Monday, December 15, 2014

The Role of Dancing in Tamil Cinema.


     Like most other arts, dancing is  known for its varieties, nuances and subtleties. Some of the enchantingly  popular names of India’s proud dancing varieties include Bharatha Naattiyam Bhangra,Dandiya,Kuchipudi, Kadhak,Kerala Nadanam, Mohini Attam,Keisabadi,Odissi AKA Orissi {the last two from Odhissa }and so on.These traditional Indian  dance forms particularly Baratha Naatyam used to be a preferred addition  to Indian Cinema.Tamil films offered immense scope and opportunity to professional dancers, in the early decades. Famous dancers like Gopi Krishna, Kumari Kamala {who started her dance celebration even as Baby Kamala} Vaijayanthimala Padmini{with her sisters Lalitha and Raagini} and L.Vijayalaksmi were all professional dancers creating a brilliant appeal in their dance shows. Later  entrants like J.Jeyalalitha, Shobana, Sankarabaranam fame Manju Bharghavi, Amala,Banupriya and Revathi were also trained well in Baratha Naattiyam to lead their respective generations.
    Among  actors, the two notable dance numbers assiduously practiced and enthusiastically delivered by the mass hero MGR, can hardly be erased from the memory of those, who saw them in the films Mannaadhi Mannan and the other, Kudiyirundha Koil,{rated to be one of the best films of MGR} The former was a classic Bharatha Naatiyam piece and the latter a Bhangra variety.The most important fact here is,MGR competed with two veteran and dynamic dancers like Padmini and LVijaya lakshmi. Sivaji Ganesan’s  grand dancing display as irate Lord Shiva, dancing his Rudra thaandavam in Thiruvilaiyaadal brought out his grit  and conviction in giving his best in any performance.Sivaji’s tumultuous dance sequence in spite of his fat physique poignantly presented his tremendous capacity for emoting through his body and mind. That was indeed another rich show of Sivaji  the actor par excellence.
    Can Tamil Cinema ever exist without the golden memories of the dance scene, flawlessly demonstrated by the two magnificent women ,Vijayanthimaala  and Padmini, in the epic like film Vanjikkottai Vaaliban? The competitive dance programme  showed them both, as equally competent and equally incomparable. It was not only P.S.Veerappa  the unbeatable villain actor who said’ Sabash Sariyaana Poetti’{Well done! A proper cotest.} but also the entire audience in all the theatres who corroborated his statement. What a splendid performance in dancing that was, with infallible body movements, involving the whole gamut of Bharathanatyam  and with the musical component fantastically augmenting the quality of the dance scene. It is one of the most glorious chapters of Tamil film history.
    Vijayanthimala’s  dancing might could have been witnessed in quite a few other movies like A.V.M’s Vaazkai,Gemini Pictures’ Irumbuthirai, and Modern Theatres’Bagdad Thirudan  But Padmini’s  dancing caliber was fully utilized by Tamil Cinema in a number of films, of which her peacock dance in Iru Malargal and the initial dance sequence for the sog Mannavan Vandhaanadi Thozhi, in Thiruvarutchelvar,stay as ever green memories.Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal  an epic stature movie on music and dance, will be an immortal work of art for various reasons, including the two dance sequences of Padmini,for the songs ''Maraindhirundhu Paarkum Marmamenna'' and ''Nalandhaanaa?'' 
    On the lighter side were, the titillating dance scene of K.R .Vijaya  for the song Thedinein Vandhadhu in Ootty Varai Uravu, and J.Jeyalaitha’s several beautiful dance sequences including the one for the song Oraayiram Naadagam Adinaal in Sumaddhi En Sundari.Of the two actresses,Jeya lalitha was a trained classical dancer and her expertise in this regard was a visual extravaganza  from her very first film Vennira Aadai in which she was shown as a character interested in dancing. Films such as Aayirathil Oruvan, Kannan En Kaadhalan and Adimai Penn continued to display her dedicated dancing potential. Latha,her successor as MGR's heroine, was also moderately trained in classical dancing.Her dance in MGR's last film Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundara Pandian deserves a special mention.
     Among the next generation actresses,Shobana's  dancing credentials were established in films like Enakkul Oruvan and Thalabathi. Later, it was Revathi who showed interest and acumen in classical dancing and her power of dancing was sufficiently vindicated in that most popular dancing scene in Vaidhegi Kaathirundhaal  for the song 'Azhagu Malar Aaada'.Ramya Krishnan   who is another good dancer has gracefully exhibited her capabilities in this regard in Padayappa for the song 'Minsaara Kanna' and in a few other films.The other notable dancer is Banupriya  an actor contemporary of Revathi and Ramya Krishnan. Similarly,Aiswarya Bachan's sparkling dance scene for the song 'Kannodu Kaanbadhellaam' in Jeans was also adequately appealing. 
    Heroes  and heroines of today, have shifted their focus towards Western varieties of dances like Disco.Break dance,Belly dance,Ballet,Salsa,Line dance and a few others. In fact, even during the last century,Western dance types were celebrated by many actors, including the fabulous comedian J.P.Chandrababu, whose rock and roll numbers were of a striking mode. Films like Periya Idathu Penn,Pudhiya Paravai, Parakkum Paavai  and Panam Padaithavan gave a fillip to Western varieties of dances that were a great delight to watch. But almost all heroes of today, have moved towards novel  concepts in inventing stunning body movements, both sprint and gliding, as if the entire course of dancing is a sequel to profound training sessions in calisthenics.
