Sunday, June 26, 2016

Four Tamil Films with a Circus Base.


       The quality of a film is determined not only by its theme and story line, but also by its variety element, in capturing the imagination of the audience, through its distinct base of narration, reflecting uniqueness in the midst of variety.The base for the sequence of events in a movie, may be the family, or history, or politics, or spiritualism, or the different strata of society such as one's place of work or outside one's working environment.Sometimes there will be contributory layers adding up to the strength of the base. These layers could include criminality or be free from it, depending upon the film maker's perception. One such very valuable supporting layer,is the presence of a circus company and its shows, finding extraordinary relevance to the story base and its complete presentation.This article focuses on four such Tamil films, with a circus base released during different periods, creating an amazing feel of simultaneously watching both a movie and a circus show, with a vigorous appeal.
    One of these films had the circus element as a supplementary feature in helping the  heroine to achieve her main objective of liberating  a kingdom, from the evil forces, besides saving her lover from death. This film Chandralekha, based on a story of historical fiction, was made by the Gemini Pictures' production house It was an epic level film,released in 1948.This film produced and partially directed by S.S.Vasan, was under production for more than four years.There was an unimaginable amount of aesthetic grandeur, infused exhaustively through gorgeous settings and visual splendour.
    Chandralekha had in its cast the most fascinating T.R.Rajakumari as its titular character. M.K.Radha and Ranjan,the sterling actors of that period,appeared as siblings,the latter in a villainous role, scheming to usurp the kingdom and win the hand of Chandralekha, with whom he was obsessed. The circus show maintained by the most illustrious comedy pair N.S.Krishnan and T.A.Madhuram, played a pivotal role in helping the heroine to save her lover, M.K Radha and the kingdom,from the machinations of Ranjan The circus shows greatly helped the entertainment value of the film and made the whole film, an immortal piece of Tamil Cinema.
     Then came Sivaji Ganesan's Kulamagal Radhai directed by A.P.Nagarajan. Released in 1963 the film's cast included B.Sarojadevi,Devika,K.Sarangabani,V.K .Ramasamy, R.S.Manohar Sandhiya P.Kannaamba, and P.D.Sambandham. K.Sarangabani played a negative role in this film.It was actually a love story and the circus base was an accidental interruption in the life of the hero. Situations schemed by Sarangabani became factors leading to misunderstanding and the final rapprochement of the hero with his beloved Radha. Here the circus company called National Circus is maintained by V.K.Ramasamy and his daughter Devika plays as a trapeze artist. Sivaji Ganesan, also learns the circus activities.Though the movie did not do well at the box office,the songs under the enchanting musical composition of K.V.Mahadevan, might still be ringing in the memory of the audience.Songs like Chandiranai Kaanaamal, Pagalile Chandiranai Paarkaponen and Unnai Solli Kutramillai were great hits.The other notable feature of the film was the sparkling role performance of Sarojadevi and Devika. P.Kannaambaa as the meek mother of Radha was a graceful symbol of positive motherhood.The circus events were neatly filmed, adding pep to the sub plot, poignantly spreading its layers into the main plot, involving the romantic segment of Chandran and Radha.
     The other circus film was the M.G.R starring Parakkum Paavai, released in 1966, by the most popular R.R.Pictures.Besides MGR, the film had a huge cast of great stars like B.Sarojadevi, Raja Sulochana and Kanchana and veteran actors such as V.Nagaiah,R.S.Manohar, S.A.Asokan and M.N.Nambiyar With an inherent layer of suspense, the film carried the thriller effect from its beginning till the end.It had a fairly good story line and is still remembered for its fascinating music quotient and  for its exhaustive circus show with MGR,R.S.Manohar and Sarojadevi performing as trapeze artists. and S.A.Asokan  stiffly controlling the animal world in the circus company.
     Though R.S.Manohar and S.A Asokan reflected an evil frame of mind,the source of villainy and its accompanied thriller effect,originated from the woman[played by Kanchana}who wanted to marry the hero and hence attempted to get rid of the girl, whom the hero loved. M.N.Nambiyar appeared as the family doctor of V.Nagaiah the rich man and father of B.Sarojadevi,the heroine. K.A.Thangavelu was the circus manager and along with him, there was also J.P.Chandrababu to provide the comedy segment.When compared to Kulamagal Radhai,the circus shows of this film were more relevant to the main plot and hence became an inseparable element of the whole course of narration.Each and every scene could be correlated to the base of the story, with a simultaneous throw of action both from with in and outside the circus ambiance.Music composed by Viswanathan Ramamurthy was a bonanza with eternal melodies like Kalyaana Naal Paarka Sollalaamaa  and Yaaraithaan Nambuvadho Pedhai Nenjam. However,in spite of all these positive aspects, like Kulamagal Raadhai this film also was not a blockbuster.
