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Throwback Thursday - American, Ellis R. Dungan The First Star Director of Tamil Cinema

Thursday, December 28, 2017 • Tamil Comments
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It is common knowledge that Tamil cinema always looks to Hollywood for inspiration in content and technology and only in recent times a few films have caught the imagination of the Americans such as 'Baahubali 2', 'Joker' ,'Kaaka Muttai' and 'Vikram Vedha'.  The younger generation will be surprised to learn that Tamil cinema's first star director, Ellis R Dungan came from America and made quality films from 1936 to 1950.  M.G. Ramachandran the most popular superstar and later on the unforgettable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu made his screen debut in 'Sathileelavathi' directed by Dungan.  T.S. Balaiah and N.S. Krishan too were his proteges. 

Ellis R. Dungan (1909 to 2001) is credited to have brought most of the innovations like the prosthetic makeup, a moving camera as opposed to a static one and the caberet or item dance which are all studiously followed to this day.  He also came in for severe criticism for shooting intimate love scenes between P.V. Narasimha Bharathi and Madhuri Devi in his 1950 film 'Ponmudi' as the people of the time were very conservative.  Those scene ofcourse are very mild when compared to today's lewd onscreen romances. 

Dungan gave Tamil cinema elevan films and numerous inspirations and innovations making him the first star director of Kollywood and will continue to be remembered as one of the pioneers for a long time come. 


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