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Madras Studios

Madras Studios
Narrative, Genre, and Ideology in Tamil Cinema

First Edition

February 2015 | 348 pages | SAGE India

This book documents the history of Tamil cinema, one of the most colossal film industries in the world, and studies the major studios of Madras, the largest outside classical Hollywood in the private sector.

It engages with five major studios of Madras—Modern Theatres, AVM, Gemini, Vijaya-Vauhini, and Prasad— through the origins of their founders, and explicates how their history influenced the narratives, genre, and ideology of the canonical films made in Madras studios, arguing for their lasting influence on Tamil cinema.

Based on rare primary and secondary materials, and oral history, this book engages with Tamil cinema at the intersection of its industrial, cultural, and socio-political history to argue for its specificity in terms of its aesthetics and its belief in the potential of the medium to mobilize audiences for ideology, politics, and reflexivity.


A Multiplicity of Influence: Modern Theatres and Its Films
AVM and Gemini Studios: The Dravidian Movement and the Competing Narratives
Vijaya-Vauhini and Prasad: The Other Narratives
Traces of the Studio System: A Certain Tendency of the Tamil Cinema
Dravidian Utopia and Dystopia: Canonical and Contemporary Tamil Cinema

“Brace yourself for a ringside view of Madras studios! Original in its conception and elegant in execution … this book will emerge as a standard bearer for scholarship on cinema studios.…”

Lalitha Gopalan
Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin

“What I find even more compelling is the way [the author] links the films of the major studios with contemporary Tamil cinema to provocatively argue for the affect of the genocide in neighboring Sri Lanka on the Tamil psyche.”

S. Theodore Baskaran
The iconic Tamil cinema historian

This book is a necessary read for anyone who wishes to understand not just Tamil cinema but the politics and culture which shaped it. 

Venkatesh Chakravarthy
The preeminent Tamil cinema scholar, independent filmmaker, and Director of L.V. Prasad Film & TV Academy