Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Film Maker of Crime,Justice and Punishment.


     To be consistently focused on a particular theme and genre is the mindset of some film makers. This is how A.Bhimsingh specialized on family drama and K.S Gopalakrishnan and Barathraja chose to set their films on the rural stage.In a similar way,director S.A.Chandrasekar loved to portray a huge galaxy of crime and punishment,in different forms,both within and outside the legal parameters. Starting from his very first film Sattam Oru Iruttarai,he has been concentrating on this most vital aspect of human life with storyline and action fitting the ambiance of criminality and justice in a variety of style in exposition.
   In exhibiting the world of crime and justice Vijayakanth became his right hand hero, fighting crimes with fire, sheen and gusto.Vijayakanth was not just the hero of his first film but nearly twenty of his films.Apart from Sattam Oru Iruttarai. some of their significant joint journeys on the road to justice were Sivappu Malargal,Sattam Oru Vilaiyaattu,Jaadhikoru Needhi, Needhiyin  Marupakkam, Enakku Naane Needhipathi, Needhikku Thandanai,Rajanadai,Rajadurai, Saatchi and Vetri,the last one produced by P.S.Veerappa,the last century's pride of villainy in Tamil Cinema.
   Even their other two popular films Sendhoora Paandi and Periyanna. were not free from their struggle for goodness and justice though these two films carried the romantic element of young heroes like Vijay [son of this director] in the former and Soorya in the latter.One could say that it was S.A.Chandrasekar who shaped the early film career of Vijayakanth.The other fact is like P.Neelakandan who directed a large number of MGR films,it is S.A.Chandrasekar who has directed Vijayakanth's role performance in a maximum number of movies.It should also be mentioned here that for the film Needhikku Thandanai, it was the DMK leader Dr.M.Karunanidhi who wrote the story.
    S.A.Chandrasekar's film journey with his son Vijay, consisted of romance,crime and punishment.  'Once More' was perhaps the only film, from the father and son combination, which was an exclusive tale of freak romance and had the pride of enrolling Sivaji Ganesan and  B.Sarojadevi, in meaty roles, pleasantly recalling their romantic experiences of the Ninteen Sixties' famous film Iruvar Ullam, directed by the most renowned film maker L.V.Prasad.
   All the other films of Vijay such as Nalaya Theerpu, his debut film as hero,and others like Vishnu, Deva,Rasigan,Maanbumigu Maanavan,Nenjinile and Aadhi showed the hero fighting injustice besides doing romance.But unfortunately,excepting Thamizhan, for which S.A.Chandrasekar wrote the screen play,almost all the films of Vijay directed by his father, did not do well at the box office. No doubt films like Aadhi,Nenjinile and Vishnu were all fast in narration and were not of the boring category.But it is a bitter truth that Vijay who takes the credit for giving the maximum hits among the younger heroes,could not play the hat trick in the case of his father.
   The most talked about film of S.A.Chandrasekar was the Superstar's blockbuster, Naan Sigappu Manidhan.It was a consummate narration of crime and justice neatly presenting the gruesome plight of a college professor who had to take law in his hands, to punish a most crooked and brutal anti social gang.The fascinating addition of Bagyaraj in the role of a private detective{ as CID Singaram}  was an added telling point, for the entertainment component of the film.The grandeur of the movie and its title were so deeply imprinted in the minds of the audience and the film makers that the same title was recently used for a Vishal movie, to treat an altogether different story line. S.A.Chandra Sekar's film had Sathyaraj playing the villain and Ambika as the pair of Rajinikanth.Released in the mid Nineteen Eighties, the film not only drew huge audience to the theatres, but also received very positive reviews.
     Like 'Once More' there were a couple of pure romances from the creative kitty of this director. They were Vasantharagam{another Vijayakanth film}and Nenjirukkumvarai.Pandhayam was also a love story but it was action packed. Some of his latest popular releases were Sattapadi Kutram and Touring Talkies.S.A.Chandrasekar has directed about eighty films of which I have included all the important films here.Besides being a reputed director, S.A.Chandrasekar is the proud father of a very talented mass hero, who has made victory as his trade mark, besides his name itself symbolizing victory.But the point here is that S.A.Chandrasekar has constantly made his thrust on a society, free from crime and illegality. In this respect, he could be fairly called the most prominent director of films, based on the core of crime and punishment.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Status of Heroines in Tamil Cinema..



    There is a famous saying in English literature, that Shakespeare the most renowned dramatist, has in his plays, no heroes, but heroines .This statement is perhaps the outcome of the fact that in many plays of Shakespeare,the women protagonists are more resourceful and inspiring, than the men characters.But in Tamil Cinema, the approach to women characters has generally been the other way round. The status of heroines in Tamil Cinema has hardly been ever different from that of Indian women in general and Tamil women in particular.
