Salem district is known for its mangoes, steel and Mettur dam, which is a major source of irrigation and drinking water for the state of Tamil Nadu.
Salem was the largest district in Tamil Nadu before it was bifurcated into two as Salem and Dharmapuri districts. Later, Salem district was again divided with the formation of the Namakkal district.The first cinema theater named Modern Theater was in Salem. And it is the fourth urbanized city next to madurai.
Salem is a Geologist's paradise, surrounded by hills and the landscape dotted with hillocks. Salem has vibrant culture dating back to the ancient Kongu Nadu. As a district, Salem has its significance in various aspects. Yercard is one of important tourism in Salem.
Modern Theatres was started by T R Sundaram in 1937, soon after the era of silent films ended in the South Indian film industry. It is built on nearly nine acres of land at the foot of the picturesque Yercaud hills. Sundaram or TRS as he was known, chose his location well. He was able to access verdant and beautiful shooting sites for his films within a 50 kilometer radii. He was also able to hire cheap and efficient labour in lightboys, cameramen and starstruck locals for his films. He produced nearly 117 films in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Sinhalese and other languages. Most of them were box office hits and he is credited with introducing M Karunanidhi, M G Ramachandran, M N Nambiar and Jayashankar to films. Sundaram was a punctuality freak and forced his crew to follow. It is rumoured that he would not hesitate to shout or use fists against rebellious actors.
After his death in the 1970's, his son Sundaram continued his tradition shooting cowboy remake films with actor Jayashankar in the lead roles. However by then, the focus had shifted to studios in Chennai. After the younger Sundaram died, his widow Kalavani gave the studios to building promoters in 2004. The studios were demolished except for a small signpost and the gigantic stone arch with the Modern Theatres sign. Today it is the entrance to a township of bungalows and small flats called Sundaram Gardens. However nostalgic fans often visit the spot to gaze at the arch and relive the more exciting times. This includes current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.