Celluloid city

Print edition : September 05, 2014

T.R. Rajakumari in "Chandralekha" (1948), produced by Gemini Studios. The studio, which was a landmark in Chennai, closed down in the 1960s. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Swamikannu Vincent, who in 1905 started showing short movies in a tent in Esplanade near Parry's Corner. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Nataraja Mudaliyar, founder of the India Films Company and Studio. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Rangavadivelu, a Madras lawyer, who trained the actors for Nataraja Mudaliyar. Photo: by special arrangement

Electric Theatre, the first cinema hall established in Chennai. The building, located on the premises of the Anna Salai post office, now houses the Philatelic Bureau. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

A file picture of Electric Theatre. Photo: By special arrangement

Gaiety, the first cinema house to be built by an Indian, R. Venkaiah, in 1914. A file picture. Photo: K. GAJENDRAN

A. Narayanan, founder of General Pictures Corporation, and Meenatchi Narayanan, his wife and sound recordist. Photo: By special arrangement

Director K. Subramaniam, at a function of the cine technicians association in Chennai. A file picture. Photo: By special arrangement

A.V. Meiyappan, S.S. Vasan and B. Nagi Reddy, owners of AVM, Gemini and Vijaya-Vauhini studios in Chennai respectively, in 1966. Photo: handout

AVM Studios. It has outlived many other studios in the city.

S.S. Vasan with Jawaharlal Nehru during the Prime Minister's visit to the Gemini laboratory in December 1957. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Technicians inside Gemini Studios. Photo: The Hindu Archives

K.B. Sundarambal, who acted as Avvaiyar in the epomynous film, was the first film artist in the country to become a member of a State legislature. This picture was taken at the Raj Bhavan in Madras, where she signed the register. Pammal Sambanda Mudaliyar, Governor Bishnuram Medhi and Minister Kakkan are also seen in the picture. Photo: By special arrangement

Crown cinema theatre in Mint was also built by Venkaiah. Photo: V. Ganesan

From roadside screenings of short silent films to producing big-budget films, Chennai has come a long way since 1897.

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