TAMIL CINEMA refers to Indian motion pictures produced in the
language of Tamil . Based in the Indian state of
Tamil Nadu , the hub
of the Tamil film industry is in the
Kodambakkam neighbourhood of
Chennai . KOLLYWOOD is a colloquial term used to describe this
industry, the word being a portmanteau of
Tamil cinema has been described as the second leading industry of
Indian cinema , after
Telugu cinema and accounting for the
third-largest global box office gross after Hindi cinema (also known
Bollywood ) and
Telugu cinema among all Indian film industries.
The first Tamil silent film,
Keechaka Vadham , was made by R.
Nataraja Mudaliar in 1918. The first talking motion picture, Kalidas
, was a multilingual and was released on 31 October 1931, less than
seven months after India's first talking motion picture
Alam Ara . By
the end of the 1930s, the legislature of the State of Madras passed
the Entertainment Tax Act of 1939.
Tamil cinema later had a profound effect on other filmmaking
industries of India, establishing Madras (now Chennai) as a secondary
hub for Hindi cinema, other South Indian film industries, as well as
Sri Lankan cinema . Over the last quarter of the 20th century, Tamil
India established a global presence through distribution to
an increasing number of overseas theatres in
Singapore , Sri Lanka,
Malaysia, Japan, the Middle East, parts of Africa, Oceania, Europe,
and North America. The industry also inspired independent filmmaking
Tamil diaspora populations in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Western
* BENGALI (TOLLYWOOD)
* HINDI (BOLLYWOOD)
* South Indian
* TAMIL (KOLLYWOOD)
* TELUGU (TOLLYWOOD)
* 1 History
* 1.1 Early exhibitors
* 1.2 Influences
* 1.3 Studios
* 1.4 Exhibitor strike 2017
* 2 Distribution
* 3 Economics
* 4 Legislation
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Further reading
* 8 External links
In 1897, R.Hariharan,cheyyar first screened a selection of silent
short films at the
Victoria Public Hall in Madras . The films all
featured non-fictional subjects; they were mostly photographed records
of day-to-day events. The film scholar Stephen Hughs points out that
within a few years there were regular ticketed shows in a hall in
Pophams Broadway, started by one Mrs. Klug, but this lasted only for a
few months. Once it was demonstrated as a commercial proposition, a
Western entrepreneur, Warwick Major, built the first cinema theatre,
the Electric Theatre, which still stands. It was a favourite haunt of
the British community in Madras. The theatre was shut down after a few
years. This building is now part of a post office complex on Anna
Mount Road ). The Lyric Theatre was also built in the Mount
Road area. This venue boasted a variety of events, including plays in
English, Western classical music concerts, and ballroom dances. Silent
films were also screened as an additional attraction. Swamikannu
Vincent , a railway draftsman from Tiruchirapalli, became a travelling
exhibitor in 1905. He showed short movies in a tent in Esplanade, near
the present Parry's Corner, using carbide jet-burners for projection.
He bought the film projector and silent films from the Frenchman Du
Pont and set up a business as film exhibitor . Soon, he tied up with
Path, a well-known pioneering film-producing company, and imported
projectors. This helped new cinema houses to sprout across the
presidency. In later years, he produced talkies and also built a
To celebrate the event of King
George V 's visit in 1909, a grand
exhibition was organized in Madras . Its major attraction was the
screening of short films accompanied by sound. A British company
imported a Crone megaphone , made up of a film projector to which a
gramophone with a disc containing prerecorded sound was linked, and
both were run in unison, producing picture and sound simultaneously.
