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).
A scene from the film Avvaiyar (1953) starring K.B. Sundarambal and directed by Kothamangalam Subbu.
Avvaiyar (1953) was the 5th film by the combination of 2 legends, Kothamangalam Subbu and S.S. Vasan, after the iconic Chandralekha (1948) and Apoorva Sagotharargal (1949). After the resounding success of the film, K.B Sundarambal became synonymous with Avvaiyar as she reprised the role in films to follow, like Thiruvilayadal (1965) and Kandan Karunai (1967). K.B. Sundarambal was believed to be singing in trains for alms when she was spotted by F.G. Natesan Iyer and was brought to the tamil stage at the age of 19. She became a very popular theatre artist before entering films. Her first film was Nandanar (1935) and was paid Rs 1,00,000 as salary which was the highest for any actor during that time.
Photograph showing Kamal Hasan in the famous song Ennadi Meenakshi composed by Ilayaraja for the film Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu (1978).
Ilamai Oonjal Aadikirathu was C.V. Sridhar’s first association with Kamal Hasan and Rajinikanth. The film was a big hit and ran for more than 25 weeks in theatres. Frank Dubier, the legendary jazz trumpeter and Stephen Lazarus, a gospel trumpeter played for the song Ennadi Meenakshi. Ilamai Oonjal Aadikirathu won best film of the year category in Tamil Nadu state awards 1978. Sridhar went on to remake in Telugu and Hindi as Vayasu Pilichindi (1978) and Dil-e-Nadaan (1982) respectively. Sridhar started his film career as a story writer for the TKS Brothers’ Ratha Pasam directed by R.S. Mani. His first film as director, Kalyana Parisu (1959), was a big hit and he remade it in Telugu as Pelli Kanuka (1960) and in Hindi as Nazrana (1961). He started his own production house Chitralaya, and the first film under the banner was Then Nilavu (1961), which was a runaway hit as well.
Director Bhagyaraj and Music director M.S. Viswanathan (left and middle of the photo respectively) in the process of composing a song.
Bhagyaraj and M.S. Viswanathan had great success while collaborating with each other. Their second association Antha 7 Natkal was a great hit and was very well received by the public. It was remade into Telugu as Radha Kalyanam (1981) in Hindi as Woh Saat Din (1983), and in Kannada as Love Maadi Nodu (1989). It was Bhagyaraj’s 6th venture as a director and his biggest commercial hit when it was released, and was later surpassed by his Munthanai Mudichu. It was also his 2nd association with music legend M.S. Viswanathan after his 2nd film Oru Kai Osai. The film is believed to be inspired by the real life story of J.P. Chandrababu. Bhagyaraj started his career as the assistant director for Barathiraja’s debut film 16 Vayathinile (1977), and wrote his first screenplay for Sigappu Rojakkal (1978). He also played a cameo in the film.