    The credit for the highly innovative concepts creating exquisite dimensions of physical excellence in the name of dancing, goes to trend setters like, dance master Sundaram, his sons Prabudeva and Raju Sundaram and others like Raghav Lawrence and Kala.The nimble body movements, establishing a fascinating reach with the audience, showed Prabu Deva,Raju Sundaram and Lawrence as dancers of exceptional standard in many films.The ebullient  dancers among heroes today are, Vijay, Barath, Simbu, Danush and Vishal  and they all have their performance dedicated to the trainers mentioned above.
    The only actor who  has untiringly retained the gusto of  multiple dancing potential is,the all rounder Kamalahasan.He is well versed in classical dance, Western varieties and some of the age old multi-cultural dance types like Kadhakali, Kuchipudi  and Mohini Aattam. Whatever he performs, he takes into himself the original stuff, with zeal and unquestioning commitment. Be it Salangai  Oli or Nizhal Nijamaagiradhu  or the latest Viswaroopam,  Kamal   as a dancer is a class by himself and proves to be the truest son of Art in its totality. There are a number of films to prove his excellence in imbibing the Western  dance forms too.
    Dance, like music, is an inseparable segment of cinema; but unlike music, it makes vital visual entries to visit the mind for a while or to stay as memory, for long. Unlike songs which can be heard even without watching the movie and enjoyed as an invisible treasure, dance requires at least a one time watch, to be watched again either on the screen or through imagination. A highly exhilarating dance number like the one  for the song ‘Ada Aalthotta Boobadhi Naanadaa’ from the film Youth, can be re- experienced through the imaginative process, any number of times, after a single visual absorption. 
    Beyond all this, it is a known fact, that dance by itself can not exist without the musical addition.It is music that  energizes the existence of dance and binds the dancer to the appropriate mood and form of dancing. In other words,dance percolates into an audio visual experience on the screen, only by travelling on a musical track, as the foremost aesthetic principle of film making.Tamil films in this respect, carry the legacy of dancing, with periodical addition of interesting and inventive patterns, as the greatest pride of human imagination.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Energy Surpasses Age.

         Style and energy have always remained the Superstar's invincible assets that have taken him closer to his ardent fans.Despite ageing,the energy levels of Rajini remain as a source of grandeur in Rocky Venkatesh's Linga. This Rajini birthday gift celebrates the Rajini package of action, humour, philosophy, punch dialogues and exuberant delivery of role play, thanks to the  ever sparkling contribution of Rajinikanth, convincing direction of bustling K.S.Ravikumar,the scintillating musical component of A.R.Rahman and the  aesthetic cinematography of R.Rathnavelu. K.S.Ravikumar, best known for keeping the tempo of his films without sagging at any point, does the hat trick here too.As usual, he carries a huge load of cast on his shoulders, that include the regular Rajini additions of Vijayakumar,Nizhalgal Ravi and Radha Ravi and the director's pet actors like Anu Mohan and,R.Sundarajan.The latter's scheming  wolfish villainy needs a special mention. Besides, we have sweet additions like Ilavarasu and Manobala.The two heroines Sonakshi  and Anushka passionately represent the traditional and modern charm of womanhood. in their respective roles. Rehaman's 'Indiane vaa' is a beautiful number to repeat.
    The gusto of humour in the initial scenes is rejuvenating.The jewel theft scene makes a special impact with speed,subtle touches of romance and vibrant comedy.The arrival of Collector Rajini on a locomotive, with adequately animated stunt sequences ask for a gripping watch.There is crowd. There is crow behaviour too.Trust and mistrust keep shuffling as indicators of mob mood vagaries. Collector Ligeswaran's royal sacrifices,his reflections on wealth and mortality and his challenges to the British collector- cum -watch dog, seem to create the mood of watching a few poignant scenes from Muthu{a film of epic grandeur} and Padayappa once again.The climax stunt between Rajini and Jagapathi Babu though incredible to a great extent, evokes a 'willing suspension of disbelief'. K.S.Ravikumar's smart appearance in the climax effectively gives the finishing touch with a bang.On the whole this Rajini K.S.Ravikumar joint show establishes its dynamic reach for the third time.
   It is good that Rajini never wants to disappoint his devoted fans.It would be a happy moment for others, to get a chance of revisiting the Rajini of undying films like Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri,Engeyo Ketta Kural and Aarilirundhu Arubadhu Varai. Rajini being a combination of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan can definitely give a feel of satisfaction for many among the audience, eagerly waiting for his  other brilliant side of acting.It is high time Rajini thought of playing emphatic elderly roles like the Chevalier besides following the MGR thumb rule of being an eternal young hero,singing and dancing with pretty young heroines.. Linga no doubt is a special birthday gift from the superstar.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two Less Recognized Great Tamil Actors.

      Not all actors in the cine field get their due recognition in terms of their talents and potential.This is applicable to actors in all language films.Tamil film industry is no exception to this.The actors undergoing the trauma of improper recognition would be many and they would belong to all categories of acting including that of a hero.Even during the earlier days of Tamil Cinema, talented actors like K.R.Ramasamy, Ranjan, Kuladeivam Rajagopal could not be said to have received sufficient patronage or support for what they were capable of.It is not the objective of this article to analyse the reasons for such a predicament.It is just an attempt at throwing more light on the facts of what one is worthy of.
     Looking back at the days of Tamil Cinema when the two top most heroes MGR and Sivaji Ganesan had reaped the best of their acting career and when new heroes like Jai Shankar and Ravichandran had just begun their hey days,there was a search for new talents, to add a little more dynamism to the Tamil big screen. C.V.Sridhar and K.Balachander, the two illustrious directors of those days could be proud of introducing two new faces to Tamil Cinema.The former came out with a hero and the latter a hero-cum-character actor.One was Srikanth and the other was Jai Ganesh and their movies were,Vennira Aadai and Aval Oru Thodarkadhai. The other creditable fact is that Srikanth was the first hero of J.Jeyalalitha, who later became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Besides,he was older than Jai Ganesh, nearly by a decade.
    Both Srikanth and Jai Ganesh started their career with the best directors of their time.But for Srikanth,his first movie was not his best, because it was a heroine-oriented film and the role of a psychiatrist as hero, did not warrant any extraordinary display of acting dimensions.It was almost a docile role and Srikanth performed it as meekly as possible.But for Jai Ganesh,his entry itself marked a bang with the role of an irresponsible, dipsomaniac elder brother and family head. Incidentally,it was another heroine related story, that gave a remarkable beginning of acting career for debutante Sujatha. However,the performance of Jai Ganesh was extremely noteworthy and the tragic end that fell on him at the climax, when he got reformed of his drunkenness,made his role in that film strikingly memorable.
     Ironically speaking,both these actors seemed to have had a similar fate line at least with regard to their film career.There are solid reasons for this kind of assessment.Both these men after failing as heroes became very impressive comedians and villains.Audience of their times could hardly forget the brilliant performance of Srikanth,with his famous dialogue'I am always open' in Aval,a successful remake of the mega hit Hindi film Doraha.This movie hit the screens with the hidden histrionic ability of Srikanth,substantially displayed.While Srikanth came out with a remarkable role of villainy in Dhandayudhabaani pictures' Komaadhaa and Kulamaadha,Jai Ganesh showed his ebullient villainy in Aattukkaara Alamelu of this production house.Similarities between these two actors are many.
   Though Sridhar introduced Srikanth,K.Balachander used his talents for his films like Naanal, Navagraham,Ethir Neechal,Poovaa Thalayaa and so on.Similarly Jai Ganesh introduced by K.B was effectively portrayed by Sridhar as a villain in Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkirein. Both these actors have joined Sivaji Ganesan's meritorious company in several films, particularly in negative roles. Srikanth's role as the son,of Sivaji Ganesan in Thangapadhakkam would be one of the most memorable roles in his archives.His other notable performance with Sivaji Ganesan was in Gnaana Oli. Interestingly in both these films Srikanth is shown as dying in the hands of that veteran, towards rendering justice for his wrong doings. Srikanth had also played the role of a selfish younger brother of Sivaji Ganesan in the most popular film Rajapart Rangadurai. His other noted movies with Sivaji Ganesan were,Anbaithedi,Vasantha Maaligai and Avan Oru Sarithiram.
    Jai Ganesh was found acting with Sivaji Ganesan in several films like Annan Oru Koil,Pattakathi Bhairavan,Naan Vaazhavaipein,Pilot Premnath,Thirisoolam,Imayam, Andhaman Kadhali,Vaa Kannaa Vaa, AmaraKavyam, Needhipadhi and so on.Most of the roles were on the negative side.Both  Srikanth and Jai Ganesh were taking up roles that showed them throwing challenges to the hero and were later made to accept defeat.Apart from acting as villains both these actors were quite comfortable on the comedy side.While Srikanth made his humour sense relevant and impressive in films like Kaasedhaan Kadavulada and Poova Thalaiya,Jai Ganesh was his hilarious self in films like Murai Maman and Ullathai Allithaa,both directed by Sundar.C.and later with Kamalahasan's farcical comedy Kadhala Kadhala. Both of them are capable of generating decent,convincing sense of humour.
     Srikanth has done one film{Bhairavi}with Rajinikanth.But Jai Ganesh has been in Rajinis films like Naan Vaazha Vaipein Raja Chinna Roja and Adhisiappiravi.After Aval Oru Thodarkadhai,Jai Ganesh has also acted in a couple of movies of K.Balachander such as Pattinapravesam and Rojavanam. He has  played important roles in some films on spiritual themes like Thaaye Neeye Thunai, Samayapurathaale Saatchi,Mel Maruvathur Arpudhangal and Varuvaan Vadivelan.Jai Ganesh has  acted with new generation heroes like Vijay {Poove Unakkaaga}and Ajth{Mugavari}.
     For Srikanth two of his movies Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal, stand out to be unique in the sense, both these films were based on Jeyakanthan's novels and they were highly acclaimed for their story value and refined character portrayal.The character of the hero in both these films was beautifully carved and Srikanth fitted himself into the character with compactness and dignity. Srikanth was a natural actor and his role performance was always a sample of straight course in acting.He has done his best in all his films though movies like  Aval, Thanga Padhakkam,Rajapart Rengadurai,Komadha En Kulamadha,Avan Oru Sarithiram, Kaasedhaan Kadavulada and the two Jeyakanthan films will be the most remembered ones.
    Jaiganesh could be called an all rounder with a flair for essaying with felicity, villain,character and comedian roles as naturally as possible.In dialogue delivery too,one could find a kind of effort and strain in the voice mould of both Srikanth and Jai Ganesh. Both have not shared screen space with MGR.Besides being natural actors they could also afford to be melodramatic if the story line warrants.It is my personal opinion that these two talented actors could have been recognized a little more than how they were.With more challenging roles and due accommodation,they would have retained their positions in the Tamil film field with more command and wield.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tamil Heroes in Contrast.


   The concept of hero and hero worship in Tamil Cinema, is at least as old as MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. Till then it was an age of actors, donning roles as heroes.Though there were tall actors like M.K.Thiagaraja Bhagavadhar and P.U.Chinnappa, making a lot of indelible impressions as heroes,it was just an act of greasing the paint with dedication,for playing roles with conviction, talent and utmost involvement.There were fans, but not serious fan clubs as such, functioning with a spirit of frenzy and rivalry.It all started with the dominant heroes MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, whose tenure in Tamil Cinema, was impressively long and magnificent.With their performance levels,popularity and fan club expansion, growing every day, with amazing zeal and charisma,the duo became two monumental heroes of Tamil Cinema.
    It so happened that they began to lead the industry, with their individual preferences dominating at all levels, resulting in a kind of bipolar thrust on the end result of Tamil film making.In short,these two giant-like heroes could influence Tamil Cinema, with their respective pulls and pressures, to the extent of transforming it into an inspiring,profitable and mind blowing endeavour, while at the same time,generating discordant and contradictory responses from film viewers.Ultimately, a new trend of assessment theory was evolved to build an off -screen image for the two heroes, within a potential frame of contrast.Passions very often used to run riot, among the hard core fans of the two heroes, making their  fan clubs as diagonally opposite forums, running with an inherent mood of prejudices and antithetical goals.But these passions were no doubt, governed by ideologies, professional excellence and respect for the field that the heroes belonged to and nourished.  
    Whether it is politics or cinema,two people being equally and simultaneously popular, is almost a piquant situation, causing a serious predicament for the performers and their followers or fans.May be, the persons at the the centre  stage are themselves forced to a create  a mood of divergence among the followers or audience.Perhaps it is their distinct personality and performance calibre that make people accept them as individuals to be compared and contrasted with a passion of affinity or animosity.Certainly, the heroes can not be blamed for a divisive audience because the audience themselves are divided in their preference,appreciation and adoration of the heroes.Personality cult affixing adorable star status, does not come that easy to all heroes.It is out and out a deserving phenomenon.If there are half a dozen heroes at a time, quite often it is just two heroes who turn the mood of the audience into frenzy with both vagaries and values, in forming a special bond with the hero of their choice.But the vital truth is that the two heroes of a period, become makers of an environment of contrast and difference, as the bond with their  fans intensifies into a kind of mania.
     Tamil film industry has solid memories of the segregated fans of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. It is not only an obvious fact that MGR and Sivaji stopped sharing the screen space after the historic film Koondukkili, but is also known history that they were always politically in different blocks at different periods, not sharing the dais with levels of comfort and intimacy.MGR's Dravidian lenience and Sivaji's  Congress affiliation put them as heroes with conflicting political fundamentals.Even in acting, MGR was ever a good Samaritan;whereas Sivaji  was for all waters.While MGR was image conscious,Sivaji  was  a field player.It was the personal charisma,his singular, pioneering social formula for film making and the Tamil people's staunch love for him, that made MGR not just a hero, but a life model for many,particularly the poor and the down trodden.But for the Chevalier hero, whose body and mind were naturally and inseparably bound to acting,the film fans' love for him, was born of admiration for what he was worthy of,in a classic way.In simple terms,it could be said that while MGR inspired as an exemplary model of social and human values,Sivaji   stood as the embodiment of the versatile human emotions and intelligence on screen.
     MGR was rather choosy in accommodating other heroes in his films. Sivaji Ganesan  on the other hand, had a free mind in encouraging competitive participation of  heroes like SSR, Gemini Ganesan, R.Muthuraman and various junior heroes like Jai Shankar,Ravichandran,A.V.M.Rajan, Sivakumar Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. But  MGR would have taken the senior heroes into his fold once a way and not let others like Jai Shankar,Ravichandran and Rajinikanth join even once in his films. Even Kamalahasan   has joined MGR only as a child artist in one of his earliest films Ananda Jothi.The MGR formula of film making was out and out hero- oriented and it was the cherished objective of an MGR film maker, that an MGR film should focus exclusively on the image of a Saviour,  devoted to the well- being of the masses.In doing so,it was thought that the purpose should not get diluted by the participation of other heroes.
   Whereas Sivaji Ganesan  like Kamalahasan, looked upon Cinema as a medium for extracting the best creative potential of every individual in their respective zone associated with the making of a film.The Chevalier not only enjoyed competition but also viewed every hero, as meritorious individual, capable of giving their best, for the successful outcome of a film.In other words, Sivaji Ganesan's concentration was always on the scope and dimension of the role assigned to him and he would always view his performance as well as the performance of others towards ensuring a qualitative output.Off screen image, was always a sequel to his onscreen contribution.
    Among the immediate successors of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan  there was an element of contrast between Jai Shankar and Ravichandran in their outlook of hero image and attitudes towards role performance.But these two contemporary heroes were amenable to each other and would have acted together in films like Naangu Suvargal,Akkarai Pachai,Arunachalam and so on.Their fan base was restricted and Jai Shankar  seemed to have enjoyed greater fan support than Ravichandran. Both were fit for family drama and action films and both shunned taking part in mythological films.Jai Shankar was  particularly well made for detective roles which he performed with pep and style. Moreover, career- wise Jaishankar   was certainly gifted with a consistent support base of production units such as the Modern Theatres, the AVM banner,Devar films and Citadel Pictures{which introduced him as hero in Iravum Pagalum}.Being low profile heroes when compared to the titanic MGR and Sivaji, the scope for contrast between Jai Shankar and Ravichandran was also considerably less.
    After MGR and Sivaji Ganesan it is Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth who created a flutter as heroes of gusto and contrast.Unlike all other heroes, these two contemporaries have created a track record of joint show in a number of films, though not at so large a level as the two mighty Malayalam heroes Mammootty and Mohanlal. From Moonru Mudichu, it was a dynamic and beautiful show of contrast that the audience could witness in the duo. Rajini like Sivaji Ganesan,did not hesitate to do villain roles. He was raging with fire and fury in Kamal's  films like Moonru Mudichu, Avargal and Padhinaaru Vayadhinile.
   Like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,these two heroes have sufficiently vindicated the fact, that an analysis of heroes in contrast, requires certain significant factors that necessitate a study in contrast.In spite of a couple of negative aspects like dark complexion and thinness in body frame, Rajinikanth struck a note pf difference as a unique kind of hero with charm and enhanced degrees of vibration that could inspire audience mood, movie after movie.Be it sentiments or action or negative projections {even in the latest Endhiran}  Rajini stands out as a colossal actor hitting the screen, as a hero of exuberance.His caliber for deeper role performance was cleanly established even at the start of his career in films like Buvana Oru Kelvikkuri,Thappu Thaalangal,Engeyo Kettakural and Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai. It is his amazing body language and tone vibration that transformed Rajinikanth from a hero to a Superstar through distinctly successful delivery points, on a non stop basis.
     Kamalahasan   who grew up as an extraordinary hero along with Rajinikanth,began to hone his skills with an aggressive mindset to achieve the impossible at every attempt.He threw a lot of surprises by his unequal bold ventures at all levels of film making, donning common and uncommon roles with zeal and dedication, that included a special focus on make up manuals taking away his personal identity as an actor and hero and making him endowed with a total genuineness of the character he performed.The greatly heart warming thing is, the way both Rajinikanth  and Kamala hasan casually ignore the fact of their being grand heroes with a strong fan base.They seem to care very little for their off screen image.However,the  major difference between Kamal and  Rajini is the way they have dedicated themselves to the film industry.While Rajinikanth   ensures the victory of the film through his dedication, involvement and participation Kamal struggles with all his might and dedication, to take a new avatar every time, as a performing hero with an innate force, that drives him to newer destinations on his celluloid journey.
   Prabu Ganesan  and Karthik Muthuraman   the next generation heroes of the same century,have acted together in more than half a dozen films.Being the sons of Sivaj Ganesan and R.Muthuraman who had always maintained significant rapport between themselves,the wavelength of Prabu and Karthik  matched well and both recorded creditable innings in their career as heroes, that went on unaffected for nearly two decades.The chubby and genial Prabu and the nimble and neat performer Karthik confined their fan base without any visible bickering.
    Between Vijayakanth  and Sarathkumar,the former's fan base, grew by leaps and bounds, to the extent of grooming larger political ambitions in the line of MGR. Sarathkumar  too has his political outfit and as heroes both Vijayakant and Sarathkumar  have been successful in family roles and as cops with indomitable bravado.These two heroes were hardly ever on a war path.Nor did their fan clubs resort to any negative moves against one another. Sathyaraj a  contemporary hero of Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar has established his position more as an actor of stuff performing villain,hero and character roles in an inimitable way.He has not been rolled into any focus of contrast with other heroes.In this respect he is like Gemini Ganesan and R.Muthuraman of Sivajiganesan team and Sivakumar of  the days of Jaishankar  and Ravichandran
    The  latest heroes in contrast are Ajith and Vijay who have both crossed the magic number of fifty films, through a promising show of brilliance in performance. Both these new generation heroes have their hardcore fans' association with their intense preferences, priorities and prejudices.Both these heroes have shown their mettle for sentiments romance and action.Under eminent film makers like Fazil,Siddique, A.R.Murugadoss,S.J Surya and many others,Vijay has  grown as a hero of singular merit and capability displaying his performance ability and dynamism in singing and dancing besides never letting down his commitment to result- oriented planning and execution of an impressive show. He is a hero, loved by many youngsters including children.
   Ajith  has scaled his progress from an ordinary, modest romantic hero to a high profile action hero capable of playing powerful negative characters as don and gambler with consummate style and grace.While Ajith is  lacking in  the dancing vigour and easy delivery of emotional outbursts that are positive credentials of Vijay, the latter seems to be not bothered about lip synchronization in song sequences even at  close shots. Vijay's  energy levels are definitely  on the higher side because Ajith  mostly resorts to a subdued but fascinating display of his inherent gusto, fit for a poignant performance, without much ado or fire.Ultimately the fans have to choose between the high voltage colorful show of Vijay and the breezy,feather touch demonstration of role play by Aith.
   Many heroes come and go.Not all stand up for a sustained career making repeated entries of mind blowing performance.Even mega heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Rajinikanth and Kamalhasan have given failure films here and there.But it is their films that have failed and  not they as heroes.They have always succeeded in collecting their ardent fans  to the theatres   to watch their failed films at least once.There was a time when theatres   were the only avenues of entertainment and during those times, the theatres with the life size cut outs of these hero giants, made a mighty mark, whether matching the quality stuff of their films or not.But now with the threat of video piracy and DVD craze,every home becomes a theatre  without banners and cut outs of the grand scale heroes.
   Fans  make comparison and contrast  of their loved heroes either through the theatre  route or at their home terminus. The ever alive situation of a movie watch, is the scenario of heroes in contrast.The picture of contrast keeps changing from time to time ,only in pattern  but not in its spirit of affinity and fellow feeling, instinctively formed towards their pet hero.Before I complete this article,it should be mentioned  that only heroes who have acted in more than fifty films have been included here, for a discussion in the line of contrast.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Nightingale of Tamil Cinema.

      Nightingale is a bird adored for its capacity to sing beautifully and powerfully.Many poets have sung in praise of the Nightingale for its melodious voice.John Keats one of the noted romantic poets in English, has paid rich tributes to the bird in his poem''Ode to a Nightingale''.He calls the nightingale''light winged Dryad of the trees''and ''immortal bird''born to sing in ''full-throated ease''.There are a few human voices,with utmost sweetness and felicity in enthralling music lovers, through a perfect rendition of  timeless songs.Among playback singers, once a way, we come across gifted voices of extraordinary charm adorning the film industry.This is how female voices like Latha Mangeshkar and P.Susheela have established a grand status as playback singers.
     Tamil Cinema in general and Tamil film music in particular, is greatly indebted to P.Susheela for her mighty and monumental contribution,as a playback singer of fascinating felicity and immaculate charm in her voice.Starting from the Nineteen Fifties,she became the one and only female Tamil playback singer, with an extraordinary ability to combine clarity,force,sweetness and symphony in any song that was offered to her.She has been endowed with  splendid vocal cords to enchant, energize and enthuse the listeners irrespective of the language in which she sang.
     Though P.Susheela started her film career in the early Nineteen Fifties,her hey days in Tamil Cinema were between 1960 and 1985.Some of her earliest solo hits were 'Unnai Kan Thedudhe' {KanavaneKankanda Dheivam} 'Azhaikkadhe Ninaikkadhe'{Manaalane Mangaiyin Baagyam} Unakku Mattum'{Manapandal}'AalayaManiyin Osaiyai Naan Kettein','Kadhal Siragai Kaatrinil Virithu'{'Aalayamani}Athaan Ennathaan'{Paava Mannippu} 'Ettadukku Maaligaiyil Etrivaitha En Thalaivan'{Paadha Kaanikkai} 'Kangaikkarai Thottam' {Vaanambaadi}'Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathile'{Bagya latchumi} 'Kangal Enge Nenjamum Enge'{Karnan}'Paartha Gnabagam Illayao'{Pudhiya Paravai} 'Ninaikka Therindha Maname' {Ananadha Jothi}'Sonnadhu Needhaanaa'{Nenjil Oer Aalayam} 'Unnai Naan Sandhithein' [Aayirathil Oruvan} 'Unnai Kaanaadha Kannum Kannalla' {Idhayakkamalam} and'Kannan Varuvaan Kadhai Solluvaan' {Panjavarnakkili}.
      P.Susheela was the busiest playback singer in all South Indian languages and her busy schedule did not ever deter her vigorous spirit of performance that legitimately resulted in winning awards at the state and national level.It is a proud fact that she was the first woman playback singer to win the national award for her most captivating rendering of the song 'Naalaiyindha Velaiparthu Odivaa Nilaa'for the AVM block buster film Uyarndha Manidhan that also happened to be the 150th film of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan. Incidentally, she got the State Govt.award too,for the same song.
     The next national award she won, was her highly sprightly and energy loaded song 'Sittukkuruvi kkenna Kattuppaadu' from Malliyam Rajagopal's most successful film Savaale Samaali,another Sivaji Ganesan film.This beautifully composed song, both in lyrical beauty and musical richness, celebrated the grandeur of freedom and it was the nightingale's voice that seemed to liberate every music lover, from the entanglement of 'the weariness the fever and fret'of life. Hearing this great song in the incomparable voice of P.Susheela was an exalting experience. What a free flow of breeze it was and how forcefully Susheela's voice infused the gist of freedom as an ennobling experience. Susheela again got the Tamil Nadu State Government's award for singing the sweet number 'Brindhaa Vanathukku Varuginrein' in Sivaji Ganesan's Latchumi Kalyaanam.Far beyond these numbers, there were a few immortal songs, that P.Susheela sang for a few dance sequences with songs such as,'Mannavan Vandhaanadi'{Thiruvarutchelvar} 'Nalandhaana' and Maraindhirundhu Paarkum Marmamenna {both from Thillaanaa Mohanammbaal}
      P.Susheela's best duets were with T.M.Soundarajan.Songs like"Mullai Malar Mele'{Uthama Puthiran}'Naan Pesa Ninaipadhellaam' {Paalum Pazhamum}'Malarndhum Malaraadha'{Paasa Malar}'Anru Vandhadhum Adhe Nilaa' {Periya Idathu Penn}'Thottaal PooMalarum'{Padahotti} 'Aadaludan Paadalai Serthu'{Kudiyirundha Koil}'Poomalaiyil Oer Malliagai'{Ootty Varai Uravu} 'Vizhiye Vizhiye Unakkenna Velai',and 'Chinnavalai Mugam Sivandhavalai'{both from Puthiya Bhoomi}are a few samples of the immortal numbers in their most matching combination of voices. Almost every song she sang with TMS was a right and ripe combination of the female voice with that of the male,not going out of tune at any stage.
      The TMS/P.Susheela duets were of a classic brand because both were known for established norms of voice pattern, voice clarity,vocal thrust and precision in pronunciation of words.Their voices travelled along on the musical track with one hundred percent fusion calling for repeated hearing.The other male voices with whom Susheela's elegant voice occasionally joined were those of P.B.Srinivas{'Paal Vannam Paruvam Kandu'from Pasam' and 'Ennaruge Neeyirundhaal' from Thirudaadhe were outstanding pieces of meldy and sweetness},A.M.Raja {'Thingalurangiya Pothum Thenralurangiya Podhum' from Petra Magana Vitra Annai would remain as an immortal number}Chidambaram Jeyaraman{'Vinnodum Mugilodum' from Pudhayal was simply exuberant} Sirkazhi Govindarajan {Sirikkinraal Inru Sirikkinraal from Nallavan Vaazhvan was a pure piece of soothing melody}and S.P.Balasubramanyan{ several beautiful duets particularly 'Aayiram Nilave Vaa' from Adimai Penn and 'Iyarkaiyennum Ilaya Kanni' from Shanthi Nilayam need a special mention}.
      Apart from her mind blowing solo songs, sad melodies and duets,there is a galaxy of joyous numbers that came to dominate the audience imagination.Some of the songs that actually stole our hearts and keep the scenic sequence also lingering in our memory are' Theidinein  Vandhadhu' {Oottivarai Uravu}''Aadai Muzhudhum Nanaya Nanaya''{Namnaadu} 'Kannan Ennum Mannan Perai Solla Solla' 'Ammammaa Kaatruvandhu Aaadai Thottu'{ both from Vennira Aadai}'Sithirai Maadham Pournami Neram' {Raman Ethanai Ramanadi}'Renga Renagaiyya'{Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu}and 'Oraayiram Naadagam Aadinaal {Sumathi En Sundhari}.Besides these most valued songs, there were a few beautiful numbers that P.Susheela sang with other female singers like L.R.Eswari and Jamuna Rani.Songs that need a special mention in this category are,'Thoodhu Sella Oru Thozhi Illaiyena'{Pachai Vilaaku} 'Malarukku Thenral Pagaiyaanaal'{Enga Veettu Pillai}both with L.R.Eswari and 'Punnagai Mannan Poovizhi Kannan'{Iru Kodugal }with Jamuna Rani.
     As a playback singer P.Susheela was leading Tamil film music nearly for three decades .It was a tone capable of conquering human emotions with a spontaneous reach that made her deliver her notes, with utmost confidence, ease and magnificence.With an incomparable voice sweetness, she sang powerfully and beautifully, not only film songs, but also religious songs like 'Maanika Veenaiyendhum Maadhevi Kalaivaani' and 'Idaividaa Sahaaya Maadha,Inaiyilaa Dhevamaadha' to be broadcast frequently on the AIR even before she became popular as a playback singer.The charismatic appeal in her voice throw, was inimitable and she sang with full throated ease to transport human imagination to 'magic casements and fairy lands' like the nightingale that enthralled John Keats.It is in this unique form,she becomes the nightingale of Tamil Cinema.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Knife is Sharp.

   .A.R.Murugadoss seems to be inexorably stuck to the soil.In Ramana,it was the struggle of a College professor to relieve the soil from the real estate mafias and corrupt elements.In Thuppaakki it was the efforts of an Officer from the RAW of the Indian Army to retrieve the soil from the terrorists outfit.In Kathi it is an all the more valid crusade against a criminally greedy corporate house bent upon exploiting the rich water resources of a rural soil, for its personal gains.Here, the struggle is carried on with utmost fire and commitment with an atmosphere of grim events governing the narration almost from the start till the end.Though there are certain humorous scenes involving Vijay and the Naan Yee fame heroine,the film compulsorily turns to a course of sobriety to make the narration more authentic and gripping.