However, there was no synched dialogue . Raghupathy Venkiah Naidu, a
successful photographer, took over the equipment after the exhibition
and set up a tent cinema near the
Madras High Court . With this
equipment, he screened the short films Pearl Fish and Raja's Casket in
the Victoria Public Hall. When this proved successful, he screened the
films in a tent set up in Esplanade. These tent events were the true
precursors of the cinema shows. Venkiah traveled with this unit to
Burma (now Myanmar) and Sri Lanka, and when he had gathered enough
money, he put up a permanent cinema house in Madras—Gaiety, in 1914,
the first cinema house in Madras to be built by an Indian. He soon
added two more, Crown Theatre in Mint and Globe (later called Roxy) in
Swamikannu Vincent, who had built the first cinema of South
Coimbatore , introduced the concept of "Tent Cinema" in which a tent
was erected on a stretch of open land close to a town or village to
screen the films. The first of its kind was established in Madras ,
called "Edison's Grand Cinemamegaphone". This was due to the fact that
electric carbons were used for motion picture projectors.
Most of the films screened then were shorts made in the United States
and Britain. In 1909, an Englishman, T. H. Huffton, founded Peninsular
Film Services in Madras and produced some short films for local
audiences. But soon, hour-long films, which narrated dramatic stories,
then known as "drama films", were imported. From 1912 onwards, feature
films made in Bombay (now Mumbai) were also screened in Madras. The
era of short films had ended. The arrival of drama films firmly
established cinema as a popular entertainment form. More cinema houses
came up in the city.
Fascinated by this new entertainment form, an automobile dealer in
the Thousand Lights area of Madras, R. Nataraja Mudaliyar, decided to
venture into film production. After a few days’ training in Pune
with the cinematographer Stewart Smith, the official cinematographer
of Lord Curzon’s 1903 Durbar, he started a film production concern
The man who truly laid the foundations of south
Indian cinema was A.
Narayanan. After a few years in film distribution, he set up a
production company in Madras, the General Pictures Corporation,
popularly known as GPC. Beginning with The Faithful Wife/Dharmapathini
(1929), GPC made about 24 feature films. GPC functioned as a film
school and its alumni included names such as Sundara Rao Nadkarni and
Jiten Banerji. The studio of GPC was housed in the Chellapalli
bungalow on Thiruvottiyur High Road in Madras. This company, which
produced the most number of Tamil silent films, had branches in
Colombo, Rangoon and Singapore.
The Ways of Vishnu/Vishnu Leela, which R. Prakasa made in 1932, was
the last silent film produced in Madras. Unfortunately, the silent era
Indian cinema has not been documented well. When the talkies
appeared, film producers had to travel to Bombay or Calcutta to make
films. Most films of this early period were celluloid versions of
well-known stage plays. Company dramas were popular among the Madras
audience. The legendary Otraivadai drama theatre had been built in
1872 itself in Mint. Many drama halls had come up in the city where
short silent films were screened in the afternoon and plays were
enacted in the night.
The scene changed in 1934 when Madras got its first sound studio. By
this time, all the cinema houses in Madras had been wired for sound.
Narayanan, who had been active during the silent era, founded
Srinivasa Cinetone in which his wife worked as the sound recordist.
Srinivasa Kalyanam (1934), directed by Narayanan, was the first sound
film (talkie) produced in Madras. The second sound studio to come up
in Madras was Vel Pictures, started by M. D. Rajan on Eldams Road in
the Dunmore bungalow, which belonged to the Raja of Pithapuram. Before
long, more sound studios came up. Thirty-six talkies were made in
Madras in 1935.
The main impacts of the early cinema were the cultural influences of
the country. The
Tamil language was the medium in which many plays and
stories were written since the ages as early as the
Cholas . They were
highly stylised and nature of the spectacle was one which could
attract the people. Along with this, music and dance were one of the
main entertainment sources.
There is a strong Indian tradition of narrating mythology, history,
fairy tales and so on through song and dance. Whereas Hollywood
filmmakers strove to conceal the constructed nature of their work so
that the realistic narrative was wholly dominant, Indian filmmakers
made no attempt to conceal the fact that what was shown on the screen
was a creation, an illusion, a fiction. However, they demonstrated how
this creation intersected with people's day-to-day lives in complex
ways. By the end of the 1930s, the State of Madras legislature passed
the Entertainment Tax Act 1939.