   The latest in this category was the Rajkamal Pictures' most popular film Aboorva Sagodharargal that hit the screens, in 1989.Directed by Singeedham Srinivasa Rao,this movie showed Kamalahasan in three roles as father and twin sons.Like Chandralekha, this film also attained an epic status because of its universal appeal in narrative grandeur,aesthetic richness and entertainment value.It was a revenge drama projecting a dwarf doing the impossible.The film threw several challenges to Kamal's grasp and he never missed to grab the opportunity and prove, how much capable he was, in delivering the magnitude of a mind blowing performance.The film had every thing in its kit-a magnificent story line,remarkable range of characterization and brilliant performance by everybody, involved in making the film.Like Parakkum Paavai,the circus segment was inseparably linked to the over all narration of events and characters.Here,Mouli was the circus manager.
   The greatest winning point of the film, was its tricky revenge programme thoughtfully designed and executed by the dwarf Kamal with the able support of his acrobatic body and circus brain.The other extraordinary thing about this mighty show, was its tremendous reach with all sections of the audience without any hiccup. Ilayaraja's music was an additional enticement.All the songs were beautifully composed and memorably rendered.It is a film that calls for a continued flashback on account of its unique vigor in keeping the entire audience visually enthralled, without any let up in tempo at any point of its narration. Aboorva Sagodharargal was one of Kamal's outstanding ventures and the circus portions of the film stand out as the most prominent events of the film, with the most specific climax scene showing Nagesh,the primary villain, getting killed with in the circus premises, by the circus animals.
     Of these four films mentioned here,Chandralekha and Kulamagal Raadhai were in black and white and the other two were color films.While Chandralekha and Aboorva Sagodharargal were the out come of massive human and technical efforts,Kulamagal Raadhai and Parakkum Paavai were not that kind of extravaganzas  requiring any extraordinary labor or expenditure.However,the latter films had great star value and B.Sarojadevi was the heroine of both the films.But the fact that Chandralekha was under production during the pre- independence period and that it was filmed during the days of little technical access, speak of its singular greatness and special position in film making.One can not imagine how many ordeals the entire production unit would have come across, in managing men money, materials and animals.A stupendous task it would have been for all those, involved in making this majestic movie and all of them need an immortal recognition,  
    Aboorva Sagodharargal would have been another uphill task for Kamal who had to undergo the strain of shrinking his posture and size to genuinely fit into the role of a dwarf.These are amazing expositions of talent and merit in performance of individuals and groups.Beyond all this the truth of the circus base, stays stronger in MGR's Parakkum Paavai and Kamal's Aboorva Sagodharargal. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the main course of events is cohesively interrelated with the circus schedule in both the films and both were action packed films, not shedding the weight of action, at any point of portrayal of events.The other reason could be that Chandralekha had more to do with the historical base and Kulamagal Raadhai was more a tale of romance, confined to the plight of a man caught in between two women.On the whole, all the four films had a lot to entertain the audience through their circus display.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Proud Place of Padmini Pictures.


      Early Tamil cinema was considerably under the inspiration and influence of its fraternal film makers from Telugu,Malayalam and Kannada.Though the contribution from the Telugu and Malayalam film industries was more,the role of Kannada film sector could not be undermined.Apart from actors and singers,the most prominent place in this regard, goes to the highly acclaimed and qualitative film maker B.R.Pantulu,who as a significant film maker,cast his invincible impressions on the ever dynamic Tamil  Cinema.He is more remembered by his reputed film making unit,the Padmini Pictures.This profuse film maker exuberantly dwelt upon different genres of films such as myths,history,fantasy,family dramas, comedy and  stories on social reform.
    Starting his career as an actor Pantulu made his presence strikingly noticeable in films like Naam Iruvar and Mudhal Thedhi.The first Tamil film he directed was Thangamalai Ragasyam starring Sivaji Ganesan and Jamuna. However even after becoming a director Pantulu continued to act in all his movies either in small or big roles.Music director T.G.Lingappa joined him  for his film Thangamalai Ragasyam that came out with the  memorable melodious number Amudhai Pozhiyum Nilave. enchantingly rendered by P.Suseela. Lingappa continued to be a part of many Pantulu films as Sivaji Ganesan did.
    Pantulu directed nearly eight films with Sivaji Ganesan as hero. Of these,apart from his first Tamil film as director, the other most talked about films were Sabash Meena,a rib tickling comedy,Veera Pandia Kattabomman a fascinating and powerful narration in historical fiction, Kappalottiya Thamizhan,a heart rending narration of the Indian freedom movement and the mega hit myth Karnan.Pantulu's other popular Sivaji movies were Engal Kudumbam Perusu, Bale Pandia and Muradan Muthu.The two comedies Sabash Meena and Bale Pandia, continue to rock the memories of the Tamil audience with the hilarious comedy parade of Sivaji Ganesan and Chandrababu in the former and the robust joint show of Sivaji Ganesan and M.R.Radha in the latter.The presentation of the song sequence ''Neeye Unakku Enrum Nigaraanavan''was a grand audio visual treat in Bale Pandia. All the songs composed by Viswanathan Ramamurthy for Bale Pandia were exemplary pieces of sweet music.
      It was the variety in theme and appealing narration that made Pantulu, a unique film maker. Pantulu who started his film career with Sivaji Ganesan in 1957, switched over to MGR seven years later and from 1964,he directed four films of that mass hero.Of these Aayirathil Oruvan attained an epic status with a beautiful story line, captivating narration and enthralling music by Viswanathan Ramamurthy. All the songs were tremendous hits reaching every nook and corner of Tamil Nadu at one go.After five decades, recently the film came out with its digital version like Pantulu's other grand film Karnan.Pantulu's three other MGR films were Nadodi,Ragasiya Police 115 and Thedivandha Mappillai.
