Navodaya Studio is an Indian film production house producing films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
Headquartered in Kerala State the studio was founded in 1978 by Maliampurackal Chacko Punnoose, who is also known by the name Navodaya Appachan. Shooting floors are located on the hills of Kakkanad in Kochi.
Appachan set up Navodaya in 1976. After the demise of his elder brother Kunchacko - the patriarch of malayalam cinema, Appachan had parted ways with his nephew Boban Kunchacko, while shooting his first film Kadathanattu Makkam at Udaya Studio - their parent firm at Alappuzha.
Kunchacko & Appachan at Udaya Studios, Alappuzha.
In a span of 25 years, the brothers had produced about 100 films.
A family visit during an elephant herd shoot. 1962 film Palattukoman.
The last day of shooting.
1976 film Kadathanattu Makkam.
Under the stewardship of Appachan and his two sons Jijo and Jose, Navodaya Studio established itself as a trail blazer in the art, technique and technology of cinema. Over the years Navodaya Studio has contributed many talents who are household names in South India cinema today.
With the studio's homegrown style of working, many aspiring technicians and artistes learnt the ropes at Navodaya and are leading their fields of specialisation in Indian film industry.
Technological innovations by Navodaya range from Cinemascope to 70mm to 3D. Navodaya introduced the Avid Digital Editing Suite for the first time in India in 1992. The studio took up the task of weaning older film editors from the cumbersome Moviolas & Steinbecks to the speed and comfort of digital editing and digital sound track assembly. Younger entrants were trained at Navodaya. This is to say that filmmaking in south India migrated to the digital era even before Hollywood started deploying desktop systems for film post-production.
Navodaya's first film Kadathanattu Makkam (1978) was produced and directed by Appachan himself. The second film Thacholi Ambu (1978), also directed by Appachan, was the first Cinemascope film in Malayalam.
About 60% of the film Kadathanattu Makkam, a costume drama, was shot in the indoor-combined- outdoor sets at the newly commissioned hydroelectric site at the Idukki reservoir.
Moving out from the studio floors to high up in the hills and shooting in the sets constructed amidst forests & lakes, was then a departure from norms.
cinemascope image aspect ratio 1 : 2.39
image aspect ratio 1 : 1.35
Continuing with the tradition of erecting mammoth sets in the magnificent outdoors, forests and lakeshores, Navodaya launched the first cinemascope film in malayalam - Thacholi Ambu, again a folklore/ costume drama.
Enacting dual roles - both as 'sacrificing characters', actor Jayan was established as a star with Thacholi Ambu. Balan K Nayar, a brilliant stage actor, became established as a character artiste.
<< L to R standing.
M.K. Anand (Prodction Exec), M.A. Amaan (Art Exec), Punthalathazham Ramachandran (Asst. Director), Stanley Jose (Associate Director), Baby (Chauffeur), S. Konnanatt (Art Director), U. Rajagopal (Cinematographer).
L to R sitting.
Govindankutty (script writer), Appachan & Sivaji Ganesan.
KULAMAVU. May 1978
Navodaya conducted a study survey of theaters in Kerala.
Questionnaires were sent out and cinema hall floor plans were made out to suggest design changes.
Screensizes were calculated for an image aspect ratio of 1 : 2.39.
Re-modifications were suggested theaters that had support pillars inside the auditorium.
Sivaji Ganesan & Prem Nazir -
a silver jubilee run at Apsara Theater, Calicut
Thacholi Ambu, cinemascope, 1978, was so huge a hit that within one year of the film's release, all cinema theaters (about 1100; average capacity - 800 seats) in the state of Kerala had converted to anamorphic projection and widescreen. For the initial release Navodaya had to stock and supply lenses to the theaters for the screenings. But by 1982, every film in malayalam language (about 120, annually) was being shot as cinemascope. Navodaya had not only revolutionised the production format, but also the exhibition circuit!
The release of Manjil Virinja Pookkal in 1980 is a watershed moment in the history of Malayalam cinema.
