Earliest color films in South India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

South Indian film industry had been producing colour films since the 40's, especially Tamil cinema. Moreover, earliest colour films in India had also been produced in South India.

Tamil Cinema[edit]

Hand-coloured films[edit]

Some Indian films were hand-coloured, beginning in the 1940s.[1]

Bhaktha Chetha, a 1940 Tamil language film directed and produced by Krishnaswami Subrahmanyam had known to contain sequences which were hand-coloured. This is known to be the earliest Tamil film to have scenes in color. This process colourises film shot originally in black and white by colouring the negatives frame by frame. Mangamma Sabatham (1943) included hand-tinted scenes.

Haridas, released in year 1944 has a clear statement of its release in full new colour copy in its poster.

Saalivaahanan, a 1945 film by B. N. Rao had a hand-coloured sequenced of a romantic scene by Ranjan and T. R. Rajakumari. This film is currently known to be lost with no surviving prints.

A. V. M. Productions's Naam Iruvar (1947) and Vedhala Ulagam (1948) too had hand-coloured sequenced. The last sequence of Vethala Ulagam was hand tinted in color and drew large crowds because such colored sequence in Tamil Cinema were rarity then. Murugesan was an expert craftsman, who could paint every frame in the positive print.


Gevacolor is a color motion picture process. It was established in 1948, originally based in Belgium and an affiliate of Agfacolor. The process and company flourished in the 1950s as it was suitable for on location shooting. Both the companies merged in 1964 to form Agfa-Gevaert, and continued producing film stock till the 1980s.[2] Gevacolor was among the cheapest color film that encourage Tamil cinema to produce colourful films. Gevacolor films produced in India had mostly been processed in the Film Centre, Mumbai.

Gevacolor had made its debut to Tamil cinema through the film Kalyaanam Pannippaar, a 1952 Indian bilingual Tamil Telugu satirical comedy film directed by L. V. Prasad and produced by B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani under their company Vijaya Vauhini Studios. Credits of this film clearly states the presence of Gevacolor sequences. However, the simultaneously shot Telugu version, Pelli Chesi Choodu did not have any sequences in colour as it is not stated anywhere.

Later in year 1955, Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam, a Tamil language fantasy film directed by T. R. Raghunath had its dance sequences by Anjali Devi in gorgeous Gevacolor which was something rare in that decade.[3] It has also clearly stated in its credit. This film was inspired by a 1954 Hindi language film, entitled Naagin to have its dance sequence in color. Devta, a Hindi film released on year 1956 is a remake of Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam, which also had sequence in colour. Both the versions were great success [4]

Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum had created a history in Tamil cinema for being the first Tamil film to be entirely shot and released in Gevacolor. It was also known to be the first full length colour film to be released in South India. A production of Modern Theatres and released in year 1956, the film starred M. G. Ramachandran and Bhanumathi Ramakrishna in lead roles. This film was a swashbuckler which still remembered by current generation. Marma Veeran released in the same year is believed to contain sequences in Gevacolor.

Films like Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum and Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam had really influenced other Tamil film director and produces to have their films in color. Due to expensive price of color then, some films had songs and dance sequence in color, making their film's cencor certificate stating "partly coloured".

"Partly Coloured" films such as Thangamalai Ragasiyam, Ambikapathy and Allavudinum Arputha Vilakkum were released in year 1957. A carnatic cinema song "Ehalogame" rendered by P. Leela and T. M. Soundararajan from the film Thangamalai Ragasiyam starring Sivaji Ganesan and Jamuna was shot in gorgeous Gevacolor.[5] Three duet songs from the film Ambikapathy were also shot in colour as the credit says its Gevacolor sequences were cinematographed by W. R. Subba Rao, a cinematographer who mostly cinematographed Gevacolor sequence in Tamil Cinema. Besides, the song "Chaelaadum Neerodai Meethaey" from the film Alauvidinum Arputha Vilakkum was shot in colour.

Nadodi Mannan, a 1958 film directed and starred by M. G. Ramachandran had its second half sequence in Gevacolor. The entry of the colour sequence begin with a dance song by B. Sarojadevi. This film was a successful film. Illarame Nallaram released the same year as Nadodi Mannan contained a dance sequence for the song "Maaraney Un Malarkanai" in color. B. Sarojadevi, Kumari Kamala and Gopi Krishna appeared in this sequence.

