Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Two Actor Grandsons of the DMK Patriarch.

   
















     The Dravidian movement was as much dedicated to the stage and screen as it was to politics.Arignar Anna and Kalaignar Karunanidhi remained as the torchbearers of the Dravidian movement both in politics and cinema.While Mr.Karunanidhi was confined to writing script, the other members of his family such as Murasoli Maran and Murasoli Selvam  were actively involved in the production of Tamil films.
    Films released under Anjugam Pictures and Mekala Pictures'banner will throw substantial light on their contribution to Tamil cinema.Maaran was a script writer for famous Tamil films like Kuladheivam,Annaiyin Aanai and Sahodhari.Besides making the two films Marakka Mudiyuma and Pillaiyo Pillai, Maran also directed the former. Murasoli Selvam produced films like Paasamazhai and Paadaadha Theneekkal.
      In addition to these notable film activities,Kalignar's elder son Mu.Ka.Muthu was a hero of popular films like Pillaiyo Pillai,Pookaari,Samaiyalkaran and so on.The Dravidian patriarch's other son Stalin has also shown his acting skill in a couple of films {Ore Ratham and Makkal Aanaiyittaal}and T.V serials {Kurinji Malar and Suriya}.Now from this family tree, two new generation actors have succeeded in making footprints on the pathway to the silver screen.They are Uadhayanidhi Stalin and Arulnidhi, the sons of M. K.Stalin and M. K. Tamizharasu respectively.
    Both these new stars have started glittering with their independent sparks of performing ignition. Between these two cousins,M.K.Stalin's ward is at least a decade older than Arulnidhi.The latter  hit his tenth film sometime last month. Though Udhayanidhi has already reached number ten,his first entry was a minor role in his Red Giant movies' film Adhavan.
   Unlike his cousin Arulnidhi, Udhayanidhi is a producer of films too. Under his Red Giant Movies,there were half a dozen films portraying him as hero besides two films of Suriya {Aadhavan and 7aam Arivu}and one film each of Kamalahasan and Vijay {Manmadhan Ambu and Kuruvi respectively}.There were also other films like Neer Paravai and Vanakkam Chennai. But Arulnidhi who made his debut in Vamsam has not so far produced any film.Among Udhayanidhi's movies,Oru Kal Oru Kannaadi, Manidhan, Ippadai Vellum and Nimir were significantly worth watching, as entertainers and quality reflectors.
   His other films like Nanbenda, Saravanan Irukka Bayam Yen,Podhuvaaga En Manasu Thangam and Idhu Kadhirvelan Kaadhal were very ordinary shows.To record it as a personal preference,Oru Kal Oru Kannaadi will be my most enjoyed film of this budding actor, because of the team spirit of vigorous banter exhibited by him in association with Santhaanam,with abundant farcical stuff, generating spot humour and spontaneous laughter.
    Arulnidhi has to his credit some special films like Vamsam,his debut film,Mouna Guru,an action thriller, De Monte Colony a ghost thriller and Radha Mohan's Brindhavanam a breezy tale of romance.He has also come out with a few more action /mystery thrillers and considerable comedy entries,such as Udhayan,Thagaraaru, Aaraadhu Sinam,Oru Kanniyum Moonru Kalavaanikalum and Naalu Polisum Naalaa Irundha Oorum.Both Udhayanidhi and Arulnidhi have captivating smiles and sober dimensions in their profiles.
    But Udhayanidhi seems to be a little more genial and endearing in carrying himself closer to the film watchers.This might be due to the roles offered to Arulnidhi in films like Mouna Guru and De Monte Colony.In physical stature,the audience would be compelled to bring in a  little similarity, between Arulnidhi and Vishal, though their acting modes are totally different.
     Arulnidhi is a composed performer who has shouldered a few tough roles leaning on psychological intricacies as in Mouna Guru and De Monte Colony.But Udhayanidhi impresses by his clear dialogue delivery with apt intonations marking it as a progressive course of acting.His comedy flair is also precisely convincing to the extent of setting up a positive image for him. However, he has to try different themes and characters as he did in Manidhan. His casual acting style is a special asset to him, like the introspective acting calibre of Arulnidhi that puts him at an advantage.
     Udhayanadhi's  latest release 'Nimir' directed by Priyadharshan reaffirms his casual acting ability,without any blow up and fixes him perfectly into the role of a photographer.With moderate inclusion of natural humor and realistic portrayal of events, it can be called a clean movie and the song Nenjil Maamazhai would stay in audience memory for quite sometime.
     Arul Nidhi's recent film 'Iravukku Aayiram Kangal'with a decent cast and thrilling narration, has definitely shown marked improvement in the hero's capacity for underplay.Here,the first time film maker Mu.Maran proves his promising credentials,by presenting a full time worthy thriller with great twists and turns, leading to a catchy,suggestive climax. Arulnidhi,Ajmal Anandraj,{with his fine comedy flashes} Mahima Nambiyar and Lakhsmi Ramakrishnan have contributed their best to make the film quite different from other thrillers.
   The future goals of these two heroes,will alone make them deserve a relevant place in the field of Tamil Cinema,by adding more mettle to the creative corpus of their grand father,who has also been a splendid  power point of the Tamil literary foundation. In this particular aspect, it becomes the foremost responsibility of these two actor cousins, to stand up and salute their grand sire and tell him that they carry at least a little bit of his creative grandeur,that would ever last as the governing spirit of Tamil Cinema.
                                               =====================

