Article written by R.Nataraja Mudaliar in the late 1930’s

R.Nataraja Mudaliar made Keechaka Vatham, the first film to be produced in South India in the year, 1916. Unfortunately, barring a couple of interviews, one which was published in Mail Magazine in the 1930’s ( which I have not seen) and one in the early 1970’s in Chitralaya Magazine ( can be seen at the Roja Muthiah Research Library), not much primary material about Mudaliar is available, or known to have survived.

During my trip to the N.F.A.I, early this year, I chanced to find this article which Mudaliar has written in the late 1930’s. It should be noted here, that by this period, Mudaliar had long left the film industry (in the Silent Era period), and now the Talkies were in place.

This article was written at a time, when the Talkie industry was on the verge of collapse. Film Studios like ‘Andhra Cinetone’ had collapsed and the iconic M.P.P.C Studios (K.Subrahmanyam/later Gemini Studios) was on financially weak ground. Its demise would happen the following year.

While the article is not very informative per-se, and does not go into details ( possibly since Mudaliar was out-of-touch with the realities of film making, by this time), it holds a lot of historical value, given that it is written by someone who made the first Thamizh film.

new doc 3_1new doc 3_2new doc 3_3



Been almost 10 days, since i officially published the Beta version of ‘THE MISSING FILM REELS OF THAMIZH CINEMA’. There are changes that still need to be updated and a couple of portions ( An Interview with Dr.C.V.Chandrashekar about the Devadasi system and BharathaNatyam Dance) , and that’s why it is still BETA, but the soul of the film, won’t change much, so it was kind of okay, i thought.

At 1 hour 35 minutes, the film is long. I have shared the film with a handful of people, and updated the link on Social media. One person who has seen the movie has given some great feedback.

Today, when i found some time, i decided to make the first promo poster.


One of my greatest regrets !!! S.S.Vasan’s Home

My first office was situated in R.K.Salai. I had worked in that location between late 2005 and 2008. Following this period, i relocated to Bangalore. Each day as i trode to office, i had to see a dilapidated yesteryear Bungalow, sitting on the other side of my office wall. The name plate etched on the wall bearing the house owner’s name ‘S.S.Vasan’ still fills my eyes.

The gate used to be open, and there was a huge open veranda which led to the house, back then. I don’t remember in detail, if there was a security-guard sitting at the gate, but i guess that there must have been one. Surely, I could have got access to seeing this iconic building, by placing a humble request, or maybe, i could have tried to contact its owners, just to have a look in the building which would have seen several iconic personalities, over the years.


PC –

Sadly, i never knew the kind of interests that i would develop in the next decade, back then. The building was torn down, even when i was around. The name of the building’s former owner, for some reason, has stuck in my head, and i realise its significance now.

S.S.Vasan’s Gemini Studios became the epitome of discipline and organization in film production. It would continue to be at the helm of the Thamizh film Industry, before the emergence of unionism started eating its legacy from the fringes. Without doubt, Vasan’s legacy was one of the corner stones, over which the modern Thamizh film Industry sits on today.

Sadly, it has been ages since I have visited my old office now. I hope, against all practical hope, that the new builders have left atleast the outer wall, in rememberance of one of the most influential public personalities in the world of Print Publishing, Film Distribution & Production.

Related Link :




When was Keechaka-Vatham released?

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 –

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.


Peer2Peer, Piracy and Perception

One of the earliest forms of technology which was used in the last decade for sharing and accessing infringing content was Peer2Peer, popularly called as BitTorrents ( now Magnetic Links are available which eliminate the need for .torrent files to be stored on a server). It is still popular today, because it can offer even more improved speeds than the download limit of a centralised streaming server. P2P is also much more tolerant towards resuming broken downloads. However, the liability of infringement is much more, because unlike downloading a file or streaming a movie, in a P2p swarm, at some point, a lecher becomes a seeder as well.

P2P and Torrents have come to be strongly associated with Piracy to a point that even if a company originally associated with it wants to evolve into a legitimate product, faces immense challenges.