Thirumanam, released on 18 July 1958 has dance sequence by B. Sarojadevi, Kumari Kamala and Gopi Krishna in colour. This film starring Gemini Ganesan and Savitri is however known to be lost with no surviving copies. Besides, B. R. Panthulu's Engal Kudumbam Perisu (1958) had a sequences of school children's dance drama in colour. This film was simultaneously shot in Kannada as School Master (1958 film).

Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a 1959 Indian Tamil-language biographical war film directed B. R. Panthulu which was entirely shot in Gevacolor and released its prints in Technicolor. Veerapandiya Kattabomman had a very good color preservation although it was shot in Gevacolor. This is because of its prints released in Technicolor. It was expensive that time to shoot a film entirely in Technicolor. This method help Veerapandiya Kattabomman's color not to fade compared to other Gevacolor film such as Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum which its colour has faded badly. Veerapandiya Kattabomman is known to be the first Tamil film to release its prints in Technicolor.

In the same year (1959), Athisaya Penn was entirely shot in Gevacolor with some portions in Technicolor. This film is known to be the first Tamil film to contain sequences originally shot in Technicolor.

Gevacolor continued to be used in Tamil cinema even after the entry of Eastmancolor to Tamil cinema through the film Deiva Balam and Raja Malayasimman. These film had song and climax sequence in color. Anjali Pictures's Adutha Veettu Penn starring Anjali Devi, T. R. Ramachandran and K. A. Thangavelu had colourful sequence for the song "Enakkaaga Neeyae Raajaa" and "Mannavaa Vaa Vaa Magizhavaa" in colour, which was a notable part of the film. In addition, the cencor certificate and credits state the presence of these color sequence processed at the Film Centre, Mumbai.

B. R. Panthulu had included some Gevacolor sequence in his film Kuzhandhaigal Kanda Kudiyarasu which simultaneously shot in Kannada as Makkala Rajya and dubbed into Telugu as "Pillalu Techina Challani Rajyam". This film was released on 29 July 1960.

Sri Valli, a full length Gevacolor film was released on 1 July 1961. This film is known to be the 4th full length color film produced in Tamil. However, this film was not a box office compared to its 1945 version Sri Valli.[6] This film was dubbed into Telugu as Shree Valli Kalyaanam and released in year 1962.

Kappalottiya Thamizhan, another film of B. R. Panthulu contained Gevacolor sequence as the cencor certificate and credit states. Today, that film had no sequence in Gevacolor despite the cencor certificate clearly states partly coloured.

Lava Kusa is a 1963 Indian bilingual Tamil Telugu Hindu mythological film directed by C. S. Rao and his son C. Pullaiah. Shot and released entirely in Gevacolor, this film is believed to be Telugu Cinema first, one and only full length Gevacolor film. Besides, it is also known to be the last Gevacolor film in Tamil. Gevacolor had been replaced by Eastmancolor which produce long-lasting color prints.

List of Tamil films taken in Geva Color[edit]

Title Color Year Notes
Kalyaanam Pannippaar Partly in Colour 1952 First Tamil and South Indian film to have colour sequence. Song sequence of "Engu Sendraayo" filmed in colour.
Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam 1955 Second Tamil film to have colour sequence. Song sequence of "Jagajothiye" and ending dance sequence in colour.
Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum Colour 1956 First full length Tamil colour film
Marma Veeran Partly in Colour Certain scenes shot in colour.
Thangamalai Ragasiyam 1957 Sequence of the song Ehalogame in colour
Ambikapathy Sequence of duet songs in colour
Allaudinum Arputha Vilakkum song sequence of "Chelaadum Neerodai Meethae" shot in colour
Nadodi Mannan 1958 Second half in colour
Illarame Nallaram Dance sequence by Saroja Devi and Kumari Kamala in colour.
Engal Kudumbam Perisu Children's dance drama in colour
Thirumanam Dance sequence by Gopi Krishna, Kumari Kamala and B. Sarojadevi in colour. This film is known to be a Lost film with no surviving prints.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman Geva Color 1959 Shot entirely in Gevacolor then prints released in Technicolor.
Athisaya Penn Partly in Gevacolor Film was shot in Geva Color . The climax of this film was shot in Technicolor for 45 minutes.
Adutha Veetu Penn Partly in Colour 1960 The song Enakkaga Nee Raja was shot in colour.
Kuzhandhaigal Kanda Kudiyarasu Some parts of the film appeared in colour.
Sri Valli Colour 1961 Although shot entirely in colour, the film was not commercially success because of a draggy storyline
Kappalottiya Thamizhan Partly in Colour a song sequence shot in colour.
Lava Kusha Colour 1963 Last Tamil film to be shot in Gevacolor. Tamil colour films after year 1963 was shot in Eastmancolour.


Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating from 1916,[7] and followed by improved versions over several decades. Technicolor had never been widely used in Tamil Cinema as Technicolor is the world's most expensive color process. Only 3 Tamil films were associated with Technicolor.

Athisaya Penn, a 1959 remake of Hindi film Aasha was entirely shot in Gevacolor with dance portions in Technicolor. This film is known to be the first Tamil film to contain sequence shot and released originally in Technicolor.

Veerapandiya Kattabomman, entirely shot in Gevacolor had its prints released in Technicolor for a long-lasting color image. This process kept the color of the film well preserved. Only this film in South India had taken this process in action.

One and only Indian Tamil film entirely shot and released in Technicolor goes to M. V. Raman's Konjum Salangai. The film starring Gemini Ganesan, Savitri and Kumari Kamala and R. S. Manohar. Konjum Salangai was released in India on 14 January 1962, coinciding with Thai Pongal.[8] The film marked a record for being the first Tamil film to be exhibited in Poland with a dubbed version.[9][10] In a review dated 28 January 1962, The Indian Express said, "Konjum Salangai, the first Technicolor feature film of South India is a revealing experience that even our technicians can bring out in a film the rich, glossy sheen and pleasing tonal gradations comparable with that of any Technicolor product made abroad.".[11]

Sri Lanka's first Tamil language film, Samuthaayam released in year 1962 was entirely shot in 16mm Technicolor film.


Eastmancolor is a trade name used by Eastman Kodak for a number of related film and processing technologies associated with color motion picture production.

Eastmancolor, first introduced in 1950, was one of the first widely successful "single-strip colour" processes, and eventually displaced the more cumbersome Technicolor. Eastmancolor was known by a variety of names such as Deluxe color (20th Century Fox), Warnercolor, Metrocolor, Pathecolor and Columbiacolor, and others.[12][13][14]

Eastmancolor has made its debut to Tamil cinema in year 1959 through the films Raja Malayasimman and Deiva Balam, released in year 1959. Both films were simultaneously shot in Telugu with same titles and were partly coloured. This also marked the entry of Eastmancolor into Telugu cinema.

Director K. Shankar had announced his film Parma Pidha (1961) will be shot entirely in Eastmancolor. Starring M. G. Ramachandran and B. Sarojadevi in lead roles, shooting took place for 2 days but unfortunately, the film did not release because of M. G. Ramachandran's role as a Catholic Priest.[15] In the same year, T. R. Raghunath's Naaga Nandhini starring Anjali Devi and K. Balaji too had dance sequence and fight scenes in Eastmancolor as the credit says.

After 3 years, Eastmancolor made its comeback through the 1964 Indian Tamil-language romantic comedy film produced and directed by C. V. Sridhar, Kadhalikka Neramillai. This film has known to be Tamil cinema's first film entirely in Eastmancolor. Kadhalikka Neramillai had been a great success in box office which influenced othe directors and producers to film their movies in Eastmancolor. After the release of this film, Eastmancolor had been vastly used in Tamil cinema, making the cinema colourful. In year 1964, 4 films; Kadhalikka Neramillai, Karnan, Puthiya Paravai and Padagotti were shot and released entirely in Eastmancolor. Films were rarely partly coloured during that period.

Director C. V. Sridhar had portrayed excellent and unique cinematography in his Eastmancolor films which were hits in Tamil cinema. Those films are Kadhalikka Neramillai, Vennira Aadai, Ooty Varai Uravu etc. Those films are still remembered today.

Many devotional films directed by A. P. Nagarajan in the 60's were released in Eastmancolor, which still its colours have never faded of. Those notable films include Thiruvilaiyadal, Saraswathi Sabatham, Kandhan Karunai, Thiruvarutchelvar and Thirumal Perumai. Thillana Mohanambal starring Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini too was entirely shot in color. Besides, his another notable film Rajaraja Cholan (1973) was the first Cinemascope film in South India, which is coloured by Eastmacolor.