In the year 1916 a studio, the first in south India, was set up in
Madras at 10 Millers Road, Kilpauk. He called it the
Company. Rangavadivelu, an actor from Suguna Vilasa Sabha, a theatre
company then, was hired to train the actors. Thirty-five days later,
the first feature film made in south India, The Extermination of
Keechakan/Keechakavatham, based on an episode from the Mahabharata,
was released produced and directed by R. Nataraja, who established the
India Film Company Limited (The Destruction of Keechaka).
EXHIBITOR STRIKE 2017
In 2017, opposing the dual taxation of GST (28%) and entertainment
tax (30%), Tamilnadu Theatre Owners Association announced indefinite
closure of all cinemas in the state from 3rd July 2017. The strike
has been called off and the cinemas will be playing the movies
starting Friday 7th July 2017. Government has formed a committee
to decide on the existence of state's 30% entertainment tax. Its
reported that, per day business loss during the strike was around ₹
List of Tamil-language films
Chennai film industry produced the first nationally distributed
India in 1948 with Chandralekha . They have one of the
widest overseas distribution, with large audience turnout from the
Tamil diaspora alongside Hindi films. They are distributed to various
parts of Asia, Africa, Western Europe, North America and Oceania.
Keechaka Vadham (1918) was the first silent film made in South India
. Kalidas (1931) was the first Tamil talkie film made in 1931.
Kalava was the first Full-length Talkie made entirely in Tamil.
Nandanar (1935) was the first film for American film director Ellis R.
Balayogini released in 1937 was considered to be first
children's film of South India. It is estimated by the Manorama
Yearbook 2000 (a popular almanac) that over 5,000 Tamil films were
produced in the 20th century. Tamil films have also been dubbed into
other languages, thus reaching a much wider audience. There has been a
growing presence of English in dialogue and songs in
Tamil films have enjoyed consistent popularity among populations in
South East Asia . Since Chandralekha , Muthu was the second Tamil film
to be dubbed into Japanese (as Mutu: Odoru Maharaja ) and grossed a
record $1.6 million in 1998. In 2010,
Enthiran grossed a record $4
million in North America.
Many Tamil-language films have premiered or have been selected as
special presentations at various film festivals across the globe, such
Mani Ratnam 's
Kannathil Muthamittal ,
Vasanthabalan 's Veyyil and
Ameer Sultan 's
Kanchivaram (2009) was selected to be
premiered at the
Toronto International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival . Tamil films
have been a part of films submitted by
India for the Academy Award for
Best Foreign Language on eight occasions, next only to Hindi. Mani
Ratnam's Nayagan (1987) was included in Time magazine\'s "All-TIME"
100 best movies list. In 1991,
Marupakkam directed by K.S. Sethu
Madhavan , became the first Tamil film to win the National Film Award
for Best Feature Film , the feat was repeated by
Kanchivaram in 2007.
Tamil films enjoy significant patronage in neighboring Indian states
Andhra Pradesh ,
Maharashtra , Gujarat and
New Delhi. In
Karnataka the films are directly released in
Tamil but in
Andhra Pradesh they are generally dubbed into Telugu
where they have a decent market. There have been instances where
dubbed films from Tamil making more profits than Telugu films; dubbed
Tamil films had a significant impact over the Telugu box office in
2005 and 2011.
Many successful Tamil films have been remade by other film
industries. It is estimated by the Manorama Yearbook 2000 (a popular
almanac) that over 5,000 Tamil films were produced in the 20th
century. Tamil films have also been dubbed into other languages, thus
reaching a much wider audience. There has been a growing presence of
English in dialogue and songs in
Chennai films. It is not uncommon to
see movies that feature dialogue studded with English words and
phrases, or even whole sentences. Some movies are also simultaneously
made in two or three languages (either using subtitles or several
soundtracks). Chennai\'s film composers have popularised their highly
unique, syncretic style of film music across the world. Quite often,
Tamil movies feature
Madras Tamil , a colloquial version of Tamil
Average annual film output in Tamil film industry peaked in 1985. The
Tamil film market accounts for approximately 0.1% of the gross
domestic product (GDP) of the state of
Tamil Nadu . For the purpose
of entertainment taxes, returns have to be filed by the exhibitors
weekly (usually each Tuesday).
The Government of
Tamil Nadu made provisions for an entertainment tax
exemption for Tamil films having titles in words from the Tamil
language only. This is in accordance with Government Order 72 passed
on 22 July 2006. The first film to be released after the new Order was
Unakkum Enakkum . The original title had been Something Something
Unakkum Ennakkum, a half-English and a half-Tamil title. In July
2011, strict norms on entertainment tax were passed which stated that
films which were given a 'U' certificate by the Central Board of Film
Certification alone were eligible for tax exemption and those with an
'A' certificate could not fit into this category.
There are 3 major roles in the Tamil film value chain viz producer,
distributor and exhibitor. The distributor purchases theatrical
distribution rights from the producer for exhibiting the film in a
defined territory. The distributor performs enhanced functions such
* part-financing of film (in case of minimum guarantee / advance
based purchase of film rights)
* localised marketing of film
* selection of exhibition halls
* managing the logistics of physical print distribution
There are three popular approaches to transfer of distribution rights
via distribution contracts:
* Minimum Guarantee + Royalty – Here, the producer sells the
distribution rights for a defined territory for a minimum lump sum
irrespective of the box office performance of the film. Any surplus is
shared between the producer and distributor, in a pre-set ratio
(typically 1:2) after deducting entertainment tax, show rentals,
commission, print costs and publicity costs. Effectively, the
distributor becomes a "financier" in the eyes of the market. This is
the most common channel available to high budget producers.
* Commission – Here, the distributor pays the producer the entire
box office collection after deducting commission. So, the entire risk
of box office performance of the film remains with the producer. This
is the most common channel available to low budget producers.
* Outright Sale – Here, the producer sells all distribution and
theatrical rights for a defined territory exclusively to a
distributor. Effectively, the distributor becomes a "producer" in the
eyes of the market. So, the entire risk of box office performance of
the film remains with the distributor.
There are four popular approaches to transfer of exhibition rights
via exhibition contracts:
* Theatre Hire – Here, the exhibitor pays the distributor the
entire box office collection after deducting entertainment tax and
show rentals. So, the entire risk of box office performance of the
film remains with the distributor. This is the most common channel for
low-budget films, casting rank newcomers, with unproven track record.
* Fixed Hire – Here, the exhibitor pays the distributor a maximum
lump sum irrespective of the box office performance of the film.
Rental is not chargeable per show. Any surplus after deducting
entertainment tax is retained by the exhibitor. Effectively, the
exhibitor becomes a "producer" in the eyes of the market. So, the
entire risk of box office performance of the film remains with the
exhibitor. This is the most common channel for high budget films,
casting established front-runners, with proven track record.
* Minimum Guarantee + Royalty – Here, the exhibitor pays the
distributor a minimum lump sum irrespective of the box office
performance of the film. Any surplus after deducting entertainment tax
and show rental is shared in a pre-set ratio (typically 2:1) between
the exhibitor and distributor. But risk of deficit remains with the
exhibitor. This is the most common channel preferred by single
* Revenue Share – Here, the exhibitor shares with the distributor,
in a pre-set ratio (typically 1:2), the entire box office collection
of the film after deducting entertainment tax. Rental is not
chargeable per show. So, the entire risk of box office performance of
the film is shared between the exhibitor and distributor. This is the
most common channel preferred by multiplex screens.
Film studios in
Chennai are bound by legislation, such as the
Cinematography Film Rules of 1948, the Cinematography Act of 1952,
and the Copyright Act of 1957. In
Tamil Nadu , cinema ticket prices
are regulated by the government. Single screen theatres may charge a
maximum of ₹50, while theatres with more than three screens may
charge a maximum of ₹120 per ticket.
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