    Starting from the inception of the Tamil film industry, heroines were always on a slippery or unstable ground, when compared to heroes.The industry has mostly been hero-centric, with some heroes found dominating the stage, more than others.We have come across all time heroes, as well as short time heroes.But as far as heroines are concerned, a majority of them would not have reached the fifty films mark.Even before reaching that magic number, many of them would have been pushed to the role of elder sisters and mothers of  the all time heroes.
    This is how actresses like Pandaribai,G.Varalakshmi,S.Varalakshmi and even T.R.Rajakumari were seen within a short span of time as elder sisters and mothers of heroes and upcoming heroines. Except G.Varalakshmi,the other three heroines later acted as the mothers of MGR. Among the senior most actresses,excepting  Padmini, others such as V.N.Janaki, B.S.Saroja, Madhuri dhevi T.R.Rajakumari and P. Banumathi could not dream of doing at least fifty movies as heroines in Tamil.All these women were either married off and left the scene, or remained contented with roles other than that of heroines.
   The number of films released during the Nineteen forties and fifties, were considerably less than those released later.Perhaps this would also have restricted the opportunity for the heroines to maintain a stable position in the industry.Though competitions were much less then,because of film acting being considered as a taboo or even a stigma,some of the actresses like P. Banumadhi, Vaijayanthimala,Anjalidhevi and Padmini could make greater innings than others,because of their singing or dancing calibre. Of these women, Vaijayanthimala could find a permanent place in Bollywood, after doing not less than a dozen films in Tamil with the topmost heroes of Tamil Cinema, like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan.
     Padmini who achieved stardom in Tamil Cinema also had a meaningful stint in Hindi films. Padmini  was perhaps the first heroine, who found a status for herself as a longstanding heroine in the Tamil film industry.This was because,her contemporary heroine P. Banumathi was shuttling between Telugu and Tamil films, making a more vital impact on Telugu cinema,as  her mother tongue being Telugu. Anjalidevi was also in a similar position.
    After Padmini,it is known to all those well versed with information on Tamil films, that it was four other actresses who found an enviable place in Tamil Cinema, as the most outstanding heroines.They were,Savithri,Sarojadevi,K.R.Vijaya and J.Jeyalalitha. All the other heroines, despite some of them being greatly talented and being award winners, have stayed way far behind these four women.One of the vital objectives of this article is to throw light on the mettle of  some such heroines, whose contribution to Tamil Cinema could have been brief but solidly memorable.
    The value of a heroine till the mid Seventies, was in fact measured by their ability to withstand for a longer period, as the favoured heroines of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan.MGR's pet heroines from the middle Nineteen Fifties were,P.Banumathi,Sarojadevi,Jeyalalitha, Manjula and Latha. Here and there he would have made some adjustments for other heroines like Savithri K.R.Vijaya and Vanisree. Whereas Sivaji Ganesan had a huger list of heroines, with himself being cast as hero.Besides his most frequent heroines like Padmini,K.R.Vijaya and Jeyalalitha,he would have been paired with' heroines like Sowkar Janaki, Devika, Vanisree, Manjula and Usha Nandini,He would also have opted for younger heroines like, Sujatha, Srividhya,Sripriya, Saritha,Ambika and Radha.
    However,in spite of domination of heroes and hero based stories, once a way, there came films based on the importance and achievements of women.There were hits like Penn,Adhisia Penn, Adutha Veettu Penn,Naanum Oru Penn, Pudhumai Penn,Mangaiyar Thilagam, Bagyalakshmi, Kalathur Kannamma,Annai,Chithi,Kula Vilakku,Namma Veetu Lakshmi, Vaani Raani, Thaamarai Nenjam, ,Mayor Meenakshi,Vandhaale Maharaasi Avalukkenru Oer Manam, Aval Oru Thodar Kadhai and so on.There were also movies bearing women's name as titles such as Devaki,Dr.Savithri,Saratha, Karpagam, Malathi, Vaijayanthi IPS Pavithra and Bhavani.All these films distinctly and poignantly, presented the struggles and accomplishments of different types of women making a tremendous mark, both at the domestic fold and in their career field.The variety in story and character formation, handled with imagination and intelligence, by amazingly qualified film makers, made these films a wonderful treat for the viewers.
    Moreover, unlike MGR, in many of the Chevalier's films, the heroines would not remain as mere  glamour pieces but would substantially emote to claim their valued position, as heroines adorning meaningful roles.Films like Mangayar Thilagam, Iru Malargal,Kai Kodutha Dheivam, Engirundho Vandhaal,Savaale Samaali,Sivagaamiyin Selvan,Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal and Mudhal Mariyaadhai would prove the fact that Sivaji Ganesan would ever like to draw a line for competition and appreciate the talent of the heroines exhibited well in his films.
