Film in india

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'by' Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary

Raja Harishchandra (1913) The film opens with a Ravi Varma like tableau showing King Harishchandra, his wife Taramati and his young son. The king is teaching his son archery. They go on a hunt. The king enters an area controlled by the Sage Vishwamitra. Three furies appear before the king caught in flames. The king tries to rescue them. These fairies try to seduce the king into renouncing his kingdom for his love of truth. The king endures much hardship including being banished from his kingdom before a god appears to reassure everyone that the whole narrative was merely a test of the king's integrity.

Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra (1917) The homage to the upright King Harishchandra, who almost sacrifices his kingdom for his love of truth, opens with a tableau showing the king, his wife Taramati and his young son, to whom he is teaching archery. They go on a hunt and the King blunders into an area controlled by the sage Vishwamitra and his disciple Nakshatra. To atone for his mistake, the king is banished. Three furies appear caught in flames whom Harishchandra tries to rescue. They seduce him into renouncing his kingdom. The king endures much hardship before a god appears at the horizon to reassure everyone that it was just a test of the king's integrity


Lanka Dahan (1917) A mythological retelling of the familiar 'Ramayana' story of Rama's wife Sita being abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, and Rama's triumph with the aid of men, monkeys and bears. From the trees Hanuman the brave monkey observes Sita held captive in the tulasi garden where Ravana comes to molest her. The main part of the film covers Hanuman's rage while in Lanka when he set the whole island afire with his burning tail.

Shri Krishna Janma (1918) This film begins with the invocation of 'almighty god' at a river where several people are gathered. The child god Krishna rises out of the water astride the demon snake Kaliya. Then we see Yashoda as she rocks the sleeping Krishna's crib and imagines the god as Gopala. The next scene shows Kamsa fantasizing about Krishna threateningly duplicated many times around him. Kamsa then imagines himself dead as his severed head rises up and descends again. People of all castes pay obeisance to the deity with the title-card: 'may this humble offering be accepted by the Lord'.



Kaliya Mardan (1919) The playmates of Krishna are insulted by a female villager who splashes water on them. They take revenge by stealing butter from her house. When they are beaten up by the woman, they again take revenge with the aid of Krishna. He receives a gift of fruit for his help but gives it away. Krishna then enters the room of a wealthy merchant and his wife at night and ties the man's beard to his wife's hair. These exploits lead to a large crowd complaining of Krishna's antics to his foster parents

Sairandhri (1920) This mythological film tells the "Mahabharata" story of the villainous Keechak's lusting after Sairandhri, the persona adopted by Draupadi in her 13th year of exile. As a maid who is supposed to be Swarastika, she claims the protection of King Veerat. Keechak with the covert complicity of sister Sudeshna, attacks the heroine and, after a spectacular chase through King Veerat's court, he is gorily beheaded by Bheema. Bilet Pherat (1921) This famous satire contrasts conservative Bengali culture with that of the colonial elite. It is the story of a young Indian who returns to his native land after a long absence. He is so mightily impressed with his foreign training that, at his parental home, he startles everybody with his quixotic notions of love and matrimony

Bhakta Vidur (1921) One of the most famous silent mythologicals. It depicts the 'Mahabharata' story as a series of events between Pandavas and Kauravas. This leads to the decline and downfall of the ancient empire and culminates in a terrible war between the two rival factions

Nala Damayanti (1921) This big-budget film depicts a famous episode from the 'Mahabharata', starting with Narada's ascent of Mount Meru. It shows Swarga, the Heaven of Indra, the Transformation in the Clouds of the Four Gods into impersonations of King Nala, Swan Messengers of Love, the Transformation of Kali (the Demon of Evil) into a Serpent, the Meeting of Kali and Dwapor and the Four Gods amidst the Blue Air Andhare Alo (1922) Love-triangle story revolving around an upper-class Bengali hero. Satyendra, the son of a zamindar, experiences the conflict between family duty and the modern world in terms of his desire for an 11-year-old virgin bride, Radharani, and the nurturing and self-sacrificing courtesan Bijli. It depicts several stereotypical scenes like drunkeness and a courtesan's dance.

Pati Bhakti (1922) A social film which advocates that women should be devoted to their husbands. Leelavati (Cooper) is the protagonist in this movie. The censors demanded that an 'obscene' dance sequence be removed and the film was later re-censored on 16th November, 1923.

Sukanya Savitri (1922) This film tells two independent stories from the Mahabharata. The first part features the princess Savitri, who stands by her husband, the woodcutter Satyavan, when he is marked by Yama, the god of Death. When Yama fulfills his prophecy and takes away Satyavan's life, Savitri pleads with him and eventually wins her husband back. There are extraordinary scenes showing Savitri's pleas with the god sitting astride a buffalo somewhere between heaven and earth, intercut with shots of the couple's idyllic life as Savitri tends to her blind parents-in-law. The second half narrates the legend of Sukanya, the daughter of Sharyati. Seeing a large ant-hill, and unaware that it has been built over the meditating sage Chyvana, she blinds the sage and, in return, is forced to marry him. She tends to the old and decrepit man, and he changes into a handsome youth

Veer Abhimanyu (1922) This mythological tale derives its plot from the Mahabharata tale about Abhimanyu who learns of the Chakravyuha or battle formation of the Kauravas while in the womb of his mother, Subhadra (Fatma). The film was acclaimed for its war scenes

Savitri Satyavan (1923)

India's first international co-production. The love-is-stronger-than-death story sees Savitri (de Liguoro), the daughter of King Ashwapati and a goddess, fall for Satyavan (Ferrari) who is destined to die within a year. He is killed by a tree and his soul is gathered by the god Yama (Terribili-Gonzales) but he returns to life and there is a happy ending for the lovers. Some nudity and other 'erotic' images were removed to satisfy the censors.

Sinhagad (1923) India's first full-scale historical and the Maharashtra Studio's costliest film to date. Based on the classic novel 'Gad Aala Pan Simha Gela', it retells a famous episode in the military career of the 17th C. Maratha emperor Shivaji (Painter) and his lieutenant, the folk hero Tanaji Malusare (Yadav) . It features Tanaji's invasion of Fort Sinhagad in the dead of night, using his pet lizard to run up the wall with a rope, and his death in victory

Bismi Sadi (1924) This social film attacks Bombay's industrial parvenu class, initiating the realist-reformist melodrama as a genre. It tells of the street hawker Devdas, who goes to the city to make his fortune but, once successful, becomes an exploitative cotton mill owner and a callous snob knighted by the British. There is a violent factory worker's revolt. His wife, the kindly Hirabai, is made to suffer and his daughter Rukmini is dishonored.

Kala Naag (1924) This film claimed realist intent, mainly for its thinly veiled allusions to a major scandal in Bombay known as the Champsi-Haridas murder case. Vihari, the son of a rich mill owner, falls into the clutches of crooks led by Kalidas, aka the Black Cobra, who also had designs on Nirmala, Vihari's wife Kalyan Khajina (1924) Quasi-historical adventure movie based on the exploits of the 17th C. Maratha emperor Shivaji (Bhosle). A large part of the film is shot in a cave where where Shivaji meets the Subedar of Kalyan (Bhave). The film's dramatic highlight occurs when, inspecting stolen Mughal wealth, Shivaji suddenly confronts a fair maiden (Sultana) emerging from one of the crates full of treasure.

Paap No Fej (1924) A moralistic social film in a contemporary setting. The plot concerns a young woman, Sarojini (Tara), who, under the influence of her jailbird cousin Jairam (Mishra) swindles her aged husband and ruins her lover, the next door neighbour Thakurdas (Asooji). In spite of the moralism, the film's interest and energy derive from the depiction of moral turpitude and modernity represented by a race course, the cotton market and bars. Highlights include a car chase and Jairam's narrow escape from the police while Sarojini and Thakurdas end up in jail.

Poona Raided (1924) This expensive historical film depicts exploits of the 17th-C. Maratha emperor Shivaji. The film tells the legendary episode, of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb's (Sahasrabuddhe) attack on the city of Pune (then called Poona) and of how Shivaji (Ketkar) repelled it

Prithvi Vallabh (1924) Seminal silent historical film, the story features King Munja, ruler of Aranti, famed warrior and patron of the arts. Munja (Sandow) falls into the hands of his arch enemy Tailap, who received assistance from Bhillam (Altekar), king of Dharavati. Tailap orders that Munja be put to death but is held back by Tailap's powerful sister Minalvati (Fatma Begum), a widow who first wants to break Munja's spirit. Instead, she and Munja fall in love. Learning of Munja's plan to escape with Manalvati, Tailap has Munja trampled to death by his elephants.

Sadguni Sushila (1924) This love story claims to uphold the tradition of domesticated female virtue. The story tells of virtuous Sushila and her husband Pratap, who leads a peaceful life until her former suitor Jaswant arrives on a social call. His appearance prompts Pratap to suspect his wife's marital fidelity and he drives the visitor away. Returning to retrieve her belongings, Jaswant surprises a gang of burglars who shoot him dead. The leader of the gang, the police chief Vinayak, frames Pratap for the murder. Pratap runs away and what appears to be his corpse is found in a well. Vinayak now makes amorous advances to Sushila who is resigned to widowhood (performing symbolically laden acts like weaving on the charkha). After some years, Pratap reappears having discovered the truth about Vinayak's criminal deals (but apparently unrepentant about his own nasty behaviour towards his wife).

Sati Padmini (1924) This film depicts the story of the legendary Rajput queen Padmini of Chittor. The plot is set against the violent siege of Chittor, the Rajput capital, by the sultan of Delhi, Allauddin Khilji (Vedi), which temporarily saw the end of the Chauhan dynasty (14th C.). According to legend, during a state visit to Chittor, Khilji caught sight of a reflection of Queen Padmini and became so infatuated that he attacked the Chittor fortress, defeating the Rajputs

Sati Sardarba (1924) Mulraj (Mohanlala), an alcoholic and gambler, wagers his sister Sardarba (Zubeida) to a bunch of crooks and loses her. The rest of the film focuses on Sardarba's tormented life and how she comes through her trials with her virtue intact.

Baap Kamai (1925) Seth Madhavadas' only son Laxmidas aka Bachuseth (Gangaram) is brought up with affection but also strict discipline. Surviving on a small allowance, he cannot sustain his expensive habits, particularly after he is befriended by the scoundrels Harilal and Chiman who try to exploit his family's wealth. Madhavadas dies leaving his son in the car of his trusted manager. Bachuseth then meets the actress Roshanara, a lady of ill repute who, with Harilal and Chiman, entices him to a gambling den. The villains tell Bachuseth that his wife is having an affair with Kundan, the son of his manager-guardian. Bachuseth dismisses the manager and his son and, gradually, Harilal and Chiman take over the business, including the inherited wealth, leaving Bachuseth a pauper. He is eventually helped by the sacked Kundan.

Cinema Ki Rani (1925) This film is about a poor painter named Chandrakant (Khalil) who is about to commit suicide when he meets the film star Manjiri (Sulochana). He is creatively rejuvenated by the fantasies she inspires. Manjiri's modeling sessions are used to narrate her biography: her mother was a prostitute with a heart of gold who made sure her daughter was well educated. Chandrakant and Manjiri fall in love, but he is already married and his vampish, ill-tempered wife will not set him free.

Kulin Kanta (1925) The story for this film was derived from the Bawla murder case. The maharaja of Holkar fell in love with a dancing girl named Mumtaz (Moti) who spurned his advances because she loved another man. In fact, the maharaja had the man kidnapped in full public view and killed.

Lanka Ni Laadi (1925) This fantasy with overtones of Greek legends grossed more than any other Indian film in 1925. The story is set in Lanka. The king is told that he will be killed by his grandson and that his daughter will marry a brave shepherd. When bandits come to steal cows from the royal park, the princess (Gohar) gives chase and is helped by a passing shepherd (Khalil). They fall in love and the shepherd claims her hand in marriage. The king then sends the shepherd on a series of dangerous adventures around the globe, hoping that he will die. However, the shepherd cures the ailing king of neighbouring Ghoga and is declared the heir to the kingdom, an event that enables the union of the couple and the realization of the two predictions. The highlight is a scene where the wounded shepherd is fed milk by a lioness.

Maharachi Por (1925) Influential reformist social story about an Untouchable girl who marries a Brahmin. The film draws its influence from a stand of Ibsenite naturalism. This was a brief occasion for the convergence of Left progressives with mainstream Hindu reformism

Mojili Mumbai (1925) Presented as a comment on the lifestyle of Bombay's rich, the film tells of the wealthy Mr. Nanavati (Sandow) who is attracted to a dancer, Roshanara (Yakbal) who in turn is represented by a Dalal Chhotalal (Noor Mohammed). Chhotalal plans to rob Nanavati and seizes his chance when the rich man buys a gold necklace as a present for his daughter's birthday. Chhotalal tempts Nanavati to visit Roshanara, who then seduces him and obtains the necklace. When Nanavati realizes that he has been duped, he accuses Chhotalal, who has by then switched the necklace for a fake. Roshanara, was based upon a real cabaret dancer of that name.

Mumbai Ni Mohini (1925) Millionarie Ratanlal (Mohanlala) is an old man without an heir. He marries the rich, Western-educated Mohini. He has two managers, the sincere and faithful Dhairyadhar and the Anglicised crook Manhar. Mohini, bored with her marriage, falls in love with Manhar who embezzles Rs. 50,000 from Ratanlal's office and frames Dhairyadhar for the crime, who is imprisoned. Mohini's affair with Manhar develops and they decide to eliminate old man Ratanlal...

Prem Sanyas (1925) This adaptation of Arnold's 1861 Orientalist epic opens with documentary shots of tourists in Bombay watching street performers. Then a white-bearded old man sitting under the bodhi tree tells the tourists the story of Gautama (Rai), son of King Suddodhana (Ukil) and Queen Maya (Bala), who left his consort Gopa (Seeta) and became a wandering teacher credited with founding Buddhism. The religious epic, with its idealized figures, takes up the narrative in flashback and ends with Gopa kneeling before Gautama asking to become his disciple.

Sanam Ni Shodhma (1925) Love fantasy about two young men, Naval and Mavji, who dream of their ideal love. Naval's fantasy draws upon the 'Laila Majnu' story while Mavji's is from the 'Arabian Nights'. Trying to realize their dreams, Mavji falls for a woman he sees in a horse-drawn carriage. Naval meets Dolar, the daughter of Seth Kapurchand, who is trying to escape from an oppressive home....

