Those people who cannot read literature, movies are a solace where they get the visual treat of the same story
Story telling has always attracted young and old. When the story is in written form, narrated in an interesting manner it becomes literature. Early literature had been sheer mythology. Then came the historical literature with a seamless mix of fact and sheer imagination of the author. There did emerge yet another form of story telling – Literature which was entirely left to the imagination or fictional literature.
Early Tamil movies were based on the mythological literature like Sampoorna Ramayana, Krishna Leela, Keechaka Vatham, Nandannar (one of 63 Siva Saints and a dalit face) Siva’s 64 Thiruvilaiyadalgal, Kandan Karunai Veer Abhimanyu, Pavala Kodi etc. Slowly, the cinema story writers started spinning their own story line with the Gods and Demi Gods as characters like Saraswathi Sabatham, Naan Kanda Sorgam etc.
In pure literature films like famous Tamil novelist Kalki’s Kalvanin Kathali , Parthiban Kanavu, Malaikallan, Raja Raja Cholan the king or chieftain is the super hero and his valour or achievements are portrayed. They were based on the existing successful novels, dramas and had a definite storyline or literature based fictions.
Films like Veera Pandiya Katta Bomman, Kappolotia Tamilan VO Chidambaram etc.were made on freedom fighter’s life history. Along with the music and dance of ancient India, the novels and books written by many authors were used for making the films and sometimes, the entire story was adopted from the book alone and made into a film. Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayan have exerted a magical influence on the thought and imagination of popular Indian cinema particularly in its narratives.
The extermination of Keechakan (Keechaka Vatham, based on an episode from the Mahabharata), was released produced and directed by R Natarajan. It was the first feature film made in South India and it marked the birth of Tamil cinema. The first talking motion picture , Kalidas was a multi-lingual and was released on October 31st,1931 less than seven months after the first talking movie Alam Ara.
In 1938 Director K Subramanyam successfully adapted a Premchand`s Urdu novel to a film called Sevasadan. It marked the debut of noted carnatic singer MS Subbulakshmi in films. The theme of the film was women”s liberation. As most of the film makers in the early years were from the elite class of society that was one reason for adapting from literature. For them Kalki was a favourite writer. Sensational Thyagabhoomi was adapted from the novel of Kalki in 1939. Kalvanin Kaadhali and Parthiban Kanavu are some other novels of Kalki which became successful films. Ponvayal released in 1954 was based on Kalki”s Poiman Karadu.
Pudumaipithan’s stories are about human relationships, their aspirations and life in general looked at closely. It was only in the seventies that directors attempted Pudumaipithan’s stories on films. The most popular being ‘Uthiripookal’ by Mahendran which was adapted from Pudumaipithan”s short story ‘Chitrannai’ (Step Mother).
Similarly, Thi. Janakiraman was one writer whose simple language and powerful messages talking delicate feminine feelings kept film makers away even if they wanted to touch. His well known novels Mogamul, Sembaruthi and Amma Vandal were in demand with film makers, but only in 1998 Mohamul was tried as a film.
Adapting the works of the of Thi. Jaa or Pudhumaipithan was a tough task, say film directors. In their stories the characters come through not with dialogues but their thoughts and author”s narration. This continued till the end of the 50s. From the 60s many social novels were tried. Sujatha, Jayakanthan’s works were adopted into films. Tamil cinema later had a profound effect on other filmmaking industries of India, establishing Madras (now Chennai) as a secondary hub for Hindi cinema South Indian Cinema particularly the Tamil Cinema has had a long and chequered history of phenomenal growth, innovations and infusion of new thoughts. It has been a powerful medium in the southern states viz Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka where heroes have the last say when it to comes to politics.
Unlike most Indian political parties which use movie stars to attend political rallies as a crowd puller. Dravidian parties, both the DMK as well as the AIADMK, have used not just film stars but cinema in its entirety as a medium to build sustainable brand franchises. It”s the kind of subliminal branding that most marketers can only dream to achieve.
According to Cho Ramaswamy, editor of Thuglak, the technique of using cinema as a medium to connect with the masses began in pre-Independence days and films were used as a nationalist propaganda with the objective of being anti-British.
DMK’s founding members included Anna and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, both of who remain to date two of the most celebrated scriptwriters in Tamil cinema.
They presented a statement of the party ideology in their work. Anna set the ball rolling by penning the scripts for films like Nalla Thambi (Good Brother), Velaikari (The Servant Maid) and Oru Iravu (One Night). An opt repeated story is:
When MG Ramachandran (MGR) offered to make a donation for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), he was met with a polite denial from the party president CN Annadurai. Instead Anna told him “I don”t want your lakhs (of rupees). Just show your face and lakhs (of votes) will come our way.” These films mainly focused on issues like the abolition of zamindari, harm caused by avarice and the need to be self-sufficient. The 1952 film Parasakthi (The Almighty) written by Karunanidhi was the trendsetter for punch rationalist dialogues. It was reckoned as the earliest and most effective example of propagating the DMK political line. “The film was important since it spoke of atheism and politics. It remains a political film not just for that period but even now,” film actor Kamal Hassan said in an earlier interview.
The dialect of Tamil used in movies back then was predominantly a Brahiminical Tamil accent. Now the scriptwriters write in Dravidian Tamil – a language spoken by their target audience. It is neither chaste not a literary Tamil but mostly colloquial.
But in the early 60s the DMK which came out of the parent body Dravidar Kazhagam, saw the potential in the Celluloid medium to promote their cause. To dethrone then Congress
government and to propagate its ideal it chose cinema. They found this was the power tool for political
communication. Till date this trend is being followed religiously by political parties.
They shifted the idiom and laced their scripts with societal innuendoes and rhetoric. DMK to use the party to promote films and use films to promote the party. The songs and dialogues had its magical effects on the masses of this state. Even separate comedy tracks were interpolated in the films, They criticised the Brahmin habits, culture, ridiculed sarcastically the religious customs with comments,
double-entendres. In the later year movies , scenes like stalking even school girls, settling scores with opponents, depicting violence, scenes of maso-schism, disrobing women artists were abound. n