the relationship between a young man and a dangerous, disturbed woman. The soundtrack album, again composed by A. R. Rahman, gained mass appeal and gave Rahman his next Filmfare Award for Best Music Direction in 1999.
Mani Ratnam’s following project, Kannathil Muthamittal, dealt with the story of a child of Sri Lankan Tamil parentage adopted by Indian parents, who wishes to meet her biological mother during the Sri Lankan Civil War. The film was critically lauded and commercially successful, winning six National Film Awards, Filmfare Award for Best Direction in Tamil,
A Tamil movie Sri Raghavendra was released in 1985. It starred reigning Tamil Superstar Rajnikanth as Sri Raghavendera, which was incidentally his 100th film. The film was a massive hit.
During the past 100 years, Tamil Cinema has reached many a milestone. There is a strong Indian tradition of narrating mythology, history, fairy tales and so on through song and dance. Keechka Vadha, Gajendra Moksham, Kavi Kalidas, Baktha Prahaladha, Lava Kusha, Srinivasa Kalyanam, Nandanar, Kabirdas, Kuchela, life of Tamil Saints and sages were the main attraction of Tamil Cinema.
Cinema reflects cultural values and there is no harm in adapting technology, but not at the cost of losing our originality.