The Tamil Film industry enjoys the widest visibility of any regional South Asian cinema. Many of Indian cinema's popular figures had made their debut in Tamil films. Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai made her debut in the Tamil film 'Iruvar' before entering the national film industry. Music Composer A.R. Rehman also had his debut in Tamil industry. One of the most unique features of Tamil cinema is the way the films has been used and exploited to make political commentary and win Elections. Screenwriter C. N. Annadurai and actors M. G. Ramachandran utilized their films to move into political office in the 1940s and 1950s.
Early Years of Tamil Film Industry :The Tamil cinema had its beginning in 1897 when M.Edwards screened the first ever movie show in South India at Victoria Memorial Hall in Madras. The first Tamil Talkie was 'Kalidas' was screenedin 1931. A.Narayanan started the first sound studio in South India in 1934 and his 'Srinivasa Kalyanam' (1934) became the first Tamil Talkie to be produced in a Madras studio. Gemini Studios was emerged in the 1940s and produced great hits like 'Madana Kamarajan', 'Nandhanaar' and 'Chandralekha'. The first Tamil film to be successful in both Tamil and Hindi versions was Chandralekha.
The success of early Tamil sound films led to the construction of up-to-date studios in the South during 1935-1936. In the 1960s, director K. Balachander created movies with bold themes in cinematic styles and gave birth to All-India stars like Kamal Hasan, Rajnikanth and Sridevi.
C. N. Annadurai (former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu) and M.Karunanidhi (the present Chief Minister of Tamilnadu), both started their career in the film industry as script writers. S.S.Vasan, M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, T.R.Sundaram, S.M.Sriramalu Naidu and Jupiter Somu were some of the early film-makers in the Tamil Film industry. Gemini Ganesan, M.G.Ramachandran(MGR - former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu), Sivaji Ganesan, Siva Kumar and many other actors donned the Tamil films in the early period. There were many popular actresses also like Saroja Devi, Devika, Jayalalitha (former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu), Sridevi and Vijaya Kumari.