Chandralekha is a 1948 Tamil film directed and produced by S.S.Vasan. Featuring Ranjan, T.R.Rajakumari, N. S. Krishnan, Maduram, the film was a considerable success and revolutionized Tamil cinema . The film was also remade in Hindi and gained critical acclaim in Hindi as well. The film is still remembered as a cultural extravaganza for its array of costumes and for making use of scores of extras.
Chandralekha was based on the story of a young prince Veer Singh (M. K. Radha) who falls in love with a dancer called Chandralekha (T. R. Rajakumari). At the same time, Veer Singh's brother Shashank (Ranjan) too desires to marry her. Shashank kidnaps Chandralekha and forces her to wed him. But Chandralekha insists on a drum dance prior to their marriage. The drum dance is held; but at the end of the drum dance, Veer Singh's soldiers rush forth from the drums and attack the palace. In the melee, Shashank's men are defeated and in the sword fighting sequence, regarded as the longest in any Indian film, Shashank is defeated by Veer Singh and killed.
The comedy track for the film is by N. S. Krishnan and his wife Madhuram. The film even features circus scenes in which M. K. Radha and T. R. Rajakumari perform as a part of a circus troupe and dances by hill tribes.
- T. R. Rajakumari as Chandralekha
- M. K. Radha as Veer Singh
- Ranjan as Shashank
- Sundarabai as Sundaribai
Produced and directed by S. S. Vasan, Chandralekha released in 1948 after being in production for over five years. The film was Vasan's first directorial venture and was made at a massive financial budget of rupees 30 lakhs
making it easily, the costliest film ever made till then. He even termed the film "a pageant for our peasants." It featured a drum-dance sequence and also had the longest sword fight sequence in film history. Chandralekha is also recognized as the first Indian film to get nationwide distribution. Vasan is believed to have been inspired by Uday Shankar's Kalpana
(1948) which is the first Indian film to have a drum-dance sequence.
Gemini became the first Indian studio to attempt a nationwide distribution.