    Th ever agile Vijay has put in all his genuine efforts in emoting,dancing,fighting and in articulating dialogues with force and veracity.The stunt scenes are perfectly in fresh form.The heroine is compact and Sathish the hero's companion, does a neat job.The villain performer from the northern belt,finely fits into the Corporate house with all its negative projections. Aniruth's music scores more on the percussion side at times even swallowing the lyrics and dialogues with his background music.Two of his numbers are enjoyable at the theatre but do not compel one to recall later.
   The movie despite the necessitated reduction of the usually rich entertainment quotient of a Vijay film, can not be said to be boring at any stage.But one can not deny the fact that a couple of scenes here and there are reminders of earlier movies like Dharani's Dhool, Aith's Citizen and Ramana of Murugadoss. The exhortation of the hero in the climax scene also seems to echo a few previous films of the same hero and a few others.On the whole the Murugadoss/Vijay combination has really worked hard and takes credit for a solid show, though their earlier joint parade in Thuppaakki contained greater aesthetic components in creating a lasting over all impact on the viewers.The climax takes us closer to the pattern of a Malyalam movie, of this kind. On the whole the knife is sharp and sleek.                                                        =================0================     

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Satirical Voice of Tamil Cinema.

     Tamil Cinema has taravelled on several tracks and has celebrated a galaxy of themes and styles of narration.There have been actors of all kinds enriching the fundamentals of Tamil cinema as an effective medium of entertainment.However,in promoting the satirical tone of narration there has been only one film personality who is greatly esteemed as a creative and critical expert in the line of Girish Karnard in Kannada.That is the most experienced, multi faceted Cho Ramasamy,the noted Tamil playwright,actor,comedian, prolific commentator and bold critic of political and social foibles.It is his pragmatic vision and poignant element of satire that has made his performance very interesting in all the activities mentioned above.As this blog is confined to films I am constrained to restrict my focus on Cho as a film maker and actor.
    When compared to his contemporary comedian Nagesh,Cho's participation on the big screen was not voluminous.But in whichever film he appeared either in isolation or being teamed up with other comedians like Nagesh and Thengai Srinivasan, Cho's contribution would stand apart as a factor motivating audience intelligence and analytic mindset along with humour.This he would pass on, through an assertive element of satire with an aggressive component of caricaturing individuals and social systems, embedded with untenable loopholes.In this regard, his main target would be the political whims and fancies filled with inherent follies, looking for instant and permanent remedies.
     Cho's exclusive cleverness lies in giving contextual twists to any dialogue that would ultimately end up in taking a dig at individuals or groups.He would see to it that he cracks spontaneous and timely jokes at the expense of others  and make the audience enjoy his verbal dig.Though Tamil film comedy has never been lacking in verbal force and humour,Cho's additional score would always be the satirical thrust infused in words mostly genial in content and at times pungent in tone if the situation warranted.
     If Nagesh was closer to MGR in the earlier years of his career,Cho began to find a place in the later films of MGR.Some of the popular films of MGR that included Cho's comedy flair were Sange Muzhangu,Adimaipenn, Maattukkaara Velan, En Annan and Engal Thangam.The same way he enjoyed equal amount of confidence with Sivaji Ganeasan in films like Paar Magale Paar,Gowravam, Galaattaa Kalyaanam,Thangapadhakkam,,Nirai Kudam,Thavapudhalvan, and Anbaithedi,The last three were from the Mukta Films'production house and it is a known fact that Cho was a regular addition in the films of Mukta.V.Srinivasan.The fact that Cho was the most valued comedian in other Mukta Films' movies like Thein Mazhai,Ninaivil Ninraval,Aayiram Poi  Bommalaattam and Sooriyakanthi, showed the amount of rapport he had with that film company.In Thein Mazhai and Ninaivil Ninraval his comedy scenes with Nagesh became the talking point.
     Cho has worked with all great heroes like MGR, Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan,Jai Shankar, Ravichandran Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth.Cho's  association with the Superstar appears to be stronger than with Kamalahasan and  the number of films he has worked with Rajini would be an evidence of this fact.His comedy scenes in Guru Sishyan, Manidhan and Adhisiappiravi created a lot of fun .As Visithiraguptan in Adhisiappiravi,Cho led the audience to wonderful moments of laughter. Besides these films his character in Rajini's Aaarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai was of special significance.
     If Cho had just been another actor, his popularity yardsticks would have been confined to the celluloid world.But he has established his position rather unshakably as a film maker and exuberant writer with an exemplary critical frame of mind.Some of his stage plays that were made into films like Mohamadbin Tuklaq,Yarukkum Vetkamillai,Unmaye Un Vilai Enna and Mr.Sampath speak of his trade marks of satire and social perceptions.Particularly,the film Unmae Un Vilai Enna was thought provoking.Cho definitely deserves a special place as a film personality, because of his variety in focus and versatility in the execution of his creative capabilities.Very few actors have set the audience to think,by their contribution on and off the screen,like Cho Ramasamy.
    Cho's egg like eyes and the vibration in his usually excited voice, are his special attractions.His sense of humour and comedy fundamentals have always remained perfectly decent.Vulgarity would be the last thing he would ever resort to, in generating laughter.The vibe of his satirical tone is enough to kindle laughter and set the audience to thinking aloud.As a Tamil movie comedian Cho will always occupy a distinct position and his space with his singular voice of satire will ever remain incomparable.