It is believed that the trend of incorporating intimate scenes into movies has started lately. Films like The Dirty Picture and Bandit Queen, deemed obscene and vulgar, had attracted a lot of criticism from viewers and critics at the time of their release. However, one such film, released in 1949, dared to go bold. Directed by Ellis R Dungan, Ponmudi was a Tamil romance loaded with sequences deemed too daring for its time.
Starring R Balasubramanyam, Madhuri Devi and PV Narasimha Bharathi among others, Ponmudi was based on the novel by Bharathidasan Edhirparatha Mutham.
The plot of the film revolved around a couple who had known each other since childhood. They grow up thinking that they will get married in the future, but things don’t fall into place for them. As their families do not approve of their relationship, the couple fights for their love and overcomes the obstacles that come their way.
Ponmudi was released on the eve of Pongal and turned out to be a commercial failure. For Tamil audiences in the 1950s, Ponmudi was a bold attempt to portray an intimate relationship between two lovers.
Some of the scenes in the film include the couple sharing a moment in the moonlight while in another the protagonist sneaks into the field to meet his love. It is also believed that outdoor stages, such as those at Ponmudi, were very rare at this time. The almost 3 hour movie contained many love scenes between Narasimha and Madhuri.
Ponmudi’s bold portrayal had sparked controversy in 1950. Newspapers at the time alleged that Ponmudi was against Tamil culture and that the filmmaker was influenced by Western cinema. Meanwhile, some publications also praised the film for its poetic dialogues.
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