A way of life

Print edition : October 18, 2013

M.G. Ramachandran in "Ayirathil Oruvan" (1965). He went on to become India's best-known star politician.

Swamikannu Vincent, the earliest of the exhibitors who, starting in 1905, toured the entire country with his tent theatre. Photo: K. Ananthan

R. Nataraja Mudaliyar, who built the first studio in Chennai, called India Films, and produced the first Tamil silent movie, "Keechakavatham", in 1916. Photo: The Hindu Archives

File photo of Gaiety in Chennai, the first permanent theatre built by an Indian. Photo: S. Thanthoni

M. R. Radha and Sivaji Ganesan in "Paava Mannippu" (1961). Photo: THE HINDU

In this rare photograph, C.N. Annadurai with Sivaji Ganesan in the stage play "Sivaji Kanda Indhu Samrajyam". Photo: By Special Arrangement

Song and story book of "Kalidas", the first Tamil Talkie.

Mahendran directing Ashwini on the sets of "Udhiri Pookkal" (1979).

Kamal Hassan in"16 Vayathinile", Bharathiraja's landmark movie.

Mani Ratnam directing a scene in "Nayakan" (1987).

Sivakumar and Jayabharathi in film "Marupakkam" (1992), one of only two Tamil films to get the National Award for Best Film. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Rajinikanth and Jayalakshmi in Mahendran's "Mullum Malarum" (1978).

Saranya Mohan and Appukutty in "Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai" (2011).

Bobby Simha, Vijay Sethupathi and Sanchita Shetty in "Soodhu Kavvum" (2013). In recent years, young film-makers have explored refreshing themes.

Tamil cinema inherited interesting and different characteristics from the art form it evolved from, the “company drama”: a strong aural tradition and the space to critique social maladies. It has evolved into a powerful medium, breaking the traditional style and format and venturing into refreshingly new themes.

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