   Though quite a few women including Padmini, Sarojadevi and Barathi had acted in his films, Pantulu inducted Devika and Jeyalalitha more frequently than others.Similarly for mother roles his preference was always for the highly talented actress M.V.Rajamma, who reflected the power of noble motherhood like P.Kannaambaa and Pandarbai.Nadodi with Sarojadevi and Bharati,dealt with the theme of caste prejudices, ever prevalent in most parts of Tamil Nadu. Unlike Aayirathil Oruvan, the other three films,were moderate shows but the MGR charisma did not fail to pull the audience to the theatres.
     Almost three forth of the Tamil movies of Pantulu went into the hands of the two mighty stars of Tamil Cinema.However,the other moderate shows like Kuzhandhaigal Kanda Kudiyarasu, Namma Veettu Latchumi {both had Pantulu playing vital roles} Enga Paappaa [with Ravichandran and Barathi sharing screen space }Ganga Gowri [a mythological narration with Gemini Ganesan playing Lord Shiva and Jeyalalitha playing the role of Parvadhi}and Kadavul Mama,{the last Tamil film of Pantulu }did not fail to impress the audience. Pantulu passed away in 1974 after the release of Kadavul Mama..
    B.R.Pantulu's contribution to Tamil cinema is certainly of a tall order, taking Tamil film industry to newer heights of pride and glory.He was a maker of  both modest and mighty films His three magnificent creations in Tamil are Veera Pandiya Kattabomman,Karnan and Aayirathil Oruvan. But none of his modest releases could be called dampeners.Tamil film audience will ever carry in their memories, the most enjoyable comedies, Sabash Meena and Bale Pandiya, an  unruffled stream like film Nadodi and the clean family drama Namma Veettu Latchumi.
   The impact of Kappalottiya Thamizhan was so realistic and emotionally engrossing that no one could easily erase from their memory the life like portrayal of characters such as Va.Vu.Chi, Mahakavi Subramanya Barathi, Subramanya Siva and Vanchinathan, by Sivaji Ganesan. S.V.Subbiah,T.K Bagavadhi and K.Balaji  respectively.These characters will be remembered for their true and neat delineation, by such veteran actors.The film was not a blockbuster like Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Karnan.But it travelled through the imagination and emotions of the audience without sound and fury. Bantulu stands highly credited for his presentation of a galaxy of themes through the medium of cinema.It was this extraordinary element that has made his Padmini Pictures unit, earn a proud place in Tamil Cinema .

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Most Popular Tamil Comedies.



       Tamil Cinema has a fascinating galaxy of films of various genres.There has been a felicitous addition of rib tickling as well as rejuvenating comedies that keep the Tamil film society proud of its creative vigour and performance potential.Every decade has come out with different types of hilarious comedies,contributing to the speed and size of growth of the Tamil film industry.
   Makers of appropriate comedy skits and participants in taking up the onus of transmitting the sense and gusto of humour deserve special accolades in this regard.A majority of films have of course incorporated the comedy element only as subplots. They have done this purely for the purpose of providing comic relief for the audience, from watching power packed narrations of highly emotional themes and heavy story lines.There have also been a consistent flow of full length comedies as well, during every decade, to keep the laughter element as the most cherished form of human behaviour.It is this spirit of comedy that breaks the dullness behind the  repetitive events, ruling through the routine of people of various walks of life.In other words it is the variety aspect of the comedy films, that makes them the most challenging and  outstanding products of creative imagination.This article would look at a few grand Tamil comedies,  that stay stuck to our memory and keep on invigorating our thought process.
    The first ever consummately decent comedy that I watched during my childhood days was the Gemini Ganesan and Savithri starring Missiamma directed by the most eminent film maker L.V.rasad. The film narrated the plight of two unemployed graduates,a man and a woman,who had to lie that they were both husband and wife .Besides these two actors the film had a wonderful cast of highly talented actors like S.V.Renga Rao,K.Sarangabani,M.N.Nambiyar,K.A.Thangavelu and Jamuna.It was one of the cleanest among Tamil movies creating a lot of warmth and joy for the viewers.
    The other reputed Tamil comedy entries were the two great Sivaji Ganesan films Manamagan Thevai and Sabash Meena,The former produced and directed by  P.S.Ramakrishna  Rao,[husband of actress P.Banumathi} vigorously pictured the sparkling attitude of a shrewd girl who did a perfect deceiving elf in conducting herself in two profiles as twins.There was a lot of fun and healthy humor in the combined show of Sivaji Ganesan,P.Banumathi,J.P Chandrababu, Javert Seetharaman and T.R.Ramachandran The other film Sabash Meena, produced and directed by B.R Pantulu was a sparkling tale of impersonation resulting in memorable comical situations. Sivaji Ganesan and J.P.Chandrababu made a robust parade of humor with their unique display of waywardness and temerity.The film became a classic hit.
