Policekaran Magal: From stage to celluloid

By Karthik Bhatt

On 5th April 2013 TCRC shared its first post. It was the lobby card for the film Policekaran Magal. You can revisit the post here

Today as part of our ‘From Stage to Celluloid’ series we discuss more on this landmark film.

S.V.Sahasranamam was one of Tamil cinema’s most well-known character actors. Along with the likes of S.V.Ranga Rao and S.V.Subbiah, he was part of a select group of actors who were a constant presence in films between the 1950s and 1970s in the roles of a father, grandfather or elder brother.

Born in 1913, Sahasranamam joined T.K.Shanmugam’s Balashanmukhananda Sabha at an early age, giving up schooling to become an actor. His association with the troupe was a long one, lasting for more than two decades. It was an association that got him his first film opportunity, when a play of theirs, Menaka was made as a film in 1935. It was also in this troupe that he forged a lasting friendship with the legendary N.S.Krishnan.

Sahasranamam quit the Balashanmukhananda Sabha in 1936 on account of a misunderstanding with the managers. After stints as a manager with a couple of film houses, he joined N.S.Krishnan, by then a star, as a manager in his production house Ashoka Films. Film opportunities kept coming his way and he acted in a number of films through the 1940s. His passion for stage however remained undiminished. His dream of establishing his own troupe bore fruit in 1953, when he started Seva Stage.

Starting with Kangal, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s short story Vision, Seva Stage made a name for itself with its social themes and brilliant execution of the technical aspects. It was also to Sahasranamam’s credit that he managed to get noted writers such as T.Janakiraman, Ku.Alagiriswami and B.S.Ramiah to script successful and critically acclaimed plays such as Naalu Veli Nilam, President Panchatcharam, Vadivelu Vaathyaar and Policekaran Magal, which were later made into movies.

B.S.Ramiah, born in 1905 was an acclaimed journalist and writer best known in the literary circles for his association with Manikkodi, the magazine started by “Stalin” Srinivasan in 1933. He had made a name for himself as a short story writer. Sahasranamam approached Ramiah with a request to write a play for Seva Stage, thus marking the beginning of an association that would go on to produce great hits on stage.

Policekaran Magal was Ramiah’s fifth script for Seva Stage, after President Panchatcharam, Malliam Mangalam, Therotti Magan and the critically acclaimed Paanchali Sabatham . Revolving around a policeman and his family (most prominently the daughter), the play was a great success. Like other Seva Stage plays, this too did not lack in star value, with noted actors Muthuraman and V.Gopalakrishnan and actress S.N.Lakshmi playing important roles in the play. Muthuraman went on to play a role in the movie too, which was directed by C.V.Sridhar and came out in 1962. Vijayakumari played the role of the daughter in the movie, which was played on stage by Shanthini, a Seva Stage regular. J.P.Chandrababu and Manorama played the role of flower vendors, a crucial part of the plot. Sahasranamam reprised his stage role of the policeman on screen and even today, this movie is often spoken about as one of those movies which is impossible to remake thanks to the powerful portrayal by Sahasranamam.

The movie is also remembered today for its immortal melodies, most particularly Pon enben siru poo enben and Nilavukku en mel ennadi kovam.

Here are pictures of the film’s LP from our collection. The LP also carried the songs of another popular film of the time’ Sumai Thangi’.

policekaranmagal_sumaithangi Policekaranmagal_sumaithangi_back

 

 

Short film screening by Indiearth in association with TCRC

short film screening

The next screening of short films by Indiearth in association with TCRC is happening at Ashvita Bistro,Chennai on the 28th of january 2015. Post screening, we will have a discussion on various styles and techniques involved in short film making with the filmmakers – Madhavan Palanisamy, Arun Mritunjay, Sanjeev Kumar, Madhan Kodees and Vydianathan Ramaswami who would be attending the screening.

ENTRY FREE!

SMS ” Short film ” with your name and email id to 9791088189.

The Short films to be screened are as follows:

1. FlashBack
Filmmaker: SNS Sastry
Duration: 21 min
Language: English
Year: 1974
Genre: Art

The film is a survey of the documentary film movement in India . We hear views of Films Division filmmakers S. Sukhdev and S N S Sastry before the Emergency and close to the end of their lives talking about documentary.