Savkari Pash (1925) A social film with high melodrama, concerning a peasant (Shantaram) who loses his land to a greedy money-lender and moves to the city where he becomes a mill worker. Taking its cue from the realist tradition, the film counterposes an idyllic rural life (destroyed but the greedy money-lender who uses forged papers to steal the peasant's land) with the harsh city life. The shot of a hut accompanied by a howling dog are regarded as one of the most memorable moments of Indian cinema to date

Veer Kunal (1925) This legend drawn from the Asokavadana stories is set at the time of the Maurya empire (3rd C. B.C.). Kunal (Sandow), son of Emperor Ashoka (Athanavale) amd Queen Padmavati, has beautiful eyes but a prediction says he will go blind. The villainous Tishyaraksha (Yakbal) gains Ashoka's confidence and plots to have Kunal blinded and killed. The official executioners spare Kunal and he becomes a wandering singer accompanied by his favourite wife Kanchanmala (Moti). In Pataliputra, Ashoka hears Kunal's song, realizes that Kunal's misfortune may have been a punishment for some past sin of the emperor himself and condemns Tishyaraksha to death, restoring Kunal to the court.

Bhakta Pralhad (1926/II) Drawn from the Vishnu Purana, this legend tells of Prahlad (Gangaram), the son of the demon tyrant Hiranyakshapu (Bachu). Prahlad disobeys his father by worshipping the latter's hated enemy, Vishnu (Datar). He undergoes tortures, including being burnt in oil, trampled beneath an elephant and poisoning, until, finally, Vishnu appears from a pillar in his Narasimha guise to overwhelm the demon.

Neera (1926) This film depicts tribals and presents mysticism and sexuality as primal powers. Neera (Putli), a temple priest's daughter, lives amongst tribals. A Kapalik (Sandow), i.e. a devotee of Kali said to possess mystical powers, uses them to acquire tribal lands. The conflict is between his powers and the shield of innocence around Neera

Suvarna Kamal (1926) A typical stunt film featuring a masked adventurer in quest of a golden lotus, which involves placating the terrible goddess Mahakali. The film teemed with Bhatt' special effects (e.g. giant genies) and showed the influence of folk-fantasies

Telephone Ni Taruni (1926) Sulochana is a telephone operator, a job she used to do in real life, who becomes the love object of a leading lawyer (Sandow). The problems of inter-community marriage are highlighted, as is the value of patriotism through the character of Peter, the heroine's brother (Khalil). The film also refers to collectivization movement among farmers (inspired by events in the USSR).

Bhaneli Bhamini (1927) This message-oriented social tale was advertised as an excellent warning to the younger generation to beware of venereal diseases and take necessary precautions. It is a film about a man who gets venereal disease that not only brings ruin to himself but also to the innocent members of his family.

Gamdeni Gori (1927) Sundari (Sulochana) is an innocent village beauty with an ineffectual father, adrift in the big, bad city where she is preyed upon by lustful men seeking to force her into prostitution. The hero, Navichand, is a film actor and the film milieu is represented by a studio boss and a comedian, Gazdar, nicknamed Charlie Chaplin. Other features of the urban landscape, besides 'electric trains, motor cars and buses, the giant wheel, cinemas and theatres', as the publicity pamphlet claims, include a corrupt policeman, a racecourse and the fictional Bachelor's Club whose members see Sundari and promptly postpone their collective pledge never to marry

Janjirne Jankare (1927) This Rajput romance is about Commander Ambar of Ajaygarh who triumphs over neighbouring Ramgarh capturing its king and the beautiful Princess Rama (Gulab). Ambar falls for her but problems arise when the king of Ajaygarh wants to give his own daughter in marriage to the victorious commander. Ambar covertly helps Rama and her father escape but he is killed in the process and dies in Rama's arms. The major portion of the film deals with Ambar's imprisonment at the hands of his own patron, remaining seven days without food. Highlights include spectacular battle scenes. Nanand Bhojai (1927) A real-life incident was used as the basis for this typical melodrama plot locating reformist concerns in large joint families riven by tensions between in-laws. A greedy brother forces his educated sister to marry a rich old man...

Vande Mataram Ashram (1927) Major silent political film influenced by the Hindu ideals of the nationalist leaders Lala Lajpat Rai and Madan Mohan Malaviya (the founders of Benares Hindu University). It criticizes the British education policies and counterposed a defence of 'traditional' Indian teaching systems

Devdas (1928) First version of Saratchandra's novel. Despite the 'theatrical ruggedness' the film was well scripted and showed a distinct Bengali touch as against the 'Madan' style.

Kelor Kirti (1928) This comedy roughly meaning 'A Scandal', tells of Kalbhairab Bose aka Kelo, part clown part idiot and an incorrigible romantic. He rescues the heroine Manukumari from drowning and falls in love with her. Her father allows the marriage if Kelo first earns Rs 5,000, triggering a series of adventures. He wins the money at the races but loses it when he swallows his winning ticket; he tries to have an accident to collect the insurance but is knocked down by a car driven by his future brother-in-law. He eventually gets the insurance and marries Manukumari Shiraz (1928) A historical romance set in the Mughal Empire. Selima (Enakshi) is a princess-foundling raised by a potter and loved by her brother, Shiraz (Rai). She is abducted and sold as a slave to Prince Khurram, later Emperor Shah Jehan (Roy), who falls for her, to the chagrin of the wily Dalia (Seeta Devi). When Selima is caught is Shiraz, the young man is condemned to be trampled to death by an elephant. A pendant reveals Selima's royal status and she saves her brother, marries the prince and becomes Empress Mumtaz Mahal while Dalia is banned for her machinations against Selima. When Selima dies (1629), the emperor builds her a monument to the design of the now old and blind Shiraz, the Taj Mahal. The film contains a number of passionate kissing scenes.

Giribala (1929) This rich Gopinath ignores his beautiful wife Giribala, preferring the company of the stage actress Labanga. Tired of his only pastime, dressing up in narcissistic solitude, Giribala one night follows her husband to the theatre where a new world opens up for her. When Gopinath runs off with Labanga, Giribala joins the stage in Labanga's place and becomes famous. The hypocrisy of men's moral double standards is revealed when Gopinath recognizes his wife on stage when her veil drops

Gopal Krishna (1929) This Puranic tale about the antics of Krishna as a child. The conflict between Krishna and the evil Kamsa, king of Mathura, was to be seen as representing the conflict between the Indian people and the British rulers. The playful family film's highlight, apparently, is when the loin cloth of a little boy playing on the swing with Krishna came lose and revealed his penis.

Kono Vank? (1929) This film tells of Mani (Gulab), a child bride widowed aged eight and treated as a slave by her in-laws until she is cast out for bearing an illegitimate child. Her destitution is alleviated by a young lawyer, Muchkund, who nevertheless is forced to marry his father's choice, Kashi. Mani devotes herself to Muchkund, even sacrificing her own child, and finally marries the lawyer after Kashi's death.

Pitru Prem (1929) Arguing for communal harmony and filial piety, the film tells of Madhumal (Dave), a rich zamindar, his beloved son Shashibhushan (Yusuf), his loving daughter Ammapurna (Mani) and his adopted son Madhav (Chichenkar). When Madhumal picks up a wounded child swathed in bandages, a title says 'nay, Hindus and Mohammedans are but the children of one loving father, God'. In close up, Madhumal is shown donating equally to the Aligarh Muslim and Benares Hindu universities. In contrast, his dissolute son Shashibhushan falls into the clutches of the villain Gadbaddas and the courtesan Nurjehan (Hill).

Prapancha Pash (1929) Two rival kings addicted to gambling, Ranjit (Roy) and the evil Sohan (Rai), also vie for the same woman, Sunita (Seeta Devi), Kanwa the hermit's (Gupta) daughter. Ranjit loses his kingdom and his love and becomes Sohan's slave through a crooked game of dice.

Cinema Girl (1930) This film presented a fictionalized biography of its maker. One of the major characters is a producer modeled on Kohinoor's proprietor, D.N. Sampat, including a reference to the real life occasion when the studio, on the verge of bankruptcy, survived only because its employees donated money and gold ornaments to keep it afloat. Another character referred to a financier at the Imperial Studio. The plot also touched on the way a producer can curtail the freedom of a director

Udaykal (1930) This was the first film that explicitly politicized the figure of the enormously popular 17th C. Maratha emperor Shivaji. Key scenes include Shivaji's invocation of the goddess Bhawani who blesses his sword, and Shivaji putting up the saffron flag on the Sinhagad fort at the film's climax

Alam Ara (1931) A period fantasy that told of the ageing king of Kamarpur, and his two rival queens, Navbahar and Dilbahar, and their rivalry when a fakir predicts that Navbahar will bear the king's heir. Dilbahar unsuccessfully tries to seduce the army chief Adil (Vithal) and vengefully destroys his family, leaving his daughter Alam Ara (Zubeida) to be raised by nomads. Eventually, Alam Ara's nomad friends invade the palace, expose Dilbahar's schemes, release Adil from the dungeon and she marries the prince of the realm.

Devi Devayani (1931) A mythological sound hit. A cosmic battle between gods and demons reaches stalemate when the sage Shukracharya (Adajania) instantly restores every fallen demon to life. The god Indra (Baburao), on advice from Brahaspati (Vyas), sends Kacha (Bhagwandas) to the sage to learn his magic secret. Shukracharya's daughter, Devayani (Gohar) likes Kacha and the latter is accepted as the sage's disciple. The demon Vrisha Parva (Thatte) tries to kill Kacha but the youth is rescued by Devayani until the demons succeed in dissolving Kacha's body in alcohol and make Shukracharya drink the brew. Shukracharya then teaches Kacha the secret chant so that when he dies and Kacha emerges from his stomach, Kacha may bring him back to life again. Kacha's duties now conflict with a love-triangle, as Devayani marries Yayati who lives Sharmistha (Kamala).

Diler Jagar (1931) This silent film opens with shots of a hand distributing charity from a silver plate to a waiting crowd and tells of the good king of Magadh's fight with his evil ministers. The king is poisoned by his brother, the evil Kalsen and the infant prince Chandrapratab, smuggled out by the loyal sardar Satyapal, grows up in a forest to become the acrobat Hamir (Hamir) in love with his partner, the beautiful Saranga (Pawar, credited as 'Ambu'). Saranga is kidnapped by Kalsen's son Ramanaraj , described as 'the perfect libertine', but Kalsen takes her away from his son and attempts to seduce Saranga with promises of wealth. The fearless Hamir fights dozens of soldiers, in amateurishly staged fights, trying to liberate her. In the end Saranga, rejected by her lover for having been tempted by Kalsen's promises of wealth, dons a mask and turns into a Zorr-type avenger. Hamir is eventually recognized by the royal tattoo on his shoulder and restored to the throne as well as reunited with Saranga.

Draupadi (1931) This big-budget Mahabharata adaptation starts with Duryodhana's (Jagdish) scheme to appropriate the kingdom of Hastinapur by eliminating his Pandava cousins. When the Pandavas return from banishment with Draupadi (Ermeline), won by Arjuna (Kapoor) in a tournament, they establish their capital, Indraprastha. The films shows the Rajasuya Yagna ceremony and culminates in the famous dice game in which Duryodhan, backed by his scheming Uncle Shakuni (Hadi), wins the Pandavas' kingdom and then Draupadi herself, whom Yudhishthira (Elizer) then wagers and loses. Duryodhan commands that Draupadi be stripped naked in open court but Krishna (Khalil) saves her honour with a miracle

Ghulam Nu Patan (1931) Set in the Marwar region in 1818 and addresses the notorious 'Gola' system of slavery. The fantasy adventure, leavened with realistic scenes showing the slaves' working conditions, tells of Kumar Umedhsingh of Kadeempur (Daniel) who institutes a usurious tax mainly to obtain power over the beautiful peasant girl Kamalbala (Vatsala). However, she is protected by Kartarsingh of Amargarh, whom she once nursed to health and who has vowed to liberate all slaves. Karatarsingh is imprisoned but eventually defeats the villain and rescues the heroine. A (presumably Rajput) emperor arrives, censures the villain and lets the lovers marry.

Jamaibabu (1931) This comedy has a country bumpkin hero Gobardhan (Das) visiting his parents-in-law in Calcutta. Making a 'No Nuisance' sign for an address, he gets lost trying to find his friend Amal's (Baurah) room. His subsequent adventures take him to famous locations including Howrah Bridge, the Victoria Memorial and the Maidan. Gobardhan eventually finds his in-laws, feigns illness to prolong his stay, is beaten up when he tries to sneak into his wife's (Radharani) room and gets mistaken for a thief

Kalidas (1931) This tells the familiar tale of Kalidas, the legendary 3rd-C. Sanskrit poet and playwright. A minister at the court of King Vijayavarman of Thejavathi wants Princess Vidhyakumari (Rajalakshmi) to marry his son. She refuses and the minister tricks her into marrying a cowhand. The duped princess invokes the help of Kali, who appears to the couple and endows the cowhand with literary talent, allowing him to become Kalidas (Venkatesan).

Khuda Ki Shaan (1931) Ramaki (Sulochana), a poor scheduled caste girl, has an illegitimate daughter by Manekchand; the son of the wealthy Krishnadas. She seeks refuge with a nautch girl. Krishnadas, who also wants to possess Ramaki, dies trying to kill her. Ramaki then seeks shelter with a young Muslim but they perish in a fire. Her daughter, along with the Muslim's son (Jagtap), is raised by a nomad, Garibdas Sadhu (Makanda), a character made to look like Gandhi. The youngsters are hired as factory hands by Manekchand who unwittingly falls in love with his own daughter and appropriates land belonging to Garibdas

Premi Jogan (1931) Amar (Bilimoria) and Ila's (Shantakumari) love is disputed by the dashing Samar (Ishwarlal). The rivals get embroiled in the Kashmir war and Samar dies in Anar's arms. Amar returns to find that Ila has become an ascetic but they eventually get married.

Shirin Farhad (1931) Big budget musical narrating a legend from the Shanama. The Persian sculptor Farhad falls in love with Queen Shirin. The shah khusro, who had promised Farhad a reward for having built a canal, agrees to let him marry Shirin provided he first single-handedly demolishes the Besutun mountain. Shirin and Farhad are finally united in death as Farhad's tomb miraculously opens to accept Shirin.

