Tamil Talkies completes 80 years today

Eighty years ago, when director Ardeshir Irani was producing Alam Ara, the first Indian talkie, his former assistant H.M. Reddy came up with an idea of making the first talkie in Tamil; thus Kalidasa was born.
The film was based on folk myth on the life of the legendary third century Sanskrit poet Kalidas, the creator of many classics like 'Shakunthalam' and 'Megha Sandhesham'.

Though it was a Tamil film, its characters spoke a variety of languages including Tamil (Princess Vidyadhari), Telugu (Kalidas, Naradhar) and Hindi (Temple priest). The film was released in Madras (now Chennai) Kinema Central (later called Murugan Theatre). It was a big hit as it was a novelty for the audience to witness an audio visual with dialogues and songs of their language. Produced at a cost of Rs.8,000/-, the film grossed over Rs.75,000/-. Kalidas was the first Indian multi-lingual movie since the film had Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Bengali dialogues by various characters.

Source: Best of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2010 by G. Dhananjayan


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