Madras - the cradle of Malayalam cinema

  • Films influence all spheres of life in Tamil Nadu.
  • Early Malayalam films had flourished thanks to the hospitality offered by Madras.
Karl Schmidt Memorial
Courtesy: Facebook page of Karl Schmidt Memorial

Tamils are generally known as a cinema-crazy people. Films influence all spheres of life in Tamil Nadu and no wonder old Madras was once the capital of south Indian cinema. Malayalam filmmakers too had followed the path laid by their Tamil counterparts. Early Malayalam films had flourished thanks to the hospitality offered by Madras (now Chennai). Though Malayalam film shooting shifted to Thiruvananthapuram in the early 1990s and later to Kochi, several films were shot at popular locations in Chennai.

Anna Nagar Tower Park

Underworld don Pavanayi became a ‘savam’ (corpse) at this park in Anna Nagar, a posh locality in Chennai. The park came up as part of the World Trade Fair held in 1968. The famous scene in ‘Nadodikkattu’ was shot at the Park Tower, which is as tall as a four-storey building.

Old timers in the city say that in the past, one could view the entire Chennai city from the top of the tower. Now, multi-storey complexes have come up all around place. But, Anna Nagar Tower still retains its splendour.

Newgen filmmakers often visit the place, drawn by the nostalgia for Dasan and Vijayan, but entry to the Tower is banned. Authorities stopped allowing visitors into the Tower some time ago citing security issues.

Gafoor Ikka’s Dubai

Elliot Beach at Besant Nagar in Chennai is where Dasan and Vijayan landed in Gafoor Ikka’s dhow, believing it to be Dubai. It was here that the dialogue, 'CID escape' was heard for the first time. The Karl Schmidt memorial seen in the movie is still at the same place. The memorial was built in honour of Karl Schmidt, who lost his life while saving a young British girl caught in the waves. Constructed on the orders of the then British mayor, the memorial was seen in several Tamil films also.

AVM Studio

Till three decades ago, AVM was synonymous with cinema. Innumerable popular Malayalam films were shot at this studio. So too were several well-loved scenes. AVM was known as ‘Cinema ulakam’ (Cinema world).

Founded by A V Meyyappa Chettiyar, AVM studio has a glorious track record extending to 70 years. Chettiyar’s determination and far-sightedness ensured that over 170 films were released under the ‘AVM’ banner. Films in numerous languages, notably Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam, were produced here.

Even after locations shifted outdoors, the fight scenes in many films, especially those involving superstars, are still shot at AVM studio. AVM is also a preferred location for reality shows and television serials.

Similar to the earth, the landmark globe in front of AVM Studio still continues to rotate, symbolising its permanent nature.

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