This is Kamala Lakshman back when she was known as Kumari Kamala or Baby Kamala – at age 12 or 13 – dancing in the song “Gandhi Mahan” in the film Nam Iruvar. It’s very cute but also very interesting. First of all, though this may not be a big, dramatic kind of dance, it is still excellent. Look at the way she moves her arms – how does she do that?
This film is also significant as a patriotic statement in the year of India’s independence. (If only I’d had a chance to post this back in August…) Moreover, it was a major contributor to the explosion of interest in bharatanatyam, years before anyone would hear about the Travancore Sisters or Vyjayanthimala.
…Kamala’s dances not only proved to be the highlights of the film but also created film and cultural history.
Kamala also had two songs and dance items with lyrics written about Mahatma Gandhi, “Karuna murthy Gandhi Mahatma… !” and “Mahan… Gandhi… Mahan!” The songs were rendered off screen by the “baby-voiced” playback singer M.R. Rajeswari.
Nam Iruvar (1947) was a thumping success and Kamala’s dance ushered in a cultural revolution in the Tamil-speaking areas of the old Madras Presidency. Dance schools sprouted all over and Bharathanatyam acquired respectability
And also, there’s this comment in Wikipedia:
The film is remembered for the wonderful dance performances of Baby Kamala who has since become a legend. It is also remembered as the first film produced under the banner of AVM Productions. Following the success of the film, AVM moved his studio from Karaikudi to Kodambakkam in Chennai. Nam Iruvar was also the last film directed by A. V. Meiyappan and extensively portrayed the hopes and aspirations of a nation on the brink of independence.