Still from the film Kavikuyil (1977) showing Sridevi and Sivakumar. Rajnikanth for the first time played a positive role as Sridevi’s brother in this movie. The music was composed by Ilayaraja. This still is from the popular song from this movie, Chinna Kannan Azhaikiran sung by Balamuralikrishna.
Kavikuyil (1977) was the 10th film by the director duo Devaraj-Mohan. They worked together for 17 films until 1980, before splitting up. Devarajan directed a few films independently like Ayiram Muthangal (1982), Rajathi Rojakkili (1985) and Isai Paadum Thendral (1986). Devaraj-Mohan’s first film was Ponnukku Thanga Manasu (1973) which had actor Vijaykumar playing the lead role for the first time. Most of their movies had Sivakumar starring as the hero. Devaraj-Mohan assisted P. Madhavan before starting their career independently.
Still from the popular Sridhar-directed movie Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964) showing Muthuraman and Kanchana in the song Enna Parvai. This movie, which was remade in many languages, enjoyed great success and was a silver jubilee hit in Tamil.
Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964) was directed by C.V. Sridhar in association with his friend Chithralaya Gopu. Kadhalikka Neramillai attained cult status in Tamil cinema. It was also the first Eastman colour movie in Tamil. While the comedy track of ‘Oho Productions’ featuring Nagesh is considered to be one of Gopu’s masterpieces, the Balaiah-Nagesh scene is often considered to be legendary in Tamil cinema. The comedy duo Nagesh-Sachu paired up for the first time in this film. The comedy duo later went on to make many hit films together, including Motor Sundaram Pillai (1966), Galatta Kalyanam (1968), Sivandha Mann (1969) Sumathi En Sundari (1971) and Urimai Kural (1974).
Still from Kaliyuga Kannan (1974), directed by the duo Krishnan-Panju and written by lyricist Vaali. Seen here are actors Sowcar Janaki and Thengai Srinivasan. The latter who was the lead actor, rose to stardom after the resounding success of this film.
Kaliyuga Kannan (1974) directed by Krishnan-Panju was based on the play Srikrishna Vijayam written by Vaali. It was the first film with Vaali as a script writer. Vaali, who had a five-decade-long association with the Tamil film industry, wrote over 15,000 songs including 5,000 for music maestro Ilaiyaraja. His first song as lyricist was Nilavum Tharaiyum Nee Amma from the movie Azhagarmalai Kalvan (1958). His songs for AR Rahman were sensational hits, including Jik Bukku Chikku Bukku Raile from Gentleman (1993) and Muqabla Muqabla from Kadhalan (1994). He also acted in Paarthal Paravasam, Poikkal Kuthirai and Hey Ram and made a cameo appearance in the Kamal Haasan-starrer Sathya (1988).
Still from the film Kasethan Kadavulada (1972) directed by Chitralaya Gopu. Actors Lakshmi, Thengai Srinivasan, Muthuraman and Srikanth can be seen from left to right in the frame.
Kasethan Kadavulada (1972) was the first directorial venture by Chitralaya Gopu, even though he had been writing scripts since 1959. He was involved with many comic films by his childhood friend C.V. Sridhar, including Kalyana Parisu which was the duo’s debut film. The famous ‘Thangavelu comedy’ in the film is still hailed as some of the best in Tamil cinema by movie buffs. In fact, the comedy track by Thangavelu and his wife M. Saroja of the movie was released in separate audio cassettes and vinyl records and sold successfully. The duo went on to be associated with many more famous films like Nanjil Oru Aalayam, Kadhalikka Neramillai, Kalaikovil, Nenjirukkum Varai, Ooty varai Uravu and Utharavindri Ulle Vaa – the majority of them being superhits.
Still from the movie Justice Gopinath (1978) showing Rajinikanth, Sivaji and K.R. Vijaya from left to right. The movie was Rajinikanth’s first alongside veteran Sivaji Ganesan.
Justice Gopinath (1978) was Rajinikanth’s first film with Sivaji Ganesan. It was directed by the veteran D. Yoganand. Yoganand was born in Madras under British India in the year 1922. He is believed to have taken part in the 1942 Quit India Movement as a freedom fighter. He started his career as an assistant editor to Maickyam for the Telugu film Mayalokam (1945) before directing the Telugu film Ammalakkalu (1953). His first Tamil film was Marumagal (1953). Yoganand was multi-talented as he was trained in Radiology and had very good photography skills. Yoganand joined Jiten Benarjee of Newtone Studios, a noted cameraman of that time. Later, he also worked with another popular cameraman of the time, Rehman, before Mayalokam.
