T R Sundaram (TRS), popularly called “Mudhalali” in the film trade, was the founder of Modern Theatres Studio at Salem. He began film production in 1933 by joining hands with Angel Films, Salem. At that time, they had to travel to Calcutta to make films. This bothered TRS and he decided to set up a studio at Salem itself. In 1936, he then set up the first fully integrated studio offering all the services needed to make a film, and through that studio, he started his film production. He approached film making with a professional attitude, importing foreign technicians for his debut film Sadhi Agalya in 1937. TRS produced the first Malayalam sound film Balan (1938) and became a part of the history of that language. He also produced the first colour films in Tamil (Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum with MGR) and in Malayalam (Kandam Bacha Coat). In his career spanning 30 years, he produced and directed 56 films and produced another 42 films with directors
like Ellis Dungan, C.V. Raman and T.R. Raghunath. Modern Theatres produced 98 films during his lifetime. In his memory, the South Indian Chamber’s Complex is called ‘Sundaram Avenue’.
The select filmography of TRS as a director is Burma Rani (1944), Ayiram Thalaivangia Apoorva Cinthamani (1947), Mayavathi (1949), Mandhiri Kumari with Ellis Duncan, (1950), Thigamba Samiyar (1950) and Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum (1955).