Stories of Indian freedom struggle told through Tamil films
Posted on Aug 14 2014 | IANS
By Haricharan Pudipeddi, Chennai, Aug 14 : From the 1939 classic "Thyaga Bhoomi" to award-winning films like "Kamaraj" and "Periyar", audiences of Tamil movies have seen inspiring stories of freedom struggle on the big screen over the years.
Ahead of the country's 68th Independence Day Friday, IANS takes a look at films that still keep the patriotic spark in viewers alive:
"Thyaga Bhoomi": K. Subramanyam-directed "Thyaga Bhoomi", one of the earliest films on India's Independence movement, featured a lead character modelled upon Mahatma Gandhi. It was banned by the British government upon release in Tamil Nadu, but it's still remembered for bravely portraying how women were treated in pre-independence India. Based on a book written by Kalki Krishnamurthy, the film's story is set against the backdrop of social milieu of reformation.
"Veerapandiya Kattabomman": An inspiring story of a chieftain, who didn't submit to the pressure of East India Company, "Veerapandiya Kattabomman" is one of most popular cinematic characters in Tamil cinema. Chevalier Sivaji Ganeshan's lead portrayal will be remembered forever. It was also the first film in the language to be made in technicolour and was printed in London.
"Kappalottiya Tamizhan": The film is based on the life of freedom fighter Va Vu Chidambaram Pillai, known for breaking the monopoly of British over maritime trade in pre-independence era. Legendary actor Sivaji Ganeshan, who played Chidambaram Pillai, considered the role his favourite and most challenging among the hundreds of films he starred in. He had also admitted that this role gave him the confidence to essay several other freedom fighters on screen such as Tirupur Kumaran, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and even Bhagat Singh. "Kappalottiya Tamizhan" is also one of the best works of filmmaker B.R. Panthulu.
"Siraichalai": Originally released in Malayalam as "Kaalapani", this story of the lives of prisoners of British India in the cellular jail in Andaman Islands, was dubbed in Tamil as "Siraichalai". It's an awe-inspiring story of sacrifice for freedom by thousands who were subjected to years of rigorous imprisonment. Filmmaker Priyadarshan, who directed this film with utmost sincerity and passion, focuses on hope in this tale of survival and reminds us of its importance in our lives. Mohanlal's portrayal of a young doctor, who is wrongly convicted for a bombing, stands out in his illustrious career.
"Kamaraj": A fitting tribute to Indian politician K. Kamaraj, popularly known as the Kingmaker, the film traces the history of our nation during the time of Kamaraj, and incidentally, also focuses on the idiosyncrasies of those in power then. From his childhood in pre-independent India till the time he became a politician and spent time in prison - this story of a selfless man, is highly inspiring and begs to be included as part of school syllabus.
"Bharathi": They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and Subramanya Bharathi, as a poet, could rally an entire generation with his words. This National Award-winning film, which was directed by Gnana Rajasekaran and featured Sayaji Shinde in the lead, presented "Bharathi" as a social reformer who rekindled patriotism during the Independence movement with his songs. Bharathi presented odes to several freedom fighters such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and Lala Lajpat Rai.
"Periyar": A controversial film about social activist and politician Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, this biopic, starring Sathyaraj, is easily one of the best works of filmmaker Gnana Rajasekaran, because to make a film about an individual who is revered as well as hated for his actions by many, is itself an achievement. "Periyar" was known for mobilizing the lower castes and women to fight against the discrimination of the British government. Without making his movie highly sentimental, Rajasekaran chose to present "Periyar" as an effort that deserves to be appreciated.