Director: Murugadasa; Writer: Ki Ra; Cinematographer: Sailen Bose, B.S. Ranga; Cast: Dandapani Desigar, Serukalathur Sama, Narayana Rao, Rajam Iyengar, Angamuthu, Sundaribai, Kothamangalam Subbu
Summary: Nandanar (Desikar), an overseer in his landlord’s (Sama) fields, yearns to visit the Chidambaram temple (banned to ‘lower castes’) and worship the icon of Shiva. As he grows into a local saint, this desire on his part discomforts both his master and his fellow slum-dwellers. The few low-caste villagers who agree to follow him are forced, much to their displeasure, to chant the god’s name and to abstain from alcohol. Eventually the landlord sets an impossible task of singlehandedly reaping all his fields within a given time before Nandanar, promising to fulfil his desire if he can perform that task. This, characteristically in the genre, Nandanar achieves with divine assistance. Later, in Chidambaram, Nandanar performs a second miracle when he ‘purifies’ himself by entering a fire. In many ways a classic saint film boasting an extraordinary performance by its lead, the major actor-singer Desikar, the film’s overtly stated brahminisation of the saint’s desires - to enter a notoriously caste-conscious temple and purify himself there - offended many Dalit viewers, forcing the film to be banned in the Kolar Gold Fields until, according to some versions, Desikar came personally and apologised to the workers for having participated in the film’s controversial climax.