Still from the movie Avargal (1977) directed by K. Balachander showing Sujatha and Rajinkanth in the picture. Rajinikanth played a negative role of a sadist and Kamal Hasan played the role of a ventriloquist.
Avargal (1977) was the 29th film directed by K. Balachander. His second association with actress Sujatha after Aval Oru Thodarkathai (1974), which was his 25th film. Kamal Hasan is known to have learnt the art of ventriloquism to play his role to perfection. Balachander remade the film in Telugu as Idi Katha Kaadu (1979) with Jayasudha playing the lead role. Chiranjivi replaced Rajinikanth, and Sarathbabu replaced Ravikumar, while Kamal reprised his role. Jayasudha won Nandi awards for the Best Actress in Telugu for the year. Idi Katha Kaadu is considered to be one of the most memorable remakes starring Kamal Hasan.
Still from the movie Avargal (1977) directed by K. Balachander and showing Sujatha and Ravi Kumar.
Avargal (1977) was the 2nd film starring Sujatha and directed by K. Balachander, after Aval Oru Thodarkathai (1974), playing the female protagonist in both films. She won a FIlmfare Award for Best Actress in Tamil for the film, the third in a row after winning in 1975 for Uravu Solla Oruvan and for Annakkili in 1976. Sujatha spent her childhood in Sri Lanka, where she would actively participate in school plays, and later moved to Kerala when she was about 14. Her performance in the Malayalam movie Ernakulam Junction (1971) drew the attention of Balachander.
Still from the film Annakili (1976), which also happened to be Ilayaraja’s first stint as a composer.
Annakili (1976) was directed by Devaraj-Mohan and written by Panchu Arunachalam, mostly into the books of the cult classics of Tamil Cinema. It was also the debut film for Maestro Ilayaraja. After hearing the songs from Ilayaraja personally, Panchu thought about making a movie with those songs and Annakili happened. Panchu added the prefix ‘Ilaya’ to the name ‘Raja’ as there was already an A.M. Raja, and hence Ilayaraja was born. The film was a big success at the box office. The biggest highlight of the movie was Ilayaraja’s music. Panchu Arunachalam started his career as a lyricist with the song Manamagale Marumagale Vaa Vaa (Sarada, 1962). He started his own production house P.A. Art Productions, with his wife Meena credited as the producer. The first film from their banner was the Kamal Haasan-starrer Kalyanaraman (1979).
A still from the Tamil action movie Viduthalai (1986) showing Vijaykumar and Vishnuvardhan (left and right of the photo respectively). Vidhuthalai was a remake of the famous Hindi film Gurbani (1980).
Viduthalai (1986), a remake of the multi-starrer Qurbani (1980), featured 3 big stars from South Indian cinema – Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth and Vishnuvardhan. Suresh Balaji produced the film under the banner Sujatha Cine Arts (founded by his father – veteran K. Balaji, who played a role in the film as well). Sujatha Cine Arts was founded in 1966. K. Balaji also founded Sujatha Recording Studio, where sound recordings for most of the big-budget movies of the 1980s and ’90s were done. Not many are aware that it was S.S. Vasan who gave him his first opportunity on the silver screen in a small role of Lord Muruga in the film Avvaiya r(1953), directed by Kothmangalam Subbu. The Malayalam actor Mohanlal is his son-in-law.
Still from Uzhaippali (1993) directed by P. Vasu, with Rajinikanth and Roja playing the lead roles.
Uzhaippali was the 3rd film by P. Vasu starring Rajinikanth, after Panakkaran (1990) and Mannan (1992). It was a hat-trick success for this combination, although Uzhaippali had some trouble with its release due to Rajinikanth’s films having been banned by the distributors union then. Later Rajinikanth released it by himself through his distribution company and the film turned out to be a blockbuster hit. P. Vasu started his career as a co-director along with Santhana Bharathi, under the name Bharathi-Vasu. The duo debuted with Panneer Pushpangal (1981) which was a hit. Their later films didn’t do too well at the box office, and eventually made them choose different paths. P. Vasu’s first independent directorial venture was the Kannada film Kathanayaka (1986).