    Then came Vedhantham Ragavaiah's most popular film Adutha Veettu Penn that had an impresseive cast of greatly talented actors like T.R.Ramachandran,Anjalidhevi K.A.Thangavelu and M.Saroja.It was another clean comedy of the last century passing on, truly lighter moments of  mood changing magic, without deviating from the concepts of natural comedy.The film which was very popular with the audience, had the comedy segment of Thangavelu and M.Saroja transformed into gramophone records and reached many homes, besides being repeatedly broadcast through the All India Radio and Ceylon Radios Commercial transmission.
    The  immortal Tamil comedy of the Nineteenth Century was Sridhar's Kadhalikka Neramillai that introduced Ravichandran into Tamil cinema.It was a grand contextual comedy with the extraordinary role play of R.Muthuraman, Nagesh T.S.Balaiah, and Ravichandran. The humour quotient of the film was so compact and meaningful that it could surpass the barriers of time and find an acceptable reception even this day,without losing its laudable sense of comedy. It was the dialogues that most aptly adorned the scenes with contextual verbal sense and enriched the over all quality of the film.The other positive aspect of the film was its rich music with an archive of timeless songs.The T.S Balaiah-Nagesh combination displayed the core of tremendous comedy sense with a universal appeal.
    Later Sridhar and his assistant Gopu  came out with a couple of full length comedies like Oottivarai Uravu and Kalaatta Kalyanam both starring Sivaji Ganesan,one paired with K.R.Vijaya and the other with Jeyalalitha. The latter was a clear farcical narration and the former was another milestone in graceful humor showing T.S.Balaiah in an unenviable,ridiculous situation.The refreshing dance sequence of K.R.Vijaya for the wonderful song 'Thedinen Vandhadhu' sung by P.Suseela at the initial spell of the film, became the most striking momentum of the film.
    Sivaji Ganesan's other boisterous comedy venture was again B.R.Pantulu's Bale Pandia, in which the Chevalier donned treble roles and made a casual show of his tremendous flair for humor along with the ever vibrant M.R.Radha playing dual roles.The initial scene showing Sivaji Ganesan on top of a multi storied building threatening to commit suicide and the subsequent dialogues uttered by him caused a roar of laughter among the audience.The most unforgettable scene in that film was the song sequence in which the Chevalier and Radha would vie with each other to show their singing might, through the happily remembered song, 'Neeye Unakku Enrum Nigaraanavan' in T.M.Soundarajan's stentorian voice.
   K.Balachander's Bama Vijayam was another clean comedy in the line of Missiamma and it was meant for a decent family watch with T.S.Balaiah,Nagesh and Muthuraman stealing the show, with the able support of veteran actor Major Sundarajan.The film was noteworthy for its effective female participation depicting Sowcar Janaki in perfect form of providing innocent humour.Jeyanthi and Kanchana joined Janaki in beautifully portraying the spirit of domestic womanhood..This film would create a mood of nostalgia,adding moments of longing for such qualitative humor show, not to be seen in the present day films.
    After Bhama Vijayam K.Balachander came out with a lovable comedy film portraying the dubious side of a youth who was an incarnation of falsehood but presented himself as the truest person on earth, with astounding principles and this he had to do, just for the sake of getting a job.The  film seemed  to showcase Rajinikanth in a totally different frame and the attempt clicked, just because of this novel depiction of Rajinikanth with an ISI stamp of humor.The narration of the film was so refreshing that it became a spontaneous hit, with the sparkling support of Thengai Srinivasan who stole the whole comedy show and there were Nagesh and Sowcar Janaki to substantially complement the contextual impact of the comedy sequences, with make up manuals and acrobatics.The remarkable success of the film called for its remake with Mirchi Siva, Prakash Raj and Kovai Sarala substituting Rajini, ThengaiSrinivasan and Sowcar Janaki.
   There was a road comedy wonderfully demonstrated by Nagesh and A.Karunanidhi with other comedians like Bakkoda Kadher in the highly talked about film Madras to Pondicherry.Robust humor travelled along with a bus crew generating spot comedy of a tall order. AVM's Kasedhaan Kadavulada starring Muthuraman,Lakshmi Thengai Srinivasan Srikanth Manorama and others,was yet another fantastic farcical show..In the same farcical category there were two enjoyable comedy films called Veettukku Veedu and Utharavinri Ulle vaa.The former was cast with Jaishankar, Muthuraman, Lakshmi, Nirmala  and Nagesh and the latter with Ravichandran,Kanchana,Nagesh Sachu and others..For both these films Chiralaya Gopu wrote the screen play.These movies also created a lot of humor impact on the minds of the audience.Some of the other notable comedies during this period were Jaishankar's Kalyaanamaam Kalyaanam, K.Balachander's Anubhavi Raja Anubhavi.
    After these films, there was a dry spell.It was Sundar.C who dissipated the dry spell by his silver jubilee hit Ullathai Allithaa starring Karthik Muthuraman,Ramba,Manivannan and Goundamani.The film's success was perhaps due to its lenience in story line and scenic narration to the earlier Sabash Meena that became famous on account of the casual confusions resulting from impersonation.One could say that Karthik and Goundamani just replaced Sivaji Ganesan and Chandrababu and the other things followed as consequential events in modern form. Sundar.C went on to add a couple of farcical films like Mettukkudi and Kalakalappu to his cheerful sense of film making.Similarly P.Vasu and Guru Danapal brought out the comedy potential with their two respectivel Satyaraj films Nadigan and Maaman Magal. While the  first one was an action comedy entertainer,the latter was more a focused humor show.