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Iron Curtain, Past and Present

 



















  


     Almost sixty years ago{1960}Gemini Pictures released the film 'Irumbu Thirai' starring Sivaji Ganesan,Vaijayanthimala,B.Sarojadevi,S.V.Rengarao,S.V.Subbiah,Vasundara devi, T.S.Dorai Raj and K.A.Thangavelu. It was not only a black and white movie but was also a curtain drawn between the evil black and the innocent white.It was a clear curtain drawn in between a mill owner with a macabre mindset and the victims of his capitalistic agenda. As the curtain had its roots crudely laid to the rich-poor divide,it carried a diabolic effect.In addition to it,the curtain also hid the filth of betrayal and revenge,more to the advantage of the rich. 
    S.S.Vasan poignantly pictured the plight of a woman{Vasundradevi] wronged by the mill owner {effortlessly played by S.V.Renga Rao, with sweet coated venom} and  her illegitimate daughter {Vaijayanthimala},who was bent upon killing the devilish mill owner.The base of the story was of course, one man's avarice for amassing wealth,by exploiting the deserving stakeholders of the profit, made by their excessive sweat and labour. 
    It was Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan who became the vibrant,leading voice of the working class, who dramatically mobilized the entire labor force against the hostile mill owner to break into pieces his wall of capitalism.So turbulent was the spirit of unity that the whole lot of agitating workers under their relentless leader, would throng in front of the iron gates of the factory and crack it down, foreboding a do or die battle with the mill owner. 
    Six decades later, here comes another film bearing the same title 'Irumbu Thirai' from the production house of actor Vishal, who also plays the protagonist of the film.This film too is about the greed for others' money but with a contemporary setting, underscoring the undue risks involved in the electronic management of money, entangled in boundless probabilities and possibilities for hacking, by the criminal intelligence of the human brain.
    Here the curtain lies between the innocent public and a don of cyber crimes, paradoxically known as white devil and notoriously indulging in hacking others'accounts without qualms. Incidentally,'White Devil' is also the title of an English drama written by John Webster.Though it is uncomfortable to see the yesteryear action hero Arjun in a despicable negative role,it has to be firmly said here,that the action king has transformed into an awesome villain,full of controlled style and substance. 
    Vishal has significantly worked hard but his decibel in delivering dialogues at times crosses the limits of tolerance.Notwithstanding this,he has given us one of his best performances, by cutely interacting with the psychiatrist Samantha and by his chiding interaction with his father Delhi Ganesh who is irredeemably prone to a reckless borrowing routine.Besides Vishal and Arjun, Delhi Ganesh and Robo Shankar have made their performance invincible.Samantha is of course compact,in her responsible role play.
    The differentiating factor of the new film is its emphasis on the ongoing trends of the new generation and its ever growing access to the technology sweep.However,the new film under the expertise of the first time film maker P.S.Mithran,also tries to project the dangers of the same technology,that has helped mankind for a universal coming together on similar platforms, with an invisible curtain.The perils of the invisible curtain are worse than those of the iron curtain that existed between the blood sucking black devils and their vulnerable underdogs,during the years of suppression and ill treatment of the underprivileged workforce. 
    What we witnessed in Vasan's Irumbuthirai was similar to the dark world realities focussed by Charles Dickens, in most of his novels.In this respect Vasan could be called the torchbearer  of the brave new world,endowed with a guarantee for each one's right for freedom and dignity of labour.But what we see in Mithran's depiction of the curtain,is an inherent quest for abusing technology, towards causing a colossal damage to fellow human beings, by pulling both the rich and the middle class to the streets through a devious chain of cyber fraud, facilitated by snooping and hacking.It is really amazing that a debut director, demonstrates the strength of his job, with well  crafted nuances of film making,thereby giving an impression as if he has been in the field over the years.No doubt,he deserves a special applause for his freshness, zeal and strong credentials of film making.
    When it comes to music,as usual old is gold.Songs like"Enna Seidhaalum Endhan Thunai Neeye"{[Radha ]Jeyalakshmi}"Nenjil Kudiyirukkum"{TMS & P.Leela}and "Kaiyyila Vaanguna Paiyyila Podala'{Tiruchi Loganathan}from the old movie,are reverberating rhythms riveted to our memory, thanks to the wonderful composition of tunes by S.V. Venkatraman.The lyrics of Papanasam Sivan,Kothamangalam Subbu and Pattukottai Kalyana Sundaram contributed to the richness of the musical quotient of the film.Whereas,in the new movie,Yuvan Shankar Raja's songs beautifully settle down with in the four walls of the theatre, despite the fact that his background score has effectively served its purpose.
    The comedy element of both the films would deserve a distinct place on account of the flawless verbal felicity of K.A.Thangavelu in the former and the well timed verbal efficacy of Robo Shankar,in the latter.The way Robo Shankar mimicries Delhi Ganesh in his presence, is a great sample of his time sense, in cracking humour. Shankar has been provided ample scope to display his flair for generating laughter and he has made full use of it.The romantic element that was naturally experienced in the emotional intimacy between Sivaji Ganesan and Vaijayanthimala in Vasan's film and in the subtle, as well as aesthetic verbal intimacy of Vishal and Samantha in Mithran's piece,is a clear indicator of the changing creative imagination with regard to the concept of love and its presentation on screen. 
     The climax of both the versions of the Iron Curtain, could be said to be heart throbbing. While the former presented the workers'outburst as a natural fallout of their pent up emotions, the latter presents the public outburst against the white devil as a contrived one, preceded by cinematic challenges breezily thrown between the hero and the villain.All said and done,the first film showed the iron curtain as a direct, divisive wall between the vested interests and the helpless, forsaken working class.
   The new version on the other hand portrays an imaginative curtain, portending the tragedy awaiting humanity, as a result of an unseen enemy sitting somewhere on a solid cyber seat with layers and layers of schemes, that would escape anyone's notice and would ultimately become nothing like an onion.But the lurking dangers of this onion are so huge and detrimental to humanity,that before any one is alerted,the complete ruin is already done,at a terrible cost of one's portals of privacy of all sorts.To make matters worse,the climax of the film also implies that the risks are going to multiply,because the white devil carries his designs for his new avatar as dark angel.To conclude,both the iron curtains have done justice to their making, by sticking to the ground realities,that existed then and are found existing now.
                                       ==================================
   

