An American in Madras | European Premiere

Director: Karan Bali
Starring: Kamal Haasan, Radha Viswanathan, K. Hariharan.
Run time: 80 mins | Recommended Certificate: U
Language: English, Tamil, Hindi with English subtitles | Year: | Country: India

An American in Madras

BFI player link

This fascinating and fast-paced documentary traces the journey of American-born filmmaker Ellis R. Dungan who arrived in India in 1935 intending to stay for 6 months but ended up staying for 15 years! During this period, he brought many technical innovations to the developing Tamil Film Industry of the 1930s and ’40s, and infused a sense of professionalism into its filmmaking. All this, without understanding a word of the language! Dungan directed the great Tamil superstar MGR’s first film, Sathi Leelavathi, as well as famed Carnatic vocalist MS Subbulakshmi’s most famous films, Sakuntalai and Meera. The film traces Dungan’s Indian connection right up to 1994, when on a trip to India, the Tamil Film Industry felicitated him in Chennai for his contribution to its development, a good 43 years after he had left India.


Karan Bali