Learn the Interesting History of Kollywood


Kollywood is a name frequently used to refer to Tamil cinema, which is based in Chennai, previously Madras, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The words Kodambakkam and Hollywood are combined to form the name.

In and around Chennai’s Kodambakkam, where there is a significant concentration of film studios, many professionals are active in Tamil filmmaking. Along with Bollywood and Tollywood, Kollywood is one of India’s top three filmmaking regions.

Tamil cinema has consistently had popularity among Tamil speakers in India and Sri Lanka as well as further afield in Singapore, Malaysia, and other places, despite lacking the large budgets and broad distribution of Hindi movie. 

Recently, Tamil movies have gained popularity in Japan, and many of them are being dubbed or remakes in Hindi. Kollywood is the most well-known filmmaking sector after Bollywood. English has become more prevalent in songs and dialogues as well. It is typical to witness movies with dialogue that include English words, phrases, and even complete sentences.

Some films are also produced using subtitles or multiple soundtracks in two, three, or even more languages. The dialect of Tamil spoken in Madras, known as Madras Bashai, is frequently featured in Kollywood films.

Tamil movies have frequently been translated into other Indian languages, which has allowed them to indirectly reach a larger audience. Hindi subtitles are used in several Tamil movies, including the blockbusters Minsaara Kanavu, Roja, and Bombay. After being dubbed, the Tamil film Music nearly always finds its way to Bollywood and enjoys a very broad popularity.

Keechaka Vadham, the first silent Tamil movie or Kollywood production, was helmed by R. In 1918, Nataraja Mudaliar. Less than seven months after India’s first talking movie, Alam Ara, the first Tamil talking feature film, Kalidas, a multilingual production directed by H M Reddy, was released on October 31. 

The Entertainment Tax Act of 1939 was enacted by the State of Madras assembly by the end of the 1930s. Madras (now Chennai), the birthplace of the Tamil film industry, later served as a secondary centre for Sri Lankan, Hindi, and other South Indian film industries.

India Film

The History 

In 1897, during the British Raj, M. Edwards presented his first screening of silent movies in the Victoria Public Hall in Madras. All of the films that were chosen had non-fictional content, most of which were photographic records of ordinary incidents. 

Stephen Hughes, a film expert, notes that within a few years, a Mrs. Klug-started series of regularly scheduled ticketed performances in a Pophams Broadway auditorium only lasted for a few months. After it was proven to be profitable, a Western businessman named Warwick Major constructed the first movie theater, the Electric Theatre, which is still standing today. 

The British community in Madras considered it to be a favorite haunt. After a few years, the theater was shut down. Currently, this structure is a part of the Anna Salai Mount Road post office complex. The Mount Road neighborhood also has the Lyric Theatre. This location hosted a wide range of activities, including English-language plays, performances of Western classical music, and ballroom dancing.

Additionally, silent movies were shown as an attraction. In 1905, Swamikannu Vincent, a Tiruchirapalli-based railway draftsman, started traveling with his exhibits. He projected short films using carbide jet burners in a tent on the Esplanade, close to the current Parry’s Corner. From the Frenchman Du Pont, he purchased the movie projector and silent movies, and he established himself as a movie exhibitor. 

He soon formed a partnership with Path, a renowned, avant-garde film production firm, and bought projectors. This aided in the emergence of new movie theaters across the presidency. Later on, he constructed a cinema in Coimbatore and produced talkies. 

The influences and some of the studios 

The country’s cultural influences were the key effects of early film. Since ancient times, dating back to the Cholas, several dramas and stories have been written in the Tamil language. They were quite stylized, and the show’s nature was one that the public may find appealing. A major form of entertainment was also provided by music and dance. 

India has a rich tradition of telling mythology, history, fairy tales, and other stories through song and dance. Indian filmmakers did not make any effort to hide the fact that what was displayed on the screen was a construction, an illusion, or a fiction, in contrast to Hollywood filmmakers who tried to hide the constructed nature of their work so that the genuine narrative was completely dominating. 

In Madras at 10 Millers Road, Kilpauk, the first studio in southern India was established in 1916. It was known as the India Film Company. The performers were taught by Rangavadivelu, a performer from the theater group Suguna Vilasa Sabha at the time. 

The Extermination of Keechakan/Keechakavatham, based on a story from the Mahabharata, was the first feature film created in south India and was released 35 days later. It was produced and directed by R. Nataraja, who founded the India Film Company.

Tamil cinema continues to be informal despite a century of rising box office receipts. There are a few exceptions, too, such Modern Theatres, Gemini Studios, AVM, and Sri Thenandal Films, which have lasted longer than 100 projects. 

In order to recognize the success of Tamil cinema, there were people that created award shows and film festivals that showcased the excellence of Kollywood films throughout the years. To know more about these events, you can read our article, A Look into Kollywood’s Award Shows and Film Festivals.

Interesting Facts about Kollywood 

  • Nataraja R. Mudaliar produced the first silent film in Tamil. In 1916, he created “Keechaka Vadham.”
  • T.P. Rajalakshmi was the first female producer and director of Tamil film.
  • The most talented music directors in Tamil film include Ilayaraja, A.R. Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Deva, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Devi Sri Prasad, Vidyasagar, and Srikanth Deva.
  • Tamil film was influenced by the mid-late 1970s and early 1980s actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.
  • In Tamil movies, stardom began to emerge in the 1930s. K.B. Sundarambal was the first female superstar in Tamil cinema, and she received one lakh rupees for her movie that same year.
  • In 1931, H.M.Reddy’s Kalidas became the first talkie in Tamil. P.G. Venkatesan, T.P. Rajalakshmi, and M.S. Sabthanalakshmi made up its cast.
  • The first production endeavor of AVM Productions was Nam Iruvar, which was founded in 1945. It is India’s biggest and oldest industrial facility.
  • In the 1950s and 1960s, M.G. Ramachandran (M.G.R), Sivaji Ganesan, and Gemini Ganesan ruled Tamil cinema.

Wrapping it up

The Tamil film industry has won many awards, including national and international ones. The official Tamil film entries from India for the Oscars are Nayakan, Thevar Magan, Kuruthipunal, Indian, Jeans, Hey Ram, Visaranai, and Soorarai Pottru. 

With its distinctive stories and realistic commitment to portraying the lives of an ordinary guy, Kollywood is now topping the Indian film industry.

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