The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday celebrated the centenary of yesteryear ‘Cinema Rani’ T P Rajalakshmi with a grand function at the Museum Theatre, in Chennai.
Speakers at the function recalled the contributions of Rajalakshmi to South Indian cinema in a host of capacities during the fledgling years.
Rajalakshmi became South Indian cinema’s first woman director and producer when she wrote, produced, directed and edited the socially charged Miss Kamala in 1936. That made her India’s second woman film director, after Fatma Begum, who directed Bulbul-e-Paristan in 1931. By the time she made Miss Kamala, Rajalakshmi was already the leading female star of South Indian cinema, a fact that was attested when she was cast as the lead female in Kalidas, the first south Indian and second Indian talkie film.
The Tamil Nadu government function to celebrate Rajalakshmi’s centenary was presided over by TN Legislative Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal. Information and Special Programmes Implementation K T Rajenthra Bhalaji, All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi leader and Nadigar Sangam president R Sarathkumar, actor Sivakumar, director R V Udayakumar, music director and Iyal Isai Nadaka Mandram president Deva and actor Mohan Raman. Dhanapal felicitated Rajalakshmi’s daughters, granddaughters and nieces.
Speakers at the function praised Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for her directive to hold the event to mark the filmmaker’s centenary.
“The magnitude of Rajalakshmi’s achievement in becoming southern cinema’s first woman director-producer is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that southern cinema got its next woman film director only 17 years later, when Bhanumathi directed Sandirani,’’ said actor Sivakumar.