Friday, June 1, 2018

Raadhika,the Actress Beyond the Heroine.



         












     

     Heroines are there in plenty to adorn the tinsel world.Some act.Some add to the glamour quotient of the films they form part of. Things were different during the last century especially  between Nineteen fifties and eighties,when there were great women who were more to acting than to being heroines of films.Those were days when the bills were filled by glamour segment separately,augmented by women artists, exclusively meant for exhibiting the glamour portion.Whereas, there were sterling women like P.Banumadhi,Anjalidevi, Padmini,Savitri,Devika,Sowcar Janaki,Vanisri,B.Sarojadevi, K.R.Vijaya,Jeyalalitha and Lakshmi who stuck to the ground realities and took the characters beyond their identities and were esteemed purely for the roles they played. 
    Here my memory will not forgive me, if I leave out actors known for subdued performance, such as Jeyanthi, Saritha,Sri Vidya, Sri Devi,Sujatha,Sumitra and the agressive Jeyachitra and Sripriya,among whom Sri Devi casually contributed her classic levels of performance in films like Moonram Pirai, Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu,Jaani and Naan Adimaiyillai with Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth, until she moved to Bollywood. The other actresses were busily occupying the Tamil big screen solidly,for nearly a decade or more and then turned to do mother roles.
      However,prior to the entry of these actresses there were two women who were doing more glamour rounds than heavy character roles.They were Manjula and Latha. Even here, Latha did her best in a couple of films like,Aayiram Jenmangal Urimai Kural and Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkirein.
    From the early Nineteen Eighties, Director Bharathiraja began to introduce his R series heroines, of whom Raadhika, Radha and Revadhi topped the list.While Radha like her elder sister Ambika,did not leave out the glamour side from her schedule of acting, her role in Mudhal Mariyaadhai was commendable as that of Ambika in films like Engeyo Ketta Kural,Naan Paadum Paadal,Andha Ezhu Naatkal and Vaazhkai. 
   Radha's performance was equally radiating in films like Amman Koil Kizhakkaale and Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu. Some of Revadhi's best roles were in films like Man Vaasanai, Puthumai Penn,Mouna Raagam,Kizhakku Vaasal, Punnagai Mannan,Kai Kodukkum Kai, Anjali, Vaidhegi Kaathirundhaal, Priyanka, and Marubadiyum.
   But the first name from the school of Bharathi Raja has ruled the Tamil film Industry in the manner of her three outstanding predecessors Savithri,K.R.Vijaya and J.Jeyalalitha.Her peculiar way of  delivering Tamil dialogues was closer to the unusual Tamil accent put forth by Bhanumathi and Saroja devi,whose mother tongue was not Tamil.The alien charm in Radhika's dialogue delivery was a special attraction in her first film Kizhakke Pogum Rayil and the subsequent films like Niram Maaradha Pookal, Inru Poi Naalai Vaa,Poi Saatchi, Pokkiri Raja,Moonru Mugam and Thaavani Kanavugal. 
     Surprisingly, in a few years,this proud actor daughter of a colossal actor called M.R.Radha,began to grow by leaps and bounds in honing her histrionic skills in distinct dimensions with an inherent cry for attaining maturity in acting,with spontaneity, ease and ecstasy in the manner of  Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan and Savithri. Her earliest sample of impressive acting was visible in her transition from vigour to warmth and dignity, at one stroke,in the AVM's beautiful family drama and action movie Nallavanukku Nallavan. She  was a perfect foil for the superstar in that film.Her great grasp of the psychological intricacies of the role on hand,got dynamically reflected in her performance thereby taking the image of the character to the height it demanded.
