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Central Studios was an Indian film studio in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, started by B.Rangaswamy Naidu (a.k.a. B. R. Naidu) and other prominent industrialists like Swamikannu Vincent of Coimbatore in 1935 to make Tamil and other South Indian language movies. The studio was a major hub of Tamil movie production and notable for its association with many early day Tamil Movie Superstars, directors and script writers etc. and many making their career debuts here. The studio is best rememberd for movies like Sivakavi, Velaikari and Haridas.

Central Studios
Managing Agency , later Private Limited Company[1]
IndustryMotion pictures
Defunct1958 (de facto)[2]
HeadquartersCoimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India,
Key people
B. Rangaswamy Naidu, Sriramulu Naidu, Samikannu Vincent, R. K. Ramakrishnan Chettiar, Lakshmi Mills



Movie industry in CoimbatoreEdit

Samikannu Vincent

Movies became a major industry in Coimbatore when in 1905 a South Indian Railways employee Samikannu Vincent purchased a film projector along with some silent films from a Frenchman named Du Pont who had fallen ill on his touring exhibition. Samikannu Vincent then built a business as film exhibitor first by traveling around the country and finally erecting tents theaters for screening films. His tent cinema became popular as he traveled all over the state with his mobile unit. In 1917, Samikannu Vincent built South India's first permanent cinema theater, Variety Hall Cinema, at the Town Hall; it is now called the Delite Theater. As Samikannu Vincent also generated his own electric power for his theaters, he built a series of theaters in and around the city to screen silent films. He also became a distributor for the French Pathé Frères movie projectors. In the early 1930s he launched the Variety Hall Talkies banner to make sound film (a.k.a. talkies) and released a few movies which were mainly shot in Calcutta. Feeling a need to have a movie studio, he was instrumental, along with other industrialists and movie makers, in establishing a fully equipped studio in Coimbatore.

Also during the late 1920s, another firm under Sabapathy was involved in the distributorship of an Italian movie projector company, eventually leading to the manufacture of their own brand of movie projectors in Coimbatore. By the early thirties Coimbatore already had a studio named Premier Cinetone Studio [3] (later renamed Pakshiraja Studios). In 1935 a London-educated graduate, T. R. Sundaram, built a fully equipped movie studio, Modern Theatres, in Salem, and the region became the central hub for movie activity.

Studio beginningsEdit

Catalogue of Central Studios, Coimbatore

Central Studio was founded by a group of prominent industrialists B. Rangaswamy Naidu, R. K. Ramakrishnan Chettiar (brother of India's first Finance Minister R. K. Shanmukham Chetty), Samikannu Vincent, and another new movie director S. M. Sriramulu Naidu (who joined as a working partner). Studio commenced its operation in 1936 with their first release being Thukkaram in 1937 directed by S. M. Sriramulu Naidu. By the early 1940s the Studio became the central hub of Tamil Movie industry.


The Studio is located in Uppilipalayam near Singanallur township, Trichy Road which is today a part of Coimbatore city. The Studio had almost all modern facilities required for a Movie studio along with Sound and film editing labs and technical workshops. The sound engineers and cameramen were all Germans during the 30s and most of the Make-Up team were from Mumbai.[4] The studio also had a music department headed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu. The studio also boasted the BNC Mitchell Camera, then a Hollywood standard, which cost a whopping Rs 500,000 in the 1930s and the Studio was equipped with 10 KW, 5 KW AND 2 KW lights. Most of the artists and technicians were on monthly payroll.

Studio systemEdit

The Silver Jubilee hit movie of 1936 Sivakavi starring M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, was an in-house production, as well as several socially significant movies. Central Studio released few movies, but the Studio housed lot of other production banners. The most popular being Jupiter Pictures and Pakshiraja Films. Other production houses that operated inside the studio were Narayanan and Company, Manorama Pictures and Venu Pictures. The then popular comedian trio N. S. Krishnan and T. Mathuram had their independent production unit, Ashoka Films inside the premises. They often made their comedy track independently and sold to other Movie producers who later released as ‘side reel’.

