Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dynamic Comedy Duo.


    Tamil Cinema has not been lacking in dynamics of comedy and humour at any point of time, ever since its inception. Even during its founding years, Tamil films were reputed for vibrant comedy, displayed by amazing comedians such as N.S.Krishnan, Kali.N.Rathinam, T.S.Dorairaj and later  by great actors like K.A.Thangavelu, Nagesh and V.K.Ramasamy. It was these people who took verbal comedy to its decent and enjoyable heights. But even among these comedians, we would not have seen a continued team spirit, in the line of the Hollywood famous Laurel and Hardy.
   However, there are two comedians of Tamil Cinema,who launched a team show and went on well, with unusual gusto and exuberance, calling for spontaneous audience admiration, for nearly two decades. Strangely, both these actors began acting on an independent track.By a touch of fortune,they came together to reach new heights  in commendable verbal comedy with an intermittent spell of physical comedy necessitated by contextual compulsions.These two comedians Goundamani and Senthil  will ever stay tuned to the memory of a large section of the Tamil audience,who were fortunate as movie watchers, during the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties.
     As far as their independent comedy roles are concerned, Goundamani  would have scored more credits  than Sendhil because of his extraordinary verbal force, which he would have sensibly used teaming up with all heroes including Kamalahasan {Singaravelan and Indian need a special mention} and Rajinikanth [ Padhinaaru Vayadhinile, Uzhappaali, Mannan and Baabaa in particular}.Goundamani’s  grand show of verbal comedy took several U turns and stomach curdling curves whenever he joined the company of Sathyaraj. Some of the special films in this regard are Thirumadhi Pazhanichami,Vela Kidachuduchu,Walter Vetrivel, Bramma, Nadigan, Pangaali,Vallal,Thai Maaman,Kungumapottu Gounder,Maaman Magal and Malabar Police. I think Goundamani  would have acted maximum number of films with Sathyaraj as hero. Goundamani's  role as a political aspirant in Sooriyan {with Sarathkumar as hero} was another feather on his cap with a performance full of lively wit vibrant satire.He also celebrated his solo comedy in films like Payanagal Mudivadhillai and Naan Paadum Paadal. 
    For Sendhil  without  Goundamani, it is not that easy to display his intrinsic  humour potential. It is the presence of Goundamani  that inspires him to make a marvelous show of his cheeky side of humour taking his senior comedian casually for a ride, every now and then. Tamil audience can never erase from their memory hard drive, the most hilarious scenes from films like Kattabomman, Chinna Gounder, Chinnavar, Manasukketha Maharaasaa, Thangamana Rasa, Naattaamai , Gentleman,Jaihind. Karna, Indian, and the most famous Karagaattakkaran. The banana scene from the last film mentioned here, would stay as an epoch making comedy scene like that  of K.A.Thangavelu narrating his bogus award winning function to his wife M.Saroja, in Kalyana Parisu and  Naagesh narrating the ghost tale in his proposed film to his father T.S.Balaiah, in Kadhalikka Neramillai.
   There is a remarkable scene in a movie in which Goundamani  would have explained the meaning of cholera as an evil spirit. Subsequently fearing the spread of cholera, Goundamani will travel on the pillion of the cycle pedaled by Sendhil . When Goundamani’s foot gets stuck to the back wheel, he will shout ‘kaalraa Kaalra’[my foot man! my foot] Senthil  will coolly say that he knows it is cholera and that is why he is riding fast so that both of them can escape from it. In another film, Sendhil  will watch Goundamani consoling a bereaved son at a funeral, stating that the dead man was not only a father to his son but also a venerable father to everybody in the village. Soon in  a similar context,Sendhil  will be seen consoling a bereaved husband, stating that the departed wife was not only a beloved wife of her husband but a loving wife of everyone.How much Sendhil   gets thrashed for this, is anybody’s guess. Senthil  will then innocently think, why when Goundamani says such things he is not beaten by anybody, forgetting the context and its requirements of behaviour and manner of talk.
    In another film Goundamani  will  be selling tender coconuts and Sendhil as his assistant driven by the temptation to become a coconut seller will soon indulge in stealing Goundamani’s tender coconuts, using a rope and pulling them one after the other, to another place installed by him as a shop. He will do this with the help of Vadivelu.  In Jai Hind, every time when Goundamani{ a cop, in that film}goes to sleep, Sendhil will appear in his dreams, goading him to do the unwanted, thereby causing a demotion or some other punishment in his job. Through out the film, Senthil will be a nightmare for Goundamani. Who, other than Sendhil ,will have the temerity to argue that  he an  eight standard passed out candidate, is superior to Goundamani, a tenth standard failed person, because a pass is always superior to  failure in an examination.
    The collateral damage that Senthil  causes to Goundamani in several movies, is the creamy layer of hilarious comic situations ending up in thunderous applause from the audience. The most unforgettable comedy in this category is from K.S.Ravikumar’s Naattaamai  wherein, Sendhil plays the notorious womanizing father of Goundamani. While Goundamani will be helplessly looking for  a girl for himself to be his wife Sendhil will effectively thwart the former's attemptsThe other noteworthy aspect of Goundamani's search is his desire to know who his mother is. Whenever Sendhil addresses Goundamani as'My son' Goundamani will retort by calling him'Dei Thagappa'}.Though Naattaamai was a grand show in all respects, one could firmly acknowledge the dynamic reach of Goundamani Senthil comic anecdotes adding to its historic victory at the box office.
