Blast from the past
Thyaga Bhoomi 1939
Papanasam Sivan, S. D. Subbulakshmi, *Baby' Saroja, K. J. Mahadevan
frames of freedom From Thyaga Bhoomi
A historical happening milestone in Tamil cinema was K. Subramanyam's Thyaga Bhoomi which was made when the Indian Freedom Movement was raging spreading like a forest fire all over the country. Interestingly, Kalki (then with Ananda Vikatan) had been thinking of a storyline based on three real-life persons - the celebrated Classical Carnatic musician Papanasam Sivan, the noted star S. D. Subbulakshmi and *Baby' Saroja, And Subramanyam's niece, hailed as the *Shirley Temple of India' (she had made waves in Subramanyam's Balayogini).
The magazine serial was built around issues such as the eradication of untouchability, dowry, menace, ill-treatment of married women in Hindu families and the Indian Freedom Movement. and such others. Striking a new path in magazine serialisation, instead of the usual Indian ink drawings highlighting an event from the weekly segment of the story, still photographs from the movie under production were published. This concept was not only the first of its kind, but also boosted the magazine sales. This was the first of its kind and attracted enormous attention and magazine sales zoomed! This was possible because of the financier backer S. S. Vasan and Subramanyam launching the production as soon as the serialisation commenced. Many families took more than one copy of the weekly!
The contention the story, the still photos and the timeliness of the themes highlighted made it all extremely popular, and Tamilians even outside India eagerly awaited the release of the movie. with high degree of exciting expectations. Consequently, Thyaga Bhoomi was a box-office success.
And then it happened. The film, which ran successfully to crowded houses to packed houses all over the Tamil-speaking areas of South India, was banned out of the blue by the British Indian Government of Madras when it which took over power from the Congress Party which resigned over the Second World War issue. One of their first acts was to ban Thyaga Bhoomi, which was then enjoying At that time, the film was in its 22nd week run its 22nd week run at Gaiety cinema in Madras city.
What were the reasons for the ban? The British Indian rulers thought Thyaga Bhoomi was the Congress Party propaganda to promote the Indian Freedom Movement. The film features a procession of Gandhi-capped volunteers, while off-scree noted Carnatic musician D. K. Pattammal sings "Desa Sevai Seiya Vaareer." .Procession of Gandhi-white-capped volunteers of both sexes while off-screen the noted classical Carnatic musician, D. K. Pattammal sings, " Desa Sevai Seyya Vaareer." (lyrics by Kalki and music by Papanasam Sivan); another song rendered by *Baby' Saroja in praise of the Mahatma; and a cut-away *insert' shot of the Mahatma nodding his head as if in agreement to such scenes! .Another song rendered by 'Baby' Saroja in praise of Mahatma Gandhi.. A cut- away 'insert' shot of Mahatma Gandhi nodding his head as if in agreement to such scenes in the film! The filmmaker, K. Subramanyam, the financier-distributor, S. S. Vasan, and the writer, Kalki, remained unfazed when the Government banned the film. They decided to throw open the doors of Gaiety cinema, and ran continuous free shows and all were welcomed until the ban order was actually served on the theatre management. People came in droves and the auditorium was packed beyond capacity. A police officer came accompanied by a band of cane-wielding stick-wielding cops and served the ban order. A show was in progress and the cops demanded that the screening be stopped at once. But the people inside were in no mood to listen. They argued the show must go on, and only the next show could be stopped! The cops began to beat up the protesters. people with 'lathis'. It was the first time in movie history that people inside a cinema house were beaten mercilessly. Lathi charges outside the cinema gates are common in India whenever a new film featuring a matinee idol is released, but not inside the auditorium.
Remembered for: An immortal classic highlighting the Freedom Movement.
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