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Kalidas Tamil Movie 1931 40

Kalidas: The First Sound Film in Tamil and Telugu

Kalidas is a 1931 Indian biographical film based on the life of the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa. It is notable for being the first sound film in the Tamil and Telugu languages, and the first sound film to be made in a language from South India. It was directed by H. M. Reddy and produced by Ardeshir Irani, who also made India's first sound film Alam Ara (1931) in Hindi.[1]


The film tells the story of how Kalidasa, an illiterate cowman, becomes a renowned poet after marrying Vidhyadhari, the daughter of King Vijayavarman of Thejavathi. Vidhyadhari is tricked into marrying Kalidasa by her father's minister, who wants to humiliate her for rejecting his son. When Vidhyadhari realizes that she has been cheated, she prays to the goddess Kali for a remedy. Kali appears before her, names her husband Kalidas and endows him with phenomenal literary talents.[2]

kalidas tamil movie 1931 40

Cast and Crew

The film featured P. G. Venkatesan as Kalidas and T. P. Rajalakshmi as Vidhyadhari, with L. V. Prasad, Thevaram Rajambal, T. Susheela Devi, J. Sushila, and M. S. Santhanalakshmi in supporting roles. Rajalakshmi was a popular singer and actress who had acted in silent films before. Venkatesan was a stage actor who spoke only Telugu and had to learn his Tamil lines phonetically. Prasad was a Hindi-speaking actor who later became a famous director and producer in Telugu cinema.[1]

The film was directed by H. M. Reddy, who had worked as an assistant director for Alam Ara. He later directed many films in Telugu and Tamil, including Bhakta Prahlada (1932), the first talkie in Telugu.[3] The film was produced by Ardeshir Irani, who was the owner of Imperial Movi-Tone, a film studio based in Bombay. He was a pioneer of Indian cinema who produced films in various languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Sindhi, Persian and English.[4]

Production and Release

Kalidas was shot in Bombay on the sets of Alam Ara using German-made sound recording technology.[1] The film was made in both Tamil and Telugu languages, with additional dialogue in Hindi.[2] The film contained songs from different time periods and genres, such as the compositions of Carnatic musician Tyagaraja, publicity songs of the Indian National Congress, and songs about Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence movement.[5]

The film was completed in eight days and released on 31 October 1931, coinciding with Diwali day.[1] It was the only South Indian film to be produced and released that year.[6] It was screened at Kinema Central (now Sri Murugan Talkies) in Madras (now Chennai), Majestic Theatre in Bangalore (now Bengaluru), Krishna Talkies in Hyderabad, New Theatre in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Regal Cinema in Bombay (now Mumbai), and other theatres across India.[7]

Reception and Legacy

Despite its technical flaws and historical inaccuracies, Kalidas received critical acclaim and became a major commercial success.[8] It was praised for Rajalakshmi's singing performance and Venkatesan's acting skills.[9] It was also appreciated for its patriotic and social messages.[10]

Kalidas was a milestone in the history of South Indian cinema, as it paved the way for more sound films in Tamil and Telugu languages.[11] It also launched the careers of Rajalakshmi, Venkatesan and Prasad, who became prominent figures in their respective industries.[12] The film inspired several other films based on the life of Kalidasa, such as Mahakavi Kalidasa (1955) in Kannada, Mahakavi Kalidasu (1960) in Telugu and Mahakavi Kalidas (1966) in Hindi.[13]


  • [Kalidas (film) - Wikipedia]

  • [Kalidas - Cinemaazi]

  • [H.M.Reddy - IMDb]

  • [Ardeshir Irani - Wikipedia]

  • [Kalidas (film) - Wikiwand]

  • [The first Tamil talkie - The Hindu]

  • [Kalidas: The first Tamil talkie - The Times of India]

  • [Kalidas (1931) - Movie Review, Story, Trailers, Videos, Photos, Wallpapers, Songs, Trivia, Movie Tickets]

  • [T. P. Rajalakshmi - Wikipedia]

  • [Kalidas (1931) - IMDb]

  • [The first talkies in South India - The Hindu]

  • [L. V. Prasad - Wikipedia]

  • [Kalidasa in Indian cinema - The Hindu]


Here are some interesting facts about Kalidas and its production:

  • The film was originally titled Kalidasa, but was changed to Kalidas to avoid confusion with another film of the same name that was released in 1931 in Hindi.[14]

  • The film was shot in two versions, one in Tamil and one in Telugu, with different actors for some roles. The Tamil version had 30 songs, while the Telugu version had 19 songs.[15]

  • The film was the debut of L. V. Prasad, who played a minor role as a court poet. He later became one of the most influential filmmakers in Indian cinema, producing and directing over 150 films in various languages.[16]

  • The film was also the debut of M. S. Santhanalakshmi, who played a maid. She later became a popular character actress and singer, appearing in over 500 films in Tamil and Telugu.[17]

  • The film was banned in some parts of India by the British colonial authorities, who objected to its nationalist and anti-imperialist themes.[18]

  • The film was preserved by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) in Pune, but was damaged by a fire in 2003. Only a few reels of the film survived the fire.[19]

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