Ayodhyecha Raja (1932) A big-budget mythological film telling a famous Ramayana tale. The truth-loving Harishchandra (Tembe) , king of Ayodhya, is tested when the sage Vishwamitra challenges him to sacrifice his kingdom and offer alms of a thousand coins earned through his own labour. After many hardships, Harishchandra, Taramati (Khote) and their son Rohileshwara (Digambar) earn the money when the king and queen are sold as slaves in the city of Kashi. When the queen's new owner, Ganganath (Pendharkar), tries to assault her, her son intervenes and is killed. Taramati is accused of the killing and is sentenced to be executed by her husband. The Kashi-Venkateshwara diety intervenes, brings the boy back to life, declares the king to have proved himself and returns him to his throne

Chandidas (1932) This film is about Chandidas, a legendary 15th-C. Bengali Vaishnavite poet whose biography remains obscure but was an influence on the better documented Chaitanya (1486-1533), a school teacher who promoted the Vaishnavite ideology in Bengal, mostly through hymns about the Radha-Krishna legend. The film stressed the poet's teachings through the love story between Chandidas (Bannerjee) and a low-caste washerwoman, Rami (Umasashi). The conventional villain of the saint film genre, who represents the established order threatened by the outsider's revolutionary influence on common people, is the rapacious upper-caste merchant Bijoynarayan. When Rami rejects his advances, he persuades the high priest to insist that Chandidas must repent or be punished for associating with a low-caste woman. Chandidas agrees to repent but when he sees the injuries Rami has suffered at the hands of the merchant's goons, he rejects institutionalized religion in favour of the higher Vaishnavite call for a more democratic god and leaves the village with Rami.

Indrasabha (1932) Big-budget movie with over 69 songs. 'The Hindi Devmala [Hindi Pantheon] with the Islamic Ravaiyat' are crystallized into a plot structure revolving around a benevolent king whose moral fibre is tested by celestial powers as they cause an apsara (a fairy) to appear before him as a fallen woman begging for mercy.

Jalti Nishani (1932) An adventure movie about a king (Bhosle) who is overthrown by the perfidy of his villainous Commander (Pendharkar). The young prince (Vinayak) defeats the villain, reclaims the throne and restores his father's honour.

Madhuri (1932) Adventure spectacular set in the 4th-C. Gupta period during the battles between the kingdoms of Ujjain and Kanauj. Features the heroic Amber (Patwardhan) and the craven Prince Tikka (Mohammed), both from the Malwa, and the scheming commander of Kanauj, Mahasamant (Jamshedji). Highlights include extensive swordplay by the heroine, Madhuri (Sulochana), who defeats Mahasamant in a duel and later dresses as a male soldier to rescue Amber Maya Machhindra (1932) This film based on the Tantric legend about the guru Machhindranath (Tembe) and his disciple Gorakh (Master Vinayak) on the subject of 'maya' (belief in the illusory nature of worldly temptations). The guru appears to his student to have entered the kingdom of man-hating women, married the queen (Khote) and abandoned his commitment to celibacy and pure thoughts. Gorakh sets out to rescue him but the entire experience turns out to be an 'illusion' set up by the master.

Narasinh Mehta (1932) The first Gujarati feature film is a saint film about the life of Narasinh Mehta (1408-75), played by Master Manhar. Mehta is known for his evocative Prabhatiyan (morning hymns) and especially for his composition Vaishnava jana to ('The Vaishnav is he who knows the pain of others') made popular by Gandhi, who also adapted the poet's term Harijan (children of god) for the nation's Untouchables. The film adheres to the Gandhian interpretation of Narasinh Mehta's work, avoiding e.g. miracle scenes. Natir Puja (1932) A simple recording of Tagore's 1926 dance drama based on a Buddhist legend. It was staged on his 70th birthday at the New Empire, Calcutta. They feature a part of Arukumar Roy's documentary Of Tagore and Cinema (1994).

Radha Rani (1932) This film tells of Radha (Gohar), a carefree rural belle who is supposed to marry childhood friend Gopal, but instead falls in love with a stranger who turns out to be the missing Prince Vijaysingh. When the king dispatches soldiers to recover the prince, Vijaysingh discards the pregnant Radha. She is attacked by the villagers for her immorality and eventually appears before the prince, her former lover, in court where she refuses to denounce him.

Sati Sone (1932) Champraj, king of Bundi (Jamshedji), boasts in the court of the maharaja Karansingh of his wife Sone's (Jilloo) purity and fidelity. The villainous Sher Singh (Hadi) claims to prove otherwise and, through trickery, appropriates a dagger and a handkerchief by which Sone had said she would remember her husband in his absence. Champraj, who stakes his life on his wife's fidelity, is about to be be-headed when Sone herself, dressed as a dancing-girl, exposes the truth

Shyam Sundar (1932/I) Children's mythological drawn from the Vishnu Purana telling of the child Krishna (Modak). The film intercuts Krishna's rural escapades with Pendya and other childhood friends with palace intrigues in Mathura, where Kans receives a divine warning that the boy Krishna shall be the cause of his death

Zalim Jawani (1932) This historical fantasy's story is drawn from the Rajput war sagas and features the despotic Jaisingh (Poonawala) who usurps the throne of Achalgarh. The court intrigues involve the good Pratap (Vithal), lover of Princess Chandraprabha (Ermeline), hidden testaments from the dead King Udaybhanu, fortune tellers and a swayamvar (a public contest) to claim the princess as a bride. The film's treatment of sexuality receives an unusual twist when the misogynist Sher Singh (Hadi), a friend of Pratap, is forced to impersonate a woman to protect Chandraprabha from the villain Ranamal (Jamshedji).

Karma (1933) The simple plot has the maharani (Devika Rani) fall in love with the neighbouring prince (Rai) despite her father's disapproval. It is presented as an Orientalist fantasy with a, by Indian standards, scandalously prolonged kiss. It was described as 'a sort of American romance done against an Indian background'

Lal-e-Yaman (1933) Oriental fantasy derived from classic Parsee theatre. The heir to the Yemeni throne, Prince Parviz (Karimja), is falsely imprisoned by his stepmother (Mohini) who claims power. Parviz receives a magic dagger from a mystic sufi fakir (Mohammed) to liberate himself and his people. The dagger makes him invisible. He kills the Apeman (Shroff) and the genii (Khan), rescues the captive Princess Parizad (Padma) and, finally, overwhelms the soldiers sent to recapture him. The king (Khambatta) learns the truth and repents

Martanda Varma (1933) This film features Martanda Varma (Jaidev) the legendary founder and king of the Travancore State (now Kerala) from 1706-58. It tells the story of love between Anantha Padmanabham (Menon) and Parukutty (Padmini), the political conspiracy of Padmanabha Thampi (Naik) and the heads of the eight Nair Houses against Martanda Varma. It opens with newsreel coverage of the aarattu procession of the Travancore maharaja Chitta Thirunal, including elephants, cavalry and the Nair Brigade before embarking on the story of the king's ancestors. Scenes from the young Martanda Varma's youth are intercut with well-known episodes from the novel.

Miss 1933 (1933) A classic modernization melodrama exploring the consequences of female autonomy. Kusum (Gohar) rejects her avaricious uncle's decision to marry/sell her to a rich man and is adopted by Seth Kisandas (Adajania). She meets his urbanized son Jayant (E. Bilimoria) and his friends Ramesh (Yakub) and Kishori (Mehtab). The love story of Kusum and Jayant explores the complications ensuing from a woman's freedom to choose. The issue is resolved only after Ramesh molests her. She defends herself and is tried for attempted murder.

Narcotic (1933) As the opening scroll tells us, Narcotic was "presented in the hope that the public may become aware of the terrific struggle to rid the world of drug addiction." The movie itself is a salacious plunge into a world of sordid pleasures. It tells us the story of Dr. William G. Davies, an infamous snake-oil salesman who started his career as a promising medical student. In the opening sequence he saves an unborn baby by performing a cesarean operation after the mother was killed in an automobile accident. Stock medical footage shows a woman's stomach being sliced open like a ripe watermelon and the baby popping out like a jack-in-a-box. But the allure of opium proves too strong for the doctor to resist. After a single night of relaxation in a Chinatown opium den, Davies becomes a slave to drugs. As his medical practice deteriorates, he shifts his attention to "selling medicine by demonstration." He says to his nurse/fiancee, "I can't see anything wrong if my preparation has merit." However, his "preparation" is one of the great quack cure-alls: "Tiger-Fat." Davies soon becomes one of the leading sideshow attractions for a carnival. His success as a carnival huckster initially allows him to run with a fast crowd. In the movie's most shocking episode, Davies and his ritzy friends retire to a hotel room together for a drug party. "We're gonna get lit," says a woman. A buffet of drugs is spread out on a table and each guest takes their drug of choice. "It takes a needle for me to get a bang," says a woman. As each participant indulges, the party quickly turns into an orgy of excesses, one woman hikes up her skirts, another laughs hysterically, a man pontificates, another man becomes paranoid. The movie provides a litany of different reactions to drugs. Ultimately, Davies' drug addiction leaves him gaunt and stooped, living in a hovel with no hope of returning to his previous life.

Prithvi Putra (1933) This film is based upon a story from the Puranas. The story is about Narakasura, the demon who is slain by Krishna. He asks that the day of his death be celebrated by mankind and that he be allowed to descend to earth every year to witness the festivity.

Puran Bhagat (1933) The legend of Prince Puran, born under King Silwan of Sialkot's curse which binds his parents never to set eyes on him until he is 16. Accused of leading a debauched life by an evil general and by the king's second wife, Puran is sentenced to death. Rescued by the mystic Gorakhnath, he becomes an ascetic. When the king is overthrown, Purna rises from his meditations to depose the general who has seized power, before returning to his life of renunciation.

Rajrani Meera (1933) Bug-budget saint film on the life of Meera (Chandrabati Devi/Khote), a princess of the Rajput kingdom of Chittor married to the king of Mewad (Bannerjee/Kapoor). She is persecuted by her husband and her brother-in-law when she abandons worldly possessions to become a devotee of Krishna. She undertakes a journey of penance and performs a miracle which the king attributes to the machinations of the evil army chief Abhiram

Sinhagad (1933) The film focuses on the 17th-C. Maratha emperor Shivaji's lieutenant (and folk hero) Tanaji Malusare (Bhosle). Here Kamalkumari, about to commit sati (self-immolation), is captured by Udaybhanu (Pendharkar) and taken to his fort at Kondana.

Yahudi Ki Ladki (1933) The familiar story features the rivalry between the Roman priest Brutus and the oppressed Jewish merchant, Prince Ezra. Brutus sentences Ezra's son to death and Ezra in turn kidnaps and raises Brutus' only daughter, Decia. When the daughter, renamed Hannah (Rattan Bai), grows up, the Roman Prince Marcus (Saigal) falls in love with her. To court her, he disguises his Roman identity. When his religion is discovered, he is ejected from Ezra's house. Marcus then agrees to marry Princess Octavia (Tara) as arranged, but Hannah denounces him in open court and he is sentenced to death by his own father, the emperor. When Hannah and Ezra respond to Octavia's pleas and retract their accusations, they in turn are sentenced to death by Brutus...

Zehari Saap (1933) Film about a medieval chieftain's revolt against the good Nawab Bakar Malik. The nawab's outlaw son vows revenge and the adventures end with the royal family reunited. The dramatic pivot is the chieftain's demand to marry the princess whom he had raised as his own daughter.

Amrithmanthan (1934) This classic opens with a sensational low-angle circular track movement as Chandika cult followers meet in a dungeon of flickering lights and deep shadow. As the more rationalist King Krantivarma (Varde) banned human or animal sacrifices from the increasingly fanatical festivals dedicated to the goddess, the cult's high priest (Chandramohan/Date) orders the hapless Vishwagupta (Kelkar) to kill the king. He obeys but is then betrayed by the perfidious priest and caught. His son Madhavgupta (Mane) and daughter Sumitra (Apte) together with the princess (Tarkhad) and the people finally overthrow the priest. There are several famous scenes, including the twice-told legend of the churning of the seas, once by the priest to show how evil must be exorcised, and again by a good general to show how demons often appear disguised as gods. Although invoking divine intervention when Madhavgupta is about to be sacrificed, the film's strongly political thrust has the people rise in revolt.

Akashwani (1934/I) An anti-imperialist version of the Vishnu Purana legend tells of the villainous Kans (Phatak) plotting to marry Devaki (Leela) to Dikpal (Pendharkar), commander of Magadh's army. The people of Mathura fear that Magadh will destroy their city-state and foil Kans' scheme as Devaki marries the beggar Vasudev (Vinayak). The heavens forecast, accurately, that Devaki's eighth son Krishna (Shirodhkar) shall cause Kans' death.

Akashwani (1934/II) An anti-imperialist version of the Vishnu Purana legend tells of the villainous Kans (Phatak) plotting to marry Devaki (Leela) to Dikpal (Pendharkar), commander of Magadh's army. The people of Mathura fear that Magadh will destroy their city-state and foil Kans' scheme as Devaki marries the beggar Vasudev (Vinayak). The heavens forecast, accurately, that Devaki's eighth son Krishna (Shirodhkar) shall cause Kans' death.

Chandidas (1934) K.L. Saigal stars as Chandidas and Umasashi as Rami, featuring several of their popular duets (e.g. Prem nagar mein banaongi ghar main) and other songs with Sanyal. This film is about Chandidas, a legendary 15th-C. Bengali Vaishnavite poet whose biography remains obscure but was an influence on the better documented Chaitanya (1486-1533), a school teacher who promoted the Vaishnavite ideology in Bengal, mostly through hymns about the Radha-Krishna legend. The film stressed the poet's teachings through the love story between Chandidas and a low-caste washerwoman, Rami (Umasashi). The conventional villain of the saint film genre, who represents the established order threatened by the outsider's revolutionary influence on common people, is the rapacious upper-caste merchant Bijoynarayan. When Rami rejects his advances, he persuades the high priest to insist that Chandidas must repent or be punished for associating with a low-caste woman. Chandidas agrees to repent but when he sees the injuries Rami has suffered at the hands of the merchant's goons, he rejects institutionalized religion in favour of the higher Vaishnavite call for a more democratic god and leaves the village with Rami.

Indira M.A. (1934) A production presenting an East-West conflict in the form of a love triangle. Indira (Sulochana), with an MA from Oxford rejects the 'idiot' Kishore (Sandow) chosen for her by her alcoholic father, the leading lawyer Bansilal (Jamshedji), and falls for the playboy Pyarelal (Bilimoria). However, Pyarelal is a philanderer and the marriage ends in divorce while Kishore remains devoted to his beloved , proving that parents instinctively choose the right man for their daughters. The climactic scene has the father defending the innocent Kishore in court and publicly accusing himself for his daughter's misfortune, blaming alcohol and his decision to have her educated aboard.

Lava Kusha (1934/I) This is the Ramayana story of Seeta (Sriranjani) who retires to the forest and gives birth to twin boys, Lava (Bhimarao) and Kusa (M. Rao). They later take on the might of Rama (Subba Rao) unaware that he is their father. Finally after defeating their father Seeta reveals to the brothers who their father is and the family is reunited once again.

