Report by Sanjana Chakraborty; Photography by Dani Charles
Cinema writer and producer Dhananjayan Govind’s Puthumaigalin Munnodigal (The Pioneering Duo), a documentary about filmmakers Krishnan-Panju, was launched by actor Suriya and his father Sivakumar at the Russian Cultural Centre on Thursday evening. The screening was attended by the sons of the filmmakers, as well as directors P Vasu, Vikraman, Mahendran, K Bhagyaraj, and Sasi.
Thanking the filmmakers’ children for being a part of the documentary, Dhananjayan talked about how the Krishnan-Panju duo had changed the face of Tamil cinema with their work, and how they had been instrumental in introducing several artistes to the industry. Dhananjayan also said that in making this film, he had been driven by the appreciation he got for his documentary on Panchu Arunuchalam.
The nearly two hour documentary begins with a close look at the early days of the legendary filmmakers who always directed as a team. Born in July, 1909, Krishnan initially worked in the Railways before venturing into film-making. Panju, whose real name was Panchapakesan, was born in January, 1915. Although he began his career as an accountant for a movie, he soon became a part of the production team, and eventually, a filmmaker.
Together, the duo made more than 50 films in nine languages. Some of their best films include Sivaji Ganesan’s debut film Parasakthi (1959), MR Radha’s Ratha Kaneer (1954), Naagesh’s Server Sundaram (1964), and Uyarndha Manidhan (1964), to name just a few. Their Hindi movies were mostly remakes of their Tamil films, with Barkha (1959) being one of the first Hindi films to include a bullfighting scene.
The documentary featured Panju’s sons Abhimanyu and Prithviraj, and Krishnan’s son K Subash and Murali Kumar, as well as actor Sivakumar, film editor Lenin, veteran makeup artist Muthappa, director P Vasu, and veteran actresses Sowkar Janaki, Lakshmi, and Rajam, who all spoke about the two filmmakers.
According to the film, although the two were not related, they were closer than brothers, making 56 movies between 1934 and 1984. In fact, after Panju’s death in 1984, Krishnan never made another film. He passed away in 1997.