The man who made (and named) Ilayaraja

Posted on August 16, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here:

Last Thursday was Panchu Arunachalam’s second death anniversary. Here’s a flashback to the time he introduced his most illustrious protégé.

Panchu Arunachalam, who passed away on August 9, 2016, wore many hats. He is remembered as a lyricist – he began that phase of his career by jotting down the words flowing from the legendary Kannadasan during recording sessions (starting with Kavalai Illadha Manidhan, 1960), and the first song he wrote on his own was the popular Manamagale marumagale vaa vaa (Sarada, 1962). He is remembered as a screenwriter – he began with the disastrous Nagesh vehicle, Hello Partner (1972). He is remembered as a dialogue writer – he began that journey with Thiruneelakandar (1972), starring TR Mahalingam. He is remembered as a producer – he began with Uravu Solla Oruvan (1975), with a production house he named Filmalaya. It featured Muthuraman, Sujatha, Sivakumar and Padmapriya. He is remembered as a star-maker. Rajinikanth has said that, though he was introduced and groomed by K Balachander, it was Panchu Arunachalam who reoriented his career trajectory towards superstardom.

But most of all, Panchu Arunachalam is remembered as the man who brought Ilayaraja to Tamil cinema, with Annakkili (1976). The basic superhero origin story stays the same, though – depending on who tells it – a few details may differ. Here’s the story that Panchu Arunachalam narrates in G Dhananjayan’s documentary, A Creator with Midas Touch. (The name sounds better in Tamil: Thottadhellaam Ponnaakkiya Padaippaali.) So here he is, having produced a big hit in Thunive Thunai (1976), a James Bond-style adventure, starring Jaishankar. The innovations in the film include Tamil cinema’s first climax-action sequence involving a helicopter, and having the bad guys being led by Rajasulochana. You’ll probably laugh at it today, but it’s quite something in the Nambiar-Asokan era to say you want a woman as the antagonist.

Continued at the link above.

Copyright ©2018 Film Companion.