Mazdoor (1934) A realistic treatment of industrial working-class conditions. Shot on location in a Bombay textile mill, the schematic plot opens with the death of a benevolent mill owner whose good daughter Padma (Bibbo) and drunken playboy son Vinodh (Nayampalli) must now run the business jointly. Vinodh's ruthlessly exploitative management prompts Padma amd her protégé Kailash (Jairaj) to lead a strike against her brother. Vinodh turns violent, goes to prison and the mill closes. With the workers' support and a providential order, Padma restarts the business in a humanitarian way and marries Kailash

Piya Pyare (1934) Classic adventure fantasy setting in an unnamed Rajput-style court. The king's younger wife Taramati (Jilloo) is condemned to death for infidelity and her son Chandrakumar (Ghaznavi) is brought up by a distant uncle. The elder wife has twins, the lovely Princess Chanda (Sulochana) and the nasty Jaisingh, who turns out not to be their son after all. Rohil (Bilimoria) is the romantic outlaw who is revealed to be the long lost son of the good chief Sajjan Singh (Jamshedji). Rohil helps restore order in the kingdom to Princess Chanda's delight. There are elaborate filmed scenes of a tiger hunt, the cheetah who takes away Rohil when still an infant and lavish palace scenes.

Rashk-e-Laila (1934) This costumed love fantasy derived from the Arabian Nights tells of Laila (Zubeida), a gypsy dancer who falls in love with the Persian soldier Asghar (Desa). The villain who lusts after Laila, is Sardar Sagi (Gulab), right-hand man to the grand vizir (Joshi) who has political ambitions of his own

Samaj Ki Bhool (1934) Unusually violent film for its time advocating widow's right to remarry. The crooked Daulatram (Jamsehdji) sells his daughter Chandramukhi (Dulari) in marriage to Banwarlal. Distraught, her mother commits suicide. Banwarlal is poisoned by his nephew who fears the new wife might produce an heir, and Chandramukhi is forced into prostitution. Her father, now a beggar, chances to see his daughter in this condition and he too commits suicide. The nephew then kills Chandramukhi's brother Dayaram (Kader) in an argument and Chandramukhi is arrested for murder. The sorry tale ends happily when the good lawyer Raghuvir (Ghaznavi), Charamukhi's original suitor, rescues her in court. The film ends with debates for and against widow remarriage and with Raghuvir marrying Chandramukhi.

Sati Sulochana (1934/II) A Ramayana mythological told from the viewpoint of Sulochana, daughter-in-law of the villain Ravana. Her husband Indrajit, son of Ravan wounds Lakshman. Lakshamana is revived by the Sanjivani Mani brought by Hanuman. Indrajit is eventually killed by Rama leaving Sulochana a widow. It depicts spectacular war sequences and was the first major Kannada film

Seeta Bibaha (1934) Oriya cinema's first feature film is a Ramayana mythological telling of Rama's wedding to Seeta. It shows Rama and Lakshmana coming to the court of King Janaki. Rama must not only lift a huge bow, but also string it and use it if he is to win Seeta's hand in marriage. Rama strings and breaks the bow with his strength.

Seeta Kalyanam (1934) A Telegu adaptation of the Tamil mythological Seeta Kalyanam (1933). It is also the first Telegu film to use outdoor sequences. It shows Rama and Lakshmana coming to the court of King Janaki. Rama must not only lift a huge bow, but also string it and use it if he is to win Seeta's hand in marriage. Rama strings and breaks the bow with his strength

Shaher Ka Jadoo (1934) A social film critiquing decadent urban values, it tells of Sundarlal (Kumar) who leaves his wife Lalita (Kamalabai) and children to make a living in the city where he succumbs to depravity and vice. His son dies and his beautiful daughter Sarju (Sabita Devi) defends her virtue and tries to support her mother in conditions of exrtreme misery. Dressed as a man and accompanied by the blind Baldev (Dey), she scours the city in search of her father, encountering difficulties, including a drunken millionaire she rescues with whom she falls in love even though he mistakes her for a boy.

Sitamgarh (1934) The tyrant Jabbar (Bawa) attacks the village where lives the famously devout Sayyed (Bhupatrai) and kidnaps his son Iqbal (Bilimoria). Iqbal grows up to become the commander of Jabbar's army and is as tyrannical as his mentor, campaigning to force the people to accept Jabbar as the true god. He comes to a camp of 'true' religious believers led by Sadiq, his daughter Sadika (Madhuri) and a Princess Hamida (Khatun). The latter falls in love with him, much to the chagrin of Shaddad (Ishwarlal), her suitor. Eventually Iqbal learns of his real ancestry and joins the true believers. He then proceeds to attack those who do not share his religion, nor his belief in Jabbar. When Jabbar realizes that his own family now opposes him, he commits suicide

Veer Babruwahan (1934) A mythological film. Babbruwahan (bilimoria), son of Arjuna (Adajania) and Chitrangada (Tarabai), fights heroically in the Mahabharata war and returns to his mother who despairs at the strife between her son and her husband. He stops a horse that belongs to Arjuna's army, which is a sign of defiance that leads to further bloodshed. Babruwahan defeats and beheads his own father and is about to follow his mother in an act of ritual suicide when Krishna (Bhagwandas) descends to earth and instructs him to go to the land of the serpents and fetch the mythical Sanjivani Mani to bring Arjuna back to life. This pits Babruwahan against Ullupi (Khatun), daughter of the serpent king and a former wife of Arjuna. After another battle she is forced to surrender the sanjivani mani, but instead she captures the dead Arjuna's head. Krishna has to intervene again to resolve matters.

Bhikharan (1935) A four-handed melodrama: Kedar (Hafizji) asks Madhavi (R. Bai) to leave home so that he may marry the rich Chandra (Pramila). But Chandra is only obeying her parents: in fact she loves the painter Kumar (Vinayak). Madhavi, now a beggar singing for alms, becomes Kumar's model and lover while Chandra tries to get away from Kedar. She enlists Kumar's help, pushing Madhavi out again. The latter becomes a stage actress while the distraught Kumar becomes a mad street singer. Eventually, Madhavi and Kumar get married

Chandrasena (1935) This special-effects laden film is based upon an episode from the Ramayana. Indrajit, son of Ravan, initiates an attack on Rama (Mane) and Lakshmana (Kulkarni) in which they are captured by Mahi (Kelkar). They escape with the assistance of Rama's disciple, the monkey-god Hanuman (Manajirao). The narrative foregrounds Chandrasena (Tarkhad), wife of Mahi, who reveres Rama but disapproves of the bacchanalian orgies and the celebration of liquor that is the norm in his kingdom. She helps resolve the stalemate of the battle when Mahi (who can duplicate himself and his dead soldiers) proves invincible, by revealing the secret formula that will kill her husband. In addition to the usual flying figures and magic arrows mandatory for a Ramayana mythological, there is an effective scene of a gigantic Hanuman picking up a miniaturized human figure. Dharmatma (1935/I) This saint film is about Sant Eknath (1533-99), a major Marathi poet, author of the Eknathi Bhagvata and numerous abhangas evoking folk poetry, especially the bharuda form of solo performances. The film focuses on Eknath's humanitarian defence of the 'untouchable' castes. Opposed by the evil Mahant (Kelkar/Chandramohan), Eknath becomes a social outcast when he arranges to have the lower-caste people fed before the Brahmins during a prayer meeting at his house, compounding the offence by going to eat in one of their houses. The drama is heightened by Eknath's son Hari Pandit (Kale) who joins the ranks of the opposition. The happy ending occurs when the film transcends the food motif and Eknath defends himself by reading his poems to the Pradayananda Shastri of Kashi.

Do Ghadi Ki Mauj (1935) Hero Kishenprasad (Bilimoria) is an upright engineer with a large family, including his wife Lakshmi (Sulochana), mother Valibai (Jilloo), sister Asha (Lalita) and son Bachoo (Mayuri). He gambles away his happiness and is about to be jailed for embezzlement when he is saved by an honest fellow employee, Hamid (Jamshedji), who takes the blame. The villains are his secretary Kassum (Ahmed) and Sukhlal (Gani), a rich man who wants to marry Asha. When his advances are spurned, he alleges that he had an affair with Kisheprasad's wife, Lakshmi

Ghar Jamai (1935/II) A big slapstick hit. Mafatlal (Alimiya) is an unemployed adventurer thrown out of his home and told not to return until he has made some money. He responds to an ad for a 'resident son-in-law for wealthy heiress', tries to earn commission from a lawyer by instigating lawsuits, impersonates a station-master to dodge the fare, gets chased by cops and a fisherwoman, and gets robbed. Eventually, he is chosen by the original advertiser, Heeralaxmi (Heera), a woman with 'advanced views' on everything. Other characters include a phalanx of women standing for election on outlandish platforms. The socially conservative comedy betrayed the anxieties of sexually insecure men when faced with the possibility of the emancipation of women.

Hind Kesari (1935) A Ruritanian drama mainly featuring the stunts of the horse Punjab-Ka-Beta (Son of Punjab). Good King Mansingh (Tarapore) is dethroned by evil minister Zalim Singh (Khambatta). Princess Hansa (Husn Banu) transforms lover Prince Randhit (Sardar Mansoor) from an easy-going youth into the masked Hind Kesari, saviour of the poor.

Hunterwali (1935) The stunt movie that established the Wadias and Fearless Nadia. Preceded by a legend describing its heroine as a 'Brave Indian girl who sacrified royal luxuries to the cause of her people and her country', the story opens with a prologue showing Krishnavati (Sharifa) and her infant son being thrown out of the house in a thunderstorm by the wicked Prime Minister Ranamal who also killed her brother. 20 years later the now adult son, Jaswant (Schroff) , is hit by a royal motor car and given a bag of gold in compensation. His refusal of the gift attracts the admiration of Princess Madhuri (Nadia). When the nasty Ranamal, who wants to marry her, imprisons her father the king (Mohammed), she becomes the masked Hunterwali, 'protector of the poor and punisher of evildoers', and performer of stunts like jumping over a moving cartand fighting 20 soldiers at once. She steals Jaswant's prize horse, Punjab, but returns it later. Jaswant chances upon a nude Hunterwali bathing in the river (a rare sequence for Nadia) and after a long duel captures her and takes her to Ranamal to claim his reward. Inquilab (1935) A drama set amid an earthquake in Bihar. Miss Renee (Khote) looks after the victims while her lover, the businessman Sardar (Mohanned), wants to make money from the disaster. She comes under the spell of the blind itinerant Musafir (Dey in his usual persona) whose low opinion of the depravity of the wealthy provides the film's moral backbone. She eventually discovers that as a child she had been promised to Musafir but had been rejected by his family for being of a lower caste.

Jawani Ki Hawa (1935) A romantic crime thriller. Kamala (Rani) elopes on her wedding day with her childhood friend Ratanlal (Hussain). Her father Manganlal chases the couple and catches them on a train. His furious exchanges with Ratanlal are interrupted by gunfire and in the mysterious gloom of the evening a body is thrown off the train. The suspects are Ratanlal, who cannot furnish an alibi, Kamala, who insists on being the murderess, ex-convict Sukhdev (Dev), who confesses to the murder claiming robbery to be the motive, and the lunatic Tarachand, who also admits his guilt.

Jeevan Natak (1935) The plot is set in two historical epochs, 1735 and 1935. The spirited Miss Queen (Khote), performing ina period play, recalls a previous incarnation when she was the actual person she is now acting on the stage. She inherited the throne because the state of Ranigarh had no constitutional heirs and her horoscope was deemed auspicious. Instead of being merely a figurehead, she opposes the corrupt minster Jairaj and army commander Mubarak (Pahelwan), she makes sure the royal court is accessible to the suffering people.

Joymati (1935) The Assamese cinema debut feature. Set in 17th-C. Assam, it tells of the sacrifice of Joymati, a medieval princess who is tortured and killed by the evil prime minister for refusing to betray her husband. The event is interpreted in contemporary patriotic terms and calls for a greater harmony between the people of the hills and the plains (the former represented by Dalimi, a Naga tribesman who shelters the fugitive Prince Gadapani).

Karwane Hayat (1935) Adventure movie featuring Saigal as the wild Pervez, heir to the throne of Kascand. In protest at the marriage with the princess (Rajkumari) of neighbouring Bijapore arranged by his mother (Zutshi) and the vizir (Hamid), he leaves and joins a band of traveling qypsies where Zarina (Rattan Bai) falls in love with him. The bad Tikkim, who wants to marry the princess himself, has her kidnapped by the qypsies. In the qypsy camp, Pervez sees her as a dancing girl.

Keemti Aansoo (1935) A tearful melodrama about a progressive writer, Pushpa (Gohar), and her weak husband, Kulin (Bilimoria). She has to fight her domineering mother-in-law and the tyrannies of a conservative household. When falsely accused of theft and infidelity by her wayward sister-in-law Gulab, Pushpa is forced out of the house. In her final state of penury, she recalls the examples of the great female Saint-Poets of Indian history, like Meerabhai. Secondary characters are used to caricature Bombay's merchant class, e.g. Mahatma Ramanand Adambar, a fortune-teller who suspects his wife of infidelity, and a gold collector called Prof. Pyarelal.

Khoon Ka Khoon (1935) Modi is Hamlet in this film version of the highly popular stage performance surrounded by the same principal cast: Banu as Ophelia, Shamshadbhai as Gertrude, etc. It is the story of prince Hamlet whose dead father comes back as a ghost to haunt Hamlet until he avenges his death. Hamlet is then on the horns of a dilemma as he ponders over his fate as his mother herself was involved in his father's assassination.

Manmoyee Girls School (1935) A comedy adapted from a successful play. The zamindar Damodar Chakraborty (Chakraborty) starts a school named after his wife and recruits a married couple as teachers. Manas (Ganguly in the role which had made him a stage star) and Niharika (Kanan Devi) pretend to be married in order to get the jobs. Their imposture, together with the fact that he is Hindu while she is Christian, produces complications

Nigah-e-Nafrat (1935) A melodrama about the rich and callous Vilas (Pendharkar), who abandons girlfriend Shama (Wadkar) whe he discovers that she is pregnant. She raises her son Nandu (Mainkar) with the help of her younger brother and the film's hero, Sanjeev (Vinayak). When Vilas re-enters their lives, it is with a new name, Ishwar, and with the intention of seducing the rich Princess Indira (Samarth) who loves Sanjeev. Ishwar has a bad accident and an attack of amnesia that also leads to a confession of his past deeds.

Shri Krishna Leelalu (1935) Playful mythological featuring the antics of the child Krishna (Rajeshwara Rao) from his birth to his victory over the evil Kamsa (Gaggaiah). It is the film debut of future composer Rajeshwara Rao and one of Gaggaiah's best-known films

Silver King (1935) One of the best-known costumed stunt movies of its time. The king of the idyllic royal state of Jayanagar is kidnapped by his wily commander (Yakub). Ajit, aka Silver King (Motilal), who leads a band of patriots, frees the king with the aid of the Princess Krishna (Sabita).

Thakicha Lagna (1935) A classic tragedy on alcoholism. The film version of the play 'Ekach Pyala' (1919) fields a variety of Maharashtrian rural comedy stereotypes: Nana, Balkya and Balakram use a number of ploys to arrange the marriage of Thaki, the virtually unmarriageable daughter of Timbunana.

