A visiting European exhibitor screened a bunch of silent short films at the Victoria Public Hall, Madras. The films all non-fiction and told no story. They were mostly photographed records of ordinary events.
In Madras (Chennai) City, the “Electric Theatre” established where silent films were shown. It was the favourite haunt of the British community in Madras. The theatre was closed after few years. This building is now part of the Post Office Complex on Anna Salai.
Mr. Cohen built “Lyric Theatre” in Mount Road area (now Anna Salai). Here, plays in English, Western music concert and ball dances took place regularly and silent films were also shown as additional attraction.
Samikannu Vincent an employee of South Indian Railway, Trichy purchased a film projector and silent films from Frenchman Du Pont and set up business as film exhibitor. He erected tents for screening films. The tent cinema became popular and he went all over with his mobile unit. In later years he produced talkie films and also built a cinema house in Coimbatore.
To commemorate the event of George V’s visit in 1909 a grand exhibition was organised in Madras. Its major attraction was the screening of short films with sound. A British company brought “Crone-megaphone”, made up of a film projector to which a gramophone with a disk containing pre-recorded sound was linked and both ran in unison producing picture and sound simultaneously. However, there was no lip-synch dialogue. Raghupathy Venkiah, a successful still photographer took over the equipment after the exhibition and set up a tent cinema near the Madras High Court.
R. Venkiah flushed with funds built in 1912 a permanent cinema house in Mount Road area named “Gaiety”. It was the first in Madras, to screen films on full time basis. This theatre happily functions though under different ownership.
In tent cinemas there were usually three classes of tickets, the floor, bench and chair. The floor ticket purchaser sat on sand to watch the movie but he enjoyed certain advantages, which other patrons did not. He could sit as he pleased or even he could turnover and take a short sleep when it is boring him and again roll back when the screen shot upto his liking! Luxuries, the upper class could never indulge in. Surely those were the days!
Silent Cinema In Tamil Nadu.
1916 R. Nataraja Mudaliar, an automobile spare parts merchant promoted India Film Company Limited and built a silent film studio on Miller’s Road, Purasawalkkam, Madras. Interested in the new medium of cinema he had received training in Cinematography from Stewart Smith, a British cinematographer. Mudaliar’s first silent feature film was “Keechaka Vadam” (1917), first to be made in Tamil Nadu.
The year marked the birth of the Silent Film in Tamil Nadu, the precursor to the modern day Tamil Cinema, as we know it. R.Nataraja Mudaliar was the first producer, director and cinematographer in Tamil Cinema. Trained in London, he came back and made Keechaka Vadham in 1917, the first Silent feature film in Tamil.
Other Silent movies followed. Encouraged by the success of the medium, Prakash Raghupathy made Bishma Pratigna. Other mythologicals and historicals followed - Sarangadhara, Bhoja Raja, Gajendra Moksham etc. Censor Boards were established in Madras in 1918.
Prahalada (new theatre)
Prahalada (East India Film Company)
Valli (National Movie Ton)
Valli Thirumanam (Pioneer Film Company)
Shri Krishna Leela
(Shri) Krishna Murari
Draupathi Vastraharanam (Angel Films )
Draupathi Vastraharanam (Srinivas Cineton)
Lava KusaSrinivasa Kalayanam
Adi Rooba Amaravathi
Subadraharan (subadra parinayam)
Dhruva Saritharam (Pioneer Film Company )
Baktha Dhruvan (Angel Film Company)
Nala Thangal (Pioneer Film Company )
Nala Thangal (Angel Film Company )
Baktha Ramdas & Milagai Podi
Usha Kalyanam & Kizharttu Mappillai
Gaurda Garva Bangam
Krishna Narathi (அ) Narada Garava Bangam
Souvkadi Chandra Kantha
Chandra Mohana (அ) Samuga Thondu
Nalayini (Sundram Talkies )
Nalayini (Oriental Sound Pictures)
PathiBakthi + Kangani
Parvathi Kalyanam & Moondru Muttalgal
Mahatama Kabirdas & Madayargal Sandhippu
Srimathi Parinayam & Mannarsami
Andal ThiruKalyanam (kothaiyin kadhal)
Kousalya Parinayam & Mr Ammanji
Sundara Murthi Nayanar
Sethu Bandham & Asai
Sri Bhaktha Thyagaraja
Navayavan (அ) Geethasaram
Nirupamadevi (அ) Naveena Nirupama
Pakka Rowdy (Thanjavur Rowdy)
Mr Tight & Loose
Balamani (அ) Pakka Thirudan
Rajasekaran & Yematha Sonagiri
Vikram Stree Sahasam
Lakshmi (அ) Harijan Penn
En Kadhali & Moottal Mappillai
Kambar (அ) Kalviyin Vetri
Sree Kantha Leela
Baktha Meera & Shok Sundram
BhooKailas (அ) Mandothari Parinayam
Por Veeran Manaivi & Asattu Veeran Manaivi
Raj Drohi (அ) Dharamapuri Ragasiyam
Veera Jagdish (1936-Kuti )
Jalaja (அ) Natiya Mahimai
Harijan Singam (Madras CID )