Based on P2p sharing technology, The BitTorrent company had introduced a serverless cloud solution called Sync, a few years ago. Since a server was not involved here, the speeds of transfer were immensely much faster than traditional server based cloud solutions. However, it appears that the stigma of BitTorrent continued to hamper the name of a truly path breaking, legitimate file sharing solution.



Resilio Sync, Formerly BitTorrent Sync


Some time back, Sync was seperated and made the flagship of a new company called Resilio. It still uses the same P2P technology, but its branding is no longer associated with BitTorrent.


Cheran’s dream is now officially over!!!

The much hyped ‘Cinema2Home’ project has met a slow death. Barring the release of ‘JK Ennum Nanbanin Vazhkai’ and the re-release of ‘Madha Yaanai Kootam’, the project never really took off. Its online distribution infrastructure was ridden with bugs and login issues.


Over a period of time, interest in this project declined for the news media. Barring an incident which took place last year in which, an arrest warrant was issued against Cheran for a bounced cheque, nothing else related to the C2H project piqued interest. Infact, no one even bothered to observe that the C2H domain went offline.

The downfall was obviously eminent. A couple of days ago, Director Cheran has made an announcement on his Facebook feed which sums up the inevitable. Good bye, ‘Cinema2Home’. He has also announced that he will be making a couple of films, which will logically be distributed through the traditional distribution system.

As with his case through out, he even now takes the moral high ground of pointing fingers against those who pirate, and takes a satirical dig at his failure and speaks about re-budgeting his films to calculate known losses against piracy.  Did it need such a costly experiment for an experienced film maker like Cheran to figure this out?


Screenshot 2017-05-24 13.23.11

[P.S – Several attempts were made by this author to contact Director Cheran over the years to speak about the status of the C2H project, but to no avail. Personally, right from the beginning, I was very skeptical about this project and some of the views that Cheran was expressing. I even wished to point them out and discuss them with him, but unfortunately, this did not happen.]

Pointless Acts : Re-Mastering and Re-Releasing Films, which are already in Digital

Starting with re-processing of Sivaji Ganesan’s movie Karnan, several films have been digitally re-mastered and re-released in theatres. These include films like ‘Pathinaaru Vayathinile’, ‘Baasha‘ and now ‘Vetri Vizha‘. All these films have already been available in Digital format for quite some time now.



In this article published on the Internet, Deva, the distributor ( DARWIN PICTURES) holding the rights to the film ‘Vetri Vizha’ speaks about the need to archive film negatives for posterity and for them to be preserved for the upcoming generation.

First of all, preserving movies on film is a very costly proposition. It is also much more cumbersome, and only continued re-runs of film can make saving ‘film on print’, viable. This is obviously well known and that is the reason why digital slowly replaced print. More over, with the ‘shelf life of movies’ coming down to a matter of days, if not weeks, the possibilities of even thinking of film, is less than zero.

The availability of free digital copies online ( and affordable DVD’s) seriously limits the general audience interest in wishing to see a near similar, albeit slightly enhanced experience of the film at the theatre. The upper limit of Basha’s re-released collections hitting at around only 40 Lakhs seriously limits the scope of what can be done to a film like Vetri Vizha. Given this budget limitation, the movie makers are definitely not going to do a 3D version of the film, or something like that. Moreover, no matter what re-mastering you do, you aren’t going to end up with a ‘Bahubali’ kind of experience at the theatre. So, what is the point? Even, if it is a stark improvement in quality, would it justify in bringing the general and younger audience to the theatres?

It is obvious that classic films need to be shown to the younger generation. But this film, Vetri Vizha has already been available on YouTube, for quite some time now. So, logically, why would most people, wish to come to the theatre and pay for it, when they can see a film for free? They will not.

In all probability, the screening of ‘Vetri Vizha’ is just another gimmick that would appeal only to ‘die-hard-fans’ of the actor Kamal Hassan (who have already seen this movie multiple times) and continue to rake in more moolah, for the rights holder. Simple.

Rather than invest so much resources into remastering and screening films, of which digital prints of acceptable quality are already available, why don’t we put in that same effort to bring Digital copies of films stored in film prints, but are unavailable to the common public in any form what-so-ever?