Kodambakkam is a residential neighborhood in Chennai known as the center of the Tamil film industry and fondly called by locals as Kollywood. It is located in the western part of Chennai and surrounded by the neighborhoods of Nungambakkam to the east, Vadapalani to the west, West Mambalam and T. Nagar to the south, and K.K. Nagar and Ashok Nagar to the southeast. It is eight kilometers away from Fort St. George.
The foundation of the Kodambakkam district has spanned around two thousand years of history. One of the oldest temples, the Bharthukesavar Temple is five hundred years old and is found in Kodambakkam. However, the area’s popularity is still much attributed to Tamil cinema.
Tamil cinema or the Tamil film industry is based on the neighborhood of Kodambakkam where the first movie studio, A.V.M. Studios, is located. Aside from A.V.M. Studios which was established by Avichi Meiyappa Chettiar, several other studios like Vijaya Vauhini Studios and Prasad Labs can be found in the surrounding areas. Prominent movie and television actors, film directors, and producers live in close proximity to these film studios. Even the famous Indian music director A.R. Rahman has his recording studio (AM Studios) and residence in Kodambakkam. Because of this, locals fondly call the area Kollywood, a word combining Kodambakkam and Hollywood.
Influenced by many Tamil traditions and culture, Tamil language films incorporate music and dance to a grand spectacle that is typical main entertainment in these films. History, mythology, and fairy tales that are narrated and performed through dance and music dominate the themes of Tamil films.
Tamil cinema is considered to be India’s second largest film industry based on the number of films produced annually, with revenue and worldwide distribution considered as well. It is a booming industry that produces approximately two hundred films a year with target audiences that include the people in the states of Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka. Because of its great effect on other film industries in India, Chennai has become a secondary hub for Hindi cinema, Malayalam cinema, Telugu cinema, and Kannada cinema.
Since the dawn of Keechaka Vaadham, a silent movie produced in Chennai in 1916, Tamil films have made their way into international distribution in countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Japan, the Middle East, Western Europe, North America, and Oceania. The term Kollywood sprung up during the 1940s because of the industry’s rapid rise in fame in the south of India. Filming Tamil movies have also branched out to other places such as Canada and Europe since there were many filmmakers and producers who settled there after the Tamil Diaspora.
Film lovers would not want to miss a visit to Kollywood. There are many guides on how to get to Kodambakkam, but the fastest and easiest way is to take a suburban train near the Poonamalee High Road, which is across the Chennai Central train station via subway. There are trains going to Kodambakkam every ten minutes from there. Take the train bound for Tambaram and not to the Chennai Beach station. From there, the train will pass by Egmore, Chetpet, and Nungambakkam before arriving at the Kodambakkam station, which is the fourth station.