T. P. Rajalakshmi

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Thiruvaiyaru Panchapakesa Rajalakshmi (11 November 1911[1] – 1964[2]) was the first Tamil and Telugu film heroine, female director and producer in the South Indian cinema industry.

Early life[edit]

T.P.Rajalakshmi was born on 11 November 1911 in the town of saliyamangalam in the then Tanjore district of the Madras Presidency.

At the age of 20, Rajalakshmi married her co-star T. V. Sundaram. As soon after their wedding, the Couple adopted a female child, in order to save the girl child from "Girl Child Assassination", that was practiced in those days. Also Rajalakshmi acted in several stage plays showing the protest for the British people, who were ruling over the India in those days, which made Rajalakshmi to be imprisoned several times by the British Government. Rajalakshmi was a role model for the people and she initiated the social awareness to fight against the Female Child Assassination and to fight for the Freedom of the Nation through her life style that she led.

Later the couple gave birth to a female child and named the child as "Kamala" in 1936. T.P.Rajalakshmi also directed a film named Miss Kamala' and inaugurated the birth of her daughter Kamala. The movie Miss Kamala turned out to be a blockbuster hit of those days and Rajalakshmi was a leading star of those days, which made the people to expect and wait anxious for Rajalakshmi's upcoming movies. She was the top star of those days and continued her role in several films.

She owned several Properties at Kilpauk and became a wealthy woman. She resided at the Palace house, that she purchased at the very first. TPR also permitted her brothers and their families too to reside at her palace "Raj Mahal" that was located at No.1.Rajarathinam street. Followed by, she owned several Properties in Rajarathinam Street and Professor Subramanian street Vasu Street etc. atKilpauk. As a wealthy woman, she continued her roles in several films and she had a strong welcome by the people for her movies and songs.Indhiya Thaai was her last film. Rajalakshmi fell sick and died by 1964.

Stage career[edit]

In order to support her family, Rajalakshmi joined a drama troupe and acted in stage plays. She learnt dance and music from Sankaradas Swamigal, a popular dramatist. Rajalakshmi got her big break in 1931, when she was cast as the heroine in the first Tamil talkie, Kalidas. Later on, Rajalakshmi turned out to be the star cast of those days. Many directors and producers requested Rajalakshmi to provide her call sheet for the upcoming films.

She was honored with the title "Cinema Rani" and later, she was awarded the "Kalaimamani" award (1961–62) for her excellence towards the Cine Industry, for which Puratchi Thalaivar Dr.M.G.Ramachandran, who later became the Chief Minister, honoured T.P.Rajalakshmi by sending his own car to Rajalakhmi's house in order to invite the pioneer to the venue, where Rajalakshmi was facilitated and awarded.

Other leading stars like Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, M.G.Chakrapani, T.R.Mahalingam, Nambiar and many people had a great respect on T.P.Rajalakshmi and the entire South Indian Film Industry of those days were so proud for T.P.R.

As a novelty, Rajalakshmi introduced a sequence in which a song is heard over the radio. It was a period when radio was not yet a familiar medium of entertainment.

Rajalakshmi employed stunt sequences to portray the kidnapping of the heroine by a hired gang for which she engaged well known stunt actors of the day — ‘Battling’ C. S. D. Singh and ‘Stunt’ Rajoo.

A staunch patriot, Rajalakshmi was associated with the Freedom Movement and the Indian National Congress. To express her devotion to the cause, she produced a film India Thai. The British Indian censors objected to the title of the film, but TPR never minded the protest and she released the film daring in the name of the "Indhiya Thaai". Heavily mauled by the censors, this film fared badly at the box office but she did not mind the loss for her, rather she felt it was her contribution to the Freedom Movement.

She later switched to matronly roles in movies such as Idhaya Geetham. Rajalakshmi became wealthy, owning sizeable properties in Kilpauk. In one of her movies, Nandakumar, T. P. Rajalakshmi objected to wearing a "katcham" (a bra-like costume). Noted star Durga Khote wore it for the Marati version without a murmur of protest. However, Rajalakshmi threatened to walk out of the movie, and left with no option, a 1930s – Poona-fashion "jumper" blouse was used for the replacement of Katcham.

Recognition[edit]

T.P.Rajalakshmi's birth Centenary was celebrated by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu stated, "Tamil Nadu feels pride in gifting to the Indian Cinemas, the first female director, producer and heroine honored with the title – CINEMA RANI T.P.Rajalakshmi. Her birth centenary was celebrated recently as a Government Function to honor the pioneer."

The Nadigar Sangam of South India honored TPR by constituting an award in her name(T.P.Rajalakshmi award) for the forthcoming generations in the 63rd Annual General Body Meet. Senior Actress Smt.M. N. Rajam was the first recipient to receive the T.P.Rajalakshmi award.

Several other functions were conducted by the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Naadagam Mandram, Ulagaayutha Tamil Talkies, Barathi Tamil Foundation. Smt.Kamala was honored in behalf of Cinema Rani TPR.

Sun TV honored Cinema Rani TPR on the occasion of the World women's day by organizing a show named Penmayai Potruvom.

Podhigai TV conducted a special star cast interview of Cinema Rani T.P.R's Daughter- Kamala along with the famous Cine Actor, Shri.Mohanraman in the show named Muthal Thiruppam.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Name Director Role
1929 Kovalan Raghupathy S. Prakasa Actor
1930 Usha Sundari P. K. Raja Sandow Actor
1930 Rajeshwari P. K. Raja Sandow Actor
1931 Kalidas H. M. Reddy Actor
1932 Sampoorna Harichandra Sarvottam Badami &
T. C. Vadivelu Naicker
Actor
1932 Ramayanam Actor
1933 Savitri Satyavan Actor
1933 Kovalan Actor
1933 Valli Thirumanam P. V. Rao Actor
1934 Draupadi Vastrapaharanam R. Padmanaban Actor
1935 Poornachandran D. R. Das Actor
1935 Harichandra Prafula Ghosh Actor
1935 Lalithangi Actor
1935 Bhakta Kuchela K. Subrahmanyam Actor
1935 Gul-e-bakavali S. Soundararajan Actor
1936 Miss Kamala T. P. Rajalakshmi Actor & Director
1936 Bhama Parinayam Y. V. Rao Actor
1936 Seemanthini Ellis R. Duncan Actor
1936 Veera Abimanyu Prafula Ghosh Actor
1937 Kausalya Parinayam C. S. V. Iyer Actor
1938 Nandakumar Keshav Rao Dhaibar Actor
1938 Anadhai Penn Raghupathy S. Prakasa Actor
1939 Madurai Veeran T. P. Rajalakshmi Actor & Director
1939 Saguna Saraasa Narayan Deware Actor
1939 Bhakta Kumaran K. Ranga Rao Actor
1939 Tamil Thaai Actor
1943 Utthami R. Prakash Actor
1945 Paranjoti T. R. Raghunath Actor
1947 Jeevajyoti K. M. Multani Actor
1950 Ithaya Geetham Joseph Thaliath Jr. Actor

Source:[3]

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