   At one point of time or the other any trend  has to meet its natural end. This dynamic duo could not be said to have parted ways. But  the audience preference began to move towards newer display of laughter quotient and comedians like Vivek and Vadivelu took over the screen for the evolution of  social concepts and contextual display of physical comedy combined with verbal banter. However, Sendhil  like Goundamani ,established his  individual might of comedy, by his special association with the Superstar in films like Muthu,Arunachalam and Padayappa and the comedy segment of these films was a clear indicator of what Senthil is  independently capable of .
   Goundamani, who was introduced by Barathiraja, continued to remain a constant addition in most of the films of this  epoch making film maker. His talent has also been successfully utilized by many able hands like R.Sundarajan, Manivannan, Ramarajan, Ve.Sekar, P.Vasu, K.S.Ravikumar,R.V.Udhyakumar and Shankar. Besides he was  regularly included in the films of the Motherland pictures. Sendhil being almost the alter ego of Goundamani would have been there in most of the films directed by the above film makers.Perhaps Shankar would have inducted him in a few more films like Jeans and Boys.Sendhil has also been a special favourite of actor Thiagarajan who gave him the first opportunity in Malayur mambattiyaan.
    Like Nagesh whose comedy show dominated Tamil Cinema for more than two decades, the humour  component of Goundamani and Senthil  flew high  wielding their welded wings to newer zones. Trends might change every now and then. But each age has a special message to pass over to posterity. It is this message that makes history. In this regard  the message passed on by the duo is that, if two individuals set aside their ego, they can create new records in joint ventures  with a dynamic reach of their joint show.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The "Innocent" Face of Malayalam Cinema.


     Malayalam Cinema owes its credibility in creativity and success in status, to many veteran film makers, script writers, actors, cinematographers, musicians, singers and so on. There is always a unique stamp of originality governing the entire gamut of Malayalam film making. Among heroes, from Prem  Nazir to the most recent entrant, many would take credit for lifting the creative face of Malayalam film industry, each one unfolding a distinct dimension to character delineation. But among character actors, mixing a celebrated   gusto of comedy, there are only a few actors who have made a long standing impact with a constant display of spontaneity, individuality and variety.
    There was Adoor Bhasi who occupied the centre stage as one of the prominent  faces of Malayalam Cinema, nearly for four decades from the Nineteen Fifties. Luckily,there was no vacuum left by him because immediately, there came another ebullient actor, who amazingly mixed up comedy with character portrayal and sustained the tempo maintained by Adoor Bhasi. The grandeur in Bhasi was due to the impeccable mark of innocence coupled with mischief and there was no decline in this extraordinary brand of character fixation, thanks to the emergence of yet another master of the craft, carrying innocence in his name too. Innocent Vareed Thekkethala, shortly called Innocent, is the steadfast actor- turned politician and Member of Parliament, who has  attained the singular position of an inseparable segment of the Malayalee movie routine.
    Those who have acquainted themselves with the inception, emergence and progress of Tamil Cinema would  compare  Innocent without prejudice, to the prestigious position held by actors like S.V.Subbiah, S.V.Rengarao,T.S.Balaiah,V.K.Ramasamy and M.R.Radha of the last century. Innocent has in him, a trait or two of all these actors and with his own  masterly strokes has added pep and dynamism to each of his role performances. Voice is the greatest asset of Innocent. It is a tremendous voice pattern capable of churning out several emotions at one stroke. In expressing anxiety and nervousness, he may resemble T.S.Balaiah and in increasing his decibel he may be closer to V.K.Ramasamy. In moments of dignified silence he will bring the veteran SV.Subbiaha to our memory. In deliberation of hasty dialogues ending up  in a sudden switch off, he will be like S.V.Rengarao and Radha. It is my remarkable association with Tamil Cinema, that makes  me equate Innocent with the stalwart character actors in Tamil films. Otherwise, one could simply say he is an actor in the line of Adoor Bhasi,  opening up newer channels and intricacies in acting, through his independent creative formulations .
     As far as quality of role performance is concerned, Innocent heralds fresh throws and trends in acting by injecting hilarity and emotions relevantly to the context, thereby making himself incomparable. One could say he is unbeatable in combining comedy with character projection.The salient humour shots of Innocent, generate more from his physical demonstration [otherwise known as body language]than from his utterances. It is a kind of immobile, stony stance he periodically maintains in his body language, resulting in instant laughter.His face is a symbolic exterior,shuffling expressions and emotions in a sequence, through the calculated movement of his eyes and lips. Most often, one could perceive an ostensible stubbornness in his body mould and gesticulations, that would successfully reflect him as an unrelenting talent. Yes, as an aggressive artist, he would not surrender his position  to anyone in any context. Be it in the midst of reputed Malayalam big screen comedians ,or great heroes like Mammootty,Mohanlal Jeyaram and Dileep, the presence of Innocent, will be a poignant indicator of the shot that stays glued to the memory of the audience.
       Malayalam films abound in rib tickling physical and verbal comedy scenes vigorously carried on by a hearty tribe of humour mongers, like[ late] Cochin Haneefa,Jagathy Sreekumar,Harisree Ashokan,Salim Kumar, and Sooraj Venjaramoodu. Among these seasoned comedians, the first two have excelled in character acting too. But Innocent belongs to a specific category of actors capable of establishing an endearing link with the audience, demanding an invisible personal acceptance. It is difficult to bring in the list of all his great movies because the number itself is great. However, there are some special films, that would force the audience to keep thinking not only about those films, but also about Innocent’s contribution towards enriching the quality of the films.
      In this regard, my memory archive could release from storage films like Kilukkam, Devasuram, Life is Beautiful,Vietnam Veedu,Ravanaprabu ,Mithunam, Rasathandhiram, Manichithrathaazhu, Balettan,Naran,Madampi,Ustaad, Alibhai,Baba Kalyani,Maambazhakkaalam,Snehaveedu, Gitanjali [all with Mohanlal}Hitler, Pattaalam Valiettan, Chronic Bachelor, Kaazhcha,Vesham,Kadha Parayumbol, Pranchiettan &the Saint with Mammootty,Verudhe Oru Bharya,Bagyadhevadha with Jeyaram,Nanedanam and Vellithira with Prithviraj and Chandran Udhikkunna Dhikkil,Vettam, Ishtam Marykkundoru Kugnaadu,Paapy Appachan,and Aagathan with Dileep, apart from the mega hit multi-starring Twenty Twenty produced by Dileep.
      I have given here only the list of significant movies that I have watched. I have not seen his most popular films like Mannar Mathai Speaking l and ll and Husbands in Goa.The eventful scenes of comedy and character performance of Innocent, are an on-the-spot  quick fix, refusing to leave the memory slot. The periodical  quarrels between him and his wife in’ Life is Beautiful’ ending up in a sweet course of romance, thanks to Mohanlal, his helplessness in preserving secrets in ‘Rasathandhram’,his stiff comedy war against Mukesh and Harishree Ashokan in ‘Chronic Bachelor’,his rigid approach towards his son in ‘Pappy Appachan’and his self-centered clandestine banking activities in ‘Chandran Udikkunna Dikkil’ are a few samples of the variety dimensions of characters he played on screen with precision and perfection.Besides these memorable performances, it was a pleasure to see him in priestly roles in a few movies and the way he fixed himself compactly,with unfailing look of dignity and sanctity in the character of God, in ‘Philips and the Monkey’s Pen’.
     Innocent’s progress and sustenance in the field of acting has been both stable and substantially qualitative like the unobstructed acting career of the Tamil comedienne Manorama.The presence of this amazing actor in several Malayalam films is not due to any special favour shown to him, but because of his indispensability for adding certain amount of valid vibration to the narration of the main story. Above all, his amiable frame of innocence, capable of delivering the perennial flow of mischief and humour, is his potential  market value, selling himself lovably into the hands of many film makers as an inevitable value addition.The really complicated issue in the case of this renowned Malayalam movie lord is the difficulty in assessing, when actually Mr.Innocent is mischievous and when this cheeky mischief maker is helplessly innocent.This is certainly the piquant side of the 'Innocent' face of Malayalam Cinema.


Friday, August 22, 2014

An ''Intensively, Dialogue Supported'' Film.


      Radhakrishnan Parthiban’s ‘’Kadhai Thiraikadhai Vasanam Iyakkam’’ {Story, screenplay, Dialogue and Direction’’} carrying the apologetic note ‘a  film without a story’ rightly justifies the note. Perhaps the lengthy title of the movie has inspired the director in Parthiban to expand his name too, from the hitherto R.Parthiban to Radhakrishnan Parthiban. The four worded title, in my opinion, could do Parthiban {one of my highly esteemed Tamil film personalities known for creative originality,in the line of K.Balachander Barathiraja and Kamalahasan }genuinely  proud of the third component of the title.
       Parthiban,most reputed for his spontaneous potshots hardly misses them at any point of the scenic sequences and it is the banter and cheeky sense of humour that infuse consistent tempo and gusto to an otherwise moderate film and make it fit for audience appreciation. Every scene showing Arvind{Dhinesh Natarajan} snubbing Seenu Sir {Thambi Ramaiah} is a mixture of juvenile presumptuousness  and senile helplessness. But  the amount of hilarity and laughter these scenes generate, are a great stuff, minimizing the  impact of the loopholes in narration.
   Parthiban’s banter is not anything new to us. We have been interestingly watching it from his very first film Pudhiya Paadhai. Besides his word teasers, we have also seen a kind of mood shuffling, deftly introduced by him in narrating his scenes and characters. This mood shuffling of Parthian is always a beautiful blend of humour,despair, anger, taunt and cynicism, hardly sparing any section of society including women. His wrath against irresponsible parents for the creation of bastards, criminals and thugs used to surface in some of his most successful films. He has not spared the political system and police force too. 
    There is a kind of creative audacity in him that places him far ahead of others, involved in making films. One could also see a pattern of mood imbalance prioritized in the form of themes and characters in many of his films and even in this latest venture, there is a character-a security guard-talking to the ghost of his boss. Satire is Parthiban’s pet area and in this film he has run the risk of temerity, in throwing stones from a glass house, not minding the damage it might cause to his own creative abode.
   The caricature of Lord Bramma, briefly played by Praksh Raj is nothing but a hurried hotchpotch. In fact all the beginning shots, except the one showing Vijay Sethupathi stealing the ceiling fan instead of  doing the anticipated act of committing suicide by hanging from the fan,do not seem to evoke the intended result of creating an inventive approach. Similarly,the story within the story, showing Arya and Amala Paul as lovers, turns out to be a listless narration without adding any tempo to the main course. 
    In one scene a woman is shown asking the film making team if they do any preview of their films. When the team responds in the affirmative, pat she asks them, then why the films are so intolerably bad. This is Parthiban’s style of self-criticism that has the potential to endanger his own script and its final outcome. But he does not bother  about that.
    Two characters who monitor the pulse of the film from the audience track, are Arvind and Seenu Sir.I am sure this is yet another memorable performance of Thambi Ramaiah after Myna and Kumki. The sly reference to Devar Films leaves its intentions to audience perception. But the new generation film makers should not forget the fact that Devar Films had its distinct merit of grasping what would sell and what would not.The pointed reference to Bagyaraj excellently handling the climax in his most celebrated filmAndha Ezhu Naatkal, speaks about the quality of career association between Parthiban and Bagyaraj.
    Santhosh Pradap playing the hero is compact in form and performance, maintaining the level of sobriety that his role requires. Akila Kishore as the heroine Daksha, has been adequately utilized in reflecting the aesthetics and dynamism of womanhood. Dialogues such as ‘you deserve a kiss’ and koyya pazham becoming koidha pazham would reach the younger audience in their romantic ripeness.
    The film unit repeatedly says that the audience are the ultimate jury to accept or reject a film. Four of us went to watch the film. I loved the film for its cutting dialogues and screen play but regretted the absence of anything new in theme and direction. One of my companions could not watch it because her kid cried at the irrelevant horrid start of the film.The three year old kid, used to watching films with a projector at home, rejected the movie and asked us to change the film.As we could not do it at a theatre, the mother and kid instantly left the theatre. Of the other two,one could withstand it, while the last in the list squarely hated the film, calling it a waste of time.Interestingly, all my companions for this movie watch, constituted the women audience. What the other sections of the audience would say, we have to wait and see.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tamil Films on Patriotism.

      Patriotism could be called a fine feeling cherished by everyone, for the well being of one's country.It is similar to one's love and attachment for one's parents or even more than that.One's patriotic ground turns firm and robust when one's country faces threat to its sovereignty or when its independence is under pressure from imperialist forces.To be ruled by others at the cost of one's freedom is worse than serfdom and suppression.When a country is suppressed,enslaved and ruled by others it results in untold agony and outbursts of resistance letting out a collective, clarion cry for freedom.It is then the natives' love for their country deepens its roots for a firm resolve, to guard their soil above everything else.Films quite often pay encomiums to the spirit of patriotism, in the form of exemplary themes,stories and characters.Tamil cinema has shown consistent enthusiasm and involvement in this regard.
     When one's country enjoys independence and freedom,the greatest effort sets in, to look forward to rejoicing moments of prosperity and peace and protect one's geographical frontiers against corrupt and divisive forces that begin to function with vested interests. When the native rulers at times, make the people feel that their post independent era is no better or even worse than that of the colonial rulers,the true patriots begin to simmer in rage and react vehemently, to the prevailing practice of injustice that dampens the presence of independence.Patriotism does not say goodbye, when a country becomes independent.On the other hand,it is a sustained sense of fulfillment when one feels that everything goes on on well ever,in one's country, thereby making the concept of freedom more meaningful and rewarding. Pre-independent years in India witnessed the united voice of patriotism in ousting the colonial forces;post independent years have propelled patriotic fervour against selfish power mongers, settling their personal scores through money,muscle and the might of governance.
     Tamil films on patriotism, released just before and a decade after independence,dwelt mostly on the defence forces devotedly guarding the territories, from cross border aggression by neighbouring countries.There were also a few impressive shows of freedom fighters, through films like Veera Pandia Kattabomman,Siva Gangai Seemai and Kappalottiya Thamizhan released during the Nineteen Sixties and these films carried substantial relevance to the mood of freedom.A couple of films like Padhi Bakthi, Rathathilagam and Paarthaal Pasitheerum,paid grand tributes to the service and sacrifices of soldiers, languishing at the defence borders.In a majority of films, the greatest Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan was seen adding glory to the heroes of patriotism by his emotional percolation into such characters. He did this not only by adorning the protagonist's role in patriotic films, but also proudly facilitating the spirit of patriotism through a scenic or song sequence of that kind in any film, on other family or social themes such as Baratha Vilas and Rajapart Rangadhurai.
   Heroes like Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar have time and again carried on their struggle for a brighter and more powerful India,through their repeated role performance in a number of films. Rajinikanth's Raanuva Veeran,Saratkumar's Captain and Yei, Vijayakanth's Sandhanakkatru,and Satyaraj's Thai Naadu have narrated story lines directly related to the experiences of army men. There was also an army related story background in Prabu Deva's Villu starring Vijay.Most of these films tried to pinpoint negative tendencies among some army men  that transformed them into anti nationals at the cost of their fundamental patriotic requirements.  
     Social inequalities,neglect of those who fought for the freedom of India,promotion of deliberate injustice for the sake of personal aggrandizement,have served as powerful themes and have dramatically supplemented the patriotic voice, in a number of films and the proud fact is this kind of films are more popular with the audience at all times.It comes as a comprehensive story format of social concern and this is how some of the leading heroes create their mass base for success formula.This is how MGR became a people's hero.Almost all his films either completely or at least partially, formed a battleground against social evils and injustice.In this way,MGR became an all time hero and a stalwart voice of patriotism.
    As a director of the new generation,it is Shankar who has taken the lead in projecting social concern as synonymous of patriotism.His constant and compulsive line of thinking against corruption and injustice, places him as a front liner among the new wave patriots patrolling the field for a clean up.What is striking about this new tend in patriotism is the passion for pruning one's home through a simultaneous tone of sympathy for the personally and socially affected lot and through anger and force displayed in the cleaning process.
    Starting from his very first film Gentleman,Shankar has steadily grown as the brand master of the most sensational theme of political and social corruption being handled astutely by the concerted, anti corruption lobby.His Indian was the story of an erstwhile freedom fighter and a true patriot whose disgust against enormous corruption took him to the extent of terminating the whole corrupt lot and a single knife became the tool, picked up for the cleaning process.His film Mudhalvan resorted to a more positive and pragmatic approach, but finally showed the patriot embracing the firmer,manipulative Machiavellian mode to eradicate the evil political face.Shankar's other film Annian showed the patriot as a case of paranoid, split personality,choosing a much cruder method, for extinguishing the social and national enemies from within.His film Sivaji, like his Gentleman,focused on positive intelligence as a powerful ploy against the perpetrators of corruption and social injustice.
   When it comes to new generation actors,it is action king Arjun who looks up high as the proudest Patriot of Tamil cinema.Be it the titles of his films or the roles he has played so far, his conviction has placed him as the topmost among Tamil heroes,saluting their country's image and its flag with dignity and gratitude.Even from his earliest films like Sankar Guru and Pratap,Arjun has stuck to the position of a hard core fighter against the wrong side players spoiling the peace and happiness of the place they dominate.Titles of his films like Jai Hind,Thaayin Manikkodi,Vandhe Madhram straight away take us to the patriotic zone. Arjun deserves a singularly commendable position in Tamil Cinema, for powerfully presenting and representing the sense of well being, cherished by all Indians, in each of his films.He could be rightly called the Indian of Tamil Cinema.
   Films on patriotism would be perennially powerful as a thought provoking exhibit of heroism,dedication and sacrifice.A periodical portrayal of patriotic values on the big screen becomes a prerequisite for reinforcing the ethical foundation of every nation.The quality of life of all citizens of a country needs to be augmented and enriched by those who take oaths in the name of their conscience,to govern.Those who govern with qualms and ethical norms would ever remain as the truest patriots,inspiring the people who they govern.In a country where the citizens are inspired by valued governance,everyone shares the mood of patriotism towards the over all development of their country.


Friday, August 1, 2014

P.S.Veerappa, The Villain Actor-Cum- Film Producer.

   Cruel, bold eyes,harsh voice and a distinctly haughty, serial laugh,were the salient traits that characterized the villainy of P.S.Veerappa,the most formidable villain actor of the last century. People can hardly forget the serpentine venom his tongue would throw, while delivering dialogues. The world those days, was true to itself without the presence of electronic maneuvers to paint it differently.People by and large were either good or bad without any trace of pretensions in trying to be good.As such, the villains in real life or in cinema, exposed themselves with their true colors. Sophisticated villainy was rare then.Hence the two major villains P.S.Veerappa and M.N.Nambiar were rightly identified, as the incarnation of crudeness and brutality.More than Nambiyar,Veerappa seemed to find pleasure in winning the the proclaimed hatred of the audience, against his villainy on screen.
       MGR became a great hero, mostly with the competitive villainy of either Veerappa or Nambiar or  with both of them seen together, in the same film of that marvellous hero. MGR and Veerappa fought against each other in a number of films.The most memorable in this list was the film Mahadevi,with MGR as King and P.S.Veerappa,as his lieutenant,craving for the king's wife.This film showed Veerappa in the worst ever villain role,that invited the spontaneous hatred of everyone, particularly the women among the audience.Their hatred was more against his performance than against him.How crude a villain he was in that film, to turn the hero blind and then attempt to kill the hero's new born kid just for the sake of his craving for the wife of another man. Mahadevi produced by the Jupiter pictures, was a historic hit and Veerappa's villainy was its major contributing factor.
   There were other fantastic series of the MGR-Veerappa tussle,like Marudha Naatu Ilavarasi, Jenoa, Mannadhi Mannan,Chakravarthithirumagal, Vikramadhithan, Alibaabaavum Naarpadhu Thirudargalum,Nadodi Mannan,Rajarajan,and Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundara Pandian, which happened to be the last film of MGR.All these films were based on royal or mythical themes with stories about great kings and their ordeals in achieving good in the midst of concerted wickedness and evil.Obviously,Veerappa always reflected the wrong side in all these films.Naam, Anandha Jothi and Pallaandu Vaazhga were the other films of MGR in which Veerappa acted as villain, but these three films were based on family and social themes. Anandha Jothi was produced by P.S.Veerappa himself,under Hariharan Pictures.In Pallaandu Vaazhga, Veerappa was shown as a confirmed baddie waiting to be reformed by a good police officer, played by MGR.In Anandha Jothi, Kamalahasan had also acted, as a child artist.
      During my childhood days I used to shudder at the very appearance of P.S.Veerappa.I hated him on the screen more than I hated M.N.Nambiyar, because the latter did good character roles in several films like Makkalai Petra Magarasi,Dhigambara Saamiyar,Nallavan Vaazhvaan,Samaya Sanjeevi, Boologa Rambai,Panathottam,Ninaithadhai Mudippavan and so on. Imagine Veerappa's role in a film like Kaidhi Kannaayiram,a Modern Theatres' film that had R.S.Manohar and K.A.Thangavelu as two heroes.How horrid Veerappa was, both in looks and role portrayal, in that film.Every child  shivered at his sight.So did I. Veerappa's other unforgettable villain role was in the movie Vanjikkottai Valiban produced by Gemini Studios.After the famous one liner 'Mahadevi Enna Mudivu Seidhirukkiraai?'{'Mahadevi, What have you decided?'} in the film 'Mahadevi' the other great one liner 'Sabash!Sariyaana Poetti' {'Wow!A proper contest'}would have gone into the memory lane of the audience, to stay there permanently.
     Veerppa's  delivery of chaste Tamil dialogues, was ever a treat to our ears.His timing, precision and clarity of dialogue delivery, were his major assets, as a devoted actor, aptly trained in all norms of dramatic intricacies.Apart from these admirable acting qualities,P.S.Veerappa was extraordinarily good at fencing.Many film goers would have enjoyed the MGR movies released in the Nineteen fifties and sixties, mainly for the felicitous style of fencing displayed by MGR and P.S. Veerappa. Though Veerappa was good at fisticuffs,it was his fencing zeal that was scaled high.
     Apart from MGR,the other hero who would have experienced the ferocious villainy of P.S.Veerappa was,Gemini Ganesan, whose films like Aasai,Vanjikkottai Vaaliban, Veerakkanal, Boologa Rambai and Parthiban Kanavu deserve a special place in his film career. Similarly,with S.S.Rajendran,P.S.Veerappa had acted in films like Siva Gangai Seemai andThalai Koduthaan Thambi,
    It is quite surprising how an outstanding villain actor like P.S.Veerappa who did nearly a dozen films with MGR,was not found sharing screen space frequently with a classic hero like Sivaji Ganesan.Some of the films he did with Sivaji Ganesan were,Kaveri,Ulagam Palavidham,Marudha Naattu Veeran, Rani Lalithaangi and Thangamalai Ragasiyam.It is  equally strange that when this Villain actor became a producer,he chose to do more number of films with Sivaji Ganesan as hero than with MGR.His PSV pictures produced mega hits like Aalayamani and Andavan Kattalai and the fairly popular film Iru Dhuruvam,all with the Chevalier as hero.
    Veerappa's transition from acting to film production appeared to be a casual process and he continued making films with other successful heroes like Jai Shankar {Ponnu Mappile}Sarath Babu{Thisai Maariya Paravaigal},Raguvaran {Kaliyugam}Arjun{Vetri}and Vijayakanth{Saatchi} Like K.Balaji,P.S.Veerappa used to appear as a character in almost all the films produced by him.Apart from the Sivaji Ganesan films,all the other films produced by the P.S.V Pictures had stories based on themes of crime and adventure. Thisai Maaria Paravaigal might be an exception.
   Though P.S.Veerappa could be called a good film producer,people today remember him only as a virulent villain on screen, capable of putting the audience in an experience of watching terror and brutality in traditional form.Whenever people happen to view modern films on historical narration or on the lives of kings and their kingdoms,it is very much true that they long for an actor like P.S.Veerappa to represent villainy of magnificent order.For instance,when Rajinikanth's Maaveeran and Adutha Vaarisu were released,I really felt his absence in those films.Though Jai Shankar and Chendhaamarai performed effectively as Villains I thought if P.S.Veerappa had been there, it would have added more strength and dynamism to the element of villainy in those films.It is rare for a villain actor to leave behind him, a nostalgic audience, thinking of his grand style of acting and longing to see more of his stylish show of villainy, particularly in movies on royal story lines.In this respect, P.S.Veerappa will ever remain more irreplaceable, as an actor than a producer.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Two Contemporary Comedians With Their Popular Prefixes.



      Actors taking a prefix to their names is not anything new to Tamil Cinema.Even among heroes we have some, taking their first film before their names.This is how Jeyam Ravi and Nizhalgal Ravi differentiate themselves.We have several other actors like Vennira Aaadai Murthi,a felicitous comedian known for his bilabial pranks and names like Oruviral Krishna Rao,Vennira Aadai Nirmala,Pasi Narayanan and so on.There are a few actors with a fancy prefix with their names like Bakkoda Kadher,Omakuchi Narasimhan,Thayirvadai Desigan Bonda Mani etc.But I am referring here to the two fabulous comedians of the Nineteen Sixties to Eighties called Thenagai Srinivasan and Suruli Rajan who were wonderful contemporaries in terms of age and their active period of participation in Tamil films.The prefix Thengai seems to have preceded Srinivasan on account of his role as a coconut seller in a stage play.But Rajan takes the name Suruli because of his native place near the Suruli Falls.Unfortunately, both these comedians did not live long to continue to provide comedy for a vast section of their admirers.
      While Thengai Srinivasan is remembered for his bold eyes and cutting voice,Rajan's singular hoarse voice pattern would be lingering in the ears of the audience, perpetually celebrating his comedy sense. Thengai Srinivasan's comedy waves surged to reach the portals of famous production houses like the AVM Studios,Sujatha Cine Arts,Sathya Movies and Dhandayudhabani Fims, besides being closer to stalwart heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Jai Shankar,Muthuraman,Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan.Suruli Rajan would have rarely shared screen space with MGR but has been a part of many films of Sivaji Ganesan, Jai Shankar,Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. If Thengai Srinivasan was the favourite of director K.Balachander,Suruli Rajan was patronized by A.P.Nagarajan T.R.Ramanna and R.Thiagarajan of Dhandayudhabani Films.
    Unlike Suruli Rajan,Thengai Srinivasan quite often turned to play villain roles with pomp and power, in films liken Muthuchippi,Mayanguhiral Oru Maadhu,Dharma Yudham,Sattam En Kaiyil and Thangamagan.It was a crude form of villainy that he performed in these films similar to that of Nagesh in Aboorva Sagodhargal. Some of his most popular comedy shows were teamed up with Rajini for films like Moonru Mugam and Thillu Mullu. He would have done almost equal number of films with Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. His other great Rajini films are,Anbukku Naan Adimai,Billa and Padikkadhavan. His well known Kamal films are Meendum Kokila,Andha Oru Nimidam and Sakalakala Vallaban. But one of his brilliant and spontaneous comedy shows was in AVM's Kaasedhaan Kadavulada with R.Muthuraman and Srikanth and the song sequence ''Jambulingame Jadaadharaa''would speak volumes of the power of humour that Thengai Srinivasan was capable of delivering.The other two films in a similar category were Jai Shankar's Ungal Viruppam and Kalyaanamaam Kalyaanam.The most memorable films of Suruli Rajan are Moonrezhuthu, Naan,Thirumalai Thenkumari, Vaa Raaja Vaa,Kankatchi, Murattukkalai, and Maanthoeppu Kiliye. The last in this list in which he performed the character of a potential miser,created hilarious moments to become a historic comedy performance.
   Both these comedians evinced a clear preference for decent and purposeful comedy without ever stooping to vulgarity either in their gesticulations or dialogue delivery.Like the veteran actor V.K.Ramasamy,both these comedians were fit for playing the characters of Accountants of Wealthy families or the sidekicks of landlords.Again like VKR,Thengai Srinivasan did characters prone for mischievous deliberations as he successfully delivered in films like MGR'r Rickshakaaran and Sivaji Ganesan's Thiagam. However,unlike Suruli Rajan,Thengai Srinivasan here and there appeared in very serious roles and the best in this frame was Kaliyugakkannan in which his action came closer to that of Sivaji Ganesan in Gowravam. The extraordinary characteristic of Thengai Srinivasan's acting calibre was his veritable sense of sobriety, in doing character and villain roles, giving a picture totally different from that of a comedian.
    Though Thengai Srinivasan's contribution is marked by volume and versatility,Suruli Rajan's acting range and quality can not be underrated.Both these comedians reigned at a time, when Nagesh's career was ebbing and K.A.Thangavel was rarely playing comedy roles.They could be credited on their independent merit of dedication to acting in general and to the comedy zone in particular.They lived at a time when creativity was not running short of originality, or put under the pressures of the new age concepts of humour. Both these comedians could essay roles, with a perfect understanding of the rural and urban audience,though Suruli Rajan could easily fit into the rural pockets and Thengai Srinivasan to both the city and village mood.Above all, the greatest asset of both these comedians was their capacity to promote comedy without any semblance of artificiality.It is in this respect their contribution to Tamil Cinema,remains redeeming and and worthy of remembrance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Heroes on the Comedy Track.

     A hero on screen, should be an all rounder.He should be ready not only to play antihero and character roles, but should also reveal his flair for humour. But some like MGR, might not have been ready for doing villain roles.In fact, I do not remember MGR doing any strong comedy roles other than in 'Sabash Maappile'.Though he has certainly provided contextual comedy scenes in a few films,he has always remained a serious hero focusing on his pet themes of social justice, equality and uplift of the poor and downtrodden.Whereas Sivaji Ganesan who excelled in all kinds of roles, was a very impressive performer of comedy in a number of full length comedy films like Thenali Raman,Manamagan Thevai,Sabash Meena,Arivaali, Bale Pandiya,Oottivarai Uravu and Galattaa Kalyanam besides providing scenic sense of humour in several films.As in all other characters,Sivaji as a comedian, was lovable and enjoyable either in isolation or in company with outstanding comedians like J.P.Chandrababu,T.S.Dorairaj,K.A.Thangavelu and Nagesh.
    Gemini Ganesan,the close associate and contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan was also good at comedy though his pet area was always romance.Films like Maaman Magal,Yaar Paiyyan, Missiamma,Manidhan Maaravillai and the first half of Kalyana Parisu with his jovial moments with K.A.Thangavelu, showed him as a perfect bet for comedy.However,it was R.Muthuraman,the other contemporary and preferred companion of Sivaji Ganesan, who was capable of spontaneous and convincing comedy play, in big hits like Kadhalikka Neramillai,Kasedhan Kadavulada, Oottivarai Uravu,Veettukku Veedu,Edhir Neechal,Bama Vijayam and so on.Muthuraman was an endearing actor and he casually impressed the audience by his roles of fake innocence,which he wonderfully displayed in the movies mentioned above. Jaishankar who came later was fit for playing not only serious cop roles but also for generating spot humour in many films like Bommalaattam,Aayiram Poi, Kalyanamaam Kalyanam,Veettukku Veedu,Ungal Viruppam, and Poova Thalaiya. Ravichandran,the other hero of this period who was introduced in Sidhar's major comedy hit Kaadhalikka Neramillai was a more serious actor who could provide comedy only in association with other actors,preferably comedians like Nagesh,Cho Ramasamy and Surulirajan. The other hero who would feel uncomfortable with comedy is Sivakumar.