    All rounder Kamalahasan can hardly say no to comedies.He has in his kitty at least half a dozen leading humor tales like Singara Velan,Michael Madana Kamarajan, Avvai Shanmugi,Tenali Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa and Pancha Thandhiram.besides his Sathi Leelavadhi and other take- it- easy films like Pammal K.Sambandham and Vasool Raja MBBS. All these films exhibited the essence of vigorous humor, with sense and nonsense.While Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa was an effortless farce with appropriate timing in gesticulation and delivery of dialogues,Avvai Shanmugi exhilarating and mature family drama with total dedication to the vital principles of humor.If the trio Kamal-Prabudeva and M.S.V ransacked the audience mood with their aggressive dramatic show of humor in Kaadhala Kaadhalaa, the same way the trio Kamal,Gemini Ganesan and Delhi Ganesh generated continuous sparks of comedy, rubbing one another without qualms. Kamal in the guise of a middle aged woman did not fail to tickle romantic beats in the heart of Manivannan thanks to the  make up efforts of Nagesh as he did for Rajinii in Thillumullu.
     But Pancha Thandhiram out beat the other films by narrating the tale of four deviant husbands taking helpless Kamal for a ride through their periodical pranks and self centered moves.The credit for most of Kamal's comedy crackers should go to crazy Mohan for contributing dialogues suitable to the contexts as sulpher to crackers.The one instance in Pancha Thandiram  is when the police inspector asks the men in the car''munnaadi pinnaadi enna irundhudhu"[What was there earlier,behind your back}with a play on words.Another such play upon words was encountered in Michael Madhana Kaamaraajan in the use of the Tamil word 'meen' {fish}mixing it up with the English word 'mean' both as verb and adjective.It is these precise verbal ingredients that make Kamal's comedy films a special humor treat.
   The latest additions in Tamil comedies with a  lighter vein, have been M.Rajesh's films like Bas Engira Baskaran and Oru Kal Oru Kannaadi.There have also been a series of black comedies mostly promoted by Vijay Sethupathi donning hero role with funny shades, mixed with a darker punch . Though the number of full length comedies are not many these days, like action films and other genre movies,the ever young and imaginative body of Tamil cinema is certainly not lagging in freshness and feel of joy in creativity.However the solid truth of the matter is, that we hardly come across a film like Sridhar's Kaadhalikka Neramillai or K.Balachander's Baamaa Vijayam. Kamal's comedy core could be called an exception particularly when it is accompanied by the dialogues of crazy Mohan and made by a vibrant film maker like K.S.Ravikumar. Similarly Sridhar's comedies had Chitralaya Gopu's golden humor brain, as their backbone. I am sure the Tamil film audience are eagerly looking forward to seeing more number of comedies like those of Mohan and Gopu, that create healthy laughter without bordering on the side of vulgarity or hurting one's self dignity in the name of humor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Two Yesses as Contemporaries of Tamil Cinema..


     Tamil Cinema has been quite often under the influence of two predominant celebrities as actors or singers or film makers or as music directors.As far as actors are concerned it has been the case from the days of M.K.T Baghavadhar/P.U.Chinnappaa and MGR/Sivaji Ganesan down to the present scenario of Vijay and Ajit. Among singers such a distinct duality prevailed only between T.M.Soundarjan and Sirkazhi Govindarajan. Similarly among music directors M.S.Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadhevan alone held a remarkable distinction as powerful music makers of a single period.However among film makers we had A.Bhimsingh and the duo Krishnan Panju followed by pairs of directors like P.Madhavan/A.C Thirilokchandar, K.S.Gopalakrishnan/K.Balachander,Balu Mahendra/J.Mahendran, Barathraja/Bagyaraj P.Vasu/ K.S Ravikumar and so on.In this line we have another pair of upcoming dynamic film personalities who have been holding a leading place both as directors and actors.These two fairly young men with a significant stamp of individuality have periodically worked together in each other's films either by making each other's films or in acting at least in a cameo role in each other's films.They are M.Sasikumar and P.Samuthirakani who have won awards for their respective performances and keep moving the Tamil movie concept in a refreshing mould.
   P.Samuthirakani who is a bit senior by age,also entered the  film industry earlier than Sasikumar. He started grooming his creative ground realities at the golden film school of K.Balachander and also appeared in minor roles in films like Parthaale Paravasam[directed by K.B] at the beginning of the new millennium. M.Sasikumar  too began his film career in the company of directors like Bala and Ameer. But his first film Subramanyapuram produced and directed by him,became a super hit and the film had Samuthirakani playing a villain role in the most natural form. Sasikumar also played a vital role in that film which had Jai, cast as hero.With its nostalgic, retrospective story line and action sequences, belonging to the Nineteen Eighties this film of the first decade of the new millennium, created magic record of kinds, thanks to the qualitative, creative thrust of Sasikumar &co.