    Actresses like Devika and Vanisri made a telling impact on the Tamil audience for more than fifteen years, though they would not have ruled Tamil Cinema with more number of films,like K.R.Vijaya and Jeyalalitha.No one can forget Devika's sterling performance in films like Nenjil Oer Aalayam, Aandavan Kattalai,Karnan, Sumaithaangi and Vaazhkai Padagu.She had also acted in films like Paava Mannippu, Annai Illam,Muradan Muthu,Anbukkarangal,Pazhani and Bale Pandia with Sivaji Ganesan. The only movie she did as MGR's pair was Aanandha Jothi.She was known for admirable charm and grace, always fond of reflecting beautifully, the spirit of submissive womanhood.She could not be thought of playing feminist roles and she was a fascinating pair of Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan and Muthuraman Notwithstanding her enchanting looks and subdued acting skills, she could not reach the status of heroine stardom.
    The other vibrant and  ebullient performer Vanisri deserves a commendable place for her remarkable performance in films like Uyarndha Manidhan,Vasantha Maaligai,Vaani Raani and Kulama Gunama.Resembling Savithri, in appearance and acting style, to a great extent, she was a perfect match for Sivaji Ganesan though she would have paired with Jai Shankar in more number of movies.She had also been the heroine of MGR, in films like Kannan En Kaadhalan,Thalaivan and Oorukku Uzhaippavan. But she is remembered for her exuberant performance in Balachander's beautiful films Velli Vizha and Thaamarai Nenjam[in which she and Sarojadevi as intimate friends, were trying to outwit each other in giving up their love interest for the sake of the other].She was a sparkling and sprightly performer, but unfortunately she focused more on Telugu films like P.Banumadhi.
    There were a few other heroines, who made a brief but brilliant stint in Tamil films.Take for instance,the National award winner Oorvasi Saradha, whose remarkable role performance in Thulaabaaram still remains green in our memory.In reflecting the mood of anguish and agony she remained unbeatable.Starting from Kungumam,she was seen growing up the ladder of acting, with an extraordinary strength to emote beautifully and powerfully. She acted as the younger sister of both Sivaji Ganesan{Gnana Oli}and MGR{Ninaithathai Mudippavan} and was last seen as the unwed mother of the Superstar in AVM's Mr.Bharath.
   There were two great Kannada artists who made a striking mark in the minds of the Tamil audience. They were Barathi Vishnuvardhan and Jeyanthi.The latter was a Balachander favourite and performed amazingly with the able guidance of her mentor, in films like Edhir Neechal, Punnagai,Iru Kodugal,Velli Vizha and Baamaa Vijayam. She could adeptly handle comic and grief stricken roles with equal efficacy and found a lasting place in Tamil Cinema, through her short but scintillating verbal throw and display of emotions. Her ever grumbling tone with a nasal touch, was her special asset.
    Bharathi was a perfect pair of Jai Shankar and Ravichandran. If B.Sarojadevi resembled Vijayanthi mala to some extent,Bharathi looked like Sarojadevi. Though she could not attain the dream girl status,Bharathi made a sterling performance in Avalukkenru Oer Manam,under the ace direction of Sridhar.She was the second heroine in MGR's Nadodi and was paired with Sivaji Ganesan in T.R.Ramanna's Thanga Surangam. But her Tamil dialogue delivery could not escape the intrusion of her mother tongue Kannada.She was also a favourite of the Malayalam film industry and made a striking role performance in Mohanlal's Narasimham.
   Saritha and Archana whose black complexion did not deter their classic levels of acting,were wonderfully groomed by directors like Balachander and Balu Mahendra.While Saritha got an an award for her unique show in Agni Saatchi,her other Balachander films like Achamillai Achamillai and Thanneer Thanneer were great hits.Later she did a remarkable role in Sivaji Ganesan's Keezh Vaanam Siakkum as the latter's daughter-in-law.Her belligerant performance in Mouna Geedhangal would have been a tough challenge for Bhagyaraj, the most cheerful face of Tamil Cinema.ForArchana,the award for her performance in Balu Mahendra's Veedu, was a highly deserving point.Both these women overcame their shortcomings in appearance by an admirable delivery of emotion -packed and refined performance of well- marked characters.
    Sowkar Janaki who also belongs to this category of less glamorous heroines, was never lagging behind men in her portrayal of highly challenging roles.In most of her roles, as Sivaji Ganesan's pair,she could noticeably give him tough times, in competing with him, in films like Padikkadha Medhai,Paar Magale Paar,Motor Sundaram Pillai,Paarthaal Pasitheerum and Uyarndha Manidhan.She would also have been a challenge for  Veteran K.Balachander in casually creating records  both as a sobre and comic performer in films like Iru Kodugal, Kaaviya Thalaivi, Edhir Neechal,Bhaama Vijayam and Thillu Mullu.I would call her an encyclopedia of acting, because her performance was a combination of modesty and arrogance,love and hatred,humour and grief.
