TP Rajalakshmi

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Thiruvaiyaru Panchapakesa Rajalakshmi was the first female actor in Tamil cinema, and possibly the first female director and producer in the whole of South India. Ardeshir Irani had cast her in the early talkie Kalidas (1931) and she had sung what is arguably the first hit song of Tamil cinema (“Manmadha baanamada, nenjinil paayuthada/ The arrows of Manmadha, the love God, pierces through the heart"). She became a star with the hit Valli Thirumanam (1933), directed by PV Rao (not clear what "PV" stands for) and produced by Tamil pioneer Samikannu Vincent in collaboration with the Pioneer Films Company of Kolkata. In 1936 Rajalakshmi started her own production company, Sri Rajam Talkies, and delivered an early social-realist film, Miss Kamala (1936), produced, directed, scripted and acted by her. At the same time she appeared in the hit movie Seemanthini (1936), directed by Ellis Dungan who had just moved from California to Chennai. She went on to direct herself in Madurai Veeran (1939).

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