     Raadhika's other remarkable entries were Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri,Dharma Dhevadhai, Oorkaavalan,Needhikku Thandanai,Poondhotta Kaavalkaaran, Ninaivu Chinnam and Rettai Vaal Kuruvi.The other fact is films like Needhikku Thandanai,Dharma Dhevadhai,Ninaivu Chinnam and Poondhotta Kaavalkaaran  fetched her the best actress award or the special award for best actress,from the government of Tamil Nadu.It is very difficult to forget the role of a virago she played, as the wife of Nasser in Shankar's Jeans. So crude and crooked were the dimensions of the character and so realistically she performed it,with utmost fire and felicity
     Raadhika continued to create indelible impressions through her underplay,as well as emotion-packed role performance, in films like  like Sippikul Muthu,Keladi Kanmani and Kizhakku Cheemaiyile.Then slowly she began to take up mother roles.The earliest hit in this line was Pasum Pon,another great show of Bharathi Raja.Then there were amazing mother roles in her kitty as shown in memorable films like Amarkalam,Uyirile Kalandhadhu,Rojaa Koottam,Thanga Magan of Danush, Naanum Rowdithaan, Dharmadhurai of Vijay Sethpadhi and Ippadai Vellum of Udhayanidhi Stalin.Among these Dharma Dhurai,reflected her peak of perfection, in role delivery.What has been special about Raadhika's maternal roles is her mature grasp of the deeper layers of motherhood, which she seems to infuse into her character, with absolute genuineness and flawless perception.
    To be a heroine is not a challenge,so long the role is of a decorative piece adding mere glamour segment of the film.But to be brought under scanner for a meaty participation and to form a vital part of  the film, to the extent of making the character one plays as an indispensable part of the film, is the real challenge for an actor.This is how most of the female actor participants of the last century made themselves greatly relevant and significant for the successful and memorable reach of the films with the audience.Here is another woman who could relate herself to the grand levels of aptitude and performance of those famous names referred to, at the start of this article.
      Beyond all this, the other notable point is Raadhika is the only woman of the Tamil film industry, who can doubtlessly be given the top slot position of an actor, beyond the position of the heroine because like Savithri, she could reasonably and effectively compete with Sivaji Ganesan,the ever greatest actor of Tamil Cinema.She has proved it time and again, that she could take up a feminist role in the manner of P.Bhanumathi and J.Jeyalalitha,the fascinating position of graceful and submissive womanhood in the line of Savithri,Devika,Vanisri and  K.R.Vijaya and proudly stand up to the dynamism of Sivaji Ganesan in films like Pasumpon and Veera Thaalaattu. 
      Besides her contemporaries Revathi and Radha,her successors like Meena, Kushbu,Simran and Jyothika have also substantially reached high levels in acting.But it is Raadhika who has surpassed the others,by her consistency in performance and captivating vigour in demonstration through a concerted identification of the actor with the character, in which the actor disappears, so as to make the character live long. Raadhika has been a wonderful stuff in this regard,both on the big and small screens.Some of her highly credited television serials are Chithi,Selvi,Arasi,Chellame and Vani Rani.To put it in a nutshell,as far as Raadhika is concerned,the heroine fades into the actor and the actor dissipates into the character, thereby making the actor move far ahead of the heroine.
                    ==========================