Films such as Veerabhimanyu (1965), Thunaivan (1969), Andharangam (1975) and Mazhai Maegham (1976) were among films partly coloured by Eastmancolor while entirely shot Eastmancolor films like Kannamma (1972) and Rajapart Rangadurai (1973) were partly in black and white.

Partial list of Tamil films in Eastmancolor[edit]

Eastmancolor had been used in Tamil films till the late 70's. Other color process such as ORWO Color had been a cause of the drop of Eastmancolor.

ORWO Color[edit]

ORWO (for ORiginal WOlfen) is a brand for photographic products and magnetic recording tape.

It was established in East Germany as a brand for photographic film and magnetic tape, mainly produced at the former ORWO Filmfabrik Wolfen (now CChemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen|Chemical Park Bitterfeld-Wolfen).

In 1909 the Filmfabrik Wolfen was founded as part of the Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation (Agfa) and belonged to I.G. Farben since 1925. The Agfa Wolfen plant developed the first modern colour film, with incorporated colour couplers, Agfacolor, in 1936.

ORWO Color had made Tamil Cinema to have all films in colour. ORWO colour was among the cheapest colour at that time (in the late 70's). Pattina Pravesam, a 1977 film directed K. Balachander was Tamil Cinema's first film to be shot in ORWO colour. Colour films after year 1978 were mostly shot in ORWO colour. It gave a similar colour quality of Eastmancolor. Tamil films in the 80's were all shot using ORWO colour.

End of black and white era[edit]

After year 1975, black and white films were decrease. Avargal (1977) was among the black and white Tamil films that was a successful film. Tamil Cinema rarely produced black and white films in the 1980s. Sandhya Ragam (1989) was Tamil Cinema's last full length black and white Tamil film. Although in black and white, this film won the 37th National Film Awards and it won the Award for Best Film on Family Welfare (1990). Iruvar (1997) had some sequence in black and white and it was meant to be in black and white. A film from 1999, Mugham had some black and white sequence and turned up to be a box office failure.


Telugu Cinema[edit]

Telugu cinema had been producing films with colour portions since the late 50's. Allauddin Adhbhuta Deepam, released in year 1957 is known to be the earliest Telugu film to have a colour sequence. Lava Kusa have been Telugu cinema's first full length colour film. It was released in year 1963.


Allauddin Adhbhuta Deepam (1957) is Telugu cinema's first film to have a color sequence. The song "Andhaala Konaetilona" (the last sequence of the film) was shot in Gevacolor. Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu, year 1959 had a dance sequence by E. V. Saroja in color. Later in year 1960, Runanubandham had its first 15 minutes of the beginning in Gevacolor. Aaraadhana, a 1962 film starring Akkineni Nageshwara Rao and Savithri had a song sequence "Ohoho Maavayya" in Gevacolor. Lava Kusa (1963), Telugu cinema's first full length color film is known to be the last Telugu film to be shot in Gevacolor. Later, Telugu color films were shot in Eastmancolor.


Raja Malaya Simha and Daiva Balam, both released in year 1959 had sequences in Eastmancolor. Both simultaneously shot in Tamil, these films were known to be the earliest film to contain sequences of Eastmancolor in South India. Amara Shilpi Jakkanna, released in year 1964, is Telugu cinema's first full length Eastmancolor film. Many partly coloured Telugu films by Eastmancolor were released in the late 60's. Tene Manasulu (year 1965) was Telugu cinema's first social color film. In the late 1960s and 1970s, films such as Ave Kallu, Bhakta Prahlada, Rahasyam, Kalyana Mandapam, Krishnaveni, Prem Nagar, Sampoorna Raamaayanam, Sri Krishna Satya, Manchi Rojulu Vachayi, Andala Ramudu, Bhakta Tukaram and other color movies was shot in Eastmancolor. There were no Telugu films shot in Technicolor. Technicolor films from Tamil Cinema such as Veerapandiya Kattabomman (Telugu: Veerapandya Kattabrahmana) and Konjum Salangai (Telugu: Muripinche Muvvalu) were dubbed into Telugu. Films like Bharya Biddalu, Dasara Bullodu were shot entirely in Eastmancolor.