Director, Music Director, Protagonist, Antagonist and the Female lead - all debuting, also saw the entry of a future superstar called Mohanlal.
Padayottam (1982), directed by Jijo is arguably the first 70 mm film in India. (The postproduction work of Sholay 70mm was done in the United Kingdom. But for Padayottam, the 70mm blow up and six track magnetic sound work were done at Prasad Lab., Madras and Chitanjali Studios, Trivandrum).
In 1984 Navodaya released India's first 3D film, My Dear Kuttichathan directed by Jijo.
Apart from these landmark films, Navodaya also produced numerous hit films in Malayalam including Ente Mamaattukkuttiyammakku, Manjil Virinja Pookkal and Chanakyan. The studio at Kakkanad was later renovated through the 2000s to cater to the needs of the booming television industry. Appachan's son Jijo Punnoose has taken over its functioning and reinventing as a digital age production house.
In 1995 Navodaya created "Kishkinta", the Themed Amusement Park in Chennai. Appachan's son Jose Punnoose has since taken over its functioning.
Appachan, along with the Navodaya Studios, was awarded the J. C. Daniel Award in 2011 for "outstanding contributions to Malayalam cinema".
In 1989, The Hon. Kerala High Court in an unusual suo moto move, invited Appachan of Navodaya to complete and release a film called 'Kadathanadan Ambadi' whose production was embroiled in a dispute between a finance company who produced the said film, and its investors - pensioners who had deposited their life savings in the finance firm. It says much for Navodaya's professional reputation that in a landmark judgement the Supreme Court of India decided to entrust Appachan - a person unconnected with the film, with the further production and distribution of the film so as to plow back the funds to the thousands of depositors who had lost their savings when the said finance company, after diverting funds to the said film's production, went bankrupt.
1978 Thacholi Ambu
1993 Bible Ki Kahaaniyaan (Television series)
1998 Chota Chetan (First 3D film with DTS)
2003 Magic Magic 3D
2012 My Dear Kuttichathan (Digital 3D)
Shooting 3D in Times Square
film Magic, Magic. 2001
Shown above, is Navodaya’s first editing machine – an upright 35mm Moviola. Bought by Mr. Appachan in 1978 for his newly constructed Navodaya Studio, Kakkanad, Kochi, it was made available to him by his friend Mr. A.V.Meyyappa Chettiar from a consignment from Magnasync Hollywood, LA to AVM Studios, Chennai.
Shown on the right is India’s first Non-Linear-Edit System Navodaya brought from AVID of Massachusetts in 1992.
In a meeting at Singapore, Curt Rawley offered Appachan,
AVID's very first non-linear editing machine to be sold outside the U.S.
This system was setup first in Chennai for Navodaya’s Stories from The Bible – a TV Serial shot on film and telecast on tape.
This was installed by Senthil Kumar - grandson of A.V.Meyyappa Chettiar, along with his team from the newly constituted RealImage, Chennai.
Subsequently, this unit was the one which transformed the filmmaking landscape of India. In 1994, by offering free training on ‘Mediacomposer’ and ‘AudioVision’ on this Mac Quadra 900, Jose Punnoose of Navodaya and Senthilkumar of Real Image made a whole generation of film professionals in Kollywood and Bollywood embrace desk-top-systems for filmmaking. This occured even before the revolution happened in Hollywood.
After the completion of the TV series STORIES FROM THE BIBLE,
the first film in India to use NLE -
was edited on this Quadra 900 with Avid Filmcomposer.
The voice dubbing was done with AudioVision on the same machine.
Desktop systems arrive in Mollywood year 1999
Director T.K. Rajeevkumar
Actor Manju Warrier
voice dubbing for film
KANNEZHUTHI POTTUM THOTTU
which won a National award for the actor.
Navodaya had shifted the original Quadra 900 machine from Chennai to Trivandrum (with AudioVision) and installed it temporarily at the music recording studio
SS DIGITAL, THYCAUD
for Rajeevkumar's film.