August 22 is Madras Day. A day to mark the founding of the city by Francis Day, Andrew Cogan, and Beri Thimmappa, in 1639.
Madras, or Chennai, is 378 years old, and a thousand years ancient. Through its growth and evolution, the city has always been a centre of arts and culture. Some of the oldest art institutions, the second oldest “Indian” film, its biggest studios and latest developments in cinema science happened in Madras.
Here’s a quick look at some of the iconic films and scenes that showcase the city.
Andha Naal: 1950. Directed by Veenai S Balachandar. Written by Javar Seetharaman
Madras was the only city in the subcontinent to be bombed during both world wars. In World War 1, German Cruiser Emden bombed Fort St. George and the Madras High Court, and gave rise to the enduring legend of Emden, with which mothers still scare their children into submission. In World War 2, Japanese forces bombed Madras – the port, and other strategic locations in the city.
Andha Naal the film – Tamil cinema’s first noir film, and the first one to be made without songs, music, or extended stunt sequences, is about the Japanese bombing of Madras.
Another clip from the film, featuring dialogue in upper caste Tamil and Sourashtra.
Nadodikkattu: 1987. Directed by Satthiyan Anthikad. Written by Srinivasan
This Malayalam film, starring Mohanlal and Sreenivasan is perhaps a strange fit here. But it’s in because of a hilarious sequence in which the two stars, looking for work and fortune, want to leave Kerala and go to Dubai. Except, they fall into the clutches of a fraud, and land in Chennai. Here they try to make fame and fortune, and love.
Later, S.Ve Shekhar and Pandiyarajan reprise the two roles, in Katha Nayagan, and land in Cochin (which at least is spiritually Dubai.)
Satya: 1988. Directed by Suresh Krishna, original story by Javed Akthar (for Hindi film Arjun), dialogues written by Panchu Arunachalam
May Madham: 1994. Directed by Venus Balu. Written by Balu, Crazy Mohan
Kaakha Kaakha: 2003. Written and directed by Gautam Menon
Pudhupettai: 2006. Written and directed by Selvaraghavan
Other films in the list include Madras, Savaal, Anubhavi Raja Anubhavi, and others. But then, movies of Madras can easily be a perpetual feature on Silverscreen.