|Former type||Managing Agency ,later Private Limited Company|
|Defunct||1956 (de facto)|
|Headquarters||Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India,|
|Key people||B. Rangaswamy Naidu, Sriramulu Naidu, Samikannu Vincent, Lakshmi Mills|
Central Studios was a motion picture movie studio in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, started by B.Rangaswamy Naidu (a.k.a. B. R. Naidu) and other prominent industrialists like Swamikannu Vincent of Coimbatore in 1935 to make Tamil and other South Indian language movies. The Studio was a major hub of Tamil Movie production and notable for many early day Tamil Movie Superstars starting and spending their early part of career in this Studio.
Movie industry in Coimbatore
Movies became a major industry in Coimbatore when in 1905 a South Indian Railways employee Samikannu Vincent purchased a film projector along with some silent films from a Frenchman named Du Pont who had fallen ill on his touring exhibition. Samikannu Vincent then built a business as film exhibitor first by traveling around the country and finally erecting tents theaters for screening films. His tent cinema became popular as he traveled all over the state with his mobile unit. In 1917, Samikannu Vincent built South India's first permanent cinema theater, Variety Hall Cinema, at the Town Hall; it is now called the Delite Theater. As Samikannu Vincent also generated his own electric power for his theaters, he built a series of theaters in and around the city to screen silent films. He also became a distributor for the French Pathé Frères movie projectors. In the early 1930s he launched the Variety Hall Talkies banner to make sound film (a.k.a. talkies) and released a few movies which were mainly shot in Calcutta. Feeling a need to have a movie studio, he was instrumental, along with other industrialists and movie makers, in establishing a fully equipped studio in Coimbatore.
Also during the late 1920s, another firm under Sabapathy was involved in the distributorship of an Italian movie projector company, eventually leading to the manufacture of their own brand of movie projectors in Coimbatore. By the early thirties Coimbatore already had a studio named Premier Cinetone Studio (later renamed Pakshiraja Studios). In 1935 a London-educated graduate, T. R. Sundaram, built a fully equipped movie studio, Modern Theatres, in Salem, and the region became the central hub for movie activity.
Central Studio was founded by a group of prominent industrialists B. Rangaswamy Naidu, R. K. Ramakrishnan Chettiar (brother of India's first Finance Minister R. K. Shanmukham Chetty), Samikannu Vincent, and another new movie director S. M. Sriramulu Naidu (who joined as a working partner). Studio commenced its operation in 1936 with their first release being Thukkaram in 1937 directed by S. M. Sriramulu Naidu. By the early 1940s the Studio became the central hub of Tamil Movie industry.
The Studio is located in Uppilipalayam near Singanallur township, Trichy Road which is today a part of Coimbatore city. The Studio had almost all modern facilities required for a Movie studio along with Sound and film editing labs and technical workshops. The sound engineers and cameramen were all Germans during the 30s. The studio also had a music department headed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu. The studio also boasted the BNC Mitchell Camera which cost a whopping Rs 500,000 in the 1930s. Most of the artists and technicians were on monthly payroll.
Central Studio released few movies, but the Studio housed lot of other production banners. The most popular being Jupiter Pictures and Pakshiraja Films. Other production houses that operated inside the studio were Narayanan and Company, Manorama Pictures and Venu Pictures. The then popular comedian trio N. S. Krishnan and T. Mathuram had their independent production unit, Ashoka Films inside the premises. They often made their comedy track independently and sold to other Movie producers who later released as ‘side reel’.
Notable film personalities
The studio was a central hub during the early days for Tamil movies first 'Superstars' P. U. Chinnappa and M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. The popular comedian N. S. Krishnan and T. A. Mathuram had their own office in the studio premises. The Silver Jubilee hit movie of 1936 Sivakavi starring M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, was an in-house production, as well as several socially significant movies. Other latter day popular Tamil movie stars who started or spent their early days were the two Tamil Nadu state Chief Ministers M. G. Ramachandran and M. Karunanidhi. The Studio housed famous musicians S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and G. Ramanathan along with Papanasam Sivan who had composed for some of the Studio Movies. The popular music composer M. S. Viswanathan and lyricist Kannadasan too spent their initial days at this studio for moving to Chennai.
Famous directors who operated out of the Studio were S. M. Sriramulu Naidu, Ellis R. Dungan, A. S. A. Swamy, A. P. Nagarajan and popular duo Krishnan - Panju who directed their first movie in Central Studios.India's pioneering Cinematographer Adi Merwan Irani worked in this studio for Sivakavi and Haridas. Sando Chinnappa Thevar, a local lad who would later become one of the successful Tamil cinema producers started his career as an actor in this studio.
In 1945 S. M. Sriramulu Naidu left Central Studios to start his own Studio called Pakshiraja Studios. During the early 50s Jupiter Pictures leased the Studio. Later B. R. Naidu family bought out majority of its shares. After B. R. Naidu’s demise the Studio management passed on to Lakshmi Mills family who closed it in 1955 as Chennai by then emerged as the major Movie hub and also as a result of other lobbying groups who wanted to keep movie industry out of Coimbatore, as it was then emerging into an Industrial and Educational hub.
Most of the Studio structure is still intact as the B. R. Naidu family uses the premises for various industrial activities. Some of the buildings houses Textile production units and small workshops. During the 70s and 80s race car constructor and driver S. Karivardhan used the studio premises to build and test his race cars.
Till 2009 the text impression ‘ Central Studios’ can found at their main entrance gate. Recently in 2010 some structures were pulled down to make way for new developments.
- Reel-time nostalgia The Hindu
- Coimbatore Wealth creators - The Hindu
- Baker-turned filmmaker - The Hindu
- Samikannu Vincent ,he brought cinema to South - The Hindu
- [Book: Life of a Textile Pioneer Published by Limex Journal]
- [Book: B.Rangaswamy Naidu - Vazhkai Varalaru]