First Telugu film to have a 200-day run in the theatres: “Pathalabhairavi” (1951)

NT Rama Rao with Malathi in “Pathalabhairavi” (Telugu, 1951)

For last week’s ‘Blast From the Past’ column in The Hindu, ML Narasimham wrote a lovely piece on the 1951 Telugu film “Pathalabhairavi” starring NT Rama Rao, SV Ranga Rao, Malathi and others. We particularly loved the anecdote featuring the then-Union Home Minister, C Rajagopalachari (click on the image to read the full story).

We at TCRC have, in our archives, various memorabilia from Telugu films that have been made over the years. We are currently in the process of digitizing those artifacts. So, do follow our blog for updates.

JC Daniel: Father of Malayalam Cinema

We at TCRC are always scouring the internet for interesting material on the origins of the regional cinemas of South India. And the internet never ceases to surprise us. Recently, we chanced upon CinemaofMalayalam.net, a website that had a separate page on JC Daniel, the man who wrote, directed and produced the first ever Malayalam feature film.

The movie, titled “Vigathakumaran,” was a silent film and was released in November 1928. In fact, the Kerala state government’s award for lifetime achievement in Malayalam cinema is called the JC Daniel Award, recognizing his efforts in starting up what is today one of India’s most interesting film industries. Interestingly, Daniel was a dentist who showed keen interest in martial arts. He is said to have been an expert at Kalarippayattu and is reported to have written a book about Indian martial arts in English before he ventured into cinema.

English: A short note on Vigathakumaran

A still from “Vigathakumaran,” the first ever Malayalam feature film (released in 1928). Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Given below is a Malayalam documentary on the life of the director JC Daniel.

There has also been quite a bit of controversy over when “Vigathakumaran” was released. While many acknowledge it to be 1928 (including those such as noted Malayalam film journalist Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan and Yves Thoraval, author of “The Cinemas of India”), a photocopied version of a handbill announcing the release of “Vigathakumaran” in 1930 by producers Travancore National Pictures has been circulating on the internet of late, an artifact whose source is yet to be confirmed. Blogger CineMatters has written a detailed post about the 1928 v/s 1930 controversy here for the blog Old Malayalam Cinema. However, there is no dispute over the fact that “Vigathakumaran” by JC Daniel was the first ever Malayalam feature film.

TCRC has, in its archives, memorabilia from various Malayalam films that have been released over the years. Seeing this page on JC Daniel compelled us to revisit some of the old material and we’re working on the digitization of the same. So, do revisit the TCRC blog for updates.

Missing PBS. Wishing Pran.

We at TCRC deeply mourn the demise of veteran playback singer PB Sreenivas. PBS’ lilting melodies, however, shall live on. Our favorite is “Kalangalil Aval Vasantham” from the 1961 Tamil film “Paava Mannippu,” which incidentally was the first South Indian film to win the National Award for the Second Best Feature Film.

At the same time, we at TCRC are glad to know that the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Cinematic Excellence is being conferred on actor Pran this year and we extend our heartiest congratulations to one of Indian cinema’s finest villains. Given below is a compilation of some of Pran’s best moments on screen.


Incredible film posters from Poland!

Poster | “Apocalypse Now” in Polish

Andrew Lindstrom puts together a fantastic collection of 50 film posters from Poland for the blog WellMedicated (click on the image to see the entire list). Some of them are absolutely gorgeous.

Incidentally, The Cinema Resource Centre here in Chennai also houses a large number of posters and lobby cards of Hollywood films that have been released in India over the years. Want to drop in? Write to us at tcrcindia[at]gmail[dot]com.

Lobby Card | “Policekaaran Magal” | Tamil | 1962

Police-Karan-MAgal-1 WM

A ‘lobby card’ usually featured an image from the film that was being played at the theatre and was displayed in the glass-pane covered notice boards that characterized the lobbies of most single screen theatres in those days.

This is the lobby card of “Policekaaran Magal,” a successful Tamil film released in 1962.