Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Sober Women of Tamil Cinema



     









     

















       
    




       It is said mankind is made up of four humours called sanguine melancholy choler and phlegm.The mixing of four humours in a person is not usually even.Each one seems to have one or two of the humours exceeding the others.It is this potential factor that determines the character of a person.That is why people who have an excess of sanguine are always cheerful, the predominance of melancholy makes people reflect a load of sorrow all the time, that of of choler makes people prone to irritation,and people with too much of phlegm,tend to be sluggish and laid back.However,when it comes to acting one has to demonstrate the power of all the four humours as and when necessary.That is how we have seen comedians like Charlie Chaplin with a galaxy of woes in their personal life,cheering the audience with immense humour,ruling the screen shot after shot.We know pretty well that a majority of actors can easily emote with a significant presence of all the four humours or any one of the humours depending upon the contextual requirement in acting.
    Among silver screen women in the Tamil tinsel world,sanguine and melancholy humours have been found to dominate followed by choler in exceptional cases where challenges are many and the need for winning the challenge becomes a driving force like fire.However there are a few women who have been singularly meant for projecting the sorrowful side of life.These women could never fit into cheerful roles because of their inherent cry for tears.In this respect this blog would like to recall from the pages of memory,actresses like P.Kannaambaa, M.V.Rajamma,Sriranjani Jr, Pandaribai,Sowcar Janaki, S.N.Lakshmi,Oorvasi Sharadha,  R.Vijayakumari and Sujatha.
   P.Kannaambaa was one of the most powerful mothers on the Tamil screen with her highly commanding voice keeping the audience spell bound by her sober and fiery dialogue deliveries, be it a family drama or a film based on royal themes and events.She was invincible in showing anger and sorrow with her tongue and tears competing with each other.She was the most passionate mother of MGR{Thaaikupin Thaaram,Thai Sollai Thattadhe and Needhikku pin Paasam}Sivaji Ganesan{Manohara,Vanagamudi,Nichaya Thamboolam,Uthama Puthiran,  Marudha Naattu Veeran,Padikkaadha Medhai as the hero's adopting mother and Padithaal Mattum Podhumaa} and as Gemini Ganesan's mother in Nalla Theerpu,Vaazha Vaitha Dheivam and Vanjikottai Vaaliban}.After acting in the roles of Kannagi and Gnaana Soundari {both sober characters} Kannaambaa portrayed her mother roles with impressive levels of sobriety.Tamil audience associated with the touring talkieses and theatres those days,would have cried along with Kannaamba when she poured out her emotions with utmost sobriety. Humour and comedy were hardly her forte and she simply excelled in demonstrating her strength as a sober woman.
   M.V. Rajamma was a close contemporary of P.Kannaamba but unlike the latter she was known for her meekness and ever mourning voice with a shivering tone never failing to govern the role she played and the scene that she was part of.She was a multi lingual actor.If Kannamba had acted in Sivaji ganesan's Uthama  Puthiran,M.V.Rajamma had acted in its earlier version starring P.U. Chinnappa. Besides she had also acted in Citadel Films' Gnanasoundari with T.R. Maha lingam in 1948 during which year the other Gnana Soundhari was released by Gemini Pictures with P. Kannaamba playing the titular role with M.K.Radha as hero.The former was directed by F. Nagoor and the latter by Murugadasa. Both these films were released a year before I was born.It is said that the first Gnanasoundhari was based on a street play and ran successfully. Whereas Vasan's film based on history became a flop and was withdrawn from the circuit.  
   Some of the distinctly notable films of M.V.Rajamma were Thangamalai Ragasiyam,Paava Mannippu Bhaaga Pirivinai,Karnan and Bhandhapaasam, all with Sivaji Ganesan as his mother.Of these the role of Kundhidevi that she played in Karnan made the epic Maha bharatha and the film proud,on account of her powerful performance.As MGR's mother she was a sober material in films like Kudumba Thalaivan and Thedivandha Maapillai.She had also made her roles effective in Gemini Ganesan's films like Vaazhkai Padaku and Aadiperukku.Her other most notable film was Thaayilla Pillai reflecting passionate mother sentiments with Kalyaan Kumar as hero. 
   Sriranjani Jr who played pathetic roles in Parasakthi,Ratha Kanneer,Ore Vazhi,Raji En Kanmani and Thilakam was a replica of grief.Melancholy seemed to be a part of her blood and brain.Her tears were spontaneous and she could be rightly called the ever weeping woman with a passion for glycerin while acting.Her facial fitness for pathos drove her to deliver pathetic roles both in Tamil and Telugu movies.She will be ever remembered as the most sober woman of Tamil cinema.
    However,Sowcar Janaki who had sharp eyes for profuse tears which she capitalized for her role play in films like Bhagyalakshmi, Kumudham, Iru Kodukal,Kaaviya Thalaivi,Padikkadha Medhai, Paar Magale Paar and Oli Vilakku was equally fit for doing ebullient humorous roles in films like Edhir Neechal, Bhama Vijayam and Thillu Mullu. Incidentally, all the three comedies were from the Midas touch of K. Balachander who significantly used the talent of this wonderful actor both for tears and comic banter.But truly speaking.the sober mindset of Janaki dominated her character in most of the movies and she will penetrate into the hearts of the viewers,more through her sobs and tears than with her sense of humour.
     Like Sowcar Janaki,S.N.Lakshmi who was a natural actor,travelled between subtle humour and profound sorrow.With her sharp but composed delivery of dialogues she could create a tremendous impact of her role play in films like Server Sundaram,Anubhavi Raja Anubhavi, Thamarai Nenjam { as the mother of Nagesh in all the three films} Raman Ethanai Ramanadi{as the mother of Sivaji Ganesan}Thaaiku Thalai Magan,Vivasayee,Maattukaara Velan,Annamitta Kai and Pattikkaattu Ponnaiah{as MGR's mother}.In all these films she was an adorable mother of her sons with a unique combination of love,concern and rigidity in her views.She brought out the sober side of motherhood with dignity,poise and pragmatism in many other films as the mother of other prominent heroes too.