2. Gaarud The Spell
Filmmaker: Umesh Kulkarni
Duration: 13 min
Language: Marathi, Hindi (English Subtitles)
Year: 2008
Genre: Drama

The Spell gives us, in the form of a long tracking shot, a fascinating insight into what happens behind the doors of a block of tenements near the station in a small Indian town inhabited by people of differing backgrounds but all on the seamy side of life. Very briefly, we share their very personal lives. The camera takes us to the kitchens, the living rooms and even the toilets and the bedrooms of the inhabitants. The film won two national awards, one for best cinematography, and the other for best sound design. It received the best film award, the Golden Conch at MIFF, 2010.The film was also awarded the PATTON award for Best Indian Film at the 7th Kalpanirjhar International Short Fiction Film Festival, Kolkata.’Gaarud’ has been screened at more than 25 international film festivals, including the prestigious Rotterdam, and Vila de condo.

3. A Dream called……..America
Filmmaker: Anoop Sathyan
Duration: 26 min
Language: Hindi, English
Year: 2012
Genre: Short, Documentary

‘A Dream called America’ is a documentary made on Shahbaz, a 15 year old boy from Gujarat, India. He is the third among the five children of his father Aftab who makes a living by repairing cycles on a footpath. Shahbaz had studied in the US for a year on a scholarship, where he was hosted by an American couple. The one year he spent in US changed his attitude as he experienced a very comfortable and carefree life than his real home. After reaching India, he badly wants to go back and settle in US, leaving his parents in a dilemma.

Trailer & info: http://www.anoopsathyan.com/

Awards
– Best student film, Mumbai International Film Festival, India 2012
– Best documentary film, 4th International Children Film Festival – Lucknow, India 2012
– Silver award for Best student documentary, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association(IDPA) 2011
– Silver Owl for best documentary, CUT.IN Film Festival, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai 2011

Official Selection
– Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival 2011 – NewDelhi, India
– Open St. Petersburg Student Film Festival ‘Beginning’ 2011 – Russia
– CHAGRIN Documentary Film Fest 2011 – USA
– OAXACA International Film Fest 2011 – Mexico
– Mumbai International Film Festival 2012 – India
– Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Fest 2012 – Qatar
– Globians DOC FEST 2012 – Germany

4. Hangover
Filmmaker: Vydianathan Ramaswami
Duration: 4 min
Language: English, Tamil (English subtitles)
Year: 2005
Genre: Current Affairs

This short film deals with the flip side of college festivals in terms of excess inflow of sponsorship revenue leaving behind a trail of unwarranted usage of plastic and other environmentally hazardous waste.

5. Karma Vinai
Filmmaker: Madhan Kodees
Duration: 12 min
Language: Tamil (English subs)
Year: 2014
Genre: Social Message

Two drunk friends meet a couple while passing through a bus stop at mid night. they drop them at bus stand, driver doesn’t care who are they as he was busy drinking while driving. when he sees both when they get down he gets disturbed.

http://www.indiearth.com/ViewTrailer.aspx?TrailerID=b10fd7dc-3d4a-40a9-9dbf-e1f5fae447f9

6. At the End of 20th Week
Filmmaker: Sanjeev Kumar Choragudi
Duration: 3 min
Language: English
Year: 2014
Genre: Social Message

‘At the End of 20th Week’ is a short film aimed at social awareness about Abortions and Female Infanticide. It portrays the pain of unborn female children. Our intention was not to get applauded or acclaimed by critics. Our intention was to take the veil of discrimination off the faces of people those who prefer sons over a daughters and who doesn’t accept life as a gift but choose to end it because it took a female form.

A beautiful young girl who is peacefully enjoying the warmth and love from an unknown person gets tortured by also another unknown person in different ways. The girl cannot escape the wrath and stays there suffering. The bed which she assumed as a safe place suddenly turns into an Inferno. The person who shared the love and warmth is no more protecting her. She dies in the end and then we identify that it’s not just another girl but she is the representation of a female fetus. And all the different methods are nothing but methods of Abortion. In the end the young girl being pulled out of the bed symbolizes the delivery method of taking a baby out of the womb. She is killed and then we see the statement “Hell begins for women in India ‘At the End of 20th Week’” It is at the end of 20th week one can identify the gender of the foetus. In most of the cases it can be easily identified at the end of 13th week which on the other hand depends on the position of the fetus. Hence the title was decided as 20th week because irrespective of the position of foetus.

7. River Drowning Horses
Filmmaker: Madhavan Palanisamy
Duration: 3 min
Language: English
Year: 2013
Genre: Art

This film blends elements of fashion and theatre to narrate a complex-relationship situation.


