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Thyagabhoomi is a 1939 film directed and produced by famous film director K. Subramaniam. Starring K.J.Mahadevan and S.D.Subbalakshmi, the film was produced at the height of India's freedom movement and glorified Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals in no mean terms. The story for the movie was based on a novel written by the great Tamil writer Kalki Krishnamurthy. Thyagabhoomi is the only Indian film to be banned after release by the British government.

Production

In 1937, the pro-independence Indian National Congress defeated the pro-British Justice Party for the first time in the elections to the Madras Legislative Assembly and Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari was sworn in as the Chief Minister. As an immediate consequence of this change of guard, censorship was relaxed on films glorifying the freedom movement and national leaders. Encouraged by the new government's policies, a few films glorifying the freedom movement were made during this period. Thyagabhoomi was one of them.

However, censorship was reimposed when the Congress Government resigned on the eve of India's entry into the Second World War. The Governor of Madras who took over the administration of the province subsequently banned Thyagabhoomi. The ban evoked severe protests from Indian film-viewers. However, by the time the ban was enforced, Thyagabhoomi was already a success - it was being screened at packed theaters in and around Madras. British Government policy was to either completely prohibit films with "potentially seditious" or subject them to strict censorship. Thyagabhoomi was the first film released in Madras to be banned. While it is widely believed that Thyagabhoomi was banned as soon as the Governor took over the administration in 1940, according to some eye witness accounts, the ban was enforced only in 1944.

Cast



Plot synopsis

Sambu Sastri is a Brahmin priest who shelters Harijans who had been rendered homeless in a cyclone and is eventually excommunicated from the orthodox Hindu society and moves to Madrasmarker. The focus then shifts to Sambu Sastri's daughter Savitri who is illtreated by her Westernized husband Sridharan and is eventually driven out of his palatial house in Calcuttamarker. Meanwhile, Sambu Sastri had offered his ancestral home to Sridharan as dowry and hence Savitri finds herself homeless when she arrives in her native village. She gives birth to a baby girl Charu in hospital and entrusts her to the care of her father and continues on her wanderings. Sambu Sastri, meanwhile, along with Harijan Nallan, embarks on Gandhian social uplift programmes including picketing liquor shops. At the end of the film, Savitri emerges as the wealthy woman under the pseudonym Uma Rani and devotes herself to charitable activities. She eventually rejects the overtures of her husband Sridharan who wishes to return to her.

The character of Sambu Sastri was modelled upon Mahatma Gandhi. The film also included real-life footage of Mahatma Gandhi spinning the charkha.

Other versions

In 1989, on the 50th anniversary of the film, a telefilm version was made by director K. Subramaniam's son, S. Krishnaswamy.

References



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