    Most often down playing her character S.N.Lakshmi created a kind of reverence for her and this reverence was nothing but an acceptance of the seriousness she imbibed and reflected through her dynamic demonstration of assertive motherhood.But one would be surprised to find that the same sober woman,easily walked away with one or two assignments meant for robust delivery of comedy in Kamalahasan's rib tickling comedies like Michael Madhana Kaama Raajan and Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa as a nonstop kleptomaniac in the former and as the Muslim Landlady Noorjahan in the latter.The most celebrating factor about this less celebrated actor was her excellence in blending subtle humour with surging sorrow in character delineation.Beyond all this,the fact remains that she was the truest sober face of Tamil Cinema. One could always witness stork realism in the performance of this great actor who successfully brought down the theatre screens and stepped into the homes of the audience as a member of each and every family.  
     Pandari Bhai was one of the earliest actresses to delve into the depth of grief at the turn of the switch.Though initially she was paired with Sivaji Ganesan,soon she was pushed to play mother roles for the same hero.Parasakthi,Thirumbi Paar and Andha Naal were some of the Sivaji Ganesan films in which she was the pair or co star of the hero.But the mother roles she played in the earliest film Annaiyin Aanai, and later in Raja,Irumbuthirai,Iru dhuruvam  Thavapudhalvan,Gowravam {as Sivaji Ganesan's wife and adopting mother},Uthaman and Avan Oru Sarithiram brought a poignant mother son equation between her and Sivaji Ganesan besides letting her travel through the zone of tears.The same way,she brought the essence of sorrow in MGR films like Dheivathaai,Thaayin Madiyil,Kaavalkaaran,Kudiyirundha Koil, Adimai Penn ,Oru Thaai Makkal and Pallaandu Vaazhka, as MGR's most adored mother.She also appeared as the brooding elder sister of MGR in the blockbuster film Enga Veettu Pillai. and as his elder brother's wife in Nam Nadu.Later she was seen as the partially paralyzed mother of Rajinikanth, in Sivaji Productions' Mannan. Misery and Pandaribai were both inseparable on the screen and this pious actor like the venerable V. Nagaiah  brilliantly demonstrated the intensity of pathos and grief. Pandaribai was a thoroughly sober actor who came from Karnataka to bring tears in the eyes of the Tamil audience,while she sobbed and wept in subdued grace.
    Oorvasi Sharadha who hailed from the Telugu region was the most wanted woman of Malayalam and Tamil Cinema to do sorrow laden roles because her profile and pattern of acting naturally embraced tragic roles with a stamp of originality and agonizing display of the character's predicament.Who can forget her amazing performance in Thulaabaaram made in Malayalam and Tamil,with the same title.This immortal portrayal of a grief struck woman fittingly fetched her the Oorvasi award for her efficacy in presenting the gloomy side of life without any exaggeration in acting.Her characterization in films like Kungumam,Gnana Oli {as the younger sister of Sivaji Ganesan,in the sorrowful role of an unwed mother}Ninaithathai Mudippavan{ as the physically challenged younger sister of M.G.R}and finally in A.V.M's Mr.Bharat as a hapless construction worker betrayed by the site engineer{played by Satyaraj}, was a clear testimony to the fact that she was a special actor meant for playing any kind of tragic role with absolute sobriety.Her other films include Thulasi Maadam,Vaazhkai Vaazhvadharke,Sarithira Nayagan and Ennaipol Oruvan.Sharadha emphatically cast her indelible sober face, on the big screen.
     C.R. Vijayakumari who stood as the rare Tamil face of Tamil cinema,in her love for the Tamil language and the way she uttered Tamil dialogues,was both a symbol of courage and despair.As the successful pair and life partner of the famous Dravidian actor S.S.Rajendran,she could cry and shout simultaneously.Perhaps that is why Mekala pictures booked her for portraying the role of Kannagi in Poompuhar.She had reflected feminine courage and anger against injustice in several films.Besides Poompuhar films such as Kumudham,Kaakkum Karangal,Kaanchi Thalaivan,Saradha and Raja Raja Cholan exhibited her intrinsic flair for courage to fight for justice.However,she was primarily a sober actress fixing herself easily into tear shedding moments on the screen.Kalyana Parisu,Naanum Oru Penn,Policekaran Makal,Paadha Kaanikkai,Dheivathin Dheivam and Avan Pithana were some of her noteworthy films representing the untold sufferings of women,through her impressive performance. Vijayakumari's shivering voice was an added strength towards playing pitiable roles.She was certainly a sober face of Tamil cinema,despite the fact that she never failed to raise her voice for establishing truth.
      Sujatha who joined the Tamil film industry much later than all the aforesaid actors,began her career with her first appearance in K.Balachander's Aval Oru Thodarkadhai bearing the burden and brunt of a big family,suppressing all her personal desires and expectations in life.The character was loaded with pains and the great director very well understood that Sujatha was the fittest person to don such a wretched role,with a routine of anguish slapping her psyche.Following this,most of her characters in widely complimented films like Avarkal, Kadal Meengal,Oru Oothaappoo Kan Simittukiradhu,Mayangukiraal Oru Maadhu,Annakili, Unnai Naan Sandhithein,Dheepam,Andhamaan Kaadhali,Amaithi Padai,Vaazhndhu Kaattukirein, and Vidhi established her credibility for exhibiting gripping levels of performance.
    Sujatha was one of the softest actors but her softness was bound to firmness with an unflinching frame of mind never yielding to unethical pressures and oppressive control of her voice for reasoning and rightness of behaviour. Even in mother characters she was always seen with a kind of stiffness blended in pathos as seen in Vaathiyaar,Kodi Parakkuthu, Mangamma Sabadham,Theerpu,Uzhaippaali,Aval Varuvaalaa, Uyire Unakkaaga and several others.There was a hidden feminist voice never willing to be silenced my male chauvinism and the sober dimension of her character portrayal was a clear indication of feminine dignity bent upon fighting any trace of insult thrown upon womanhood. 
    To conclude,Tamil cinema has a galaxy of talented women capable of performing a variety of characters.But the women mentioned here are known for their grasp of the power of womanhood as wives and mothers.Their solemnity is a stamp of their commitment to the dignity of womanhood in a society mired in tendencies of gender discrimination and suppression of the rights of women towards independence and privacy.The sober stuff of the actors listed here would speak volumes of the grandeur of womanhood.
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Friday, May 3, 2019