Indie Film Screenings by Indiearth in association with TCRC in Chennai

Indiearth

 

Indiearth and TCRC brings an Evening of Short Films:
A collection of freshly picked award winning films from the Films Division that speak of the various interesting nuances of short film making and documentary cinema; generating profound interest in captive audiences who are either new or seasoned non-mainstream film buffs.

Also included are 2 latest shorts by upcoming filmmakers of today. The screening will be followed up by a discussion led by IndiEarth on “Why short films and documentaries are important; to be made and screened to audiences”.

THROUGH A LENS STARKLY
Kuldeep Sinha
Genre: Arts, Cinema
Year: 1992
Duration: 33 minutes
Language: English

During the 100 years of cinema in India, the documentary films have acheived a tremendous growth and Film Division has played a major role in the movement of documentary films in India. The film details the systematic growth of documentary filmmaking.

YES WE MAKE THEM SHORT
Baba Mazgavkar
Genre: Mass Communication Media, Cinema
Year: 1990
Duration: 13 minutes
Language: English

A film emphasising the importance of short films which generallyare not seen by the general audience. Short films can also beinterestingly made. It is through short films that cinema has undergone various innovations and experiments.

INDIA THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Siddharth Kak
Genre: Arts, Cinema
Year: 1990
Duration: 33 minutes
Language: English

Here is a history of the Indian documentary film – from thecoming of cinema to India at the turn of the century to its present development. Excerpts of numerous documentaries areincluded. This is was the opening film at the Bombay International Film Festival

ALFIYA
Satyarth Shaurya Singh
Genre: Shorts, Social Awareness
Year: 2014
Duration: 15 minutes
Language: English, Hindi (English Subtitles)

This is a film that explores a single day in the life of it’s protagonist, Alfiya. The film follows an indefinite progression: an oscillation between the social world and the inner life. Alfiya, a young girl in her twenties, grapples with blurred lines of perception which as likely stem from a ‘ delusional disorder’, or a phobia, to an unshakable dream state.

SILENT NIGHT
Rajdip Ray
Genre: Short, Social Awareness
Year: 2014
Duration: 3 minutes
Language: English

Christmas is the season of joy and giving. But amidst all the happiness and brightly coloured lights are the hidden pangs faced by more than 11 million street children in the largest democracy of the world. Silent Night takes the viewer on a trip around the streets of Calcutta, with one such child, on Christmas eve.

End of an era: K.Balachander (1930-2014)

Indian Cinema lost one of its greatest contributors on December 23rd 2014, K.Balanchander or KB sir as he is fondly known to many. The recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke award, his career spanned for over 45 years. Besides directing over 100 films, he has also donned the role as writer, producer and even an actor. Each of his films were ahead of its times with radical offbeat themes and with strong women characters. The same was true with the many serials that he had directed and produced for the small screen. He is known for launching and mentoring several top actors and technicians in Indian Cinema including Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth and Sri Devi.

Here is what the national newspaper The Hindu  has to say about this great man.

http://http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/he-took-tamil-cinema-beyond-herocentric-creations/article6719996.ece?homepage=true&theme=true

As our small tribute to KB sir we would like to share a lobby card from our collection. It is from the film Manadhil Uridhi Vendum (1987). The film revolves around the strong willed female protagonist Nandhini (played by Suhasini) who over comes many hurdles  and finally dedicates her life to her profession as a nurse.

The lobby card in itself is unique with the working still from the shoot as its image. We get to see the crew and the man himself directing the female lead Suhasini in this picture.

manadhi-urudhi-vendumTCRC

 

Happy Birthday Superstar

 

On this special day we would like to release a special image from our collection, a lobby card from the iconic film Baasha (1995) (Tamil)

Baasha-4
Suresh Krishna’s Baasha is an action thriller starring Rajnikanth, Nagma, and Raghuvaran. A loose adaptation of Amitabh Bahchan’s Hum, Baasha is the story of a man who becomes a mafia don and later tries to escape that life by adopting the identity of an autorickshaw driver. Needless to say, his past catches up with him. The film enjoyed a positive box office response and is considered one of Rajnikanth’s most commercially successful films. This movie won him multiple acting awards. 20 years on, Baasha’s autodriver character has been elevated to patron saint status by auto drivers in Chennai and elsewhere in Tamilnadu.

 

Support our Digitization Project

The Cinema Resource Centre along with Orangestreet.in have joined hands to raise funds for a digitization project of important materials in our archives.
Due to the fragile nature of the old song books, posters and photographs, we have decided to digitize some of the material in our archives and make it easily accessible for researchers and people interested in cinema.