    Who could say 'NO' to Rajinikanth's self- styled sense of humour ebulliently unleashed in most of his films? His very mannerisms even in stunt scenes, would send the audience to the height of laughter.He could create hilarious moments either with a fly as he did in Velaikkaran or a cobra as found in Thambikku Endha Ooru [While perusing a sexually exciting magazine] and Arunachalan [while dealing with a restive guest small in size, at a marriage] or a monkey as seen in Arunachalam. No one can forget the scene in Chandramugi showing the superstar freezing Vadivelu with a ghost story.It was almost similar to the scene in Kaghalikka Neramillai with a similar context of thriller narration by Nagesh to win over T.S.Balaiah. But Rajini's facial expressions would have definitely made Nagesh humbled. Rajini's boundless comedy fervour was witnessed in several movies like Adhisiappiravi,Rajaadhi Raja,Dharmathin Thalaivan,Dharmadhurai,Padikkadhavan, Uzhaippaali, Mannan and Sivaji.He had teamed up with all comedians like Goundamani, Sendhil, Janagaraj, Vadivelu,Vivek and Crazy Mohan.Above all,he is a hero capable of independently generating comedy spirit.His Thillu Mullu directed by K.Balachander was a blockbuster comedy, that called for a remake with Siva as hero.The humour sense in Rajinikanth seems to be intrinsic and may be that is why, all children love him more than any other hero.
    Rajinikanth's contemporary Kamalahasan being a versatile performer,has immensely established his extraordinary capacity for being both farcical and intelligently humorous on a number of occasions.He has a vast list of films like Singara Velan, Michael Madhana Kamarajan,Kadhala Kadhala,Tenali,Panja Thandhiram,Pammal K.Sambandham,Sathi Leelaavadhi, Avvai Shanmugi and Vasool Raja MBBS. Besides these amazing comedies,Kamalahasan has been a regular provider of comedy sense even in some serious films like Viswaroopam,Aboorva Sagodharargal and so on.
Comedy comes to him as naturally as any other genre and whenever he joins the company of great comedy makers like Crazy Mohan,he goes to the extremity of humour with a feel of exuberance and at times, he even outshines the most professional comedians.Kamal has definitely maintained a brilliant track record of successful journey through comedy.
   Prabu and Karthik are the other two heroes good at comedy.Though Prabu could not excel his father Sivaji Ganesan as an actor, his cheeky innocence has generated humour without a hitch in films like Chinna Thambi,Chinna Maappile,Charlie Chaplin,My Dear Maarthaandan Mr.Madras and Vietnam Colony.But Karthik has ever been a true chip of the old block,that is his father Muthuraman. For him Comedy is a cake walk and he celebrates each and every movement of his, while taking part in a comedy skit.His body language, dialogue delivery and facial expressions perfectly fit into the comedy mould and he has never failed to utilize the golden opportunities for making the audience laugh.Films like Ullathai Allithaa,Mettukkudi,Luckyman,Pistha,Mouna Ragam and Harischandra will definitely make him an astounding hero on comedy track.
   Among director turned heroes,Bagyaraj and Pandiaraj could make a special impact on the big screen,by their sheer, self ridiculing, funny moments.While Bagyaraj would combine comedy and seriousness in perfect cocktail mode,Pandiarajan's serious play would also create laughter ripples because of his physical smallness and peculiar tone that quite often undergoes strain in dialogue delivery and it is this characteristic strain that enriches the humour component of the scene.Both are wonderful makers of comedy of manners.The other director turned hero Sundar.C is an exemplary maker of farce and contextual comedy but as a hero performing comedy,he has to depend upon other great comedians like Vivk,Vadivelu and Santhanam to evoke memorable laughter moments.
   Between Vijayakanth and SarathKumar,the latter would be a better choice for comedy, because Vijayakanth like MGR is of a serious brand, bound to the action segment relating to social amelioration. Sarath's comedy side would have happily entertained his fans in films like Janakiraman, Thenkasi Pattanam,Arasu and Yei.The other hero Sathyaraj, has proved his humour sense in his own unique style, in movies like Nadigan and Maman Magal.Among the younger generation heroes, Vijay has been more convincing on the humour side than others.Comedy scenes from films like Thiruppaachi,Vettaikkaran and Velayudham have substantially proved his ability to cause laughter.Among new comers,Shiva and Vemal are fit to perform as comic heroes.
    Among Malayalam heroes Mohanlal ,Jayaram and Prithviraj have been successful on the comedy track with their looks and manner of dialogue delivery taking their fellow comedians for a ride. Jayaram in particular is capable of generating moments of laughter by his appearance and unique style of dialogue delivery both in Malayalam and Tamil.He has joined Kamalahasan's band wagon of high end comedy twice,in Tenaly and Pancha Thandiram.Most of his Tamil films as hero or second hero were hardly lacking in spot comedy. Vijay's Thuppakki was the latest addition in this aspect.But there is one Malayalam hero who has been beaming on the comedy side with limitless vigour for transition of moods and flow of laughter in almost all his films and that is Dileep.No one can beat him in this regard. Dileep and Comedy are inseparable.Be it physical comedy or verbal humour Dileep has been invincible on the humour track and he has always made it a perfect blend of action and comedy in all his films.He deserves a special place in comedy zone.
   Tamil and other language films have a long list of talented comedians providing enjoyable comedy, through a sub plot either relating it to the main plot or carrying on the sub plot as an independent portion of a film.But heroes joining the comedy show for fun or doing a full length comedy film, would always be a different kind of experience for the audience in general and for their fans in particular.That is how the movies listed above and others like Siva Manasula Sakthi,Boss Engira Baskaran Oru Kal Oru Kannaadi,Theeya Vela Seiyyanum Kumaru and Kalakalappu have hit the screen with a bang and entertained the audience to the fullest extent.In fact, it is always good to see the comedy prone heroes do a round on the comedy track. Even here, some are born great and some achieve greatness.The most acceptable and commendable heroes as comedians in Tamil would be, Sivaji Ganesan,Muthuraman,Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan and Karthik.