D Imman's melody parade

   

    Immanuel Vasanth Dinakaran,popularly known as D.Imman is one of the leading young musical voices of Tamil cinema.He began his musical career as a teen age music director with Vijay's fairly received film Thamizhan released in 2002.Whenever I listen to his melodious numbers my nostalgic nerves take me to the days of another melodious music director V.Kumar who spread his amazing wings of rhythms under the patronage of Tamil cinema's proud filmmakers like K.Balachander and Muktha V.Srinivasan.V.Kumar had in fact composed music for maximum number of Balachander's films starting from the latter's first film Neerkumizhi.
    Some of the scintillating melodies of late V.Kumar were Aadi Adangum Vaazkaiyada {Neerkumizhi}Oru Naal Yaaro{Major Chandrakanth} Maalaiyil Sandhithein{Edhir Neechal} Naan Unnai Vaazhthi Paadukirein {Nootrukku Nooru} Punnakai Mannan Poovizhi Kannan {Iru Kodukal}Kaadhoduthaan Naan Pesuven{Velli Vizha} all Balachander films and songs like Nalla Naal Paarkavo{Bommalaattam}Vilakke Nee Thandha Olinaane {Niraikudam}and Thillaiyile Sabaabadhi{Aayiram Poi}all the three films in brackets made by Muktha V.Srinivasan. The other most fascinating melody of V.Kumar was the song Engellaam Valaiyosai Ketkinradho in the governing voice of TMS for the film Vegulipenn.Incidentally it should be mentioned here that it is D.Imman who lent his musical quotient for the films Naan Avan Illai{2} and Ninaivil Ninraval which were also the titles of films once made by K.Balachander and Muktha V. Srinivasan respectively
   The comparison between the new generation music composer D.Imman and the last century's V.Kumar arose in my mind on account of the ecstatic spirit of soothing layers pervading through the pattern of composition,empowering the creative imagination of both of them to travel on a similar track.Take for instance a song like "Ayyayyo Aanandhame" from the film Kumki {for which film D.Imman won the national award for best musical composition}that took us on an exalted plane of seamless blending of joy and the pang of suffering,reflecting an exotic romantic experience.
    How passionately D.Imman brought home the essence of bliss through the melody of a distinct tune,effectively embracing the rich vocal grandeur of Hari Charan.No doubt Prabu Solomon found his compatible wave length with D.Imman as K.Balachander did with V.Kumar and inducted him for his other two films Kayal and Myna.It was this spirit of compatibility that resulted in songs like Paravaiyaa Porakkanum{Hari Charan} and Unna Ippa Paakkanum [Hari Charan with Vandana Srinivasan} from the film Kayal and the song Neeyum Naanum from Myna,sung by Benny Dayal and Shreya Goshal!
    Some of the lasting songs from this musician's magic wand are Azhagiya Asura in Anitha Chandrasekar's vanquishing voice {Whistle} Madhura Jillaa { by Karthik &Kalpana for Thiruvilaiyaadal Aarambam}Oodhaa Kalaru Ribbon sung by Vijay Super singer fame Hariharasudan{Varuthapadaadha Vaalibar Sangam}Verasaa Poravale {Jilla} and Sengadhire Sengadhire {Kadaikutti Singam},both sung by Imman himself,Unmela oru Kannu {Rajini Murugan}sung by Jithin Raj and Mahalakshmi Ayer,Usure Usure Naandhaane {Karuppan} by Ananya Bhat,Ammaadi un Azhagu Vegudhoolu {Vellaikaaradhurai}sung by Vijay supersinger fame Sathyaprakash,Pidikudhe {Sigaram Thodu}from the voices of Jithin Raj and Shreya Goshal and Kandaangi Kandaangi sung by Ilaya Thalabadhi Vijay with Shreya Goshal for Jilla.The latest most mesmerizing songs from D.Imman have been Vaaney Vaaney{Hariharan& Shrey Goshal} and Kannaana Kanne in the captivating voice of Sid Sriram for the recent Ajith blockbuster Viswasam.
    D.Imman has also tuned some numbers that would make the audience stand up and dance. Some of the songs in this category are the buoyant song Dubuku Dubuku delivered by Imman and Anuradha Sriram for the film Giri, Silukku Marame Silukku Marame {Vishal's Paayum Puli}Jingunamani Jingunamani sung by Ranjith with Sunidhi Chauhan and Yeppa Mama Treatu rendered by Vijay Super singer fame,Pooja Vaidyanath, with D.Imman and Snigdha Chandra {both from Jilla}.
   I would have left out some of the other widely received songs of this ever growing vibrant music director representing the aesthetic aspirations of the new generation.It is a known fact that today competition is very high in most fields of creative performance.Human talent seems to be expanding in astounding proportions thanks to the exposure to new technology waves and winnable goals.The more the openings,the greater and stronger the competition.We have a long list of energetic and competent performers in the music field inseparably welded to the big and small screens.
     Impressive show of music composers like Vijay Antony,Anirudh Ravichander and G.V.Prakash keeps the music lovers among the youth vigorously engrossed in different genres of music,In the midst of the competitive march of these growing guys,Imman calmly carries on his musical parade with an unrelenting passion for melodies.This distinct feature becomes the special asset of D. Imman who fairly satiates the film lovers' incessant quest for qualitative music by his soothing submission of tunes that hardly fail to reach our ears and reboot our lost emotions.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Side Door Actor

