Modern Theatres

Modern Theaters Ltd
Industry Motion pictures
Fate Liquidated
Founded 1935
Founder T. R. Sundaram
Defunct 1982
Headquarters Yercaud Road, Salem - 636 008, Tamil Nadu, India
Area served
Tamil Nadu
Andhra Pradesh
Key people
T.R. Sundaram

Modern Theaters Ltd was a motion picture movie studio in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India, started by Thiruchengodu Ramalingam Sundaram (aka TRS) in 1935. The studio produced over more than 150 movies until 1982 in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Sinhalese and even English of which Tamil movies were the majority.


In the early 1930s, T. R. Sundaram entered the world of Tamil cinema as a partner of a Salem-based film company, Angel Films. He was involved in productions such as Draupadi Vastrapaharanam (1934), Dhruva (1935) and Nalla Thangal (1935). Then he decided to start his own company, Modern Theatres Limited. He realized that to make film making a business, it had to be organized and managed like a business enterprise. He also planned a schedule of producing films on a tight budget (two or three a year), so that the market and consumers were regularly and continually supplied with his products.

The maiden production of Modern Theatres, directed by Sundaram, was Sathi Ahalya, a mythological plot was released in 1937. Sundaram promoted Modern Theatres as a joint stock company and built a studio on a vast stretch of land on the outskirts of Salem town. The hundred odd films that came from his studio covered a wide spectrum of themes — mythology, comedy and original screenplays to adaptation of classic works of literature and murder mysteries. It is, however, the James Bond style of films starring Jaishankar that are almost synonymous with the banner.

Following the Hollywood studio system, TRS had on his rolls writers, technicians, actors and so on. He paid generously and promptly, a rarity in the film circle.[1]

Notable contributions

Present status

The landmark, situated on nine acres on Yercaud road here, has been handed over to a private construction firm for promoting flats and houses. The promoters, respecting its glorious past, have decided to dismantle the exquisitely designed stone arch carrying the legendary name of `Modern Theatres Limited' and erect it a few metres away with a new name, `Sundar Garden' as per `vasthu sasthra'. Other worn-out buildings, including studio houses and sheds, that figured in many movies are also being brought down. The arch is the only remaining of the glorious past.

T.R. Sundaram's grandson Suman Sundaram who is settled in Australia is currently looking to enter into the film making and follow his grandfather's route in making successful new technology advancement in the Tamil film industry.

See also


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