BBC Tamil is embarking on an exploration of film comedy with a new 15-part weekly radio series. From Sunday 30 March, The History Of Tamil Film Comedy will look at the origins and evolution of comedy as a dominating genre in Tamil film industry.
Based in the Southern Indian city of Chennai, the Tamil film industry is one of India's largest mass-culture institutions, alongside Mumbai-based Bollywood. From their beginnings in the silent movies and on to the 'talkies' age, Tamil films had developed a rich tradition of original comedy, with popular comedians such as N.S.Krishnan, Thangavelu, M.R.Radha, T.S.Baliah, and Nagesh, and female comediennes such as Manorama, who dominated the silver screen in the early days.
The tradition has continued, with a range of artistes firmly established in the comedy genre: Gaundamani, 'Kovai' Sarala, Vivek, Vadivel and Santhanam.
The History Of Tamil Film Comedy is produced and presented by the former BBC journalist, Sampath Kumar. "Actors, directors, comedy writers, film critics and researchers, brought together in these programmes, share their memories, helping to chronicle the amazing story of Tamil film comedy. I had a wonderful experience working on this radio series, researching a genre that has brought so much joy and entertainment to so many lives," says Kumar.
BBC programmes have explored various aspects of Tamil cinema in the past - from the impact of Tamil cinema on regional politics, to the history of Tamil film music, and the doyens of Tamil cinema.
BBC Tamil Editor, Thirumalai Manivannan, adds: "Through its nearly 100 years of vibrant history, the Tamil film industry has nurtured a uniquely original comedy tradition. Our new series highlights the fact that, as a genre, Tamil film comedy has reflected the Tamil cultural mores, occasionally drawing on the 'non-Tamil' traditions such as Hindi and Western slapstick comedy. We hope our audiences enjoy this addition to our Sunday schedule in the coming weeks."
The series will be broadcast at 15:45 GMT (21:15 Indian and Sri Lankan Standard Times) on Sundays, and will be available as podcasts online via the BBC Tamil website bbctamil.com.
The BBC Tamil radio programming is available on SW frequencies - 31, 22 and 19 metres (9500, 13830 and 15470 kHz) - and on demand via bbctamil.com which offers a range of content-sharing functions and has a mobile version. BBC Tamil is part of BBC World Service.
(BBC Press Release)