 




   Thalaivasal Vijay carries his prefix from the film Thalaivasal in which he first acted in 1992.The Tamil word thalaivasal also means the main entrance door in English.However,Vijay has always been playing roles through the side doors making his mark as a truly notable face of Tamil Cinema.Besides acting in a vast number of Tamil films he has also acted in about thirty Malayalam movies and a few Telugu films. His frequent roles have been on the negative side as a selfish opportunist {Unnai Ninaithu and Devan} a pimp {Gokulathil Seedhai}a drunkard {Thevar Mahan}a deceitful guy{Arul and Sanda Kozhi}and a terrorist {Vallarasu and Rajasthaan} As a wrong doer and a manipulator thrusting his wrongs on others,Thalaivasal Vijay has always excelled others with an unmistakable sweetness and credibility.
   Thalivasal Vijay has been the favourite of directors like Agathiyan {Kadhal Kottai and Gokulathil Seethai}Fazil {Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai,Kannukkul Nilavu}and Radha Mohan {Abhiyum Naanum, Payanam and Brindhavanam}.He has acted with all prominent heroes like Kamalahasan,Vijayakanth, Sarath Kumar,Ajith,Vijay,Surya,Vishal,Danush and several others.His assertive dialogue delivery has chiefly been his special attraction and this delightful talent has enabled him to perform effectively as a dubbing artist for other language actors.
   Thalaivasal Vijay can as breezily get into the roles of professionals like lawyers and doctors with an estimable stamp as he can,into poverty stricken characters longing for a lift in life.He has not only been an absolute pretender on the big screen but also a trustworthy loyalist, though most of the characters he has done have shown him as an aspiring individual ready to sacrifice his qualms for what he aspires to be.He once lost his identity completely in a vengeful role with an exotic make up in Lingusamy's Sanda Kozhi. With protruding teeth,limping legs and Madurai slang, he made his identity as an actor totally untraceable.
   His roles would have been small or substantial.But his performance potential fixed him rightly into his role play and he perfectly breathed a kind of freshness in character portrayal,with his shivering voice reaching the ears of the audience through his scintillating dialogues,passed on in a flawless pattern.It often looks as though this different type of actor does not reach the course of events through the main door,but side steps to get noticed for the impact it makes on the course of events narrated by any film maker.No doubt,his side door appearance quite often surpasses the main course characters through his outstanding supporting presence,in the serious narration of powerful story lines.Now he is also making an indelible impression on the small screen along with Revathi,through his impeccable delineation of the role of a retired school teacher in the popular television serial Azhagu that is being telecast by the SUN TV network.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Rural Best of Heroes



 

























    