Notable film personalitiesEdit

The studio was a central hub during the early days for Tamil movies first 'Superstars' P. U. Chinnappa and M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and the popular comedian N. S. Krishnan and T. A. Mathuram. The studio was also a starting point for four of Tamil Nadu state Chief Ministers C. N. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi,[5] M. G. Ramachandran[6] and V. N. Janaki. The Studio housed famous musicians S. M. Subbaiah Naidu, while G. Ramanathan along with Papanasam Sivan and K. V. Mahadevan composed for some of the Studio Movies. The popular music composer M. S. Viswanathan was an assistant to S. M. Subbiah Naidu. Playback singer T. M. Soundararajan[7] made his early foray as playback singer here so was Lyricist Kannadasan in his initial career. Central Studio was a launch pad for many later day directors like Muktha Srinivasan who was an Associate Director for 1954 release Sorgavasal.[8] and K. Shankar who was in the editing department. Actress Sachu as childhood artist appeared in few films shot here. T. R. Rajakumari featured in many films shot in Central Studioc.[9]

Famous directors who operated out of the Studio were S. M. Sriramulu Naidu, Ellis R. Dungan, A. S. A. Sami, A. P. Nagarajan and popular duo Krishnan–Panju of Parasakthi fame who directed their first movie in Central Studios. India's pioneering Cinematographer Adi Merwan Irani[10] worked in this studio for Sivakavi and Haridas. Sando Chinnappa Thevar, of Devar Films living nearby in Ramanathapuram was a body builder who worked as stunt actor before becoming one of Indias successful movie producers.

Final yearsEdit

In 1945 S. M. Sriramulu Naidu left Central Studios to start his own Studio called Pakshiraja Studios and B. Rangaswamy Naidu family bought out majority of its shares. During the late 40's the management leased the Studio to Jupiter Pictures. After B. R. Naidu's demise the Studio management passed on to Lakshmi Mills family who closed it in 1959 as Chennai by then emerged as the major Movie hub and also as a result of other lobbying groups who wanted to keep movie industry out of Coimbatore, as it was then emerging into an Industrial and Educational hub.The Studio with its equipments were leased to other producers in 1958 and continued Film distribution till 1962.

Present dayEdit

Most of the Studio structure is still intact as the B. R. Naidu family uses the premises for various industrial activities. Some of the buildings houses Textile production units and small workshops. During the 70s and 80s race car constructor and driver S. Karivardhan used the studio premises to build and test his race cars.

Till 2009 the text impression ‘ Central Studios’ can found at their main entrance gate. Recently in 2010 some structures were pulled down to make way for new developments. Post 2013 the studio premises was split between the family members of B. R. Naidu and though the buildings remain as it, the approach roads are different and still remain private.

List of Major ReleasesEdit

Movies listed here are partial list only. The list includes other Production houses operating from Central Studios.

