A few days back, I was flipping through a back edition of a popular weekly info-tainment magazine, when i saw the advertisement of a published book, which supposedly had chronicled the history of Thamizh cinema’s hundred years. The promo advert for the book claims that Keechaka-Vatham, Thamizh cinema’s first film (Silent) was released in the year – 2018. I have not read that book, so i cannot make an opinion on that statement.
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with someone on Social media. The person claimed that Keechaka-Vatham was released in the year 2017. She pointed out to a reputed Film Historian, who had made that claim.
Sadly, none of us know know the exact date or year of release of Keechaka-Vatham. Not that it would matter, in my opinion, since no one would do it anyways – simply, because Mudaliar’s descendants unfortunately do not have a ‘political’, ‘artistic’ or ‘cinematic’ legacy to carry forward. So, no one needs to bother. This inference is underlined by a grouse raised by D.V.Balakrishnan, who claimed that no one from the State Government of Thamizhnadu celebrated M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar’s centenary, in the year 2012.
But, apparently, some attempts are being made to continuously extend star Actor-Politician M.G.R and legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan’s legacy. Would these stars continue to be remembered if either Ganesan’s family was still not in the cine-business or if MGR had not floated his own party? I don’t think so. But sadly, that is the way, things are in Thamizh nadu.
PC – http://www.agamudayarotrumai.com/t/nataraja-mudaliar
With regard to when Keechaka-vatham was released? The closest guess is the year ‘1916’. Nataraja Mudaliar, the maker of Keechaka-Vatham himself mentions this date in an interview to Chitralaya Magazine in the 1970’s. So, for all practical purposes, and until a more concrete primary source of some form emerges, 1916 will continue to be the date of release of Keechaka-Vatham- Thamizh Cinema’s first Film.