      Until the late nineteen sixties the urban-rural divide was an insignificant factor in India and so Tamil cinema,was deeply oriented to the then existing belief that India's soul was in the villages.Most of the films made,were either based on historical fiction or related to life in villages because India was then more a land of villages than of towns.Hence it was difficult to say during those decades,who were the heroes fit for urban stories and who would rightly fit into characters of the rural tales.
   Take for instance the case of MGR.His facial composition was absolutely unfit for the rural roots,though he did films like Thaaikku Pin Thaaram,Periya Idathu Penn,Vivasaayee,Pattikkaattu Ponnaiah,Maattukkaaravelan and so on, ebulliently.One would love to see him in royal garbs or in highly sophisticated urban roles like those of a doctor or lawyer or cop.In fact,for the Tamil audience the mere appearance of MGR on screen would do.His roles were immaterial for them.One should really be blessed to be loved by so many people without any expectation and MGR was truly blessed in this regard,taking himself closer to the people of the Tamil soil,through stereotyped roles of a do gooder and the Good Samaritan.Hence the urban rural divide did not matter in his role delineation.
    Whereas, Sivaji Ganesan not only clearly marked this division but also made his acting career a compendium of human life with its galaxy of characters and events.He had a face made for characters of all sorts and with that he created a world of faces and moved far beyond towns and villages into chronicles and myths.However,some of his wonderful rural films were Makkalai Petra Makaraasi, Bhaaga Pirivinai,Paava Mannippu,Pazhani,Kulama Gunama,Enga Oor Raja,Pattikaadaa Pattanamaa,Savaale Samaali, Kalthoon,Padikkadha Pannaiyaar and so on.Of these,his role as Sengodan in Makkalai Petra Magarasi and that of Mookaiyyan in Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa were perfect revelations of rural fragrance and fineness. Sivaji Ganesan stoutly established the pride and glory of what a village life means in P. Madhavan's rural blockbuster Pattikaadaa Pattanamaa.With the Chevalier's magnificent role play the village voice reached newer heights,spreading the splendour of farming and labour.
   Gemini Ganesan's profile was never made of the rural stuff,though his performance made its punch in films like Devar's Vaazha Vaitha Dheivam,AVM's Kakathur Kannamma,Raamu, K.S.Gopalakrishnan's Karpagam and later in his natural performance as a respectable village elder in Vijayakanth's Ponmana Chelvan and K.Balachander's Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi.He also caused some lighter moments with rural breeze in Sundar.C's Mettukudi.The next generation heroes like Jai Shankar and Ravichandran changed the track by travelling mostly on action zones.But still Jai Shankar's Mukoortha Naal and Ravichandran's Kumari Penn contained a lot of worthy rural material. R.Muthuraman's unique rural shows were Sondham and Namma Veetu Theivam and Mudhalali and Manapandal remained as the rural best of S.S.Rajendran.
    While Sivakumar quite often proved to be unique for urban roles,his characterization in films like Ponnukku Thanga Manasu,Rosaappu Ravikkai Kaari,Vandichakkaram, Annakkili Pudhuvellam  and Pattikaattu Raja were films denoting  innate village vibes and flair for playing rural characters with comfortable ease and captivating vigour. 
   Rajinikanth's face carries a significant rural charm.Despite the Super Star image his films like Engeyo Ketta Kural,Mullum Malarum,Kaali,Murattu Kaalai,Thambikku Endha Ooru, Dharmadhurai,Raajaadhi Raajaa and Muthu could be called unique village stories establishing the rural appeal so spontaneously evoked by the convincing facial indicators of this invincible actor. Rajinikanth's earliest stamp as an uncouth villain called Parattai in Bharathiraja's debut film Padhinaaru Vayadhinile astoundingly established his rough and tough rural moorings.  
    Contrarily,his contemporary Kamalahasan is like Gemini Ganesan whose rural hold is just half way through.But he has a few remarkable rural films in his archives such as Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,Sakala Kalaa Vallavan,Singara Velan, Mahanadhi and Virumaandi,wonderfully celebrating village vibrations leaving indelible impressions in audience memory.As Sappaani wearing just his loins,Kamal memorably personified the poverty of a little hamlet and walked away with a national award under the brilliant direction of Bharati Raja.The next two films in the list were great humour shows and the last two were gripping displays of rural innocence, back stabs and justifiable revenge blows.His Devar Makan on the other hand exhibited the plight of an educated youth from a village undergoing the trauma of incorrigible family feud and vendetta,embedded in fundamental flaws of a community waiting to be refined and liberated from its thirst for blood.
    Sathyaraj is a hardcore village hero.Besides his amazing cop role in Walter Vetrivel,his exclusive stylish roles were for films like Makkal En Pakkam,Airport,Jeeva,Anna Nagar Muthal Theru and Brhamma.Otherwise,starting from the role of a crude wolfish village chieftain in Mani Rathnam's Pakal Nilavu,till his striking character display as a village big guy craving for a male child in Kadaikutti Singam,Sathyaraj seems to have felt more comfortable with the fabulous streets of the villages belonging to Pollachi and Coimbatore.Be it Vaazhkai Chakkaram or Vela Kedachiduchu or films like Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi,Vaathiyaar Veetu Pillai,Kunguma Pottu Gounder,Kadalora Kavidhaikal,Thaai Maaman and Thirumathi Pazhanichamy it was a village parade of Satyaraj with his innate robust mischief in combination with Goundamani or Manivannan.The best in the lot was his dynamic portrayal as Balu Thevar in Bharatiraja's immortal film Vedham Puthithu.Satyaraj could be rightly called the most vibrating rural hero of Tamil Cinema.
    Following Sathyaraj was Sarathkumar,commanding the village locales in memorable films like Periya Gounder Ponnu,Cheran Paandian,Namma Annachi,Naattaamai,Natpukkaaga, Sooriya Vamsam and Aiyya.Though Kongu Tamil is not his native dialect he has rendered it so well in several films directed by K.S. Ravikumar. Interestingly,in most of the films he did dual roles as father and son casting a striking note of difference in character delineation.Like Satyaraj,Saratkumar has felicitously projected his rural profiles.
    Captain Vijayakanth who has impressively cast a niche for himself in cop roles and characters of persons belonging to the army and top notch bureaucracy,has quite a lot of films to speak about his rustic and affirmative rural depiction of roles.The best in the lot is that of a dignified and gloried village chieftain,reputed for his fairness in deposition of justice and personal integrity that never deviates from the path of justice. Vijayakanth's role in Chinna Gounder was the most illustrious milestone in his acting career and he rightly deserved an award for his role play.The other remarkable village roles of Vijayakanth were for films like Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri,Amman Koil Kizhakkaale,Vaidhekhi Kaathirundhaal, Kannupada Povudhayyaa,Thavasi and Sokka Thangam.Like Rajinikanth,his complexion and ruggedness perfectly got him wedded to his rural roles with an extraordinary stamp of nativity that is found to be missing in the dialogue delivery of the Superstar.
   Tamil cinema's universal village hero is Ramarajan whose films like Karakaattakkaaran, Enga Ooru Paatukkaaran and many films ending with the Raasaa suffix,took his profile far away from the urban side.His story line,costumes and dialogue delivery,made him breathe the rural air and stamped his hero image inseparably to the radiating rural streets.Throughout his acting career Ramarajan remained as the one and only rural hero.However the best of his rural films were Enga Oor Paattukkaaran,Pongi Varum Kaveri,Manasukketha Maharaasaa, Thangamaana Rasa,Karakattakkaaran and Thangathin Thangam.
   Between the heirs of Sivaji Ganesan and R.Muthuraman,Prabu's best rural films were Ninaivu Chinnam,Chinna Thambi,Parambarai and Mitta Miraasu. Of these Chinna Thambi scored a special place as an immortal rural love story in audience memory and as a profound celebration of innocent youth. Karthik Muthuraman's splendid rural blockbusters were Alaikal Oivadhillai,Pandi Naattu Thangam,Varusham Padhiraaru and Kizhakku Vaasal.The last two in the list were extraordinary crowd pullers on account of the astute direction of Fazil and R.V.Udhayakumar and the soul searching music of the musical prophet Ilayaraja.   
    Among the other new generation  heroes,Vijay's rural best were Thiruppaachi and Sivakasi while Ajith is precisely an urban hero with his exceptional role in Veeram. Whereas His super hit film Viswasam shuttles between a village in Madhurai and Mumbai,despite the fact Ajith's delivery of dialogue carries a perfect grasp and delivery of the rural slang of Madhurai region. Madhavan, Arvindswamy and Abbas are all stamped with a city image though Madhavan's Dum Dum Dum and Aravinswamy's Thaalaattu could be seen as exceptions. Prashant's Winner contained a lot of the village stock. Vikram's Kaadhal Sadugudu was an exalting rural love story.
    Sivakumar's elder son mostly moved away from village stories excepting his role in Hari's Aaru. Nevertheless,his younger son Karthi gave us the two amazing rural films Komban and Kadaikutti Singam besides his debut film Paruthi Veeran. Karthi's face seems to be culled for village characters despite the fact that he made a fascinating demonstration of his urban strength in films like Paiyyaa,Thozhan and Kaatru Veliyidai.Some of the other films that enticed the rural audience in the recent past were Siva Kartikeyan's Rajini Murugan and Vijay Sethupathi's Karuppan.
    As film heroes have to don different types of characters it is the over all performance 
potential of a hero that determines his longstanding position in silver screen.But villages are the backbone of human life and the events and characters surrounding the rural milieu form a predominant part of the film medium and hence  heroes' ability to place themselves comfortably in a rural story line both in terms of body and mind,takes them closer to the rural masses and increases their popularity levels.In this respect it could be said that outstanding heroes like Sivaji Ganesan RajiniKanth and Kamalahasan can conveniently shuttle between the metropolises and mind blowing villages as characters inseparably linked to the environment. But heroes like Satyaraj,Vijayakanth,Ramarajan,Sarath Kumar and Karthik Sivakumar are closer to the villages with their body and spirit communing with the fields and farm houses.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Film maker after names of places.




      Film directors hold their unique positions in several aspects of film making.Apart from the choice of their pet themes,suitable story line and course of narration, they reflect their singularity in the choice of titles for their films. Gautham Menon for instance, is enamoured of lengthy titles such as Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaayaa?Pachai Kili Muthu Charam and Acham Enbadhu Madmaiyada.Some of his titles also reveal his fascination for MGR's film songs. Mysskin is known for disturbing titles such as Pisaasu and Savara Kathi. In a similar manner, we have Perarasu who has named all the seven films he he has directed,after names of places.The only film that does not bear the name of a place as its title, is a Malayalam film directed by him{Samrajyam II Son of Alexander}
    Before directing his first successful film Thirupachi,Perarasu has acted in insignificant roles{as a reporter and a doctor} in films like Edhirum Pudhirum and Arasaatchi. His first film with Vijay as hero, became a great commercial hit, because of its highly energizing sequence of events,siblings' sentimental attachment,speed in narration and heart throbbing music, composed by three music directors like, Devi Sri Prasad,Mani Sharma and singer Dhina.The film had a huge cast with abundant scope for villainy exhibited by Aryan {as Paan Parag Ravi},Pasupathi{as Pattaasu Balu} and Kotta Srinivasa Rao{as Saniyan Sagada}.
    By giving distinct names to rowdies, Perarasu took the onus of narrating the story effectively, by loading its weight completely on the shoulders of Vijay, who played the role of an unflinching villager, bent upon eradicating rowdyism fouling the city of Chennai.This he does, not simply for the sake of his sister married to a city guy, but for all men and women, to breathe the fresh air of peace and happiness in the crowded metropolis.The film was a total entertainer and became a dynamic launch pad for the directorial prowess of Perarasu. The fact that Super Good Movies of R.B Chowdhri produced the film,added to its distribution value and success formula besides the victory tag of actor Vijay.
     Perarasu was fortunate to have big production houses to produce his films.Apart from R.B.Chowdhri,it was A.M.Rathnam who produced Perarasu's next film Sivakasi, another Vijay film and later on, Dharmapuri,a Vijayakanth movie.While Thirupathi starring Ajit was an AVM film,his Thiruvannamalai starring Arjun went into the hands of Pushpa Kandasamy of Kavidhalaya Production unit. Perarasu's Pazhani and Thiruthani, both  Bharath films,were produced by Sakthi Chidambaram and Chokkalingam Subburaj respectively.Though all the seven films of Perarasu were watchable in terms of their vibrant action mode, it is only the first two films with Vijay as Hero, that speak high of his directorial efficacy.
   The themes and story background of Perarasu's films are backed by rural happenings as family and social events. mixed of good and evil.If Thirupaachi was a tale of brother sister fine bonding of affection,Sivakasi unfolded the tug off war between an evil elder brother and his redeeming younger brother.The film was a cauldron of challenges between the two revolving around both funny and furious sequences. Pazhani once again focused on sister-brother equations with the younger brother struggling to reform his ruffian brother in law and bring harmony in the married life of his sister.Here too,there were challenges and smart execution of challenges.All the films of Perarasu delve into the world of social and political crimes involving M L As{Thiruvannamalai}medicos{Thiruppathi} and anti social thugs.Thiruthani is the only film where the hero dies in the hands of the police.
    The musical quality of his films belong to the moderate category because excepting the first two films which carried the mesmerizing effect of music, the rest of his films did not leave any memorable mark.While Srikanth Deva composed music for Sivakasi,Pazhani,Dharmapuri and Thiruvannamala,Bharadvaj took up music composition for Thiruppadhi and Perarasu himself took care of the music segment for Thiruthani.Perarasu is not only fond of places as titles of his films  but is also consistently dedicated to his passionate zone of sentimental melodrama and retrieval of family and society from the deeply infected evils of criminality,violence and injustice.
   Most of his films were action bonanzas with Thiruppachi and Sivakasi stealing the show.Just as his films carry the names of places as their titles,the names of the places will some how or other bring to one's memory the films of Perarasu and their level of impact on the minds of film viewers.Incidentally,there came a film bearing his own name Perarsu as its title and this action film starring Captain Vijayakanth,Prakash Raj and Sharat Babu reiterated the power of his name through elements of dynamism and force,making the the title of the film and name of the director after names of places, stay long in the memory of the audience. 
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Monday, March 4, 2019

The off the track films of Bharathiraja










    Everybody knows that P.Bharathiraja is the prime film maker of rural romance,succulent with the unsurpassed quintessence of village routine.Starting from his Padhinaaru Vayadhinile he took us on a sweet journey,through the cute and crooked streets of hamlets and bigger villages,to experience the precious happenings in most villages,especially those  in southern Tamil Nadu.Films like Kizhakke Pogum Rayil,Niram Maaraadha Pookkal, Nizhalkal,Pudhiya Vaarpukal,Puthu Nellu Puthu Naathu,Alaikal Oivadhillai, Karuthammaa, Kadalora Kavidhaikal,Vedham Pudhithu,Nadodi Thenral, Mudhal Mariyaadhai,Kizhakkuch Cheemaiyile and Pasumpon would ever remain as rural masterpieces,from the sublime creative soul of this amazing film maker.
    But there is another side of this outstanding director of Tamil films.He has not hesitated to travel off the track and make action films,action thrillers and psychological thrillers for a change.At least six films stand to his credit in this regard.They are 1}Sigappu Rojaakkal 2}Tik Tik Tik 3}Oru Kaidhiyin Diary 4}Kodi Parakkudhu 5}Captain Magal and 6}Thamizh Selvan. Kamalahasan was the hero of the first three films in the list. Kodiparakkudhu was made as a special Rajinikanth action thriller. Kushbu and Raja shared the screen space in Captain Makal. Captain Vijayakanth as district collector made Thamizh Selvan a different kind of movie for the director. While Bharatiraja himself wrote the story for the first two,K.Bhagyaraj took up the onus of writing the story for Oru Kaidhiyin Diary.It was R.Selvaraj who provided the story line for Kodi Parakkuthu and Captain Makal.The film Thamizh Selvan travelled on the story of M. Rathnakumar.
   Of these six films,Sigappu Rojaakkal and Oru Kaidhiyin Diary received rave reviews on account of the classic role performance of Kamalahasan as a misogynist and psychologically perverted male in the former and as a personally victimized political follower,wreaking vengeance against the wrong doers in the latter.That too in dual roles,as the wronged father and dutiful son in police uniform in Oru Kaidhiyin Diary,Kamal created new performance records at the early stage of his acting career.While Sridevi meekly fascinated the audience in Sigappu Rojaakkal,Radha and Revadhi stole the show by their charm and smartness in Oru Kaidhiyin Diary.Both these films received repeated audience at the theatres during the years of safety of Tamil Cinema,free from the threats of Video Piracy.
  Tik Tik Tik was a suspense thriller with a kind of usual spicy additions of glamour and stunts of an action film.It was a moderate show depicting sophisticated romance and subhuman violence.It revolved around a tale of nefarious smuggling of diamonds inserted in the body of women models without their knowledge {by drugging them}and killing them after removing the diamonds from their body.It was a film of abundant glamour,contributed by the three popular actresses,viz Madhavi,Radha and Swapna.With absolute thriller effect,it brought out the fact that Bharathiraja was far above his stamped image of an exclusive rural film maker.Despite all the enticing ingredients,Tik Tik Tik did not toe the victory march of the other two Kaml films made by Bharatiraja.
    Kodi Parakkuthu was an indisputable Rajini film with his inimitable style formulations and dialogue delivery.This was once again an action thriller with Manivannan first donning the role of a horrid villain,with the powerful voice support of Bharati Raja. Murder mysteries formed the crux of the story line and Rajinikanth as a dynamic cop under the mask of a local rowdy did not fail to throw his pep and performance,potential to the utmost satisfaction of his fans. Amala's charming role play and Sujatha's pathetic profile,were the other supporting factors of this action thriller,though it failed to make a hit at the box office.The other action thriller Captain Makal which was greatly anticipated became a dampener,for want of consistent vigour in narration.
   Tamizh Selvan was in fact a decent action film,with political undertones reflecting the conflict between upright bureaucracy and the corrupt political system.Subdued narration and Vijayakanth's underplay of the role of a district collector without resorting to undue verbal blow ups,were the major positive factors of this action film blended with breezy narration.I still remember the peaceful march of all bureaucrats lining up with candles in their hands for the recovery of their collector hero,from a political attack on his life.Unlike most other Vijayakanth films,it was a slow moving course that would have left his hardcore fans high and dry.But for those who would look for a direct and realistic portrayal of events and characters,the film was undoubtedly a qualitative product.
  The intention of this article is to show how film makers at times deviate from their pet paths and travel on different tracks,just for the sake of experiencing something uncommon in their creative process,as and when they get inspired to try something diagonal,to their ideologically compatible genres of narration.In this respect,Bharathiraja has delightfully travelled off his most inspiring rural track.
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Sunday, February 24, 2019