   For a change a little later,Samuthirakani directed the film Nadodigal in which Sasikumar played the lead role and this film proved to be the true yardstick for measuring his creative potential.This mega hit film became the talking point for the film stuff of this emerging duo with identical insight into the norms of making films by lifting them out of their artificial moorings of an exaggerated screen base.Both the films mentioned above, were award winners.In continuation of these success shows, Sasikumar produced the outstanding film Pasanga,directed by Pandiraj and this unique film also won the national award.
    It is not that Sasikumar and Samuthirakani are not at all cinematic.But their narrative parameters are within the barriers of naturalism.They never seem to overdo things, whether it is their delineation of characters as film makers, or their own way of acting in the role assigned to them.Their dialogue delivery for instance, is never over blown.They talk as ordinary people talk and reflect the real content of living.The only difference is that, Sasikumar frequently does some dance numbers in his own style and even this is not taken seriously by the viewers as any attempt at image building.
   After Naadodikal,Sasikumar produced and directed Easan in which Samuthirakani played the role of a police officer as naturally as possible.Then came Samuthirakani's Nimirndhu Nil starring Jayam Ravi in which M.Sasikumar lent his voice for dubbing.Even in the recent film Vetrivel the two actors have shared screen space.What is most common between them is their firm grasp of the soil while representing the world of Tamil cinema.
   Sasikumar's Sundara Pandian was a very popular film with mass appeal and story value.The most memorable dialogue at the end of the film goes as follows "If the person who has stabbed you is your friend,even if you have to die,you should not divulge it".Beyond the intrinsic layers of love, the film carried a vital thrust on the quality of friendship and the kind of friends one should choose in life. Sasikumar's association with Bala and Ameer, does not fail to pass on their influence on him, particularly with regard to the negative implications in human relationship, as one of the vital ingredients in his manner of story telling. One such indicator is the element of betrayal of friendship, that happens as an undercurrent both in Subramanyapuram and Sundara Pandian. The other notable entries of Sasikumar are,Kutti Puli,Poraali and Bala's Thaarai Thappattai.
    Samuthirakani has consistently established his position in poignantly portraying  character as well as villain roles with convincing merit and reliability.No one can undermine his role performance as a value oriented school teacher, in the very well filmed, but not properly received movie,Saattai. In every frame of that character one could see the genuine struggles of a  socially motivated teacher, deeply penetrating into the character formation.The beauty with Samuthirakani is that one cannot see the actor overtaking the character .On the other hand the actor gradually transforms into the character with accuracy and  perfect understanding of the purpose and genesis of the character.Similarly in performing villain characters, he can become very crude if necessary, as he does in Payum Puli as the elder brother of Vishal, or a comedy crook and a mean villain, like the one he performs in Rajini Murugan.It was with  convincing ease did he perform the character role as the father of Danush, in Velaiyillaa Pattadhaari.Samuthirakani's acting verve has earned him a special place in the Malayalam film industry also.
    How much Samuthirakani deserves his special national award, for his subdued but striking performance as a police inspector with qualms,in the award winning film Visaranai, is an obvious and veritable reality. Vetrimaran of course deserves great recognition for narrating a ticklish story line, dealing with the criminal side of a section of the police department, with utmost precision and subtlety.The climax scene which suggestively and casually reveals the killing of the accused on fabrication, along with the conscientious police inspector, by a simple audio declaration, that both the proposed killings are over,{"ரெண்டும் முடிஞ்சுது சார்"} becomes the salient feature of Vetrimaran's course of narration.But beyond all this kind of distinct pattern of filming,it is Samuthirakani's underplay of the role, that adds weight to the certainly mind blowing movie.
   Both Sasikumar and Samuthirakani seem to shoulder the onus of creating a new wave in Tamil Cinema.As contemporaries working in the field of cinema, which is under various pressures such as focus on image building, competitive and divisive tendencies,money power and video piracy,we do not know how far they will succeed in retaining their on going sheen, without getting typecast in the years to come.However, as Barathiraja and Bagyaraj turned the Tamil film industry to newer directions with their individual trademarks of creativity,the hope remains that M.Sasikumar who is rooted to a balanced mode of performance and Samuthirakani who has not only occupied the big screen but has also reached every home through his television serials like Anni and Arasi, will go a long way in updating the image of the Tamil film industry, in their own style and formula of film making and histrionics.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Spark is Sporadic.


    Atlee's Raja Rani  would have significantly raised the expectations of the audience for his second film Theri [Spark]  mainly because of its star value.The greatest spark in the movie is the presence of Baby Nainika as Vijay's daughter and her cutest interactions and lovely rejoinders to her dad's words and actions.She kick starts the initial momentum of the film with the bike chasing the car and the dampening end up of the chase.There is certainly a spark in Vijay the police officer, caning the rowdies, who occupy a classroom in a government school for boozing and treating them with the thumb rules of teaching. The sparks hit us here and there, at unexpected moments with a couple of bullet strokes ,one at the scene when Vijay is talking to Samantha's father at the coffee house in his usual humorous vein and the other when a sudden hit of a bullet, kills Samantha when she is asking Vijay how he rates her as his wife.