Friday, May 18, 2018

An Actor with a Creamy Layer Stuff

 












        Actors are of different brands.Some would perfectly fit into the aristocratic mould.The profile of S.V.Renga Rao was made for this frame. Some would remain as unbeatable paupers. No one can beat V.Nagaiah in this category.A few would combine both  the profiles as S. V. Subbiah did and T.S.Balaiah did.An actor like the vibrant V.K. Ramasamy stood as the exemplary voice, reflecting the mean mindedness of a section of the rich and the poor, while at the same time personifying elements of nobility and generosity in some of his role plays.Film lovers can validly include names such as S.V.Shasranamam T.K Bagavadhi,V.S.Raghavan and V.Gopalakrishnan in this list.These were actors other than heroes,who formed the creamy layer of Tamil Cinema of the last century.As this blog carries independent and comparative articles on all these actors excepting the last name,the present article would proudly place on record the greater vibes of acting material frequently demonstrated by this, not much talked about, actor.
     The span of acting of this veritable actor,was spread over five decades between 1947 and 1997.He began with the role of an office boy at the age of fifteen, for the Gemini Pictures' famous film Miss. Malini and ended up with his final performance in Thadayam released in 1997.This actor had never blown up his credentials but revealed them to the best of his abilities and quietly passed away,five months after the release of his last film.What was specially great about him was the huge list of film makers and heroes, with whom he shared his time and performance potential.He was as much a favourite of K.Balachander as he was with Sridhar and K.S.Gopalakrishnan.So was he with A.P.Nagarajan the famous maker of mythical and  spiritual films.The other film makers who fondly made use of his refined acting stuff were, A.Bhimsingh,P.Neelakandan,S.Balachandar,C.V.Rajendran,S.A.Chandrasekaran and K.S.Ravikumar.
     V.Gopalakrishnan has acted with the all prominent heroes like M.G.Ramachandran,Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan,Muthuraman,Sivakumar,Jai Shankar, Rajinikanth, Kamalahasan, Karthik Muthuraman,Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar.He has acted almost equal number of films with both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan.With MGR his bulk of movies were in the final spell of the hero's acting journey and it started with the film Idhayakani and went on up to Inrupol Enrum Vaazhka.I first saw this actor on the big screen in the film Aaravalli in the role of Prince Abimanyu.Though the film was released two years before I was born, I happened to watch it,as a boy of ten,when the film was screened in a local touring talkies twelve years later.Some of his popular films I cherish in memory are Nenjirukkumvarai,Galaattaa Kalyaanam, Neerkumizhi, Punnagai,Nootrukku Nooru,Naalai Namadhe,Needhikku Thalai Vanangu,Pallaandu Vaazhga, Kilinjalkal,Raanuva Veeran and Thee.
    Unlike most other character actors, V.Gopalakrishnan has appeared as a Christian in quite a number of films.Some of the Christian names he carried in films were Thomas in Thulasi Maadam, Robert in Nootrukku Nooru and Naalai Namadhe Joseph in Velli Vizhaa in David Kilinjalkal and Prof.Peter in Paarvaiyin Marupakkam.He was an extraordinary actor with both theatrical and screen sense and could precisely take himself to playing any professional role, such as doctor {Kalangarai Vilakkam,Naan Yen Pirandhein and Ninaithadhai Mudippavan} Jail Warden {Pallaandu Vaazhka}advocate {Chakravarthi}Public Prosecutor {Saavi} Judge {Sattathin Marupakkam}.
     All these professional roles he performed with dignity and grace [at times even with negative tint]and redefined the characters with his proficiency in English and Tamil. In this context, it should be mentioned here that he was a post graduate which was a rare phenomenon to prevail among actors those days.His accent and stress upon dialogues be it English or Tamil, proved the fact that his acting was the sum and substance of the creamy layer brand. Interestingly the same actor could casually perform the role of a taxi or cab driver as he did in S.Balachandar's Bommai and M.G.R's Needhikku Thalai Vanangu.Another distinct trait of this actor is his flair for comedy as witnessed in Galaattaa Kalyaanam.
    Here is an actor,who would have acted in nearly 400 films encompassing Tamil, Telugu and Hindi,but would have been seen only in restrictive space and scope in many of them.It would have been very difficult for him to stay strong and surpass adverse currents pushing him out of the mainstream concept of holding up one's place and keeping it unforgotten in the field of one's choice. But V.Gopalakrishnan succeeded in this by establishing the ground and playing it safe with constant grip and control of his position as an actor.This determination and power of hold, will itself prove the fact, that he was an actor of the creamy layer category.
                                      ====================================

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Neelu's Acting Nerves

 



     R.Neelakandan,aka Neelu was an exuberant stage and film actor who like late N.Mathrubootham created a special track of comedy parade with sustained and calculated role play.He was a passionate player of roles both on stage and on the big and small screens.Acting came to him like child's play and he would be making himself a butt of ridicule, with an extraordinary sobriety on his face and a kind of noisy deliberation to hit humorous goals.He was closely associated with the satirical comedian Cho Ramasamy and later had a telling share in the comedy moments created on stage, by Crazy Mohan and his group.
  For me, the most treasured role of Neelu on screen was that in K.Balachander's Nootrukku Nooru in which he appeared as a rigorous professor of Mathematics and fell vulnerable into the hands of a batch of mischievous students. In a particular scene, Neelu would be found teaching Calculus and every time when he would try to get up from his seat with the fond words"Now coming to Calculus"he would struggle to extricate himself from the gum pasted chair, prepared by his students as a mark of revenge.One could obviously notice the discomfort coupled with humor effectively displayed by this wonderful comedian.
    Some of the other films in which he made a significant impact of comedy were Aayiram Poi,Mr.Sampath, Gowravam, Velum Mayilum Thunai,Mohamed bin Tughlaq, Sabatham, Sooriya Vamsam  Kamalahasan's comedy blockbusters Avvai Shanmugi,Kaadhala Kaadhalaa and Pammal K.Sambandham. Besides these popular films, he will also be remembered for the television serial Enge Brahmanan.Neelu carried on his comic roles, with well meaning gestures on his face and sound and fury signifying complete sense of humour within the yardsticks of decency.The nasal tone and the way he would meddle with it rhythmically with his intrinsic love for Carnatic music, would make Neelu one of the most remembered comedians of his times.In his death, Tamil audience eagerly looking for sensible comedy skits, will not only miss a greatly endearing comedian, but will also happily push his name into the golden archives of Tamil Cinema, to be passed on to posterity for nostalgic recalls and reviews.
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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tamil Cinema's Stamp of Nobility

 




