Partly coloured films[edit]

Bandipotu (1963) was partly coloured film by Eastmancolor. Telugu cinema did not produce many full length color films in the late 60's but produced films which were partly coloured like Leta Manasulu, Mooga Nomu, Dharma Daata, Veerabhimanyu, Gudachari 116, Amayakuraalu, Raitu Kutumbam, Shri Krishna Vijayam, Sisindri Chittibabu, Pavitra Hrudayalu, Manasu Mangalyam, Ammma Kosam, Poola Rangadu etc. Bandipotu Dongalu had a color sequence in a song video but have not written as partly coloured in the Central Board of Film Cencors certificate. The song Yadanu Dhachina Mounaveena was partly shot in black and white and Eastman Color in the film Bandipotu Dongalu. Gorinthaku (1979) was partly in black and white at the first 15 minutes of the film, showing the flashback.

Kannada Cinema[edit]

Stree Ratna (1955) had some colour sequences. Besides that, Rathnagiri Rahasya (1957) had some song sequences in Gevacolor. A dance drama sequence from the film School Master was shot in Gevacolor. Amarashilpi Jakanachaari was the first full length Kannada colour film to be released. It was shot in Eastman Color. Kannada Cinema then produced many colour films in the 70's.


Stree Rathna was the first Kannada film to be coloured by Geva Color in year 1955. Later in year 1957, Rathnagiri Rahasya had songs in Gevacolor. A dance drama sequence from the film School Master was shot in Gevacolor. Makkala Rajya, released in year 1960 too had color sequence. Kannada cinema had never produced full length Gevacolor film.


Eastman Color was introduced to Kannada Cinema through Dashavathara (1960). Veera Kesari (1963) had its climax scene in Eastmancolor. Later, first full length Kannada colour film Amarashilpi Jakanachari was shot in Eastmancolor in year 1964. In the 1970s, films such like Bangarada Manushya, Eradu Kanasu, Shree Krishna Devaraaya, Sampathige Savaal etc. was shot in Eastmancolour.

ORWO Color[edit]

Kannada Cinema is one of the first cinema in South India to use the ORWO Color process through tge film Bhale Adrushtavo Adrushta, released in year 1971.

Malayalam cinema[edit]

Kandam Becha Kottu was Malayalam Cinema's first full length colour film. This film was shot in Eastman Color and released in year 1961. At the same year, Sabarimala Ayyappan was released and coloured by Geva Color. Films like Chemmeen was shot entirely in Eastman Color.


Chemmeen (1965), Karakanakadal (1971), Panitheeratha Veedu (1972), Nakhangal (1973), Chattakkari, and Nellu (1974) were shot by Eastmancolor. Malayalam Cinema started to release many colour movies after year 1975.

Partly Coloured film[edit]

Bharya (1962), Kadalamma (1963), Shakuntala (1965) and Pearl View (1970) had some colour sequences. Pearl View's colour sequences was coloured by Eastmancolor.

Other Cinemas[edit]

Konkani cinema's first color film is Mog Ani Moipas, released in year 1977 while Tulu cinema's first color film is Kariyani Kattandi Kandani which was released in year 1978.


  1. ^ "Colour films in Tamil - Indpaedia". indpaedia.com. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  2. ^ Susan Hayward (2013). Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts (4 ed.). Routledge. p. 86. ISBN 1135120854.
  3. ^ "Colour films in Tamil".
  4. ^ features/cinema/Blast-from-the-past-Kanavaney-Kankanda-Deivam/article16856290.ece
  5. ^ Guy, Randor; Guy, Randor (22 May 2011). "Thangamalai Rahasiyam1957". Retrieved 28 November 2017 – via www.thehindu.com.
  6. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Blast-from-the-past-Srivalli-1961/article15459707.ece
  7. ^ US patent 1208490, issued December 12, 1916 
  8. ^ Film News Anandan (2004). Sadhanaigal Padaitha Thamizh Thiraipada Varalaru [Tamil film history and its achievements] (in Tamil). Chennai: Sivagami Publishers. Archived from the original on 11 May 2017.
  9. ^ "This day that age". The Hindu. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  10. ^ "The first Tamil film in Poland?". The Times of India. 24 March 2013. Archived from the original on 2 October 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Pleasing Photography In Konjum Salangai". The Indian Express. 28 January 1962. p. 3. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  12. ^ "NFSA Journal" (PDF). 3. Nfsa.gov. 2008. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
  13. ^ Peter Lev. Transforming the Screen, 1950-1959. University of California Press, 2003. p. 108.
  14. ^ Stephen Neale. Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. Psychology Press, 1998. p. 120.
  15. ^ http://mgrroop.blogspot.my/2012/11/unfinished-mgr-movies.html?m=1