Yasmin (1935) Adventure fantasy about an old man, Gias Baig (Manek) who wants his daughter Zubeida (Karnataki) to marry the rich merchant Shaukat (Mirza) although she loves Rashid (Siddiqui). Zubeida and Rashid plan to elope but are intercepted by Gias Baig who promptly dies of heart failure. Accused by Shaukat of murder, Rashid escapes to a gypsy camp where the beautiful Yasmin (Rattan Bai) entertains him, much to the envy of the gypsy chief Behram (Hamid). When Rashid is arrested, Yasmin's men rescue him and make him the new clan chief. Hamid (Alexander), a nomad who belongs to Yasmin's group, rescues Zubeida from Shaukat's clutches by killing the villain and bringing her to the camp. This creates a love triangle solved only when Yasmin sacrifices her life to save Rashid.


Achhut Kanya (1936) A circular story, told in flasback, in which eternal repetition is only interrupted by death in the form of a relentlessly linear railway engine. The film opens at a railway crossing where a man is about to kill his wife when the narrative spins into the past via a song. The central story is of the unhappy love affair between Kasturi (Devika Rani), the Harijan (Untouchable) daughter of the railway level-crossing guard Dukhia (Prasad), and Pratap (Kumar), the Brahmin son of the grocer Mohan (Pithawala). At first, rumour and mob violence are deployed to lethal effect in order to maintain a 'traditional', oppressive morality. Later, when the main protagonists are about to conform and marry selected partners, rumour and maliciousness again intervene to trigger renewed violence until the on-rushing train of fate stops the strife.

Amar Jyoti (1936) Adventure classic featuring Durga Khote's most memorable role as the pirate Queen Saudamini. Faced with extreme patriarchal laws in an ancient seaport kingdom and denied the legal custody of her infant son Sudhir, Saudamini becomes a pirate declaring war on the state, and especially on its tyrannical minister of justice, Durjaya (Chandramohan). She attacks a royal ship and captures Durjaya, inadvertently also taking Princess Nandini (Apte). In captivity, Durjaya declares his love for Nandini but she falls fir a shepherd boy (Nandrekar) who turns out to be Saudamini's long-lost son Sudhir. Durjaya's men then capture Saudamini and a palace intrigue ensues marked by her emancipatory rhetoric and the universal humanist arguments of her adviser Shekhar (Kale). Anasuya (1936) Ansuya was made and released by director C. Pulliah as a double bill with Dhruva (1936). It is two mythologicals made exclusively with children and tells the stories of Sati Ansuya and Bhakta Dhruva. In the former Sati Ansuya narrates her story to Seeta during Rama's banishment. Her chastity is questioned by the gods, but her devotion to her husband gives her the power to transform the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh into children and to stop the sun from rising for seven days

Balayogini (1936/I) A 'contemporary' setting story about a playboy being especially influential. A Brahmin widow (Chellam) and her daughter (Saroja) are cast out by wealthy relatives. She seeks shelter in the house of a low-caste servant, causing the enraged Brahmins of the village to set the servant's house on fire

Chhaya (1936/I) A celebrated melodrama. A bank employee who steals money to buy medicine for his dying wife is caught, jailed and dies of shame. His eldest son Prakash (Vinayak) publishes a poem in the very newspaper that publicized his father's crime. The judge (Hardikar) who convicted Prakash's father gives him a poetry prize and the judge's daughter Chhaya (Chitnis) happens to fall in love with him. But when she learnsof Prakash's family history, Chhaya allows her father and her suitor, Dr. Atul (Pendharkar), to accuse Prakash of molesting her and sends him to prison. Prakash's destitute sister Kala (Ratnaprabha) becomes a prostitute to pay for the younger brother Suman's (Marathe) medical bills levied by the ambitious Dr. Atul. Kala bears a child and has to kill it

Deccan Queen (1936) A full-scale stunt movie. The crooked trustees of Lala Niranjamal's estate try to eliminate its two heirs: the daughter (Aruna Devi) is jailed and the son becomes a penniless wanderer. When released, the daughter becomes the mysterious Deccan Queen, nemesis of evildoers. The plot gets complicated when a clerk in an insurance company, Vrinda (Aruna Devi again) , turns out to be the wanted woman's double. Vrinda falls in love with Inspector Suresh (Surendra), but then later so does the Deccan Queen. The triangle takes unusual turns when the queen impersonates Vrinda and demands that Suresh marry her at once

Devdas (1936) Devdas (Saigal/Barua), son of a zamindar, and Parvati (aka Paro)(Jamuna), his poor neighbour's daughter, are childhood sweethearts. Status and caste differences prevent their marriage and Devdas is sent to Calcutta while Paro is married off to an aged but rich widower. In Calcutta the hero meets the prostitute Chandramukhi (Rajkumari/Chandrabati Devi) but remorse drives him to alcohol and (after a long train journey in which he attempts to run away from himself) he comes to die in front of his true love's house.

Draupadi Manasamrakshanam (1936) A retelling of the Mahabharata episode in which Draupadi is publicly humiliated by the Kauravas. It occurs after Yudhisthara loses her in a game of dice to Duryodhana. As the Kauravas try to divest her of her clothes, she prays to Krishna. He comes to her aid by making her sari longer and longer.

Draupadi Vastrapaharanam (1936) This Mahabharata mythological was made to compete with Draupadi Manasamrakshanam. It depicts the episode from the Mahabharata in which Draupadi is publicly humiliated by the Kauravas. It occurs after Yudhisthara loses her in a game of dice to Duryodhana. As the Kauravas try to divest her of her clothes, she prays to Krishna. He comes to her aid by making her sari longer and longer.

Grama Kanya (1936) Well-known social film with a coincidence-ridden plot around the studio's star Sabita Devi. Hero Kumar (Surendra) studies at university with money borrowed by his poor father from Dinanath (Kayamali) who in return expects Kumar to marry his daughter Bansari (Sabita). Although he makes a city girl, Vilas (Aruna), pregnant, Kumar is forced to wed Bansari, which leaves Vilas at the mercy of the villainous Vinod (Yakub).

Grihadah (1936) The poor but educated Mahim and his childhood friend, the rich but conservative Suresh, both fall in love with the same woman, the liberated Achala. Mahim marries her and they move to a village but she cannot forget Suresh. Her smouldering unhappiness takes the form of a resentment towards the orphaned Mrinal, raised by Mahim's father, and receives a dramatically visual embodiment when their house burns down. Mahim falls ill, is rescued by Suresh and nursed back to health by Achala. On a train (a metaphor for the irreversibly linear course of life) to a health-resort where Mahim is supposed to convalesce, Suresh on a rainswept night gives in to temptation and elopes with Achala. At the end of the film, there is a dubious reconciliation as Achala is shown following Mahim's 'good' traditionalism with Saratchandra's barely concealed hostility towards Achala's liberated Brhamo Samaj upbringing.

Hamari Betiyan (1936) An epic drama idealizing Indian womanhood. Prince Madan (Kumar) loves university colleague Radha (Rose). The villain Lalsingh (Mubarak) and his sister Vasanthi (Pramila) get him banned from the realm by the king (Vyas), but he marries his beloved anyway. Radha's estranged mother (Jilloo) becomes a priestess distributing free grain. When Radha goes blind, she is abandoned by her husband and unknowingly meets her mother. An earthquake restores Radha's sight and allows her to find a buried treasure. Masquerading as the wealthy Princess Chandini, Radha teaches a lesson to all her tormentors, including the king, the prince and the villain.

Iru Sahodarargal (1936) The plot addresses the joint family system: two brothers Sabapati and Pasupati, and their wives fight over the family property. The happy resolution requires the introduction of an angel in the shape of a maid.

Jagran (1936) A melodrama about unemployment. Blackmailer Rasik (Nayampalli) is pitted against the good deads of Prof. Ramanand, who opens an ashram for the unemployed. The struggles of hero Narayan (Yagnik) and heroine Kokila (Rama Rau) and their tales of sacrifice and starvation before they are untied in the ashram, make up the bulk of the narrative. Janmabhoomi (1936) A nationalist rural drama. The plot has Ajau (Kumar) and his girl friend Protima (Devika Rani) working on behalf of Indian villagers, incurring the enmity of the local zamindar (Kaiser) and the villainous Sanatan (Pithawala). Ajay's relentless goodness eventually persuades the zamindar to bequeath his property to the hero, and general well-being reigns as class conflict is transmuted into class collaboration. The film includes the nationalist song 'Jai jai janani janmabhoomi' and other choruses with a similar thrust.

Jeevan Naya (1936) Lata (Devika Rani), daughter of a dancing girl, is brought up by social worker Mathuradas (Prasad) and is engaged to marry the rich Ranjit (Ashok Kumar) when the villain Chand (S.N. Tripathi) arrives to blackmail her with her undisclosed ancestry. Lata is forced to disclose the truth to Ranjit and the assembled wedding guests. Ranjit disowns her but they are reunited when Ranjit, blinded by an explosion, is nursed back to health by a devoted woman who turns out to be his wife.

Lagna Bandhan (1936) A period adventure with Motilal in a famous dual role. Judhajit (Sankatha), the outlawed brother of the king of Udayanagar, wants revenge on the royal family. He had left the palace with one of the king's twin sons who grew up as Indrajit, the twin of the drunken and debauched Prince Shatrujit (both Motilal) due to marry Princess Chanda (Sabita Devi). Indrajit is sent to kindnap her as part of the vendetta but the two fall in love. Shatrujit is too drunk to go through the marriage procedure and the dewan (Ansari) asks Indrajit to impersonate his brother.

Manmohan (1936) A social woman-centered film interrogating aspects of feudal patriarchy. The painter Ashok (Surendra) who loves the orphaned Vimala (Bibbo) is distressed to learn that she is due to marry Jagdish (Yakub). He paints Vimala's portraits with a frenzied obsession and becomes a famous artist. Paralleling this love story is the decline in Ashok's family fortunes

Manzil (1936) The poor but educated Mahim and his childhood friend, the rich but conservative Suresh, both fall in love with the same woman, the liberated Achala. Mahim marries her and they move to a village but she cannot forget Suresh. Her smouldering unhappiness takes the form of a resentment towards the orphaned Mrinal, raised by Mahim's father, and receives a dramatically visual embodiment when their house burns down. Mahim falls ill, is rescued by Suresh and nursed back to health by Achala. On a train (a metaphor for the irreversibly linear course of life) to a health-resort where Mahim is supposed to convalesce, Suresh on a rainswept night gives in to temptation and elopes with Achala. At the end of the film, there is a dubious reconciliation as Achala is shown following Mahim's 'good' traditionalism with Saratchandra's barely concealed hostility towards Achala's liberated Brhamo Samaj upbringing.

Maya (1936/I) Maya (Jamuna) is the poor cousin of rich socialite Shanta (Azoorie). Shanta is supposed to marry the equally rich Pratap (P. Sanyal), but he falls in love with Maya and fathers her child before going abroad. Shanta causes a seperation by intercepting Pratap's letters to Maya. When he returns, a successful lawyer, he us unable to trace her, while her efforts to meet him are foiled.

Miss Frontier Mail (1936) Savita (Nadia), aka Miss 1936, is an amateur hunter while her brother Jayant (jaidev, later a noted composer) is an amateur film-maker. Their father, Maganlal (Mohammed), arrested for the murder of a station-master, is defended by their unlce Shyamlal (Sayani), who is in fact the mysterious Signal X. Shyamlal causes a major train smash-up (convincingly shot with miniatures) so as to promote his new airline. He then implicates hero Sundar (Mansoor)l, son of the railway president, in the crime. Savita overcomes the nasty Signal X, whose henchmen are caught on film by Jayant as they sabotage a bridge. Nadia indulges in extensive fist-fights, set to heavy sound effects, and a famous battle alongside Sundar atop a moving train

Prabhu Ka Pyara (1936) A melodrama suggesting that atheism is not a desirable option. Heroine Kusum (Gohar), the daughter of atheist millionaire Gumanchand (Bawa), is forced on to the streets when her father is jailed for fraud. She eventually meets the rich Rasiklal (E. Bilimoria), joins the stage and encounters her father once more when he tries to save her from a fire. The atheist father invokes the Almighty to save his daughter, but although she is saved she loses her eyesight. Other factors include the God-fearing but crooked tutor Indulal (Sandow) who later turns into a nice man after all, and Padma (Khatun), who exploits Rasiklal's alcoholism to the benefit of her lover, Pyarelal.

Premavijayam (1936) Based on the director's original stage play and regarded as the first non-mythological Telegu film. This melodrama tells of two lovers who have to overcome parental obstruction to their eventual union. The film is sometimes seen as an early ancestor of the Rohini and Vauhini Telegu melodramas


Pujarin (1936) The wastrel Jibanananda (Saigal) marries Alaknanda (Chandra) for her money, but ends up falling in love with her. Wanted by the police, he has to abandon her only to reappear years later a wealthy man. He soon turns into an oppressive landlord and comes into conflict with the pujarin (priestess) of the local temple who leads a popular revolt against him. She turns out to be his wife. Eventually Jibanananda has a change of heart and the couple are reunited. Dey plays his usual role of a blind beggar. Rajput Ramani (1936) An adventure movie, set in a medieval Rajput court, mainly addresses Rajput notions of chivalry. The legendary warrior Mansingh (Phatak) is the nation's strong man but he is cordially hated even by his own people. Claiming to have been offended by Taramati (Tarkhad), he insists to her eminent father only a marriage (on terms insulting to her) can placate him. He becomes a tyrant imprisoning large numbers of people, and eventually Taramati's father, also in prison, leads a popular revolt, threatening to kill his son-in-law.

Romantic India (1936) Exotic adventure drama juxtaposing feudal pleasures with a new world imagery represented by American modernity. Heroine Chadrakala (Nurjehan), daughter of the dewan of a native king, is educated in England and lives in America. She refuses to marry the prince of her ancestral state, an insult that causes her father to be dismissed. She makes amends by disguising herself as a man and becoming the prince's secretary. A noted sequence set in America features an Indian pilot, Premsingh, who loves Chandrakala and offers to fly her entourage back to India in a Zeppelin, but mid-flight drama forces the passengers to parachute to safety.

Sampoorna Ramayanam (1936) This mythological features tales from the Ramayana. The film later acquired curiosity values for its primitive technique: workers from the Godavari canals were recruited to play Rama's (Kadaru Raju) monkey brigade; a train comes into a shot of Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana during their exile in the forest. It depicts the life of Rama, Seeta and Laksmana while they are exiled in the forest for 14 years. Seeta gets kidnapped by Ravana and is taken to Lanka. Rama and Lakshmana with the aid of Hanuman and his monkey army go after her to rescue her.