     If one wants to know what nobility is,it is shortly the will of an individual, to mark a selfless journey for 'oneself,' towards living solely for others.Cinema glorifies nobility,when a film maker employs a noble vision of life and humanity.Today, humanity is inextricably technology bound.It is so much obsessed with technology,that even its creative wings carry abundant feather touch implications.There is always an explicit difference between what and how men are and what and how they should be.The last century's creative imagination seemed to have been anxious about what and how mankind should be.Hence,it evolved themes, characters and events,revolving around the redeeming and cathartic factors of life.It expected the wrongs of life, to be corrected by right living models, reflecting nobility as an inseparable part of living.
    Consequently,though right and wrong existed side by side,right won over wrong,with exemplary ethical foundations and their relevance to life, through characters and events.There was a lot of admiration for noble qualities,such as selflessness,forgiveness , generosity and an overall respect for the goodness of men,as seen in their behaviour.Tamil cinema celebrated noble themes,stories and characters.Characters very often outlived the story contexts, because of their intrinsic importance and deeper depiction.This article intends to recall through indelible memory bytes,such persons of nobility,who passed through the Tamil big screen,to deserve a standing ovation and an eternal preservation in memory.Their memories perpetuate the truer marks of nobility on the minds of the audience,so as to make them live like such characters,in their own real life.
    The earliest incarnation of feminine nobility,was portrayed by late Padmini in L.V,Prasad's noted film Mangayar Thilagam,as the wife of Sivaji Ganesan's elder brother,played by S.V.Subbiah. The title of the film itself is a beautiful image of the brilliance of womanhood and hence it could be rightly called a heroine oriented film. My childhood memories are stuck to the selfless woman protagonist of the film,who would decide not to have a child of her own,lest she should be constrained to deviate from her affection for her husband's motherless little brother.The little boy would grow up to manhood{played by Sivaji Ganesan},get decently employed and would continue his love and devotion to his sister in law, whom he considered as his mother.But after his marriage,things would change.The new comer, as most women are,would treat her husband's sister-in law with utter disregard and jealousy.Afterwards,she would deliver her son but would not care much for the kid.Nor would she allow her sister in law to handle her child.
   The climax of the film showing the selfless woman dead,would certainly have made the audience,particularly the womenfolk, leave the theaters with a tank load of tears.Both Padmini and M.N.Rajam played their roles amazingly well,but the nobility of Padmini's character became a monumental piece of memory. Though I saw the film as a six year old boy, some scenes from that film{especially the lullaby song scene"Neelavanna Kannaa Vaadaa"in the mesmerizing voice of R. Balasaraswathi Devi}still stay strong in my memory.
    As sacrificing sisters,many women would have cast deep impressions of nobility on the sub conscious minds of the audience.Characters such as the younger sister role played by Saroja Devi in Kalyana Parisu made by Sridhar and that of the all giving elder sister character, the same actor played in K.S.Gopala krishnan's Kula Vilakku, are treasures of the character evolution theory,followed and practised by film makers, purely for the purpose of ennobling mankind.Similar elder sister characterization became emphatic in the role delivery of Sujatha, in Aval Oru Thodarkadhai and by Pramila in Arangetram, both films made by the most intelligent film maker,K.Balachander. 
    The next unique stamp of nobility in character, was effectively displayed by late Sujatha in the most popular film Annakkili.As Annam{Swan}she carried on with ease and ecstasy, the character of a simple village girl,falling in love with a school teacher and bearing all the brunt of disappointment and abuse of others.She would finally give up her life for the guy whom she serenely loved,by saving him and his family from a major fire accident and falling a victim of the very same accident.It was altogether a tale of Platonic love and the woman's character looked like gold being put into fire for assessing its quality.
     Among men,almost all the roles that MGR tactfully took over, belonged to a kind of trade mark nobility, of a mother devotee, an adorer of women and a selfless worker for the welfare of the downtrodden and the depressed sections of society.But the one grandest role he performed was that of a noble youth,who would forgive all wrong doers and thereby transform their character from evil to good.At the end of the film,all wrong doers would be redeemed from their negative profiles and would call the hero,the rarest among the rare.The magnificence of the gist of forgiveness was beautifully shown in that epic level film called Aayirathil Oruvan.MGR as Manimaran, stole the hearts of everybody, in that blockbuster movie made by B.R.Pantulu.
    Some of the tall roles that Sivaji Ganesan performed,projected him as an ever shading  branch of the family tree.He was frequently shown as a selfless lover thinking and doing good to the woman he loved, or as an exemplary friend spreading the fine aroma of beautiful friendship.As Rengan in Padikkadha Medhai and as Renga Dhurai in Rajapart RengaDhurai,he really stood as the colossal tower of nobility reflecting the voice of truth,selfless ness and sacrifice.So naive was his role performance in 'Padikkaadha Medhai',that as an innocent orphan,cherishing his personal loyalty to his adopting parents, both in their best and worst times,he showed how naturally one's love and loyalty should uprightly stand up and symbolize nobility,from its roots to its heights.Can any other actor perform this kind of role with such  natural vigour and genuine emotion, is ever a moot question.
