Tamil cinema (Tamil: தமிழ் சினிமா, also referred to as the cinema of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil film industry, or Chennai film industry) is the Tamil language filmmaking industry, based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is based in Chennai's Kodambakkam district, where Tamil language feature films are produced, which has led to a reference to the district and industry as Kollywood (Tamil: கோலிவுட் kōlivūṭ), a portmanteau of the words Kodambakkam and Hollywood. Tamil cinema is known for being India's second largest film industry after Hindi cinema in terms of revenue and worldwide distribution.[1][2]

Silent movies were produced in Chennai since 1916 and the era of talkies dawned in 1931 with the film Kalidas. By the end of the 1930s, the State of Madras legislature passed the Entertainment Tax Act 1939. Tamil Nadu cinema has had a profound effect on the film making industries of India, with Chennai becoming a hub for the filmmaking industries of other languages, including Telugu cinema, Malayalam cinema, Kannada cinema, Hindi cinema, Sinhalese cinema and Sri Lankan Tamil cinema in the 1900s, which makes it a legal claim to be the real Indian film capital, ahead of Mumbai.[3] Tamil–language films are further made in other countries. Today, Tamil films are distributed to various overseas theatres in South Asia, including Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia; East Asia, including Japan and South Korea; as well as Oceania, Southern Africa, Western Europe, North America, and other significant Tamil diaspora regions.

A visiting European exhibitor first screened (date unknown) a selection of silent short films at the Victoria Public Hall in Madras. The films all featured non-fictional subjects; they were mostly photographed records of day-to-day events.