Monday, September 04, 2006

Madras in Cinema - lecture by Randor Guy

This lecture was at the PS High School, Mylapore on August 26.

He showed clips from என் மனைவி(trams, Gemini Studio before the flyover was built, Mylapore Kapali temple, PS High School, Marina beach with loudspeakers blaring Corporation Radio songs) and several other movies. Clips from Parasakthi. A clip of MGR playing a Christian groom!

AVM had two major writers AT Krishnaswami and Mr Rangachari (pseudonym Acharya)- the latter was a High Court lawyer who didnt want his legal career sullied by having screenwriting credits - cinema was beneatha lawyer's dignity. He wrote very Brahminical dialogue even for kings.

TP Rajalakshmi, an abandoned bride (vaazhavetti) at 10, whose dad committed suicide when her husband sent her back, moved to Trichy because of spiteful Brahmin neighbors. A lady in Trichy advised her to get into dramas where her singing talent could be used. She was offerred Rs.30 a month which seemed astronomical to mom & daughter. She became a superstar first on the stage then on screen.

When KB Sundaramabal was offered a film role, she refused. Her pay offer was raised to Rs. 1 lakh, at which point she agreed to star!

When Rajaji and other congress governments resigned, the British government banned Tyaga boomi which was running to packed houses. SS Vasan offered continuous free shows to the pubic at Gaiety. The police moved in and lathicharged the crowd INSIDE the theater.

The first Tamil talkie (Kalidas) filmed with a German camera had Tamil and Telugu dialog. The producer was puzzled as to how the German camera would record Tamil! Halfway thru the production he was worried that both languages may not be properly recorded and he may have a silent movie so he added some Hindi dialog. Then they lost a reel, but the movie was still a hit, people didnt feel there was story discontinuity. Then they found the lost reel, added it, and drew repeat audiences.

Crow shooter! A major employee, when they filmed on the banks of the Adyar river, was an AngloIndian crow shooter with an air rifle. Cast and crew tossed around the food packets which drew crows. You would tihink they would learn hygiene and use a trash can, but no, they prefered a crow shooter. You could film without a director or a cameraman, but not without a crow shooter.

Philadelphia had a MK Tyagaraja Bagavathar fan club - in 1996! Mostly SriLankan Tamils, fans of MKT. When AVM wanted to reshoot Mangamma sabatham / Sabapathy in Sinhala he was told it was doing superbly in Tamil!


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