    In family dramas Sivaji Ganesan was shown as a sacrificing elder, or youngster,in many films of which Baaga Pirivinai, Bandha Paasam,Pazhani and Padithaal Mattum Podhumaa, created a special impact.In demonstrating the sacrificing spirit of friendship, Sivaji  excelled in films like Paarthaal Pasitheerum, Nenjirukkumvarai and Unakkaaga Naan.In the last film stated here, he would go to the extent of shaming his father by going to jail, for the planned murder of his soulmate [Gemini Ganesan} arranged by his capitalist father.In Nenjirukkumvarai and, Deepam,Sivaji Ganesan exemplified the spirit of immaculate love transcending all material levels and culminating in the total surrender of body and soul.The death of Sivaji Ganesan in Deepam and Nenjirukkumvarai, created deep pangs of sorrow for his ardent fans.
     But the noblest ever role Sivaji Ganesan performed was that of a rich man who considered the very purpose of his life was to part with all that he had,for the sake of others and enjoyed an inner delight of giving away everything to others and prayed to God not to keep him alive,the moment he had nothing to give. Kanna dhasan's thought provoking lyrics and M.S.V's soul sustaining music took the nobility of the hero to supreme levels of character idealization.At the end, when the hero died after giving away his last personal belonging, it created a heart rending effect of an unusual film watching experience.
     The character of Sivaji Ganesan remained as the embodiment of nobility in Avanthaan Manidhan,invigorating a kind of awakening in every one,about the grandeur of leading one's life as an extraordinary human being, symbolizing the essence of what life is and how it should be lived.I would rate this film as the magnum opus of nobility in human life.The latest film Muthal Mariyaadhai which showed Sivaji Ganesan marrying his uncle's daughter who had gone astray, for the sake of maintaining family dignity,was a special film, picturing middle age Platonic love,but could not be called a film bearing a singular thrust on the nobler side of character formation.However,the character of Sivaji Ganesan,certainly upheld the precept of dignity and self esteem, very much in accordance with the title of the film and its suggestive meaning.
     In taking up roles of a special positive human being,the other hero Gemini Ganesan,was never lagging behind his coevals and contemporary heroes.Two of his films could be rated very high in this particular category.One was Sridhar's Sumaidhaangi and the other was K.Balachander's Punnagai.In the former,he was the pathetic younger brother sacrificing everything including his love, for the sake of his selfish family members and ultimately embracing priesthood,to find peace and dignity in the rest of his life.
    In Punnagai,his character appeared as the edifice of truth,not  letting him deviate at any point of time in his life,from his core ideology, that truth alone should prevail in one's life and truth alone would make one's soul attain bliss.In this clean movie, he married a wronged, unwed mother and made it a point to tell his wife's son,that he was not his son's biological father.Gemini Ganesan who was always identified by a fascinating softness in role delivery, performed both the characters with perfect charm, grace and dignity.His softness firmly established the principle of noble living,as a mandatory requirement for human survival.The other less noticed film of Gemini Ganesan that portrayed him as a noble character, was Ezhai Pangalan.
    During the passage of time the noble features of life slowly began to occupy the back seat.The films of Jai Shankar and Ravichandran were usually of the action genre and did not seem to create any memorable impression with themes of nobility. Whereas,Shivakumar's roles in Sollathaan Ninaikiren and EniPadikal carried the essence of nobility.
    Rajinikanth's films like Aarilirundhu Arubadhu Varai and Muthu resurrected nobility as a vital part of human life.While the first film reiterated the dignity of a scarifying mindset,the second film eulogized nobility  through the impressive character evolution of the father role of Rajinikanth.This mind blowing  character represented the supremacy of the surrender of one's wealth,for the sake of a given word and thereby emphasized the fact, that there should be a sense of Gandhian triple purity in thought word and deed,towards attaining nobility.The distinguished film maker, K.S.Ravikumar,could be proud of making a special film of this genre.
     Director Vikraman has also focused on the nobler side if humanity through his impressive delineation of themes and characters, in almost all his films.Some special hits from his direction in this regard were, Poove Unakkaaga,Soorya Vamsam, Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen and Vaanathai Pola. 
    Now a days,nobility is a weakening factor everywhere, including the celluloid world. Personal aggrandizement and suppression of others for self promotion, are the hallmarks of human behaviour that we witness everywhere.Either we become victims of negative patterns of behaviour,or we ourselves behave as negative propagandists.Heavy themes are unpalatable for the imagination and acceptance of a generation,that wants to go with the flow,like thin wafer biscuits,temporarily satisfying the taste buds and fading like marginal clouds in the vast sky.
   A lot that we see,hear and read,is either no news or bad news. Life has become a package of peripheral realities dipped in artificial emotions and affected behaviour. There is an obvious presence of touch-and-go course of events,not making any credible impact on the routine of a majority of people.The sparks of Nobility seem to stay as memory chips.Perhaps some future generation may restore the vibrant flow nobility in their veins .Till then,let those who have vitally lived under the roof of nobility, keep masticating its remnants,by activating their nostalgic nerves. 
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bala's Throes