     The Shankar school impact is obvious in Atlee in the way he delivers fascinating visuals and stunning stunts with a kind of mega effect.But it stops with that.There is no continuity in making impact through each and every scene of narration, that one could find in Shankar. This is a young kid's attempt to parade through an action packed arena.Hence there is no continuity of the spark in narration .The absence of a separate comedy track or a professional comedian not joining the hero's hand, is perhaps another spark dowser, because however graceful Vijay's sense of humor is,it gets stereotyped after a particular point.
    Between the two heroines,Samantha scores higher, may be due to the fact, that she has been given more space for role play.The first meeting between Vijay and Samantha does create a spark with Samantha initially asking him to remove his cooling glasses and later on saying that he deserves to wear the glasses, because he has saved children suffering as beggars and street vendors in the hands of cruel rowdies.There are intermittent sparks as verbal flashes, in most scenes concerning Vijay and Samantha and those between Vijay and his most passionate mother Radhika.
    The outstanding spark of the film is the demonstration of villainy through J.Mahendran, the most noteworthy director of of the Nineteen eighties who made commendable movies like Nenjaththai Killaadhe,Udhirippookkal and some special Rajini films, like Mullum Malarum,Jaani and Kai Kodukkum Kai. Mahendran's unruffled looks, controlled dialogue delivery and subdued mannerisms create the much needed spark in most contexts.But the same way he seems to be helplessly made to look tamed and meek, in the climax scene, without any chance to let the spark come out of him.This eminent director who is capable of grander acting skills, could have been used more meaningfully by extracting more sparks of dynamics in acting, hidden in his directorial brain.
   The spark of G.V.Prakashkumar's music is confined to a couple of songs, particularly the one sung by the father and daughter at the very beginning of the film.I would not compare this film, citing theme and  contexts of similarity, to other films like Baashaa,Chatriyan and Ramana as some reviewers have done . In those films the action segment was never found sagging.But here it is.May be it is due to the fact that here,one does not see action segment alone.There are more of sentiments, fun and breezy interpersonal links here, than in those films.It is not just a full fledged action film.It is on the other hand a Vijay film meant more for his fans, with his style and pep, to focus more on the actor's profiles of spark, rather than reflecting sparks of various formulations in film making, that one witnessed in Atlee's Raja Rani. Perhaps if the spark had permeated through out the film,it would have become an extraordinary Vijay film like Thuppaakki.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Love Triangle in Tamil Cinema.


     Tamil Cinema has dealt at length with a variety of themes like love,family sentiment, friendship, myths,religion,spirituality,social and historical transitions,psychic disorders and crime and violence, in broader perspectives and  as specific subjects for delineation.As far as love is concerned, there has been considerable thrust on the romantic side, with clear cut interpretations of calf love,cup board love and Platonic love.While the first one speaks of infatuation and the physical side of love hitting teen age victims,the second brand reflects the convenient aspects of love, such as financial aspects and personal advancement.But the third type is an ideal pattern of love, searching for a soul mate, through self inflicting moments of agony and sacrifice.
    Love need not always be an exclusive field for two people.Quite often two men might be in love with the same woman or vice versa.It is this this kind of love triangle that most often occupied the imagination of eminent director Sridhar and later director Vikraman. As a rare phenomenon, K.Balachander show cased a situation of three sisters falling in love with the same man, but none of them finally getting him and this story line as well as its captivating treatment made the film Sollathaan Ninaikirein a mega hit.
      Love triangle has been a fascinating subject for beautiful cinematic presentation, ways back to the days of films like Manappandal,Aalayamani, Bagyalatchumi and later Kalyana Parisu.Triangular love has been a predicament experienced by two persons, either brothers, or sisters,or friends in relation to the third individual, a man or woman, who is put to undue mental anguish,because of the other two.In Manapandal S.A.Asokan and S.S Rajendran as brothers would be in love with the same woman [played by B.Sarojadevi] and when the younger brother SSR sacrifices his love interest for the sake of the elder brother,both of them do not realize how much mental agony they cause for the woman who is deeply in love with the younger brother.
     The audience were exposed to a similar experience of a woman suffering in between two close friends, equally loving her and finally one giving up his love for the sake of the other.The two friends were Sivaji Ganesan and SSR and here too,it was the same SSR who sacrificed his love for the same Sarojadevi and the film was Alayamani. Similarly in Uyarndha Manidhan,it was Asokan who gulped his one side love like poison and behaved nobly with his friend Sivaji Ganesan, who was in love with Vanisri.
     On the contrary, in the other two films it was Gemini Ganesan who was caught in between two women loving him .In Bagyalakshmi it was the two sisters Sowcar Janaki and E.V.Saroja who were after the hero and the latter sincerely loving the younger sister,  E.V.Saroja the younger one was found in a sacrificing mood suppressing her mental torment.In Kalyana Parisu,Saroja Devi was in a similar predicament, giving up her love for the hero, for her elder sister [played by Vijayakumari] who too loved the hero.For the romantic hero Gemini Ganesan, such roles were a cake walk and he was seen portraying roles of entanglement with ease and exuberance.Director Sridhar continued the theme of love triangle successfully, in a few more films like Nenjil Oer Aalayam,Nenjirukkum varai  Avalukkenru Oer Manam and Ilamai Onjalaadugiradhu.In all these love triangle films, the original lovers were made to walk on fire for the sake of the in- between man or woman, who capitalized the situation, by emotionally blackmailing a sibling or friend and exploiting their generosity.
