K. Subramanyam, S.D. Subbulakshmi, M.V. Rajamma, G. Pattu Iyer, V.N. Janaki, R.B. Lakshmi Devi, ‘Vidwan’ Srinivasan, P.R. Rajagopala Iyer, C.N. Sadasivaiah, K. Nagalakshmi, ‘Kumari’ Subbulakshmi, M.R.S. Mani, ‘Jolly’ Kittu Iyer, T.S. Rajammal, ‘Vishnu’ R.S. Ramaswami Iyengar, S. Radhakrishnan, Kulathu Mani, ‘Komaali’ Sambhu, Thanjavur Mani Iyer and Ramachandran
K. Subramanyam, lawyer-turned-pioneer filmmaker and now a neglected figure, was the first south Indian director to visit Hollywood as a member of an official delegation. Besides, he visited Soviet Russia. He made several movies, including the classic movie Seva Sadanam (1938), which introduced the iconic M.S. Subbulakshmi to cinema. His most outstanding contribution to Tamil cinema is his masterpiece Thyaga Bhoomi (1939), which the British Indian government banned because it felt the movie was pro-Independence. He entered movies as a screenwriter working for another sadly forgotten pioneer of Tamil cinema R. Padmanabhan, and soon he made his way to the top of the ladder. He also made the classic movie Balayogini in which he introduced his niece, the child star ‘Baby’ Saroja, who came to be known as the ‘Shirley Temple of India’. Somewhat interestingly, in 1942 for the first time in his illustrious career, he appeared on screen — playing the lead role in the movie Ananthasayanam. Subramanyam, who handled the creative side of the movie, had an extra burden to shoulder playing the hero. He was supported by a strong and excellent star cast that included his wife S.D. Subbulakshmi, multilingual star M.V. Rajamma, V.N. Janaki (later Mrs. MGR), the heartthrob of yesteryears R.B. Lakshmi Devi, excellent musician ‘Vidwan’ Srinivasan, Papanasam Rajagopala Iyer and others.
The story of mythological origin is about a staunch devotee Diwakarar (Subramanyam) who denounces family life in search of the Mahavishnu in the form of Krishna. He is forced to marry his niece Sarasa (Janaki), but his mind is not in it, and to the shock of all present, he walks out of the wedding ceremony.
The epic story of Lord Padmanabha of Thiruvananthapuram, the presiding deity of the old princely native State Travancore, is the basic theme of the movie. Subramanyam wrote the screenplay and dialogue, helped by S.A. Durai, today totally forgotten. He made use of the palm leaf manuscripts preserved by the Travancore samasthanam. All these he incorporated into the screenplay, creating a film with twists and turns.
According to tradition, the State is the property of Lord Padmanabha, and the king rules the land on his behalf adding the prefix ‘Padmanabhadasa’ to his name, and remains a bachelor for life. Lyrics for the songs in the film were written by Papanasam Sivan and his brother Rajagopala Iyer, and the tunes were composed by V.S. Parthasarathy Ayyangar, part of Subramanyam’s creative team. The songs did not become popular. Kamal Ghosh was in charge of cinematography and he worked magic with trick-shots much to the delight of moviegoers. He was assisted by noted lensman Thambu (C.V. Ramakrishnan) and a cousin of Subramanyam. His father C.S.V. Iyer assisted Subramanyam in the directorial side. G. Pattu Iyer and K.J. Mahadevan, the hero of Thyaga Bhoomi and later a filmmaker, worked as assistant directors. The movie, shot at Gemini Studios, did not do well.
Remembered For The surprising on-screen appearance of the Indian film pioneer K. Subramanyam.