A movie strictly rooted to values.





   It needs greater grit to make a film totally theme bound and give a clean product. Seenu Ramasamy has been a hard core adorer of absolute conviction as an evolving and commanding goal of life.He does not like to visit the ugly side of life through his cinematic vision.Starting from Koodal Nagar he has carried on his mission of beautifying themes,events and characters through his creamy narration in films like Then Merku Paruvakatru {for which he won the national award for best film} Neerparavai and Dharmadhurai.His latest release Kanne Kalimane is no exception to his exalting process of film making. Goodness is the core value of this film..Here all characters are good and even a greedy money lender is made to apologize for his wild behaviour.
  Nature is budding with its high energy levels of freshness and charm.Organic farming gains currency.There is a lot of critical observation of the existing low downs in the system,such as the predicament of farmers laid up with the burden of agricultural loans,the onslaught of NEET on rural students,the support that the weaving society needs and the higher interest rates involved in raising bank loans for education.The film captivates the audience through the visual greenery of a rain fed village.In the midst of the pleasant locales and loving family norms,there comes an enchanting love story where nothing is exaggerated and nothing is unreal.
  Events take place as they do in most villages in Tamil Nadu.Characters move on gliding through the line of the story,like people sailing through their daily routine in real life.There is no silver screen romance.It happens in the simplest manner as a man and woman coming together on positive notes,with clear perceptions of whether their love would end up in marriage or not and if they get married,how their  life is going to be.Love fructifies into marriage as a sequel to a kind of Satyagraha resorted to by the hero Udhayanidhi Stalin,who in his usual vein,walks through the delicate pathways of his assigned role,without any of the conventional celluloid hero norms.It is good that Udhayanidhi is becoming a director's actor instead of trying to do the impossible of a mass hero.His histrionic calibre has been growing on an upward scale and the one scene where he breaks down into the shoulders of his paternal grand mother will prove his innate capacity to emote as naturally as possible.
  Tamannaah is exuberantly compact in her role with a ripe understanding of her character requirements and she is impressively convincing in her levels of acting.It is Vadivukkarasi who steals the show with her brief cutting dialogues pregnant with profound emotions and possessive parameters.A lovely grand mother she is,both to her grandson and later on to her to her grandson's wife,whom she passionately declares as her grand daughter.Her contextual comparisons of her grand daughter in law to late Prime Minister Indhira Gandhi,carries a powerful punch and creates instant laughter.
    Poo Ramu as the hero's father excels in his role play with a mature grasp of life's realities and a meek facilitation of his son's post marital life.It is a lucky team of father and son with a silent understanding of their love and dedication to each other.In this way it becomes a perfect unison of the paternal-filial formulations.Everybody does their role neatly including Vasundhara Kashyap who appears as Muthulakshmi,the school mate-cum friend of the hero.
  Jalandhar Vasan's Cinematography is as much rooted to the theme of the film,as the narration of Seenu Ramasamy is,to the story line. Kasi Viswanathan's editing keeps the narration as a continuous progress of seamless weaving,seemingly in tune with the fact,that the heroine hails from a family of weavers. Yuvan  Shankar Raja's music is a fascinating chunk of felicitous numbers, letting the audience sit up to the tunes without hurting their ears.Starting from the initial rural festival song, all songs were a pleasant audio treat especially the last one with a splendid tribute to love,is really heart warming.Two lines of this special song, if translated into English,will go as follows."There is nothing either small or big in love.All drops of a river are equal"{அன்பில் சிறிது பெரிதென்று கிடையாதே; ஆற்றில் சகல துளியும் சமமே} 
  The other melodious number Neenda Malare Neenda Malare by Yaazin Nizar and Shwetha Pandit will keep lingering in audience memory for long.Altogether Yuvan and Vairamuthu deserve a lovely pat for ideally enriching the musical quotient of the film.
   The pathway to good goals,needs considerable patience and determination to achieve them.The same way it requires commendable patience to watch a film of this kind,rooted to the nobler values of life and goodness of mind.In both the cases the patience is definitely worth the experience.