       



      Not all film makers are concerned about the pain of living.Even if they are concerned about life's deeper layers of agony, not all film makers consciously fill up their skits with solid roots of psychic turbulence, originating against  human and social disorder. K.Balachander used to move here and there to themes of human aberration and social crookedness in  his films like Avarkal, Arangetram and Thappu Thaalangal.The same Balachander delivered fine family dramas like Iru Kodukal,Bama Vijayam and Poovaa Thalaiyaa  and clean movies like Punnagai,Velli Vizha and Kaviya Thalaivi. His sense of humour was compact in several films like Edhir Neechal and Bama Vijayam. But some film makers can hardly extricate themselves from the pressures and pangs of the wrongs of life,of whom Bala leads the others by his consistent focus on the depressing social realities.
    Starting with his famous film Sethu that gave Vikram his sobriquet Chiyan,Bala has trodden on the thorns of life as an unpretentious builder of sordid towers on the big screen. Sethu narrated the sad tale of a rugged and macho youth making aggressive overtures to a timid and orthodox girl and both falling victims to the villainy of fate,thy guy being pushed to a mental asylum after a brutal attack by anti social elements and the girl committing suicide caused by depressions of untold love and anguish over her mentally deranged lover. It was a heart rending film, passing through phases of  robust routine of college  students,rare depiction of romance and crude villainy throwing the hero into unpremeditated madness .
   The most redeeming factor of the film was Ilayaraja's music.Both the piercing number Enge Sellum Indha Paadhai and the vigorous Gana Karunkuyile energetically choreographed for the dance sequence of yesteryear dancer Jothilatchumi formed an integral part of the immortal film.For that matter, all songs in the film were good. Besides securing several awards,Sethu became a tremendous success and  paved the way for Vikram  transforming into a specially performing actor. 
    Bala's next film Nanda was a pathetic narration of patricide on provocation, caused by filial devotion to mother and revolt against domestic violence.It was a great opportunity for Surya to prove his extraordinary mettle as an actor and he made the best use of it.The worst part of the story was that the mother for whose sake the son killed his father, hated her son for his brutal act.The hatred continued even after the son was let off from the reformatory after the stipulated period of juvenile confinement.The disowned son turned into a thug and finally met his end in the poisoning hands of his mother and dying in her lap.The significant comic relief provided by Karunas,could not in any way bring down  the tragic intensity of the theme and its tormenting narration.This film was also an award winner.
     Pithamagan the third film of Bala inducting the heroes of his first two films, was the story of an undertaker and a delinquent youth, both meeting in jail and developing deeper layers of friendship,much of it going unsaid.Both the heroes performed very well and Surya's beaming show of banter and mischief in association with Lila, created some exciting moments of film watch only to culminate in the most unexpected and gory death of the former in the hands of a born criminal {performed by Mahadhevan}.Vikram's partial underplay of emotions followed by bouts of ferocity, made his character evolution,a unique  process and consequently the whole movie got pushed up to an unusual category, to become eligible for awards.
     Bala's other film Naan Kadavul,a traumatic tale of enforced beggary under the inhuman clutches of its operators as profiteers, coupled with the nightmarish fact of the hero being an aghorie {performed impressively by Aarya}was a disturbing saga of human suffering,Only an audience with  a selective frame of mind  could withstand the horrid terrains of cruelty and gruesome social disorder, possessing the big screen. Bala's poignant perception of the  human and social deformities has proved to be an onslaught on the psyche of the audience despite the fact that Bala is so true to his creative purpose of exposing the darker side of life.Like the earlier films of Bala,Naan Kadavul also won awards. 
    Among  his other films like Avan Ivan,Thaarai Thappattai and Paradesi,the first one had a lot to reflect on the side of human deviation such as bigamy, half brothers and the murkier dimensions of the mind, with adequate additions of abnormal comedy.Both Arya and Vishal brought credit to their acting, though the latter outperformed the other,looking different with a deformed eyesight. Thaarai Thappattai was a horrid story of the street dance performers and their umpteen sufferings, ending up in the death of the female protagonist. Paradesi is a burdensome tale of bondage, taking us back to the pre independence years, with atrocities  of suppression and forced conversion dominating the scenario.It is a Dickensian kind of narration of poverty and mindless exploitation of the underdogs.This film was also an award winner. While Sasikumar and Varalakshmi Sarathkumar made their characters stay in memory in Thaarai Thappattai, the young Adharva struck a perfect note of involved role delivery in Paradesi, in the line of his unique actor father, Murali.
    Bala's latest film Naachiyaar has come out as an impressive action show, taking singer-cum actor G.V.Prakash Kumar to exuberant levels of acting.It is surprising that Bala's films could also be entertaining with energizing action segments.So breezy and beautiful is Bala's  narration that I could find myself travelling through the narration scene by scene.The film deals with the now prevalent rape conundrum afflicting women, not excluding even minor girls and kids.Bala has approached the issue in a different perspective,depicting the grandeur of innocent, all giving love of a teenager, in contrast to the dirtiest, sex oriented mindset of a rotten section of the male.
    My only grudge against Bala here, is that the titular, best performing woman Jyothika,could have been given some more space to steal a greater show of her talent capable of expressing emotions, in their authentic and characteristic pattern.However,being an ardent, action film watcher, I would rate Naachiyaar as the most vibrant of all the films of Bala, because the negative side of humanity is far less shown here, than in his other films.
    On the whole,Bala has been fledged with distinct wings to fly into zones forlorn by most other film makers.It needs greater courage to consistently stick to the Macabre mode choosing a variety of themes that could hardly leave the audience undisturbed.Getting awards for one's films almost every time is also not an easy task.The all pervading tone of irony and pungent satire projected through the dialogues of his films is another asset of his peerless stamp of creativity.Above all,the fact remains that Bala's throes are born of the inner urge to expose the evil side of humanity without any excuses.It is equally true that he devoutly throws the throes into the heads of his specially targeted audience, to keep them perpetually awe struck and unnerved.It is like passing the pain to others, at their preference.
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