| Manik Lal Tandon|
| 1935|Nandanar (1935 film) Wikipedia
Bhakta Nandanar (Tamil: பக்த நந்தனார்) is a 1935 Tamil film directed by Manik Lal Tandon. It marked the film debut of the carnatic singer and stage artist K. B. Sundarambal. She was paid a then unprecedented ₹100,000 (equivalent of ₹60 million (2013 prices)) as salary for this film. This was also the first film for Ellis R. Dungan.
K. B. Sundarambal had retired from stage performances in 1932 after the death of her husband S. G. Kittappa. Hassandas, a textile magnate from Madras and a member of Chellaram business family was keen on making a film with Sundarambal in the lead. She was initially reluctant to star in the film and refused even the recommendation of her mentor S. Satyamurti. Hassandas persisted and to discourage him she offered to act in the film if he could pay One lakh Rupees. Hassandas agreed to pay her and the film was made.
The film was directed by Manik Lal Tandon with Ellis Dungan shooting many scenes in his absence. Sundarambal was cast as a man – the untouchable saint Nandanar. The same story had earlier been the subject of a 1932 Tamil film of the same name. Carnatic musician Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer was cast as the landlord Vedhiyar. He was paid 3000 Rs as salary. The script had a scene where Iyer's character would prostrate before Nandanar. Due to the prevailing social norms and her respect for Iyer, Sundarambal refused to do the scene. Director Tandon filmed a compromise by changing the scene such that both prostrated before each other. The completed film cost three Lakh (3,00,000) Rupees to make and was 18000 feet long. Tunes of three songs from the 1934 Hindi film Chandidas were reused in this film.
The story is based on the life of Nandanar (also known as Thirunaalai Povar - thee who pilgrims tomorrow) and his becoming of a Naayanar.K. B. Sundarambal as Nandanar
Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer as Vedhiyar
Manik Lal Tandon – Director
Ellis R. Dungan – Directed scenes in Tandon's absence
The film was released in 1935 amid great expectations from the public. It failed at the box office and received mixed reviews from the critics. Kalki Krishnamurthy made fun of it in Ananda Vikatan by claiming buffaloes and palm trees had acted well in the movie. He wrote the number one actor in the film was the coconut tree, number two was the buffalo and number three, the kid goat. The Tamil news paper Dina Mani also gave it a bad review. Writing in the April 1938 issue of the Eelakesari Pudhumaipithan explained the reasons for its failure:
However it received favorable reviews in the 15 July 1935 issues of The Hindu, Tamil Nadu, Sudesamithran and Cinema Ulagam. Viswanatha Iyer was criticized by conservative brahimins of his hometown Kumbakonam for acting in the film.