Thursday, May 21, 2015

Some High Voltage Tamil Film Songs.


    Film songs could be classified into breezy, solo, or mixed melodies,vibrant duets and inspiring group songs. Music composers have the onus of unearthing felicitous numbers from the existing seven ''swarams'' through an innovative process of fixation of tunes for a refreshing musical experience.How the tunes receive popular acclaim depends upon how they are tuned and rendered. The reception of a tune is also determined by the taste and mood of the audience, changing from time to time.Some might be longing for melodies.Some would stand up and dance for the fast  numbers.
  On the whole, good music hardly escapes popular admiration and patronage.However what decides the popularity of film music is the magnificence in instrumental and vocal inspiration. There is an absolutely unique category of songs that carry a high voltage of consistent energy, vibration and gusto to keep them eternally acceptable to human ears wherever they are, whatever be their mother tongue and to whichever time they belong to.In this connection I am presenting here a list of Tamil film songs of different periods that have become immortal pieces of music purely on account of their exquisite ingredients supported by a high voltage composition.
   Decades ago there came a group song in the voice of S,C.Krishnan,P.Suseela and others and this most popular timeless number is  ''Sithaada Kattigittu Singaaram Pannikittu''from the film Vannakkili. The enchanting aspect of the song is governed by its never sagging speed and the immortality of the song could be attributed to the wonderful musical composition of the traditionally talented K.V.Mahadevan.The lyric for this song was penned by A.Maruthakasi. The same K.V.Mahadevan composed another fascinating high voltage song and this song was written by K.M.Sheriff and delivered in the mighty voice of T.M.Soundarajan with the titillating female voice of Jamuna Rani .This memorable piece is ''Maamaa Maamaa Maamaa''  for the great movie Kumutham.Both these films were from the Modern Theatres.
  What a speedy and powerful duet ''Oho Endhan Baby Nee Vaaraai Endhan Baby''  from the film Theinilavu was.How colloquially,the song  written by Kannadasan and tuned by A.M.Raja, sailed through the waters and stays stuck to our memory with its tremendous vigour.Then came the two fast numbers ''Adi Ennadi Raakkamma''from Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa and''Sattai Kaiyil Kondu'' from Kaadhal Jothi  from the clear and high sounding voice of T.M.Soundarajan and Sirkazhi Govindarajan.The former was from the mighty pen of Kannadasan and it was composed my melody king M.S.Viswanathan and the latter,written by Vaali was grandly tuned by MSV's counterpart T.K.RamamurthySimilarly,the stimulating group song ''Nallavan Enakku Naane Nallavan''from Padithaal Mattum Podhuma in the combined rendition of the stentorian Soundarajan and mellifluous P.B.Srinivas would ever have its gripping influence on those,bound to the traditional music of M.S.Viswanathan/Ramamurthy for the fine words of Kannadasan.
  Songs set to a context of competition such as the most glorious ''Kannum Kannum Kalandhu''sung by P.Suseela and P.Leela for the dance competition of Vaijayanthi Mala and Padmini in Vanjikkottai Vaaliban{ Song by Kothamangalam Subbu and music by C.Ramachandraand the musically competitive ''Chinnanjiriya Vanna Paravai'' and''Neeye Unakku Enrum Nigaraanavan'',the former in the voice of TMS and S.Janaki from Kungumam  and the latter rendered by TMS and M.Raju from Bale Pandiya which are monumental samples of high voltage singing and for which Kannadasan takes the credit for lyrics and Viswanathan/Ramaurthy and K.V.Mahadevan for tuning the songs respectively.
    Two more songs of the last century,one in the voice of P.Suseela and the other from the intoxicating tone of L.R.Eswari,came as the most throbbing numbers.These two songs both penned by Kannadasan but composed by M.S.Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadevan were for the two epoch-making films Ootivarai Uravu and Panamaa Paasamaa one a hilarious comedy and the other an extraordinary family drama.These two exuberant songs are ''Thedinein Vandhadhu''and ''Elandha Pazham Elandha Pazham''.
  S.P.Balasubramanyam reputed for his high spirited and most vibrating voice, sang an energy packed song for Sridhar's Avalukkenru Oer Manam.The song ''Aayiram Ninaivu Aayiram Kanavu'' for which SPB gave his masterly voice for Gemini Ganesan, became an eternal high voltage rendition on account of its contextual validity and commanding romantic felicity.SPB sang another high voltage number for Kamalahasan in Sakalakalaa Vallaban and the most popular song was ''Ilamai Idho Idho''[Vaali's lines hit the ears with the fantastic music of Ilayaraja].
   The same way,S.Janaki's historic, energy blowing piece ''Machaana Paatheengalaa''from Annakkili  brought overnight fame to Ilayaraja because of the novelty in composition and sustained speed and energy in delivery by the exemplary singer.The song written by Panju Arunachalam vitally presented the quintessence of rustic charm and glory.The other ever enchanting energy booster is the song ''Adi Raakkammaa Kaiyathattu''in the voice of SPB and Swarnalatha from the Mani Rathnam blockbuster Thalapathi and the song written by Vaali, became one of the most outstanding musical compositions of Ilayaraja.  
   Oscar winner A.R.Rehaman has come out with several high voltage songs like ''Mazhathuli Mazhathuli Mannil Sangamam'' that carried the combined effect of the mighty voice of M.S.Viswanathan with the mesmerizing voice of Hariharan.The lyric for this song was from the refreshing imagination of Vairamuthu for the film Sangamam.M.S.V has sung another breath taking high voltage song''Sivasambo''in his own composition for the film Ninaithaale Inikkum. 
  Rehaman himself sang the most powerful number''Adiradidhaan'' written by Vaali for Sivaji.The song made everyone dance,by its amazing flow of energy, speed and splendour of background music.The supremacy of the stringed and percussion instruments accompanying the forceful voice of Rehaman, made the song carry an everlasting impact on the listeners.The latest high voltage song in Rehaman's music is ''yei Sandikkudhira''for the film Kaaviathalaivan 
  The list of high voltage songs will remain incomplete without the two popular hits from the Vijay starring Gilli and Vettaikkaaran and the remarkable songs are 'Appadi Podu Podu' and 'Puli Urumudhu'.The two songs were written by Pa.Vijay and Kabilan respectively While Vidhya Sagar compsed the tunes for Gilli,Vijay Antony was the music composer for Vettaikkaran.There would be a temptation to add a few more songs in this list particularly the songs that introduce the heroes in many films,a few more solo numbers sung by A.R.Rehaman and the immortally mind blowing songs of MGR generating a lot of positive energy.
    But the songs I have mentioned here, show consistency in tempo and vigour capable of binding the audience mood from the beginning of the song till its end.It is this yardstick that has constrained me to restrict my memory to these high voltage songs and call them so, because of the genuineness in speed and power of delivery.I might have left out some songs due to my memory failure.Whether the list is big or small,the fact here is that there exists this specific genre of high voltage numbers that could invigorate the listeners'nerves and mood. 
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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Romance and Manirathnam.


 

















 

     Romance is always a rejoicing, reverberating and rejuvenating concept for the creative mind.What one perceives as the right core of romance and how one tries to interpret it,constitute the artistic and aesthetic fundamentals of creativity.As a result,romance in Tamil Cinema, has travelled through a galaxy of lanes with characters and events catching up the imagination of the creator, for a refreshing presentation of its complex layers accumulated through the passage of time and perspectives of each generation.Eminent directors like Sridhar,Balachander,Balu Mahendra Bharathiraja and Manirathnam have relaid the lanes with their concrete stuff of imagination and reality. Idealistic Sridhar,innovative Balachander,uncoventional Balu Mahendra  poetic Bharathiraja and traditionally modern Manirathnam have walked through the lanes of romance, stamping their remarkable footprints for a line of followers, of their respective footprints.This article would like to see the depth and volume of Manirathnam's footprints,in this regard.
   Manirathnam is as much a specialist in romance as he is a specialist in narrating the innumerable intricacies of the gangster world, with intimate understanding and scrutiny. Manirathnam's delicate touches of the intrinsic vibrations of man and woman fondling each other, or tickling each other's emotions, have never never fail to reflect an extraordinary aesthetic appeal, ever since the days of his first film Pagal Nilavu followed by Idhayak Kovil. His earlier innings in romance were of course, a combination of ruggedness and male gusto as seen through his heroes of Pagal Nilavu [Murali}and Mouna Raagam[Karthik Muthuraman].Even his Agni Natchatram which was a family drama,celebrated certain amount of macho vigor in the character formation of one of the two heroes[again Kaarthik Muthuraman].
  Whatever be the story line of  a Manirathnam movie,one could not miss the robust delineation of characters undergoing the thrill and grill of the romantic journey.[Naayagan and Thalabathi could be exceptions].No one could find the romantic vigor ever sagging in the character portrayal of the heroes in Roja and Bombay[Arvind Samy playing the hero in both].Bombay was out and out a love story dipped in the cauldron of religious fundamentalism and religion related violence. But the all pervading high voltage romance was the power station of the film.There was the fire of  love in the midst of the flames of terrorism in films like Roja,Uyire, Knnathil Muthamittaal and Raavanan.[the last one was a passionate and bullying course of romance aggressively promoted by the thorniest bush, emanating the fragrance of  mighty romance].
   But two films that stand apart as the bullet trains of romance are Alai Payudhe and Oh Kadhal Kanmani that share a period of nearly fifteen years between each other.The two films thus belonging to two different generations, could not be compared as such.But at the same time one can not deny the fact that both the films have the train station link and the live-in relationship concept apart from projecting the whims and vagaries of youth, governed by a craving for a sense of belonging,mutuality and the positive influence of elders, in shaping the aspirations of youth.
    On watching O.K.Kanmani,one who had seen Alai Paayudhe, can not be faulted for making comparisons between the two, because the young lovers Adhi and Tara of OKK, seem to be a replica of Karthik and Shakthi of Alai Payudhe.The narration of the lovers' routine,the emotional exchanges between the lovers in OKK, keep on tapping at the doors of Alai Paudhe for a revisit.The predominantly different part of narration is the more exhaustive focus on the lovers in OKK because Alaipaudhe had a lot of other events such as the misunderstanding between another couple calling for the intervention of the hero,the hurdles thrown on the track of Karthik and Sakthi in getting married and the accident in the climax sending Sakthi into a state of coma and so on.But in OKK,excepting Prakash raj and his wife, the audience have nothing to watch other than the pranks, buoyancy and bickering of the lovers.
   Alai Payudhe will live longer in memory, not only because of its eventful narration but also because of the richly enchanting music of the same A.R.Rahaman. The mighty numbers ''Snegidhane,snegidhane Ragasiya Snegidhane'' ''Pachai Nirame Pachai Nirame'' and ''September Maadham'' will continue to perpetuate the memory of Alai Payudhe. Moreover, without any prejudice to Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen,it should be said here that Madhavan and Shalini got into out heart and soul, as young lovers and still stay there, as eternal treasures of a solid romantic experience. All said and done, Manirathnam deserves a special applause, for not liquidating the traditional base of our culture and cherished values.The fact that the director is ever conscious of the supremacy of the roots of love, in creating a bonding pattern and sense of belonging, puts him on the right exit, sidelining the roadblocks of the vagaries of youth and the new norms of man- woman relationship, imported through globalized existence.To put it in a nutshell, Manirathnam is never prepared to forego his traditional moorings, while presenting a romantic story, through his chosen lane of creative journey.And this makes him, an acceptable film maker of romance, at all times.
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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Invincible Verbal Comedian of Tamil Cinema.



       











 

       Unlike farce,slapstick comedy and other types of physical comedy,the power of words captures the context, with intelligence and presence of mind.Timing and contextual understanding to fix humour, with relevance and rightness of focus, make verbal comedy an outstanding creative experience.Verbal comedy generates not only spontaneous humour but also comic situations, promoting the well being of a vast section of the audience.We can not of course, undermine the imaginative scope and dimension behind conceptualizing a proper context, calling for exposition of physically clumsy, ridiculous and rib tickling proportions of humour.However, it is an accepted fact that verbal comedy involves a vital contribution of commonsense in flashing instant humour. Appropriate word play, be it a one liner retort, or an exclusive dialogue formula within a skit, reflects originality and freshness in laughter promotion.It is as much difficult to devise a comedy subplot as it is to frame the main plot.If the film maker decides to go in for a full length comedy entertainer,the focus will naturally be completely be on the humour side.
      On the other hand, if it happens to be a comedy sub plot,one has to decide whether the sub plot should travel along with the main story narration or can take its own independent route, with the sole aim of providing comic relief without forming any link to the main story.For making a captivating comedy sub plot, it is not only the skit that matters, but also the committed contribution of the players on the screen, at the delivery point.It in this respect,verbal comedians like N.S.Krishnan,T.S.Dorairaj K.A.Thangavelu and the successive actors like Nagesh,Thengai Srinivasan, Surulirajan, Goundamani, Vadivelu,Vivek and Santhanam have taken the lead position at various times with their distinctly vibrant style and focus on verbal comedy.I have excluded J.B.Chandrababu because he ruled as an exclusive physical comedian, with the additionally extraordinary skills of dancing and singing, that took the audience to the zenith of enjoyment.
     Of  all the verbal comedians mentioned above, it was K.A.Thangavelu, who maintained a track record of clean and sweeping verbal thrust, in kindling laughter moments.The fact that he had been a performer with unshakable faith in the quality of his skit and in his capacity for taking the skit,heart and soul to the audience,installed his position firmly as a competent verbal comedian. K.A. Thangavelu was one, who was truly wedded to the skit, with no itch for deviation at any point. In fact, it was the quality and variety of his skit development,that affixed an ISI mark of presentation on most of his skits.That is why quite a number of his comedy scenes, were made into gramophone records, to reach many homes,for a repeat of the happier moments that they spent at the theatre.A few treasured samples in this regard are from the films Kalyana Parisu,Adutha Veetuppen,Arivaali,Kaidhi Kannayiram and Dheivapiravi.
     K.A.Thangavelu  started his verbal comedy fair, from the days of M.G.Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. Though  he would have made more worthy entries with the Chevalier,his association with MGR also carried a significant impact in films like Chakravarthi Thirumagal,Alibaabaavum Naarpadhu Thirudargalum,Gulebakavali,Thirudaadhe,Arasilankumari, Enga Veettupillai,Nam Naadu and Uzhaikkum Karangal. It would be surprising that he played negative roles in the last two of the movies cited.With Sivaji Ganesan  he was effectively enrolled in several films that were great hits like Panam,Anbu, Ambikapathi,Amaradeepam,Vanangamudi,Mangaiyar Thilagam, Dheivapiravi Uthamaputhiran, Irumbuthirai, Arivaali,Paasamalar,Thillaana Mohanaambaal and Galaattaa Kalyaanam.
     Of these,the comedy scenes from Amara Deepam,[remembered for his outstanding comedy show] Dheivapiravi [celebrated more for the Kadhaa kaalatchebam} Irumbuthirai,{as an underpaid mill worker} Arivaali{as a helpless husband trying to mould  his wife} and Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal {as Nattuvanaar}will refuse to leave the audience memory.As  bogus writer Bhairavan in Kalyana Parisu,as a private detective in Kaidhi Kannayiram and as a lover in the guise of an old man to win his love in Adutha Veettuppenn,the pranks and comedy manoeuvres of Thangavelu  conveyed a stamp of maturity in grasping the concept of humour.
     The other popular films of Thangavelu's comedy drive include Pathini Ddheivam, Karpukkarasi, Sowbagyavadhi,Sadhaaram,Missiamma,Vanjikkottai Vaaliban Maayaa Bazzar,Thein Nilavu, Meenda Sorgam, Manidhan Maravillai {all Gemini Ganesan films} Manjal Magimai and Enga Veettu Mahalakshmi starring A.Nageswara Rao. What  is unique about Thangavelu's comedy is his context awareness,word precision and timing of jokes without violating the yardsticks of decency in promoting laughter.It was always very interesting to watch him getting caught in a helpless situation and the frequent misfiring of his manipulative, escape mechanism.
    There was an effortless and impressive voice modulation in his dialogue delivery, with his clear bold tone embracing a shrill pattern, to indicate the final moment of defeat, confirming the failure of all his planned efforts to escape from a ticklish situation.It was this interesting journey through the vocal cords that made his humour  delivery, win strength and acceptance.Unlike Kalaivanar and Chandrababu, who sang at least one song in their own voice, in every film that they acted, Thangavelu was offered a song sequence in a number of films,though he could not himself, sing a song.Films like Rambayin Kaadhal,Naan Kanda Sorgam{in which he acted as hero}Kaidhi Kannaayiram,Irumbu Thirai,Maayaa Bazaar,Alibaabaavum Naarpdhu Thirudargalum, Vanangamudi Dheivapiravi,Manjal Magimai, Manidhan Maaravillai and Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi showed him singing either in the voice of Sirkazhi S.Govindarajan or S.C.Krishnan.The first two films in the list were noted for his centralized role performance with both humour and sobriety.
     During the later years of his acting career,Thangavelu performed compact and convincing characters as the father of girls, trying to outwit guys running after his daughters.Even in villain roles, he could effectively play second fiddle to the main villain.As a sidekick,he could make himself naturally ludicrous. Nevertheless, for all the roles Thangavelu played,it was his right and timely focus on words, that quickly drove him to the winning territory.Whether it was the main course of narration as in Adutha Veettuppenn, or a sub plot as in Kalyana Parisu and Arivaali,
    Thangavelu's  comedy track never failed to display an inbuilt force and vigour, amounting to the impact of bursting of crackers and this was always executed with a confident and convincing throw of words.There was ever a breezy touch in his comedy demonstration, as if humour  could emanate with the feather touch of a tennis ball with its speed,thrust and thud towards winning the game of laughter play, without unwanted hue and cry.It was a tender game of comedy that Thangavelu  played with words, that never hurt, but sent the audience to the peels of laughter.Certainly this splendid mark of  neat verbal comedy made him an invincible comedian.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

From The Chevalier Hierarchy.


      The word Chevalier became closer to the Tamil soil, only after Sivaji Ganesan,the legacy of Tamil Cinema, was awarded that title.The French word Chevalier means Knight.The French award, given in the name of Chevalier,was instituted in 1957 and it is an Order of Arts and Letters, awarded to those, for their achievements in and their propagation of, the field of arts and literature.Who in Tamil Cinema, other than Sivaji Ganesan,would have rightly deserved such a prestigious award?That Sivaji Ganesan became a Chevalier was a matter of pride more to Tamil film industry, than to the Samsonite hero.The fame of Sivaji Ganesan as an edifice of acting, is not a news to any one.It is a historic fact.But the Sivaji hierarchy,that is,the line of actors from the genes of that actor prototype,certainly deserves the focus it needs.
      As far as hierarchy is concerned,this blog has already thrown some light on the heirs of another colossal actor M.R.Radha, besides discussing the acting stuff of Prabu Ganesan and Karthik Muthuraman,under the caption 'Two Chips of their Old Block'.But now, the third generation actors in the Chevalier lineage, are slowly moving for a space on the big screen.This becomes a very interesting phenomenon, because it calls for a mood of comparison in terms of perfect role play and flawless display of character dimensions, in an all inclusive format of the acting grandeur of Sivaji Gnesan. I am sure, very often the second and third generation actors from the Sivaji Ganesan family, would have felt humbled by the ever performing exemplary actor, as the founding father of the whole gamut of acting.
     Ramkumar Ganesan and Prabu Ganesan,the two sons of the Chevalier, set their feet on the celluloid stage, at different times,the elder sibling in Aruvadai Naal in 1986 and the younger one four years earlier in 1982 in the film Sangili along with his father.While Ramkumar played the role of a Christian priest making a mark in Aruvadai Naal, starring Prabhu as hero, the latter's debut movie Sangili, was not a good start for him.However,it was Prabhu who could get into his father's shoes, despite the fact that his feet could not compactly fit into them.Whereas Ramkumar coolly withdrew from the race, after My Dear Maarthaandan, to reappear after a long time,as one of the four villains in Shankar's 'I'. 
      Prabhu definitely made his innings with a clear awareness of his comfort zones in acting.His inbuilt geniality in appearance and a voice pattern inherited from his father no doubt showcased him as a successful hero for nearly two decades.But he knows the fact that he is far behind his father, in maintaining the naturally imbibed  thumb rules  of acting, devoutly followed by the family patriarch.Acting ran as blood in the arteries of Sivaji Ganesan and he breathed acting as his life breath.Whereas, what Prabhu could achieve was a felicity in playing innocent characters, as in Chinna Thambi, Sethamizh Paattu and Vanna Thamizh Paattu, besides shuttling between sober and comic depiction of characters . His levels of maturity in acting, became more poignant once he started playing the role of an elder, which keeps him going with the flow.
     While Dushyanth Ramkumar stayed away after a couple of films, Shivaji Dev. Ramkumar seems to be still in the race.But it is Prabhu's son Vikram Prabhu who has started making his mettle after his successful debut hit Kumki, directed by Prabu Solomon.This young hero has sown his credentials, to sprout as an unruffled and natural actor, with an innate stuff to carve a niche for himself,in the race for survival on the big screen.But even here, there is a growing fear of seeing him more as a hero of  the thriller genre, rather than being blessed with opportunities for showing his capabilities, for playing a variety of roles.Starting from Ivan Vera Madhiri,Vikram Prabhu has been seen only in action thrillers like Arima Nambi and Sigaram Thodu. 
   His latest movie Vellakkara Thorai has proved to be a flop not because the actor is a misfit for the comedy genre but because of a very poor course of narration by Ezhil who gave a mega hit film like Thullaadha Manamum Thullum and made a good show of his directorial flair in films like Pennin Manadhai Thottu, Poovellaam Un Vasam Raajaa and Manam Kothi Paravai.The trouble with Vikram Prabu seems to be his fixation in playing roles with a natural frame of mind, rather than doing characters with a cinematic thrust, in body language and dialogue delivery, as his grandfather and father did.It is good to be natural in performing.But it is always more desirable to imbibe a vigorous gusto in presentation for a consistent screen image.Hope Vikram Prabu makes sure, that he reinforces the histrionic parameters for a greater thrust of the hero in him.  
     Vikram Prabu's growth as an actor, should be dynamic, challenging and inspiring, in the line of becoming a versatile actor; it is not only the director's job to make him become an achiever, but is also the actor's responsibility to choose characters calling for greater challenges in performance and portrayal. Otherwise,in a field of alarming competition, the race is going to be very tough and I am sure, this young talent, may not be unaware of the dangling threat to survival.Personally I believe, the future of the Chevalier hierarchy, rests more with Vikram Prabhu than others, to establish the fact, that he is not just like other actors who come and go, but is a promising guy, to make the posterity continue to glorify the Sivaji dynasty, not just for name sake, but for the base on which the hierarchy is built and the way it stands proud, as an eternal monument of the Chevalier substance and splendour.
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Saturday, April 11, 2015

The wonders of a Tamil Comedian.


                           









   Cinema in general is known for its conventionalities ,clich├ęs  and customary  characteristics for being a formulaic medium of creativity in several aspects. The  variety  with regard to the genre, character formation, musical addition, comic relief, romantic component ,stunt quotient ,cathartic effects and choreography yardsticks do have a set pattern as to  what, when, where and how the above ingredients should get evenly mixed up while making a movie. Even art films have their fundamentals .The only difference is in the mode of presentation of all these elements, reflecting the individual film maker’s  personality and inherent potential. But at times, unusual things happen  just as a whim of  the creative  process  like comets and meteors  or shooting stars adorning the sky. Such  unusual happenings stay as wonders, claiming their timeless galleries for a position of immortality. Tamil Cinema is not lacking in this respect.
    Can any one imagine a popular comedian with a singing ability to lend his voice to the hero as a playback singer, while he himself is acting in that movie in a powerful comic role? Yes, it has happened in Tamil Cinema, with the versatile comedian J.P.Chandrababu giving his voice for none another than the Chevalier, Sivaji Ganesan, for the song ‘'Jolly life’’ in Kalyaanam Panniyum Brmmachari. The same comedy superstar has lent his voice to S.Balachander for the film ‘’Penn’’ and the song was ‘Kalyaanam Venum’.
    Have we ever seen the hero standing beside the comedian, watching him sing and dance? Yes, it was the same Chandrababu who made MGR stand and watch him perform, for the song 'Thillaanaa Paattupaadi’ in the film Pudhumai Pithan. No other comedian except N.S.Krishnan would  have taken this kind of privilege with MGR. Again, no other comedian would have sung three or four songs in a single film as Chandrababu did.[eg.Padhi Bakthi and Kumara Raja].This comedian had been exuberantly singing at least one song in each of his films and at times even two, in several others {Sabash Meena and Adimai Penn might be exceptions}.
    Quite often, Chandrababu is said to have superseded others  in creating a high profile for himself,  in terms of screen space, salary and significance in role assignment. These days when even some heroes find it difficult to do multi tasking, such as fighting and dancing, it is really awesome that we had a comedian who could essay comic and sobre roles { Kavalai Illaadha Manidhan, Kumararaja and so on} sing philosophical songs like Onnume Puriyale Ulagathile,{Kumara Raja} Pirakkumbodhum Azhukinraan,Irakkumbodhum Azhuhinraan{Kavalai Illaadha Manidhan}, Budhiyulla Manidharellaam Vetri Kaanbadhillai{Annai},Sirippu Varudhu{Aandavan Kattalai} and dance breezily, with fascinating brilliance.His rock and roll movements and amazing strokes of gesticulations and typical shades of physical comedy were ever a special attraction.Some of his most popular and fascinating numbers are 'Pambarakkannaale'{Manamagan Thevai} 'Kovaammambazhame' {Maaman Magal}Unakkaaga Ellaam Unakkaaga[Pdhayal} and 'Naan Oru Muttaalunga'{Sahodhari}
    Though Nagesh could act and dance like Chandrababu, he could not sing like him. Chandrababu had a unique vibration in his voice that helped him sing and deliver dialogues felicitously. He had teamed up with all the three heroes of his time viz MGR,Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan with equal levels of intimacy. He had been paired with actresses  like E.V.Saroja, Manorama and Madhavi. He had sung duets with established singers of his time like A.G.Rathna Mala, A.P.Komala,Jikki,P.Leela, Jamuna Rani and L.R.Eswari  besides joining great male voices like TMS  P.B.Srinivas and A.L.Raghavan for group songs.
    There would have been many actors doing a round in popular comic roles, but certainly, there would not have been an actor like Chandrababu,with a magnificent  flow of versatility, to find a historic place in Tamil Cinema. Chandrababu had mesmerized the audience by his voice and vibe and ever fixed his personality in the minds of the film goers. The wonders of this diversely talented comedian, will make him ever remain as one of the outstanding profiles of Tamil Cinema.
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Invigorating Rural Drama..



    Starting from the days of A.Bhimsingh,Krishnan Panju and K.S.Gopalakrishnan,rural themes have been electrifying if portrayed with veracity and vigour. Bharathi Raja and Bagyaraj gave many a rural hit to find a lasting place in the Tamil film archives.After Ameer's Paruthiveeran,here comes another worthy movie of Karthi Sivakumar with all the notable rural ingredients.At the outset it might look like a medley of Raj Kiran's Manickam,Kamal's Devar Magan, Vishal's Sandakozhi and Karthy's Paruthi Veeran .But then story lines can not help carrying an overlapping impact and times even narration would reflect a repeat feeling because it is very difficult to register freshness at all levels.What makes the movie special is the committed contribution of the entire cast maintaining the tempo almost with a consistent level of energy.
   The most unforgettable aspect of the film is the treatment of father-in-law/son-in-law relationship with its wide ranging ramifications of mistrust- turned trust, hatred- turned love and insult- turned regard.In this film it is not the father-in-law who undergoes the transformation but the son-in-law who moves closer to his father-in -law.Be it the role of a father or father-in-law, Raj Kiran now a days, is the perfect choice for such a role and he never fails to give a commendably impressive performance.Lakshmi Menon reminds us in certain frames, of her earlier performance in a similar rustic character in Sundara Pandian.Her filial attachment is a straight course and the display of a daughter's love and devotion to her father is refreshing in the sense there is no over doze of sentiment or melodramatic presentation.
   Sarala has successfully replaced Achi Manorama in a catchy role as the mother of the hero. Thambi Ramaiah's character is getting typecast. Karunas looks a bit exhausted and his strained role performance seems to be unusual of his calibre.The climax stunt scene is greatly pictured and  the spiritual orgy  showing Raj Kiran in wild ecstasy and oracle mood, creates an extraordinary feel of freshness with considerable  thrill and twist in narration bringing a memorable finale to the film. Karthi has fixed his body and mind for a focused delivery of the subtle and aggressive elements of his character. This is certainly another remarkable film of Karthi in the line of Paruthi Veeran,Naan Mahaan Alla,Payyaa and Madras. G.V.Prakash Kumar's music is truly a bonanza with a couple of vibrant songs and gripping background score.The rural feuds are not anything new.But what makes the film specially rural is the way it credibly establishes the rural routine with actors becoming part and parcel of the rural mould and narration not deviating anywhere, in projecting the rural soil with authenticity and understanding.Beyond all this, it is the invigorating style of narration that makes it an interesting rural drama.
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Antiheroes of Tamil Cinema.



     




Thirumbipaar.
Courtesy,The Hindu.








Ninaithadhai
                                                                                                  Mudippavan.


 













     A hero is one who occupies the central position and plays a pivotal role.A villain represents the   negative force against norms of goodness and works against the interest of the hero.But at times, there are central characters playing the main role with negative inspirations.We call such characters ant-heroes.Starting from the days of street shows and stage plays, we have come across such negative protagonists attracting the attention of creativity.This is how plays and films centralizing negative characters like Raavanan,Dhakshan,Dhuriyodhana from Hindu mythologies became impressive shows drawing the attention and appreciation of a vast section of the audience.To some extent the epic hero Kovalan could also be called an anti hero because of his disloyalty to his devoted wife Kannagi. One could find many other instances of negative heroes being popularized through dramatization and filming.Films in general and Tamil Cinema in particular, could be seen as being instrumental to the aesthetics of making anti heroes.
     An anti hero as presented on the stage and screen is usually a pest to one's family,society and country.He could be a womanizer,a rogue husband,a street rowdy,a drunken lout,an anti social or even a terrorist.No one could forget the worst kind of negative role that the veteran M.R.Radha magnificently performed in Rathak Kanneer that was one of the grandest shows both on stage and screen.As a virulently mischievous youth and as a crudely humiliating husband with little qualms, Radha made his role in that classic movie,inimitable and invincible.Ratha Kanneer was truly a celebration of the anti hero both in character formation and delivery and the entire credit for its massive victory naturally went to M.R.Radha.I think Tamil Cinema has hardly ever come across an inspiring prototype of the negative hero after that.
    No great Tamil heroes have shunned the temptation for starring as an anti hero.Perhaps,MGR could be an exception.For that matter, even MGR had played a negative character in one of his earliest movies 'Saalivaahanan',in which Ranjan was the main hero,Later when M.G.R.played dual roles in films like 'Neerum Neruppum' and 'Ninaithadhai Mudippavan' one of the two characters carried  negative implications.A similar example in dual roles was that of Sivaji Ganesan in the most famous film 'Uthama Puthiran'.MGR's  negative role was that of a sibling hater in 'Neerum Neruppum',and later he performed as a gangster head with pep and perfection, in 'Ninaithadhai Mudippavan'.In fact, between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,the latter had no obsession for always playing as the incarnation of virtue as MGR was fond of.This was wonderfully reflected by the powerful negative role performed by Sivaji Ganesan in Koondukkili,the one and only film wherein the two top heroes shared screen space with equal importance.
   Sivaji Ganesan did not mind playing the negative hero in films like 'Thirumbi Paar' and 'Pennin Peumai',at the beginning period of his career, after making his very first film 'Parasakthi' a blockbuster,in an amazingly positive role.The Chevalier as Parandhaaman, created indelible impressions as an anti hero,in Thirumbipaar. Sivaji Ganesan was a womanizer in 'Thirumbi Paar',a sibling beater in 'Pennin Perumai' and a venomous twin brother in 'Uthama Puthiran'.He had also performed as a drunken or irresponsible husband in movies like 'Punar Genmam' and 'Thanga Padhumai'.
    Gemini Ganesan who always played soft and romantic roles,performed brilliantly as the Casanova under the exemplary direction of K.Balachander in 'Naan Avanillai'. Previously Gemini was seen as a gangster head in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan'. In both the films, Gemini Ganesan vibrantly proved that he could do an anti hero role, with a flair for killing with fake kindness.The popularity and fascinating grip of Naan Avanillai got so stuck to the mind of film makers that decades later it was remade in two parts  with the same title and Jevan donned the role of Gemini Ganesan with equal charm and negative thrust.
    R.Muthuraman  who was a close associate and contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan spontaneously played an anti hero, both in soft and rebellious frames, in single and double hero  films like 'Avalukkenru Oer Manam','Namma Veettu Dheivam' and 'Maanavan'.Among the next generation heroes,Jai Shankar and Ravichandran appeared only as positive heroes except that Jaishankar played a negative role in the twin hero based film  Panjavarnakkili from the AVM banner. Sivakumar effectively donned the role of a deceitful protagonist in films like Saaindhaadammaa Saindhaadu and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri ,with Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth, respectively.
      Today's world class actor Kamalahasan came as a flirt and womanizer in a couple of films like 'Sollathaan Ninaikirein' and 'Pattaam Poochi'. Subsequently, as a misogynist Kamal gave an awesome performance in BarathiRaja's 'Sigappu Rojaakkal'.The other two heroes who impressed in the role of a psychic misogynist, were Pratap Pothan {Moodu Pani} and Mohan {Nooravadhu Naal}Mohan had also come as a happy go lucky youth flirting with many girls in Sujatha Cine Arts Silver Jubilee hit Vidhi.How he dodged the heroine and ditched her was beautifully pictured in that film.Here the heroine was not cowed down, but took up the legal fight with the help of a woman advocate and exposed the hero's negative side with clear evidence.
     The only hero who boldly and confidently took up negative roles frequently,was the Superstar. Moonru Muduchu,Gayathri,Thappu Thaalangal, Avargal, Billa and Polladhavan,were milestones in Rajinikanth's career and in all the six films [three by K.Balachander] his character formation saw different dimensions of the negative profile.As a ruffian,as a male chauvinist and sadistic husband,as a rowdy element,as a gangster and as a money lorn thug, it was a hateful list of roles offered to him and he performed all the roles,as the personification of evil, not bothering about his image.In fact, his image got a boost after his veritable and distinct performance as a baddie. In a double role as father and son,the voluptuous elder out beat the meek youngster in Balachander's Netrikkan.
     Recently,in a robotic role in Shankar's Endhiran, Rajinikanth rebuilt his lost empire of the anti hero. His villainy in Barathi Raja's Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,made him more of an anti hero than a proclaimed villain. Rajinikanth in short, could be called the best anti hero of Tamil Cinema.The other bold anti hero of Tamil Cinema is Sathya Raj who is equally undeterred by the compulsions of a positive hero image.His commendable role performance as an elderly hero with negative fundamentals in movies like Mudhal Vasantham,Pagal Nilavu and Amaidhippadai, will stay as imperishable assets of  Tamil Cinema.
     While Vijayakanth exuberantly performed negative roles such as a self obsessed,vindictive male, in films like Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri and Amman Koil Kizhakkaale, Prabu  conveniently escaped the itch for doing the antihero,though some of his earlier roles belonged to the uncouth category. Kartik Muthuraman the ever sparkling actor,performed a power packed vengeful role in Kan Simittum Neram. Baghyaraj also did a hatefully negative role in Kanniparuvathile.
     Among the new generation actors,Vijay was seen in 'Priyamudan' as a self bound romantic, to the extent of claiming by hook or crook, the girl he loved,Later Vijay was seen as a powerful negative element, in one of the two characters he played in Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. Ajith simply enjoyed his roles as a gambler and gangster head in Billa 1 and ll,and Mangaathaa. Besides these, Ajith had wonderfully performed earlier, as a wolfish twin brother in S.J.Surya's Vaali. Both Vijay and Ajith have powerfully carried on their negative shows, with energy and style. Barath was seen in a negative role in Chellame,as a psychologically pervert youth. Jeeva played brilliantly the character of a crooked,insensitive,guy with a lust for money in the film Yee .Nitin Satya and Nanda came as self centred and sadistic husbands in Satham Podadhe and Eeram,respectively.The chief characters played by Vijay Antony in Naan and Sudeep in Naan Yee were full of negative vibrations.
       The charm of  negativity is a unique product of creative imagination.This is how Satan is pictured as charmingly ensnaring Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.In fact it is Satan's character that affords a splendid dimension to Milton's Paradise Lost. Salman Rushdie's ''The Satanic Verses'', carried a mesmerizing effect, as much by its title, as by its content.As we all know, the positive side of life is a straight course,like the Gandhian path.But the negative exit with its zig zag ramifications, offers a vital scope for variety and complexity, like an integrated circuit with its opening and end points, not being perceptible to the common man's eye.The negatives of life, encompass an abnormal and extraordinary punch and it is this punch in the character development of anti heroes, that drives home an extraordinary appeal.This peculiar aspect keeps the audience, frequently enamoured of the darker side of what life is about and how one  lives it.The anti heroes of Tamil Cinema, are thus made up of sterner stuff,  as men capable of hurting with a gusto and getting admired for their way and style of hurting.
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