    K.Balachander had a taste of the love triangle concept in films like Aval Oru Thodarkadhai and Thamarai Nenjam.In the former, the elder sister Sujatha would sacrifice her love for the hero Vijayakumar, to help her widowed younger sister Sripriya,who was also in love with the hero,to marry him.Whereas in the latter, it was a clear demonstration of the competitive spirit of sacrifice between two friends of the fair sex,[Sarojadevi and Vanisri] to give up their love for their man, for the sake of the other. Among the new generation directors, it is Viraman who has succeeded in presenting the delicate and noble side of triangular love in his most celebrated film Poove Unakkaaga
    The examples given here are not many. But they are valid indicators of the complexity of  triangular love.What is always special about the treatment of love triangle is the reflection of the ideal base of romance with a growing monument of nobility and sacrificing instinct of the human nature in general and that of the lovers in particular.The ideal incorporated and propagated through this noble theme is that, there is greater happiness and fulfillment in living for others, than for one's own desires and expectations.This supreme factor of giving in for others, seems to surpass the barriers of race and gender, because it is an all embracing way of life and the hallmark of exemplary human attitude and behaviour. In this way, Tamil Cinema has certainly succeeded in ennobling the fundamental principle of love, through its focus on and delineation of, the love triangle predicament.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Casanovas of Tamil Cinema


     Casanova is a man who flirts with many women at a time and jilts them.He is a smooth tongued charmer and seducer of women.Lord Byron's Don Juan,is an immortal example of a Casanova.With a play boy attitude,Casanovas play with the emotions of women in the name of love and leave them in the lurch.Romeos and stalkers are a part of the global realities.In the prime of youth some men take upon, a take- it -easy policy and in this casual process, they take women's life into ransom.World cinema has focused upon such characters time and again and Tamil cinema is no exception to this.Ever since the inception of the Tamil film industry, there have been films narrating the vagabond type of youths as stray characters, appearing in main or supportive roles.
     Starting from Sivaji Ganesan,many front line heroes of Tamil Cinema,have visited this unpalatable character with immense passion and have done utmost justice to their roles. Sivaji Ganesan's most striking movie Thirumbi Paar at the start of his film career showed him in a detestable negative shade as a hell bent womanizer.The fiery dialogues of the film written in chaste Tamil by Dr.M.Karunanidhi,remained as the most talking point, taking the film to its brilliant heights. I think after this film, Sivaji Ganesan did not play such a role, though he was seen as a playboy getting redeemed in L.V.Prasad's memorable film Iruvar Ullam. Whereas ,MGR the mass hero and close contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan was always image conscious and would never think of donning such a negative role, causing harm to anyone in general and to womanhood in particular.Never during the life time of his career did MGR play the role of a Casanova.
    K.Balaji,a close contemporary actor of Sivaji Ganesan and one who later turned producer of several Sivaji hits, was a charming spoiler of passionate womanhood in Policekaaran Magal [an earliest grand creation of director Sridhar}and later in Sivaji Ganesan's Enga Mama. Gemini Ganesan delivered a wonderful performance as Casanova in K.Balachander's epoch making film Naan Avanillai, as a social menace walking into the lives of many women.The film created so great an immortal impact, that it was remade after nearly three decades,with Jeevan replacing Gemini Ganesan The success of this remake, which was narrated in a much lighter vein, called for the making of its Part ll, which became an average show.
     R.Muthuraman at one stage, played such characters in films like' Maanavan' 'Namma Veettu Dheivam' and Sridhar's most popular 'Avalukkenru Oer Manam'.The other critically reviewed film in this category was K.Balachander's Major Chandrakanth' showing A.V.M Rajan in a stylish form of Casanova.In most of these movies such deceptive men finally fell under the clutches of destiny or were done away with,by the affected persons or their family members.
    Between Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan,it was the latter who ebulliently performed Casanova characters in films like Sollathaan Ninaikirein and Pattaam Poochi.Though Rajinikanth did quite a few negative roles[the most detestable roles in this category were in films like Padhinaari Vayadhinile and Gayathri} in his early impressive innings in Tamil Cinema, the role of Casanova perhaps evaded his grasp.Whereas MGR cautiously avoided such characters throughout his film career. Another memorable Casanova portrayal came in handy for Mohan and he beautifully made use of his opportunity in K.Balaji's silver jubilee hit movie, Vidhi. Even here,the affected woman legally fought her case and exposed the dirty side of the hero.
   Modern Tamil Cinema is almost getting out of such themes because in new wave thought and globalized life styles, the sentiments of affected womanhood, are not selling factors anymore.On the one hand, there are women empowerment programs.On the other, women's liberation movements have started looking at man woman relationships, as choice based and optional concepts.There are simultaneous changes in perspectives taking place at various levels, in the form of dating,live-in-relationships and divorce-cum-remarriage schedules.In a way, the term Casanova is becoming an outmoded expression .Besides, jilting is also crossing gender barriers.Hence Casanova tales can be called things of the past.