For this we request you to make a donation via the following link : https://www.orangestreet.in/projects/tcrc

We will be delighted if you could share this link on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and help spread the word.

Please watch a few videos on the project below:

Support our Digitization Project

The Cinema Resource Centre along with Orangestreet.in have joined hands to raise funds for a digitization project of important materials in our archives.
Due to the fragile nature of the old song books, posters and photographs, we have decided to digitize some of the material in our archives and make it easily accessible for researchers and people interested in cinema.

For this we request you to make a donation via the following link : https://www.orangestreet.in/projects/tcrc

We will be delighted if you could share this link on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and help spread the word.

Please watch a few videos on the project below:

25 Greatest Acting Performances in Indian Cinema: The Forbes List!

The Forbes India magazine recently put out a list of the 25 greatest acting performances in Indian cinema, 8 of which are performances in Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil films.  Now, here at TCRC, we are always a little wary of lists such as these, fully aware that it’s incredibly hard to pick just 8 or 10 performances from over thousands of films made in the southern part of the country across the span of almost a century. But since this list is a part of their ‘100 Years of Indian Cinema’ set of features, we felt compelled to share this. Given below is an excerpt from the piece (click here to check out the entire list):

JV Somayajulu 
in Sankarabharanam (The Ornament of Shankara), 1980 
JV Somayajulu, an IAS officer in his 50s, plays a Carnatic musician, misunderstood for supporting the daughter of a prostitute, ignored by a society where classical music is in decline, and is being overtaken by pop music. It was a surprise hit. It opened to empty seats, gathered speed and, today, enjoys a cult status. Somayajulu played his part with such dignity and intensity that you can’t listen to any of its hugely popular songs without imagining him performing them as his sadhana.

JV Somayajulu in "Sankarabharanam" (Telugu, 1980). Photo Courtesy: Forbes India.

JV Somayajulu in “Sankarabharanam” (Telugu, 1980). Photo Courtesy: Forbes India.

“Sankarabharanam” turned out to be a cult film as far as Telugu cinema was concerned, after getting off to a slow start in the box office. Directed by K Vishwanath, the film is remembered for its music, scored by KV Mahadevan. The film was shot by cinematographer-turned-director Balu Mahendra, who later made “Moondram Pirai” with Kamal Hassan and Sridevi (“Sadma” in Hindi). The director of “Sankarabharanam,” K Vishwanath, went on to narrate yet another story revolving around an art form (classical dance) in “Saagara Sangamam” (“Salangai Oli” in Tamil). The film featured Kamal Hassan and Jayaprada in career-defining roles and like “Sankarabharanam,” it is said to be a musical success, with tunes composed by Ilaiyaraaja.

The Madras Film Industry in the 1960s: On the sets of “Thillaanaa Mohanambal” in a French documentary!

Today, we bring to you a clip from “L’inde Fantôme” (Phantom India), a documentary film made by Academy Award-winning French filmmaker Louis Malle. This is an excerpt from “Choses Vues A Madras,” which was the second episode of the documentary. Focusing on the Madras film industry in the late 1960s, the excerpt features footage shot on the sets of the 1968-released, classic Tamil film “Thillaanaa Mohanambal,” starring Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, Balaiah, Manorama and others. Directed by AP Nagarajan and written by Kothamangalam Subbu, the film and its songs continue to be remembered even today.

What we found most interesting was the commentary in French (you can turn on the English subtitles by clicking on the “Captions” button in the bottom bar on the YouTube video). The commentator, at one point, refers to Sivaji Ganesan as the “Indian Belmondo.” “Belmondo” here is a reference to Jean Paul Belmondo, the French actor who was a prominent face in the New Wave films that were made in France in the 1960s. He continues to be remembered for his portrayal of the character Michel Poiccard in Jean Luc Godard’s extremely influential film “Breathless” (“À bout de souffle” in French). “Breathless” was a path-breaking film that inspired many filmmakers through its brilliant use of the jump cut. So, while the comparison to Belmondo is flattering, it’s important to remember that Sivaji Ganesan had made his mark with “Parasakthi” in 1952, a good eight years before Belmondo broke out with “Breathless” (1960).

Jean Paul Belmondo in "Breathless" | Sivaji Ganesan in "Thillaanaa Mohanambal"

Jean Paul Belmondo in “Breathless”   |    Sivaji Ganesan in “Thillaanaa Mohanambal”

Do watch the clip and let us know about your thoughts on Louis Malle’s commentary and his take on Indian films. You can leave a comment or write to us at tcrc.india[at]gmail[dot]com.