Ellis R Dungan was the American filmmaker who directed MG Ramachandran in his first movie and Carnatic music singer MS Subbalakshmi in two of her most well-known screen outings. A documentary on Dungan’s years in Tamil cinema, titled An American in Madras, was made in 2013. Karan Bali’s film is the never-before-told story of how Dungan came to work in Chennai between 1935 and 1950s and made 13 features (11 of them in Tamil). These include Meera (1945) and Ponmudi (1950).
The film also explores Dungan’s contributions to the craft of filmmaking and his later years as a newsreel director. An American in Madras is available to watch on YouTube for free.