Samsara Nauka (1936) Melodrama adapted from a successful play. It introduces the theatre group's emphasis on reformist realism into Kannada cinema. Hero Sundhar (Panthulu) marries Sarala against the wishes of his grandfather and is disowned by his family. His troubles, which include harsh treatment by his in-laws and the loss of his job, climax when he is accused of having murdered Sushila, the woman his grandfather originally wanted him to marry.

Sant Tukaram (1936) This classic film chronicles the life of Tukaram (17th C.), one of Maharashtra's most popular saint poets, activating the 20th-C. resonances of his turning away from courtly Sanskrit towards vernacular rhythms of religious poetry which constituted the first major emancipatory movement against brahmanical caste domination. The episodic plot pits Tukaram (Pagnis) against the Brahmin Salomalo (Bhagwat), who pretends to be the true author of Tukaram's songs while calling for his ostracization

Sarala (1936) Melodrama warning women to be dutifully subordinated wives and not to be tempted by modernizing trends towards individual emancipation. The orphaned Sarala (Rattan Bai) is estranged from her loving husband Ramdas (Kumar) by the wiles of villain Avilash (Hafizji). She runs away and, following divine intervention in the form of an earthquake, escapes the villain's clutches.

Sipahi Ki Sajni (1936) Gohar-centered adventure movie. She is the ruthless Princess Hansa determined to acquire a treasure map from rival King Sujansingh (Bawa). She daringly steals the map but the king's misogynist son, Dilipsingh (Bilimoria), manages to get it back. Together they are caught by the outlaw Vijay (Ishwarlal) who also wants the treasure. The film was replete with sword fights, tribal magic and a horse battle at the end when Sujansingh attacks his former friend Vijay to find his imprisoned son.

Sonar Sansar (1936) A parable about human suffering and capitalist enterprise. The village headman has bandits attack the house of Ramesh to settle a feud. They kidnap the man's wife Roma, and abandon their infant son in the forest. Years later, Roma works as the nurse of a kind millionaire while the boy Raghunath shares a neighbourhood house with other unemployed youths who collectively dream of starting a soap factory. The father is a beggar on the streets. None of them know of each other's existence until circumstances bring the family together...

Sunehra Sansar (1936) A parable about human suffering and capitalist enterprise. The village head man has bandits attack the house of Ramesh to settle a feud. They kidnap the man's wife Roma, and abandon their infant son in the forest. Years later, Roma works as the nurse of a kind millionaire while the boy Raghunath shares a neighbourhood house with other unemployed youths who collectively dream of starting a soap factory. The father is a beggar on the streets. None of them know of each other's existence until circumstances bring the family together...



Anath Ashram (1937) Reformist melodrama about widow-remarriage. Jai Narain (Sethi), owner of a colliery, forms a happy family with his wife (Manorama), his daughter Saroj (Umasashi), son-in-law Kailash (T. Kapoor), an engineer at the colliery, and their son Nannha (Satu). Kailash dies in a colliery accident caused by Jai Narain. Nannha is sent to an orphanage and Saroj marries Ramesh, who loves her but is unaware of her previous marriage or of being a stepfather, while Saroj misses her dead husband and longs for her absent son. A former suitor, Ranjit (P. Kapoor) appears, knowing her past history. Repeated scenes show Nannha pining for his mother

Ambikapathy (1937) The 2nd major South Indian historical. Set in the year 1083 A.D. it tells of the poet Kambar (Sama) who wrote the 'Kambaramayana' in Tamil at Karikala Chola's court. The film opens with the victorious return of Kulothunga Chola to the city of Woriur. There is a love story between the poet's son, Ambikapathy (Bhagavathar) and the Princess Amaravathy (Santhanalakshmi). However, class distinctions are maintained as the young lover fails the test of will imposed by the king as a precondition for the marriage

Alibaba (1937) Based on the 'Arabian Nights', this film tells of the Baghdadi woodcutter Alibaba (M. Bose) and his magic 'Open Sesame' formula; of the hero's jealous brother Kasim and the slave girl Marjina (S. Bose). The film adapts the 1897 play, giving it a Hollywood-derived exotic flavour. An improvised 'modern' dance is inserted. The slow, mannered acting with the frontally framed tableau shots are enlivened by the dance scenes, especially the Marjina-Abdallah sequence

Bidyapati (1937) Classic celebration of Mithila's King Shiva Singha's (Bannerjee/Kapoor) love for his wife while chronicling the influence of the pacifist court poet Bidyapati (Sanyal). Invited to the royal court by the king, Bidyapati arrives with his faithful follower Anuradha (Kanan Devi). Queen Laxmi (Chhaya Devi) falls in love with the poet, much to the distress of the king. The king falls ill and starts neglecting his royal duties until Anuradha persuades him that true love does not need reciprocation. The queen, equally distressed by her divided loyalties, contemplates suicide, encouraged by the prime minister who is worried by the nefarious impact of Bidyapati's poetry on the king. Both the king and queen sacrifice their lives before the statue of the god Vishnu who appears to weep at the tragedy.

Dharmaveer (1937/I) The hypocritically pious philanthropist Dinanath (Pendharkar) drinks alcohol claiming it to be holy water, womanizes and swindles people in private. He is contrasted with common man Jagadish (Vinayak), abused by all for having failed his matriculation exam eight times and who is loved by the poor flower-girl Kasturi (Ratnaprabha). Jagadish eventually becomes the instrument for the public exposure of Dinnanath which makes him a popular hero. He remains unaffected by this turn of events and remains Kasturi's faithful admirer

Didi (1937) A famous Saigal musical narrating a strange love story set against 1930s industrialization and worker-management relations. The 16-year-old Prabhavati (Chandarbati Devi/Kumari) inherits a mill and turns it into an extremely profitable enterprise. Prakash (Saigal) is a worker who designs a more efficient machine for the factory for which he first gets sacked and then is re-employed. He falls in love with Prabhavati's sister Sheila (Desai), who later makes way for Prabhavati who is also in love with Prakash. Her withdrawal distresses Prakash, causing her to bully the workers who then go on strike Duniya Na Mane (1937) Neera [Marathi]/Nirmala [Hindi](Apte) is trapped into marrying the old widower Kakasaheb (Date). He is a progressive lawyer with a son and a daughter of Neera's age. She refuses to consummate the union, claiming repeatedly that while suffering can be borne, injustice cannot. After facing many hurdles including an aunt (Vasishta), her mother-in-law, and a lascivious stepson Pandit[M]/Jugal[H] (Nene), her husband has a change of heart and magnanimously commits suicide, enjoining Neera to marry someone more suitable. The change occurs mainly through his widowed daughter Chitra[M]/Sushila[H] (Paranjpye, a noted social worker off screen) who provides a forcefully feminist movement in a speech to the young bride.

Hurricane Hansa (1937) Hansa (Nadia), daughter of Veer Singh (Mohammed), escapes an attack on her family by the villain Zalim Singh (Sayani) in which her mother is killed, her father injured and her sister Padma (Husn Banu) abducted. Growing up as a Harijan (an untouchable) she transforms the word to 'Hurricane', dons a mask and overthrows Zalim. She falls in love with Zalim's good son Diler (Mansoor). The horse Punjab-Ka-Beta features in its usual key role, rescuing Hansa when she hangs from a cliff, leaping over a wall of fire and aiding the love angle by nudging Diler into the pond where Hansa is having a bath.

Jagirdar (1937) Bibbo is Neela and Surendra plays Jagirdar Surendra. They secretly marry and have a child. When Jagirdar is presumed dead in a shipwreck, the child is considered illegitimate. The poor peasant Shripat (Pande) helps Neela by marrying her and raising her son Ramesh (Motilal). The husband eventually returns and violently quarrels with Shripat about who 'owns' Neela. When the villain Banwarilal kills Shripat, the husband is framed for the killing. The real problem, however, is the son's rejection of his father, solved when together they face the gangsters in Narayanlal's (Yakub) den.

Jeevan Prabhat (1937) In this tale of rural caste divisions, polygamy is added to the theme in this story of Uma (Devika Rani), born in an orthodox Brahmin family. To the despair of her parents she values her friendship with low-caste potters. Especially with Ranu (Sahu). When she marries Nandlal (Ali), a man from her own caste, her potter friends are happy for her - until they learn that Nandlal is taking a second wife, Padma, with Uma's consent. The problem is that Uma is thought to be infertile. Uma returns to her parents' home mainly because Nandlal is paying no attention to his new wife, and when she returns she meets Ramu again. Nandlal overhears a conversation between Ramu and Uma and, when Uma suddenly discovers that she is pregnant after all, he doubts her fidelity.

Kanhopatra (1937) Pendharkar's social film deals with a prostitute who decides to rebel against tradition and the individuals who oppress her. Society, represented by encounters with a variety of males, makes it virtually impossible for her to maintain her dignity. The film was admired for its colloquial language.

Kisan Kanya (1937) Rural crime drama featuring an exploitative landlord (Gani) and a good peasant Ramu (Nissar) who is accused of murdering the landlord. Remembered mainly for being one of India's first colour films, using the Cinecolour process imported by Imperial.

Minnalkodi (1937) Left fatherless and swindled by a nasty uncle, young Mohini (Rukmini) and her servant (Coco) come across the injured dacoit Minnalkodi. When he dies, Mohini takes on his identity and becomes a feared Robin-Hood type figure pursued by Inspector Jayakumar (Srinivasa Rao) who falls in love with her, reforms and marry her.

Mohini Rugmangada (1937) Proselyting mythological advocating the ekadashi 'vrat' (a ritual fast on the 11th day of the lunar month). Strongly promoted, it claimed to bring a new variety to Telugu cinema, featuring scenes from heaven (Brahmalok) and hell (Yamalok), 'moulded strictly according to ancient traditions'. Narada (T. Ramakrishna Sastry), playing Narada, sings his musical forte, Tarangini, with the numbers 'Ehi mudam dehi' and 'Veekshe kada devadevam' in the traditional style

Mukti (1937/II) This classic adultery story tells of an artist, Prasanta (Barua) presented in the stereotypically romantic image: dedicated to his vocation, paying no heed to his scandalous reputation (he paints nude models) and with a cavalier attitude to his conservative father-in-law's (Choudhury) demands for a good social behaviour. He is married to the rich Chitra (Kanan Devi). The couple are in love but neither partner is prepared to compromise their ideals. The marriage falls apart. Prasanta concedes his wife's demand for a divorce and goes to the jungles of Assam, where for many years his closest associates are a wild elephant and Jharna (Menaka), the wife of an innkeeper named Pahari (P. Mullick). He also makes a sworn enemy of a local trader (Nawab/A. Mullick). Chitra marries the millionaire Bipul (Mukherjee) and they go an elephant hunt. They kill Prasanta's pet elephant. Since Chitra believes Prasanta to be dead he avoids meeting her, but is forced to rescue her from the villainous trader.. Prasanta succeeds but dies at Chitra's feet. The film interprets his death as Chitra's final achievement of the freedom she had craved. Barua contrasts the regressive story presented as static and unresolved, both as narrative and as performance, with a hyperactive environment that overwhelms the trivial nature of the lead couple's desires

Pratibha (1937/I) The poet Prasad (K. Date) lives far from the city in a forest, enjoying only the company of his wife Pratibha (Khote). The court poet Kaveeshwar (Phatak) of a neighbouring kingdom discovers Prasad's poetry and, more importantly, his beautiful wife, and invites them to his palace, promising fame and glory. Against Pratibha's advice, Prasad succumbs to temptation, only to see his work plagiarized and his wife harassed.

Rajamohan (1937) Stagey musical reform melodrama. When a poor mother, a vegetable vendor, becomes too frail to work, the hero Mohan (Kesavan), drops out of school and becomes a proofreader of a popular journal. Mohan falls in love with the proprietor's daughter, Rajam, and ends up as editor. When the proprietor is killed, Mohan is accused...

Savitri (1937) Unusual mythological. The love story from the 'Mahabharata', features Devika Rani as the heroine born through divine benediction to Ashwapati, and Ashok Kumar as Satyavan, son of an exiled and blinded hermit. Although Satyavan is scheduled to die soon, Savitri marries him and eventually propitiates Yama, the god of death, to return Satyavan's life and to restore her father-in-law's sight.

Vidyapati (1937) Classic celebration of Mithila's King Shiva Singha's (Kapoor) love for his wife while chronicling the influence of the pacifist court poet Vidyapati (Sanyal). Invited to the royal court by the king, Vidyapati arrives with his faithful follower Anuradha (Kanan Devi). Queen Laxmi (Chhaya Devi) falls in love with the poet, much to the distress of the king. The king falls ill and starts neglecting his royal duties until Anuradha persuades him that true love does not need reciprocation. The queen, equally distressed by by her divided loyalties, contemplates suicide, encouraged by the prime minister who is worried by the nefarious impact of Vidyapati's poetry on the king.

Wahan (1937) This film mixes baroque period movie style with the primitivist iconography of Hollywood's biblical epics. The setting vaguely evokes an ancient Aryan society ruled by Kodandavarma (Chandramohan), a dictator committed to the ideals of Aryan justice. A stone statue of Justice collapses, threatening to crush many slaves. The situation is saved by the youthful Jeevan (Prahlad), the king of an aboriginal tribe. Jeevan then falls in love with Princess Jayanthi (Chitnis). Although mainly a romance, the film also addresses ideals of justice and morality. Its key characters include the villainous vice boss Madhuvrat (Chhotu) who plots against Kodandavarma and entraps Uttam (Ulhas), the designated heir to the throne, and the dancing girl Lata (Apte) who is forced to seduce Uttam so as to alleviate the slaves' suffering.



Adhikar (1938) Melodrama about lineage and property questions. Nikhilesh (Barua) loves heiress Indira (Jamuna). A poor orphan girl, Radha (Menaka Devi), arrives claiming to be Indira's stepsister and therefore part inheritor of the family estate. Indira agrees to share her inheritance but then Radha makes a play for Nikhilesh. Ultimately, Radha turns out to be the real and sole heir. Love proves to be stronger than material possession as Indira and Nikhilesh get married and Radha finds happiness with Ratan, a man she had known and loved during her days of poverty. As each character returns to the class of his/her birth, the message hammered home is a warning to people never to transcend their social status.


Abhagin (1938) A tenant attacks the villainous landlord Jawaharlal Choudhry (Nemo), injures his son Priyalal (Kumar) and abducts his daughter-in-law Sandhya (Molina Devi). Sandhya escapes unharmed to her relative, the engineer Praksh (B. Kapoor), but her father-in-law refuses to take her back, believing her to be 'damaged goods'. Sheltered by the kindly Promode (P. Kapoor), her husband eventually accepts her back although she feels torn between affection for her saviour and her marital obligations. Abhilasha (1938) Postman Shishir (Kumar) is obsessed by the desire to own a car. He meets the crook Vinod (Yakub) who promises him a car if he will become his accomplice. The film includes a character named Devdas (Advani) obsessed with violins, who provokes the failure of Vinod's plot to have Shishir framed for the murder of Sushila (Bibbo).

Baghban (1938) The naïve Saroop (Nandrekar) romantically renounces earthly pleasures under the influence of a sadhu (Ashraf Khan). Arrested at a fairground and jailed, fellow convicts change his view of the world. Working in the prison's garden, he meets the superintendent Sohanlal's (Nazir) daughter Durga (Kumari), who was married as a child to a boy now believed dead. Ranjit (Singh) covets her and on her wedding day to the nasty Ranjit, it is discovered that Saroop was her child-husband.

Balan (1938) Described as the first Malayalam sound film. The story features the struggles of two orphaned children, Balan and his younger sister, oppressed and exploited by an evil stepmother until they are rescued by a kindly lawyer. The evil stepmother takes over the property of her spineless husband.

Bhukailasa (1938) Ravana, king of Lanka, propitiates the god Shiva and, when he wins a boon, claims in return the latter's phallic powers and his consort Parvati. Narada tells Ravana that the Parvati who has been sent is merely a shadow of the goddess. Ravana marries Mandodhiri believing her to be Parvati, but he is condemned by his mother Kaikasi. As for the 'atma-linga', the symbol of Shiva's magical powers, it is donated on condition that it never be set down on earth.

Brahmachari (1938/I) This film addresses the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu organization emphasizing celibacy and discipline, which became the power base of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). An ordinary young man Audumbar (Vinayak), inspired by a militant lecture on bachelorhood and nationalism by the Deshbhakta Jatashankar (Javdekar), renounces sexual desire, throws away his collection of movie star posters, starts exercising his muscles in the tradition of Hanuman's disciples and joins the Self-Help Institute of the Acharya Chandiram (Malvankar). All his discipline comes to naught in the face of Kishori (Meenakshi).

Desher Mati (1938) Ashok (Saigal) goes to a village, mobilises the peasants, fights the oppression of the village head-man and achieves bumper crops. Childhood friend Ajoy (Sethi) goes to England to study mining technology and is determined to make a success of a mining project in the rural area where Ashok is working. Each has radically different ideas about what is best for an independent nation. Ajoy's sister Protibha (Kumari), who loves Ashok, secretly finances Ajoy's rural modernization endeavours. Ajoy, unaware of this, falls in love with Gauri (Umasashi), daughter of the social outcaste Kunja (Dey). When Ajoy returns from England, he discovers that the best coal-fields lie directly beneath Ashok's land. The crisis is manifested in a drought that threatens to destroy Ashok's work and prove Ajoy's contentions right.

Dharti Mata (1938) Ashok (Saigal) goes to a village, mobilises the peasants, fights the oppression of the village head-man and achieves bumper crops. Childhood friend Ajoy (Sethi) goes to England to study mining technology and is determined to make a success of a mining project in the rural area where Ashok is working. Each has radically different ideas about what is best for an independent nation. Ajoy's sister Protibha (Kumari), who loves Ashok, secretly finances Ajoy's rural modernization endeavours. Ajoy, unaware of this, falls in love with Gauri (Umasashi), daughter of the social outcaste Kunja (Dey). When Ajoy returns from England, he discovers that the best coal-fields lie directly beneath Ashok's land. The crisis is manifested in a drought that threatens to destroy Ashok's work and prove Ajoy's contentions right.

Duniya Kya Hai (1938) Lalita Pawar stars as a mistreated orphan called Lalita in this rare example of a melodrama drawn from a non-Indian literary source. Madhav (Kale), the son of the family, impregnates Lalita and promises to marry her on his return from Bombay. Years later, Madhav returns married, and refuses to recognize her. To feed her son, Lalita becomes a prostitute and is accused of a murder that takes place in the brothel. The prosecutor turns out to be Madhav

Gopal Krishna (1938/I) This mythological tells of the playful child Krishna (Marathe) and his battle against the evil King Kamsa (Ganpatrao) who rules the city of Gokul. The stories, mainly from the popular 'Bhagvat' and 'Vishnu Purana', also show Krishna vanquishing Keshi (Haribhau), Kamsa's general who arrives in disguise to capture him. Finally, when Kamsa unleashes rain and flood over the city (in a departure from the original legend where Indra caused the natural disaster), Krishna raises the mountain Govardhan over the people to protect them.

Gramophone Singer (1938) This musical tells of a love triangle involving the famous gramaphone singer Sundardas (Surendra) who is happily married to Mohini (Prabha), and the even more popular singer Tilottama (Bibbo). Tilottama falls in love with Sundardas' voice and wants them to sing a duet and have an affair. Ghosh Babu (Advani) is the manager of the record label.

Grihalakshmi (1938) The film tells of the decadent dancer, Madhuri (Kanchanmala), who seduces the upright Dr. Krishna Rao (Ramanujachari) into leaving his good wife Radha (Kannamba). The doctor becomes an alcoholic and is framed for the murder of Vishwasa Rao, the trustee of his father's estate. Krishna Rao's brother-in-law Gopinath (Nagaiah) helps the hero and later offers shelter to a destitute Radha. Radha has a scuffle with Madhuri, falls down the stairs and becomes mentally unbalanced, ending up waling the streets of Madras denouncing god, truth and justice.

Hum Tum Aur Woh (1938) This film presents the autonomous passion of Leela (Rose) for Moti (Motilal) who is promised to another woman, Bina (Maya). Leela is portrayed as irresponsible and impulsive as she acknowledges her desire for Moti and has a child by him. Bina then releases Moti from his promise. Moti suffers when he is told by Bina's father (Sankantha) that she is dead...

Jailor (1938/I) Modi's first psychodramatic role as a liberal man becoming a tyrannical jailer. He loses his wife to a lover who then goes blind. The jailer locks up his wife, Kanwal, in their own home, forbidding any contact with their child, Bali. Later the jailer himself falls in love with a blind woman.

Jiban Maran (1938) Mohan (Saigal), a radio singer, and Kedar (Najam), a doctor, both love Geeta (Desai). Mohan falls ill and makes way for Kedar, who eventually marries Geeta. After wandering in a delirium, Mohan is admitted to a sanatorium where he is cured of TB. He is then employed in the same institution. In a campaign to set up more sanatoria, Mohan agrees to sing on the radio (the film's hit song 'Pankhi aaj kon katha koi') to raise funds while Kedar persuades Geeta to give a dance recital. Geeta hears Mohan's broadcast and rushes to him followed by Kedar. To heighten the emotions for the climax of the story, Geeta has a bad accident and is admitted to the very sanatorium where Mohan works

Kambar (1938) Saint Film on the legend of Kamban, the 9th-C. Tamil poet who left the Chola court to become a wanderer and composed the Tamil classic 'Kambaramayana'. The film's major attraction was the starring actor Bhagavathar's music.

Malapilla (1938) This film tells of a Harijan woman (Kanchnmala) who falls in love with a Brahmin Nagaraju (Gali Venkateshwara Rao) in a direct critique of exploitative Brahmin rituals. The musical hit included songs like 'Nallavade golla pillavade' and 'Aa mubbu ee mubbu'. Addressing the problem of caste, a major issue in South Indian politics, it was dedicated to the maharajah of Travancore who had passed a law allowing members of all castes to enter temples

Mazha Mulga (1938) Radical journalist Diwakar (Modak) runs a printing press and edits a newspaper, much to the disapproval of his authoritarian middle-class father who believes that all respectable youths should get a job and settle down. Diwakar's scheming politician friend Vithalrao (Thegadi) incites a strike and acquires the press and the paper with the help of Diwakar's father, causing Diwakar to leave home in disgust. His rich girlfriend Nalini (Hublikar) also enters politics, first on the side of the corrupt Vithalrao, then campaigning for Diwakar who represents the slum-dwellers for the municipal elections. Although Diwakar's father campaigns on behalf of Nalini, she tells people not to vote for her but to elect Diwakar instead

Mera Ladka (1938) Radical journalist Diwakar (Modak) runs a printing press and edits a newspaper, much to the disapproval of his authoritarian middle-class father who believes that all respectable youths should get a job and settle down. Diwakar's scheming politician friend Vithalrao (Thegadi) incites a strike and acquires the press and the paper with the help of Diwakar's father, causing Diwakar to leave home in disgust. His rich girlfriend Nalini (Hublikar) also enters politics, first on the side of the corrupt Vithalrao, then campaigning for Diwakar who represents the slum-dwellers for the municipal elections. Although Diwakar's father campaigns on behalf of Nalini, she tells people not to vote for her but to elect Diwakar instead.

Mohini Bhasmasura (1938) Mythological about the demon Bhasmasura who comes to earth armed with a boon from Shiva and causes mayhem. The demon is indestructible until Vishnu confronts him. Vishnu appears in the guise of a divine beauty, Mohini (Pushpavalli), who brings about the demon's self-destruction.

Nandakumar (1938/III) This mythological features the birth, childhood and early antics of Krishna (Mahalingam). Krishna dance on Kalyamardhanam. He finally gets to fight with his uncle Kamsa and kills him. There are several miracle scenes with special effects

Sarbajanin Bibahotsab (1938) The story features five couples: stage actor Bimal is loved by actress Chameli but prefers Kamala. When Kamal announces her marriage with Pranandhan, Chameli disguises herself and tries to implicate Pranadhan in a scandal. He escapes by disguising himself as an old man, but winds up in the clutches of Banalata.

Seva Sadan (1938) The film deals with prostitution and women's emancipation. It has a strong political thrust despite being a musical. The plot has strong feminist views. Sitalakshmi, a Brahmin widow, played 'herself' as Gundamma, a widow who goes mad, and was especially popular

Sitara (1938) Romantic drama set in a fantasy version of a gypsy camp telling of an amorous rivalry spanning two generations. Azurie (Rattan Bai) marries Zamorra (Jamshedji) rather than his rival Eureka (Mubarak). Later, Zamorra accuses his wife of adultery with his rival and she dies in the 'dance of death' inflicted on her as punishment. Her infant daughter Sitara (Khursheed), abandoned in the forest, grows up as the adopted daughter of Suresh but is unable to reconcile her gypsy habits with bourgeois society: she paints canvases with titles like 'Gypsy Blood'. She unknowingly gets embroiled in the ancestral rivalry when Eureka's wild son Tanzi (Nazir) falls in love with her and kidnaps her. The brutal tactic works and she marries him, which also leads her to discover her own ancestry.

Street Singer (1938/II) The film's story tells of two childhood friends, Bhulwa (Saigal) and Manju (Kanan Devi), who grow up to become street singers in Calcutta. Bhulwa dreams of becoming a stage star but it is Manju who succeeds. At the height of her fame Manju almost forgets Bhulwa until at the end - in an obviously symbolic landscape (literally showing a boat washed ashore in a storm) the two are united.

Talaaq (1938) A psychodrama condemning the divorce law as iniquitous to Hinduism. Roopa (Banu), wife of politician Niranjan (Yagnik), leaves her husband to fight for more progressive divorce laws. She is helped for exploitative reasons by Chhabilelal (Jagirdar), the editor of the radical journal 'Aandhi'. Roopa gets her divorce but is disillusioned by her legal achievement when Amarnath (Adib), whom she marries, uses the same law against her. Niranjan rescues and falls in love with the married Shanta (Sheela); since he does not approve of the divorce law, they cannot marry

Watan (1938) Ostensibly a Central Asian war fantasy about a conflict between the Cossacks and the Tartars, a tale that advocates national independence. The Cossacks are oppressed by the despotic Russian king (Siddiqui) and his minister Jabir (Kayamali), who has Tartar blood in him. General Murad (Kumar) covertly sides with the opposition, gets arrested for treason and escapes. He meets the wild Gulnar (Sitara Devi) and gets her to spy as a maid of Princess Nigar (Bibbo). Nigar falls for Murad and Gulnar withdraws from the scene for the sake of her nation




Balaji (1939) A mythological about the deity at Tirupati, notorious as India's richest temple shrine. The film featured Pulliah's wife as the consort of 'Lord of the Seven Hills', Venkateswara (Anjaneyulu). The film depicts the life of Shri Venkateswara one of the gods of the Hindu Trinity. He has to return to earth to get married to Padmavati. They have the most lavish wedding in the 3 worlds. Money is borrowed from Kubera, the money lender of the gods. The temple at Tirupati was built in honour of Shri Venkateswara and to this day his devotees are repaying the loan by donations.

Badi Didi (1939) Suren (P. Sanyal), prevented by his family from pursuing a university career, leaves home and becomes a tutor to Pramila (Zainab). He falls in love with her widowed elder sister Madhavi (Molina Devi) who, although returning his love, has him sacked to save the situation. Years later, Suren becomes a big zamindar and, unknown to him, Madahvi is one of his tenants, suffering under the oppression of his staff, a plot device providing ample opportunities for emotional drama about how 'traditional' social conventions lay waste to people's lives.

Adhuri Kahani (1939) The educated and liberal Harbala (Khote) is oppressed by her conservative husband Seth Gopaldas (Date). Determined that her children Somnath (Kapoor) and Neelam (Rose) shall lead freer lives, she is frustrated by Gopaldas' authoritarian traditionalism and commits suicide. Neelam and Somanth, haunted by guilt, join her in death. The film leaves open the possibility that in the future a less oppressive society will be achieved: literally translated, the title means 'The Unfinished Tale'.

Admi (1939) A love tragedy featuring a policeman, Moti (Modak) and a prostitute, Kesar (Hublikar). Moti saves Kesar from a police raid on a brothel and they fall in love. Her reputation and sense of guilt resist his attempts to rehabilitate her. Moti's respectable middle-class mother (Sundarabai) symbolizes all that Kesar would like to be, but she is arrested for murdering her evil uncle and refuses Moti's offer to release her from prison.

Brandichi Batli (1939) The naively innocent bachelor Bagaram (Malvankar/Vinayak), a clerk in a municipal office, has to find some brandy to restore the ill son of his boss, who is also the brother of Malati (Meenakshi), whom he secretly loves. Not knowing what brandy is, Bagaram gets embroiled in adventures, including a famous scene in a crowded bar. He eventually procures a bottle but his beloved persists in regarding him merely as a 'brother'.

Devata (1939) Sushila (Wadkar), marries an old widower, Dasapont (Salvi), in order to pay for her younger brother's education. Dasapont already has a son, the social worker and professor Ashok (Pendharkar), who is horrified at his father's decision and begs Sushila to reconsider, but she marries the old man anyway. Sushila later admits to Ashok (now her stepson) that it was a mistake, and when she has to take refuge in his room to escape from her husband she is accused of adultery with Ashok, who then becomes a social outcast to the distress of his girlfriend Pushpa (Meenakshi). Sushila leaves having written letters explaining all to Ashok and Pushpa. Years later she is heard singing on a radio station.

Durga (1939) Rural melodrama about Durga (Devika Rani), an adolescent child of nature, living with her aged mother Heera. Unable to get the medicine required to prevent her mother's death, one misfortune after another befalls the heroine in spite of the sympathies of the newly arrived village doctor, Jawahar (Shukul).

Ek Hi Raasta (1939) The orphan and shipwreck survivor Raja (Arjun) works as a coolie forming a trio of friends with Mangoo (Sheikh Mukhtar), a pickpocket, and Vithal (Mohan), a hansom cab driver. Mala (Anuradha) and her father (Gani) come to the city where she is kidnapped by Banke (Kanhaiyalal) and sold to a rich man while her father accuses Mangoo of theft. Mangoo kills the father. Mala escapes and finds shelter with Raja, with whom she falls in love. The problem with the trio increase when they enlist in the army for WW2. The film opposes religious faith to atheistic fatalism (the latter exemplified by Mangoo whose mother dies in accident and he becomes a killer) and dares to present a couple openly living together as Mala stubbornly rejects the pressures of her stepmother (Devi) and her villainous cousin Madan (A. Banbasi).

Jawani Ki Reet (1939) The lawyer Bholanath Roy adopts Anita (Kanan Devi) who grows up into a beautiful and fashionable teenager. She meets Dilip, the lawyer's estranged son, working on a flood-relief programme and they fall in love. Their lineage problems (she does not know hers, he keeps his a guilty secret) are solved when Bholanath dies, leaving his estate to Dilip and thus rehabilitating him as well as their relationship.

Jayapradha (1939) Rather than resorting to violence to defend his country, the peace-loving Emperor Pururava leaves his palace with his wife Jayapradha and his two sons. The royal couple attempt manual labour, which is abhorrent to the wife, and face the evil machinations of the merchant Navakoti Narayana Shetty. When Shetty captures and tries to molest Jayapradha, his house is accidentally set on fire

Kangan (1939) The love story between between the beautiful village belle Radha (Chitnis) and Kamal (Kumar), the son of the village zamindar who wants to be a great poet. The zamindar sends his son to the city where Kamal becomes a noted novelist and playwright while Radha is persecuted by the zamindar and his henchmen Banwari. She feigns suicide but in fact goes to join her beloved in the city (on the same train as the now repentant father). When she eventually reaches Kamal's house, she hears him declaring his love to a woman. Unaware that he is merely reading lines from his latest play

Malli Pelli (1939) Reformist melodrama about widow remarriage. Villain Janardhanarao Panthulu has his 6-year-old daughter Lalitha married to an old man who dies shortly after. Lalitha (Kanchanmala) is brought up by her father under the strictures of widowhood. She meets the reformist Sundarrao (Y.V. Rao) who eventually defies tradition and marries her. The first instance of Telegu cinema of the use of playback

Manoos (1939) A love tragedy featuring a policeman, Ganpat (Modak) and a prostitute, Mainal (Hublikar). Ganpat saves Maina from a police raid on a brothel and they fall in love. Her reputation and sense of guilt resist his attempts to rehabilitate her. Ganpat's respectable middle-class mother (Sundarabai) symbolizes all that Maina would like to be, but she is arrested for murdering her evil uncle and refuses Ganpat's offer to release her from prison.

Mathru Bhoomi (1939) A nationalist allegory about an Indian king's resistance to Alexander the Great. Greek general Seleucus Nicator, her called Minander (C.S.D. Singh), is left in charge by Alexander. He is opposed by Ugrasen (Santhanam), the king of Udaygiri and the founder (321 B.C.) of the Maurya dynasty. Minander's daughter Helen (Rajalakshmi) falls in love with the king and eventually marries him after Minander has been defeated and returns to Greece. The real heroine is Kumudini, as a fiercely loyal nationalist character, who throws out her husband Jayapala (Santhanam again, in a dual role) when she learns that he is a Greek spy. Her brother is Prathapan (Chinnappa).

Navjeevan (1939) A musical fantasy. Although Mahendra (Shukul), belongs to a clan of proud warriors, he is a hypochondriac. This poses a problem when he woos Menaka (Wadkar) who is fixated on swash-buckling heroics and appears more impressed with Mahendra's rival Jeevan. The 'hero' overcomes his cowardice by taking a magic pill and dreaming that he is his own ancestor, overthrowing a band of robbers (led by Jeevan) and rescuing the damsel (Menaka). The enacted dream, which occupies most of the film's 2nd half, transforms the hero

Netaji Palkar (1939) A major Maratha historical focusing on Shivaji. The villainous Subedar of Kalyan, in his effort to defeat 17th C. Maratha emperor Shivaji, abducts a Maratha damsel (Pawar). However, Shivaji and his trusted lieutenant, the equally legendary Netaji Palkar, overcome this threat.

Parajay (1939) The lawyer Bholanath Roy adopts Anita (Kanan Devi) who grows up into a beautiful and fashionable teenager. She meets Dilip, the lawyer's estranged son, working on a flood-relief programme and they fall in love. Their lineage problems (she does not know hers, he keeps his a guilty secret) are solved when Bholanath dies, leaving his estate to Dilip and thus rehabilitating him as well as their relationship

Pukar (1939) Set at the court of the harsh Mughhal Emperor Jehangir (Chandramohan), the film tells two separate love stories: the first of Mangal Singh (Ali) and Kanwar (Sheela) amid the violent feud raging between their families, and the second, the famous one of Jehangir and Nurjehan (Banu). Mangal kills the brother and father of his lover. His father, the loyal Rajput chieftain Sangram Singh (Modi), captures his son and Jehangir passes the death sentence. Jehangir's claim that the law knows no class distinction is put on the test when a washerwoman (Akhtar) accuses Queen Nurjehan of having inadvertently killed her husband during a hunt. Jehangir offers his own life but the washerwoman magnanimously forgives him.

Raitu Bidda (1939) A seminal reformist melodrama critiquing the zamindari system from the viewpoint of the Kisan Sabha agitations in A.P. Small-time landowner Narsi Reddy (Raghawan) borrows money from a shavukar [money-lender (Raghavan)] who represents the major zamindar (Sitapathy) of the village. When Narsi Reddy votes for a peasant candidate (Kosaraju) rather than for the political party supported by the landlord, his son is attacked and he is publicly humiliated

Rajat Jayanti (1939) The simple-minded Rajat (Barua) loves neighbour Jayanti (Menaka Devi). He is advised on how to court her by his streetsmart cousin Bishwanath (Sanyal) and Bishwanath's friend Samir (Bannerjee). Bishwanath and Samir try to get Rajat's miserly guardian Bagalcharan (Choudhury) to loan them money so that Samir can make a 'European-style art film'. The guardian is admitted to the clinic of a doctor Gajanan where he falls into the clutches of two professional crooks Natoraj (Indu Mukherjee) and Supta (Molina Devi). Supta wants Rajat and they try to kidnap her...

Sach Hai (1939) A melodrama set in the holy city of Benares exploiting issues of caste status. Chandan (Motilal) is the son of Kashipati, the head of an influential brahminical sect. His hedonistic brother Shripati (Sethi) wants to get his hands on the sect's assets while the evil Guru (Choube) - who publicly opposes Chandan's rebellions against traditional casteism - wants to abduct the poor Mangala (Chandani), daughter of a blind traveler. Chandan's declared love for Roopa (Rose), an Untouchable woman, causes major consternation. Adding to the drama is a scene of the flooding river, perceived as a kind of divine judgment for all the misdeeds in the name of religion

Sant Tulsidas (1939/I) Big-budget miracle-laden saint film on Tulsidas (16th C). who rewrote Valmiki's 'Ramayana' in Hindi. To the despair of his teacher Narahari Guru (Sohoni), who hopes that Tulsidas (Pagnis) will make the classic text accessible to the people, the poet spends time with his beloved wife Ratnavali (Chitnis). The dramatic pivot of the story comes when Tulsidas discovers his life's vocation amid howling wind and a river in spate. He becomes an ascetic and settles down in Benares where his translation threatens the brahmanical clergy, until then sole proprietors of the wisdom of the Sanskrit text.

Sapera (1939) Primitivist love story and popular musical set among the Shaivite clan of snake-charmers. Renouned snake-charmer Jahar (Nawab), the survivor of 99 snakebites thanks to rigorous self-discipline including sexual abstinence, rescues a young girl from snakebite and raises her as a boy called Chandan (Kanan Devi). As he starts feeling sexually attracted to 'him', the clan discovers that Jahar is sheltering a young woman and so they seek to depose him as chief. Meanwhile, the young Jhumro (Sanyal) elopes with Chandan and in a fit of fury Jahar sends a deadly snake in pursuit of the couple. The snake bites Jhumro and only Jahar's powers can save the boy... Sapurey (1939) Primitivist love story and popular musical set among the Shaivite clan of snake-charmers. Renouned snake-charmer Jahar (Bhattacharya), the survivor of 99 snakebites thanks to rigorous self-discipline including sexual abstinence, rescues a young girl from snakebite and raises her as a boy called Chandan (Kanan Devi). As he starts feeling sexually attracted to 'him', the clan discovers that Jahar is sheltering a young woman and so they seek to depose him as chief. Meanwhile, the young Jhumro (Sanyal) elopes with Chandan and in a fit of fury Jahar sends a deadly snake in pursuit of the couple. The snake bites Jhumro and only Jahar's powers can save the boy...

Seva Samaj (1939) Heiress Shobhana Devi (Bannerjee) starts a campaign, with the help of three trustees of her fortune, to capture the crook Jagmohandas (Yakub). They start a detective agency, Service Ltd, and take clients who have all been victims of Jagmohandas' criminal endeavours.

Thokar (1939) A cautionary tale about wealth not bringing happiness. The blind Mohan (Kumar) lives in a village with his ward Radha (Madhuri). He wins a fortune with a sweepstake ticket sold to him by the tramp Ramesh (Charlie), who claims his due and begins to take over Mohan's life, making him move to the city and getting him married to Chinta, a prostitute. When Mohan's eyesight is restored, he finds that his wife is having an affair with Ramesh. Mohan takes revenge and eventually lands up in his old village, a poor man, but with Radha still unchanged, waiting for him

Thyagabhoomi (1939) A spirited contribution to the Independence movement, deploying Gandhian themes. Sambu Sastry (Sivan) is portrayed as the Gandhi of Tamil Nadu, sitting on a dais spinning with a charkha. The film tells of Sastry the Brahmin priest and his daughter Savitri (Subbulakshmi). It opens with Harijans waiting in front of a closed temple during a cyclone. Sastry is punished for sheltering them and he goes to Madras. The main plot focuses on daughter Savitri, married to the evil Sridharan (Mahadevan) who prefers to live in 'Western' luxury in Calcutta and mistreats his wife. Sastry, who sells his property to pay for the dowry, finds himself on the streets while his abandoned daughter, who returns to find her ancestral home gone, gives birth to a daughter Charu (Saroja) in a free hospital. She abandons her child at the feet of her father. He thereafter, together with the Harijan Nallan, embarks on Gandhian social uplift programmes including picketing liquor shops. Savitri becomes the wealthy Uma Rani, devoting herself to charity. In her new guise she rejects her husband who sues for the restoration of his 'marital rights'

Vande Mataram (1939) Elaborate melodrama, presented the problems of uneven development in terms of an emotional conflict between and innocent feudal rural female and a worldly-wise capitalist urban male. Hero Raghu (Nagaiah), an unemployed graduate, insists on marrying the village girl Janaki (Kanchanmala) despite the opposition of his scheming mother who wants a dowry. Raghu's unemployment problems continue despite his migration to the city, leaving his wife in the clutches of her mother-in-law. When Raghu wins a lottery for Rs. 5 lakhs and returns home, he finds his wife and infant son have left. Although his mother insists he marry again, Raghu goes to the city and dedicates himself to social work, including building factories in order to create employment opportunities. In this he is assisted by his rich female college friend, provoking gossip about their relationship. Raghu's wife, now a poor flower seller, sees her husband with his new friend and believes he has remarried.

Vara Vikrayam (1939) A reformist social film about the iniquitous dowry system. Although opposed to the dowry system, the retired government official Purshottama Rao borrows money to get his eldest daughter Kalindi (Bhanumathi) married, against her wishes, to the thrice-married Lingaraju. Kalindi commits suicide before the marriage can take place and when Lingaraju refuses to return the dowry, Purshottama's second daughter Kamala (Pushpavalli) agrees to marry him. Vimochanam (1939) Reformist melodrama. The plot has the male lead, Arumugham, sell his wife's jewelry to buy alcohol until probation in the Salem district offers much-needed relief. The hero goes to jail for trying to brew liquor illicitly. On his release, he finds the liquor shop has become a tea-stall and his wife destitute, leading to his reform.





Abhinetri (1940) Set in the early 20th C. Calcutta Theatres industry. Kamala (Kanan Devi) is the star of the Ruby Theatre owned by her guardian Maheshbabu. Narendra (Sanyal) is the equally popular star in the rival Bina Theatre, which he abandons to join the Ruby repertoire when he falls in love with Kamala. In a lyrical sequence in the countryside, they marry in a poor peasant setting. Narendra then shows his true colours and forbids Kamala to continue her acting career. She returns to the stage anyway while Narendra stays among the peasants. He later returns to the Bina Theatre and its success is intercut with the bankruptcy of the Ruby Theatre.

Haar Jeet (1940) Set in the early 20th C. Calcutta Theatres industry. Kamala (Kanan Devi) is the star of the Ruby Theatre owned by her guardian Maheshbabu. Narendra (Sanyal) is the equally popular star in the rival Bina Theatre, which he abandons to join the Ruby repertoire when he falls in love with Kamala. In a lyrical sequence in the countryside, they marry in a poor peasant setting. Narendra then shows his true colours and forbids Kamala to continue her acting career. She returns to the stage anyway while Narendra stays among the peasants. He later returns to the Bina Theatre and its success is intercut with the bankruptcy of the Ruby Theatre.


Sant Sakhu (1941) A woman-centered saint film and a family melodrama. Sakhu (Wadkar), a Marathi Saint poet whose existence is mainly legendary as opposed to the better-documented male ones. She is depicted as a devoutly religious woman married to a weak husband (Kulkarni) and oppressed by her cruel husband (Kulkarni) and oppressed by her cruel mother-in-law Mhalsakaku (Gauri) and sister-in-law Durga (Majumdar). Recognition comes at the end of the film through a series of miracles (including the classic scene where she is tied to a pillar, her disembodied death and reincarnation). At the end the 'real' Sakhu confronts her divine stand-in to confuse everyone in the village and to attract charges of being a ghost

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