Director: H.M. Reddy; Writer: Dwijendralal Roy’s play Chandragupta (1911), T.V. Chari; Cinematographer: E.R. Cooper; Cast: S. Santhanam, P.U. Chinnappa, Kali N. Rathnam, C.S.D. Singh, K.K. Perumal, T.V. Kumudini, A.K. Rajalakshmi, P. Saradambal, M.S.J. Kamalam, Devulu Venkataraju
Reddy, the director of the first Tamil talkie (Kalidas, 1931
), adapted Roy’s important Bengali play for this nationalist allegory about an Indian king’s resistance to Alexander the Great. It was briefly banned by the British. Greek general Seleucus Nicator, here 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 (321BC) 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, making her screen debut as a fiercely nationalist character of the same name who throws out her husband Jayapala (Santhanam again, in a dual role) when she learns that he is a Greek spy. Her brother Prathapan is played by the future star Chinnappa. Although the costumes bear scant relation to history, the battle scenes are shot at the actual forts of Gingee and Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu. Two songs proved particularly popular: Bharatha desam
(‘The Country of Bharat’) and Namadhu Janma bhoomi
(‘The Land of our Birth’), the latter becoming a marching song widely used in schools.