Year Title Language Production Lead Cast Director Music Composer Notes
1938 Thukkaram Tamil Central Studios Musiri Subramania Iyer
Chokkalinga Bhagavathar
K. Seetha
R. Balasaraswathi
B. N. Rao Musiri Subramania Iyer The only movie of the iconic Carnatic musician Musiri Subramania Iyer. Telugu version was played by C. S. R. Anjaneyulu as the lead
1939 Rambaiyin Kaadhal Tamil Central Studios, Sri Murugan Talkies K. Sarangkapani,
K. L. V. Vasantha,
N. S. Krishnan
B. N. Rao Debut movie for comedian T. S. Durairaj
1941 Aryamala Tamil Pakshiraja Films
K. S. Narayanan Iyengar
P. U. Chinnappa
M. S. Sarojini
M. R. Santhanalakshmi
N. S. Krishnan
Bomman Irani G. Ramanathan
1943 Sivakavi Tamil Central Studios, Pakshiraja Films M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar
S. Jayalakshmi
T. R. Rajakumari
N. S. Krishnan
S. M. Sriramulu Naidu Papanasam Sivan Shooting started in 1942 with P. K. Raja Sandow as the director. But soon disputes arose between Raja Sandow and the producer S. M. Sriramulu Naidu who took over the reins himself. The script was written by Elangovan. Upon release this was the major blockbuster of the year with full houses in all over Madras Presidency.
1944 Haridas Tamil Royal Talkies M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar
T. R. Rajakumari
N. C. Vasanthakokilam
N. S. Krishnan
Sundar Rao Nadkarni Papanasam Sivan, G. Ramanathan One of the record setting blockbuster hit, released for 1944 Deepavali, it ran continuously in Madras Broadway Theater with full shows for 110 weeks, crossing 1945 and 1946 Deepavali's
1946 Valmiki Tamil Central Studios C. Honnappa Bhagavathar
U. R. Jeevarathinam
T. R. Rajakumari
N. C. Vasanthakokilam
Sundar Rao Nadkarni Papanasam Sivan The movie was originally signed with M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and shooting commenced in 1944 with M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar as the lead before his arrest in the Lakshmikanthan Murder Case. Later, all the scenes had to be re-shot with C. Honnappa Bhagavathar .
1948 Bilhanan Tamil TKS Brothers T. K. Shanmugam
T. K. Bhagavathi
M. S. Draupathi
K.V. Srinivasan T. A. Kalyanam The story and screenplay was by A.S.A. Sami was popular in AIR played by M. K. Thyagaraja Bhaghavathar.
1949 Velaikkaari Tamil Jupiter Pictures K. R. Ramasamy
Janaki Ramachandran
M. N. Nambiar
A. S. A. Sami S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
C. R. Subburaman
The film script was written by C. N. Annadurai (later chief minister of Tamil Nadu), his second film to be based on his plays. ..
1949 Kanniyin Kaadhali Tamil Jupiter Pictures Madhuri Devi
Anjali Devi
N. S. Krishnan
T. A. Mathuram
K. Ramnoth and A. K. Sekhar S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
C. R. Subburaman
The movie featured a dance sequence by the famed sister duo Lalitha and Padmini.
1950 Krishna Vijayam Tamil Jupiter Pictures N. C. Vasanthakokilam
P. V. Narasimha Bharathi
Sundar Rao Nadkarni S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
C. S. Jayaraman
Th efilm featured dance by Lalitha and Padmini .
1951 Marmayogi Tamil Jupiter Pictures M. G. Ramachandran
M. N. Nambiar
Anjali Devi
Madhuri Devi
K. Ramnoth S. M. Subbaiah Naidu, C. R. Subburaman Jupiter Pictures remade the film in Telugu with same name starring N. T. Rama Rao.[2] The film was also made in Hindi as Ek Tha Raja in 1951 with M. G. Ramachandran played the lead role at the same time.
1954 Sorgavasal Tamil Parimalam Pictures K. R. Ramaswamy
S. S. Rajendran
Anjali Devi
P. S. Veerappa
A. Kasilingam Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy The film was partly shot at Central Studion and Neptune Studios, Adyar, Madras. Parimalam Pictures was jointly promoted by Jupiter Pictures and N. K. Kaliappa
1955 Town Bus Tamil M. A. Venu (M. A. V Pictures) N. N. Kannappa
Anjali Devi
A. Karunanidhi
K. Somu K. V. Mahadevan Story by A. P. Nagarajan
1955 Mullaivanam Tamil Arvind Pictures (V. Krishnan) Sriram
Kumari Rukmini
P. S. Veerappa
A. Karunanidhi
V. Krishnan K. V. Mahadevan
1955 Pennarasi Tamil M. A. Venu P. Kannamba
A. P. Nagarajan
M. N. Nambiar
P. S. Veerappa
K. Somu K. V. Mahadevan Story by A. P. Nagarajan

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit