Daily News Online

Wednesday, 14 December 2011



Film Appreciation:

Forgotten Tamil actresses

There were very few female Tamil film actors at the early stages of the development of Tamil cinema. Those who came forward to act were from different regions where the Dravidians lived: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala states. But since their languages namely Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam had strong affinity with Tamil, it was not difficult for them to speak in Tamil and act. However the prominent actresses were Tahitians.

S D Subbulakshmi

T R Rajakumari

S D Subbulakshmi was one of them. She married the enterprising pioneer director K Subramaniyam. They had two outstanding children: S. Krishnawamy, a critic and Pathma Subramaniam, one of the finest exponents of Bharatha Natyam. Subbulakshmi was the most popular stares in the 1930s.

T P Rajalakshmi was one of the pioneer Tamil female actors in Tamil films. P. Banumathi from Aandhra was yet another shining star in Tamil and Telugu films.

There was yet another singing star Subbulakshmi. Her initials were M S. She was one of the outstanding Carnatic musicians that India could boast of. She too came into the field in 1930s and she too had acted in director K Subramaniam’s films. Some of her outstanding films were Sakunthalai and Meera.

Another singing actress was T R Rajakumari. She figures during the 1930-1940 period. Chandraleka and Apoorva Sakothararkal were two of her notable films.

P Kannamba from Karnataka was a superb actress in delivering the Tamil dialogues.

K L V Vasantha, U R Jeevaratnam, T A Mathuram, C T Rajakantham, G Subbulakshmi, B S Saroja, and K S Angamuthu were well known stars in Tamil Cinema.

Lanka born actor to become later to be the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, M G Ramachandran was married to V N Janaki. She was earlier married to a film director. She acted in a pace-setting progressive film in Tamil in the 1940s- Velaikkari penned by former Chief Minister C N Annadurai. One of the Kannadiga actresses to play in Tamil films was M V Rajamma. R Bala Saraswathi Devi was another singing star. Her song ‘Roja MalarVendumaa?’ a song sung to the Latin American Rhythm ‘La Paloma’ was a hit tune in the 1950s. Another actress was T A Jeyalakshmi. She acted in another pace setter ‘Naam Iruvar’ (We Two)

Kumari Rukmani was figured in ‘Sri Valli’

Then of course we had the present Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Jeyaram Jeyalalitha acting with M G Ramachandran in many popular films. She has acted not only in Thamil but also in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi.

M S Sundari Bai, Thiruchur Premawathi, Yoga Mangalam, T A Periyanayaki who could sing well, M S S Bhayam, M R Santhanalakhmi, S Varalakshmi- a singing star, T Suriyakumari and K Malathi were some of the early female actors in Tamil cinema.

the Kerala border Lalitha, Padmini and Rahini came to act in Tamil films. Padmini among them became a fine dancer and character actress in Tamil films.

Vyjayanthimala who later shone in Hindi films later became a Rajya Sabha member in Indian Parliament. Her mother Vasunthara Devi was a dancing actress who danced waltzes in the film Mangamma Sabatham.

M N Rajam was yet another important actress in Tamil films. K T Rukmani, S L Dhanalakshmi, T P Muthulakshmi, Maadhuri Devi, Pushpavalli from Andhra, K Aswathaama from Karnataka were among the notable female stars in Tamil films during the 1930- 1950 period.

After the1950s many talented female actors came to the scene. K R Vijya, Vijaya Kumari, Devika, Saroja Devi, Lakshmi, Raadika, Savitri, Poornima, Ambika, Raadha, Suhashini, Amala, Seetha. Shoba, SriVidhya, Sri Priya, Sri Devi, Archana, Vaani Sri and a host of both male and female actors contributed their mite to the development Tamil cinema.

Since the 1970s Tamil Cinema has undergone several changes gradually shedding off the dramatic garb and adoring new attires to suit the contemporary needs. That is another subject to be dealt with caution, because the analysis would necessitate a deeper multi-disciplinary study.

The purpose in us writing about the Tamil Cinema as well is to put on record some forgotten details which could help a serious student of cinema in any part of the world to understand the world cinema as an entity.

However a study of Lankan Tamil Cinema is an urgent need, but unfortunately the 30 odd films made locally were poor substitutes to the Kodambakkam cinema that one could not consider any of them for serious study. Well, this is only an opinion of an individual. Perhaps future critics could undertake this task in a solemn manner.

As for the Sinhala cinema, a substantial body of studies has already been made in both Sinhala and English.

In this connection I should mention the name of Thambi Aiyah Thevathas in bringing out books in Tamil both on the Lankan Tamil and Sinhala cinema.



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