By V S Krishnan
“When the bugles blow, there’s a nice present.” With these phrases, Gemini Studios founder Subramaniam Srinivasan, standard as S S Vasan, delivered to Tamil tradition the magic of celluloid he promised would transcend leisure to change into an expertise of a lifetime. The curtains might have lengthy come down on the enduring movie studios on Mount Highway, however his legacy lives on by the movies he made.
A journalist, author, translator and filmmaker, the multi-hyphenate’s contribution to cinema set Tamil movies on a brand new path. He created Gemini Studios as a world in miniature the place each facet of human exercise was in dramatic type. Artisans, students, musicians, costume and set designers, lab technicians and actors have been all groomed as a unit that got here collectively for grand narratives on display screen. Vasan bought concerned in each facet of filmmaking and created an empire that raised the requirements of visible storytelling.
However his beginnings have been humble. Born in a village in Thanjavur district on January 4, 1904, he got here to Chennai for his faculty research. He started working at a printing press and took to designing and printing and did odd jobs to earn cash. Nevertheless it was weaving tales that fascinated him and he started writing brief tales for native magazines and translating works. Taking on ‘Ananda Vikatan’ when its writer, having incurred some losses, provided it on the market, he re-launched it and a brand new ‘Ananda Vikatan’ regaled Tamil readers with humour, wit and infotainment. It was Vasan who discovered Kalki Krishnamurthy within the 1930s and gave Tamil literature one in every of its gems.
After his novel ‘Sati Leelavati’ was made into a movie and was appreciated, Vasan noticed a brand new avenue and stepped into filmmaking. When a hearth broken Movement Image Producers Mix, Vasan bought it. He rebuilt and renamed it Gemini Studios, after his spouse’s zodiac signal. Its first manufacturing, ‘Madanakama Rajan’ turned a trendsetter, and Vasan didn’t look again.
Digital expertise and animation motion pictures had not appeared but, however Vasan’s magnificent creations have been on a par with in the present day’s tech wizardry. His magnum opus, ‘Chandralekha’, was designed, researched and executed with a lot precision. The price of constructing large units was large, however Vasan by no means compromised on high quality. Based on experiences, it took greater than two months to movie the scene the place greater than 100 girls and boys danced over an enormous drum from which warriors emerged to rescue captives. This scene, which wanted aerial images, was shot with eight cameras from totally different angles. Having used all his financial savings and having borrowed from all accessible sources, he reached a useless finish earlier than finishing the movie after pledging together with his household jewelry.
Nevertheless it wasn’t simply grandeur that attracted Vasan. When he heard tales of saint-woman Avvayar, he deliberate a movie on her. Eyebrows have been raised as a movie with no baddy was inconceivable. However Vasan felt the viewers curiosity went past human battle and took cinema to the next stage the place love, visible deal with, great thing about animals like tuskers and horses, artwork, structure and music all created human curiosity.
His decisive alternative for crucial character was Ok B Sundarambal (KBS), a stage artist who was making waves by rendering devotional songs in a fascinating voice. The songs of KBS appealed to the folks as a result of she blended music with devotion. The scene the place King Chola arranges a mammoth procession of artisans, saints, students, singers and dancers to accord a grand reception to Avvayar on the border and lead her to the royal courtroom thought-about to be with few parallels. A commentator in contrast it to American filmmaker Cecil B deMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’.
A visionary, Vasan knew the way to spot and groom expertise. Amongst many such stars was R Ganesan who joined the studio in 1946 as a manufacturing assistant. Vasan recognised his potential and provided him a main position in ‘Miss Malini’. Ganesan’s efficiency in ‘Vanjikottai Valiban’ made him the speak of the city. The ‘Gemini’ prefix caught and a star was born.
However not like all Gemini motion pictures that witnessed a contented ending, when the curtains of Gemini studio fell, it was with a tragic notice. Vasan’s dying in 1969 following his sickness took out the wind from his movie empire as effectively. He was a towering chief and the vacuum he left couldn’t be stuffed. Progressively, the scene shifted from institutional stage to particular person stage, the place administrators and actors known as the pictures. Digital expertise reworked standard strategies and the mega units disappeared. Movies turned extra about closet dramas resembling ‘Pasa Malar’ and ‘Palum Pazhamum’, made both inside 4 partitions of the home or in gardens.
Vasan’s household needed to give attention to ‘Ananda Vikatan’ which was getting extra standard. The studio and its surrounding places, which used to brim with actions, regularly got here to a standstill. The brand of two small boys taking part in a pipe, which the folks of the bygone period recognized with Gemini Studios, and the mastery of Vasan have now mere reminiscences. Whereas Gemini, the premier establishment Vasan constructed, has paled into historical past, the opposite establishment he created ‘Ananda Vikatan’ continues to be a family title in Tamil Nadu.
(The author is an creator of non secular books)