The 1940s Film Post

இது, இது, இது எல்லாம் ஜப்பான். எல்லாம் செத்து ஒரு ரூபாய் கூட இருக்காது!

This, this, this, it’s all from Japan. And all together not more than 1 Rupee!

1940s movies can be a bit amateurish to the modern eye but they can be quite fun and as it happens also have a lot of interesting fashion titbits. E.g. this scene from En Manaivi aka My Wife (1942) which has two maids discussing clothes and employers. The maid with a parasol (Lux Padma aka R. Padma) has a generous employer who has provided her with the entire ensemble. All that fashion forwardness is from Japan*. Apart from the parasol, a stylish accessory in the 30s and 40s there is the sari brooch (horizontal pins are popular in the 30s and 40s), the soft collar, slightly puff sleeve blouse (here in satin) and the finger waved hair. All quite stylish in 1942.

The 1 Rupee price tag  for the entire ensemble wasn’t much apparently even for 1942. The other maid is in a local handloom sari worn in a style prevalent at the time (the pallu is folded down the middle and then tucked in – a style called “madi” aka fold) but one that wasn’t fashionable.

The printed sari with a jazzed up border is probably an affordable version of the saris of the 1930s and 1940s.

*In the 30s raw cotton went from India to Japan and finished textile goods were imported from Japan. The war had an impact on this but Japanese goods were still available cheaply during the war years.

Also from En Manaivi (1942).

Note the actress’s bra, this along with a number of accoutrements in many of her scenes mark her as stylish and upper class – she is pretty much the sartorial standout of the movie. The bra and the drape exposing a part of the bust seems quite daring but was fairly common in films of the decade.  And of course if its the 40s the puff sleeve blouse can’t be far away. This sari too is probably Japanese, at any rate the fabric marks it as foreign

Note also the steel cup and saucer for coffee as opposed to steel glasses suggesting a slightly westernised heroine. Flowers in the hair arranged as here were also common in AVM movies of the 1940s.

The 1940s movies seem to favour a slender type in comparison to the fuller silhouette seen in the 1950s.

For a bit on bras go here.

Notes: En Manaivi was an adaptation of a 1916 Marathi play, Govind Ballal Deval’s Sanshay Kallol. This in turn was adapted from Molière’s Sganarelle. The actress in the screencaps (I think MK Meenalochani but I cannot be sure) is playing Revathi aka Célie.

About Anu M

A potted history of Indian clothing and fashion.
This entry was posted in 1940s, 20th century, Accessories, Actor, Cinema, Culture, Early 20th Century, fashion, Film Costuming, Flowers, Hair, Indian Cinema, Indian Dress, Indian fashion, Indian Women, Japan, Movies, regional styles, retro fashion, Sari, Sari Blouse, sari drape, sari history, Sets, South India, South Indian Cinema, Tamil, Tamil Cinema, Tamil Nadu, Vintage, Vintage Blouse, Vintage Dress, vintage fashion, vintage jewellery, vintage sari, vintage style, Women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The 1940s Film Post

  1. Stanley Smith says:

    All you have written about old Tamil movies like En Manaivi (My Wife) makes a lot of sense. For example Kodambakkam was considered a village in 1940s. Now it is the central part of Chennai. But the whole movie is the best comedy I ever came across. For example “Three’s Company”
    in which John Ritter, Suzanne Somers & Joyce DeWitt acted in 1980s, “All In the Family”, “I love Lucy”, “Mr. Bean” may be old fashioned, but the comedy of those are evergreen classics. These comedies do not contain American or British slangs, They are pure. I too believe that MK Meenalochani acts as Revati in En Manaivi. I just looked for more details about MK Meenalochani in Google, but I could not get anything. However, Anu M ‘s comment drew me to write all these things.
    ~ Stanley Smith from USA
    janetedward2004@gmail.com

    • Anu M says:

      Thank you for the comments. I like some of those old movies for many reasons. Sabapathy is in a similar vein.

      • Stanley Smith says:

        I agree. Sabapathy is another classic evergreen comedy.
        Stanley Smith from USA

      • Anu M says:

        This reminds me – I will do a 1940s Tamil post at some point. Unfortunately even the older members of my family are not aware of these films – it is like film history starts in the mid 1950s!

      • Stanley Smith says:

        It is a good thing that younger generation like Anu M takes up this noble cause. It is not just in Tamil movies only. Even in American and British movies, people of older generation do not know Oscar winning movies such as “Ryan’s Daughter” (in which John Miller got the Oscar for having acted as Village Idiot), “McKenna’s Gold” (Omar Sheriff acted), “African Queen”, “Dr. Zhivago”, etc. etc. This is one of the reasons I came out with a second edition of my “1100 Best Songs In the World”, a collection of best songs from different periods {Beethoven, Mozart, Mannheim Steamroller, Rabindranath Tagore, Tansen, Thyagayya, Purandaradas, AR Rahman, Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta, MK Thyagaraja Bagawathar, Segal, etc. etc.) all in one single CD.
        You may like to know more about this CD from Saashwathi Prabhu, a classical and fusion singer residing in Chennai. The late His Holiness Pithukuli Murugadas also got a copy of this CD (first edition). Before I was to send my second edition launched in Dec 2015, His Holiness died.
        ~Stanley Smith, USA

      • Stanley Smith says:

        It is a good thing that younger generation like Anu M takes up this noble cause. It is not just in Tamil movies only. Even in American and British movies, people of older generation do not know Oscar winning movies such as “Ryan’s Daughter” (in which John Miller got the Oscar for having acted as Village Idiot), “McKenna’s Gold” (Omar Sheriff acted), “African Queen”, “Dr. Zhivago”, etc. etc. This is one of the reasons I came out with a second edition of my “1100 Best Songs In the World”, a collection of best songs from different periods {Beethoven, Mozart, Mannheim Steamroller, Rabindranath Tagore, Tansen, Thyagayya, Purandaradas, AR Rahman, Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta, MK Thyagaraja Bagawathar, Segal, etc. etc.) all in one single CD.
        You may like to know more about this CD from Saashwathi Prabhu, a classical and fusion singer residing in Chennai. The late His Holiness Pithukuli Murugadas also got a copy of this CD (first edition). Before I was to send my second edition launched in Dec 2015, His Holiness died.
        ~Stanley Smith, USA

      • Stanley Smith says:

        Ms. Anu! Can you post some details about MK Meenalochani after your research. I am keen to know about her including whether she is still alive. ~ Stanley Smith

  2. Anu M says:

    Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Stanley Smith says:

    I am really amazed that you could post the pictures of the movie “En Manaivi” after a period of
    75 years. How did you manage to get the pictures?
    Stanley Smith, USA

  4. Stanley Smith says:

    Ms. Anu! Can you post some details about MK Meenalochani after your research. I am keen to know about her including whether she is still alive. ~ Stanley Smith

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