    Kaanchana,whose beauty earned her a rightful place in Tamil Cinema,has acted with MGR, Sivaji and Gemini,though in MGR's films she was only the second heroine.Her best show was in movies of the thriller genre such as Adhe Kangal,Saanthi Nilayam and Ponnu Mappillai. Sivantha Mann with Sivaji Ganesan could be called her biggest show of performance with utmost reach.She was also good at the comedy spot, in films like Kaadhalikka Neramillai, Bhama Vijayam and Utharavinri Ulleva.She was the greatest scoring point of the mythological film Veera Abhimanyu.
     Lakshmi the other great performer, did not just remain a glamour piece though some of her earlier films with Sivakumar, Jaishankar and Ravichandran carried the glamour stamp.But she has to her credit, films like Jeevanaamsam,Mannippu,Kannippenn,Nootrukku Nooru, Veettukku Veedu, Akkarai Pachai,Unakkaaga Naan,Thiaagam and the most magnificent list of movies like Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal,Oru Nadigai Naadgam Paarkiraal,Sirai and Samsaaram Adhu zminsaaram.No other actress can display a mood of suppressed emotions as enchantingly as Lakshmi.Even Sujatha and Sri Vidhya will occupy only the second position in this regard.
    Successive heroines like Sujatha,Srividhya, Jeyachitra Sumithra,Sridevi and Sri Priya held the stage for more than a decade as popular heroines of Tamil Cinema.Of these Sridevi created a magic spell in Kamalahasan's films like Padhinaaru Vayadhinile, Moonru Mudichu,Sigappu Rojaakkal, Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu, Moonraam Pirai[one of her best roles] and Vaazhve Maayam.She would have acted the maximum number of films with Kamalahasan as Padmini and K.R.Vijaya did with Sivaji Ganesan. But later she moved to Bollywood to succeed the dream girl status of Hemamalini,for a while.Excepting Dharma Yudham and Jaani,her films with Rajinikanth were more on the glamour side.May be, if she had stayed back with the Tamil film industry she would have attained a place equal to that of K.R.Vijaya and Jeyalalitha. Her prominence in Bollywood literally pulled her away from Tamil Cinema,
    Though Sujatha and Sripriya firmly stuck to the ground realities of acting,Sujatha like Sri Vidhya and Sumithra took up mother roles faster and Sri Priya who after a dozen big entries with Kamal and Rajini almost bade goodbye to Cinema.Similarly Jeyachitra was a part of quite a few successful films of Jai Shankar [mostly comedies] and Sivakumar [Sollathaan Ninaikirein Ponnukku Thanga Manasu and Vellikkizhamai Viradham need a special mention]left the centre stage after a decade of busy acting schedule, to reappear later as the arrogant mother of heroines in a couple of films.
     From Nineteen Eighties onward,there was an exodus of actresses claiming special heroine status based on looks, aptitude and motivation for performance in terms of grace, glamour, emotion and courage .Some of them like Ambika, Radha, Radhika, Revathi, Meena, Kushbu, Simran and Jyothika got themselves imprinted in the minds of the audience as favourites and passionate symbols of woman- hood. Other actresses like Sulakshana,Sukanya, Poornima Jeyaram, Suhasini, Ramya Krishnan Suvalakshmi, Devayani and Kausalya, who made themselves compactly impressive in traditional roles, soon settled down in family life or moved to other film industries like Malayalam or Telugu. Sulakshana's Thooral Ninnupochu, Sukanya's Walter Vetrivel and Chinna Gounder,Poornima's Darling Darling and Thanga Magan,Suhasini's Gopurangal Saaivadhillai and Sindhu Bhairavi, Suvalakshmi's Aaasai and Devayani's Kaadhal Kottai and Suriya Vamsam are their special entries not only for their personal remembrance but for the memory of the Tamil audience.Several others like Sneha and Trisha known for their cute looks of feminine fitness have not yet made any special impact on account of yet wanting to do roles of significance and value.
    While Ambika's initial, innings were similar to that of Sri Vidhya, she had more opportunities to perform well, in films like Sakalakala Vallaban,Andha Yezhu Naatkal,Naan Paadum Paadal, Padikkadhavan and Vaazhkai,the film in which she was paired with Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan, Radha who created a telling impact in her very first film Alaigal Oivadhillai continued her journey on the glamour side with actors like Rajinikant,Kamalahasan,Karthik and Sathyaraj. But the film Mudhal Mariyadhai with Sivaji Ganesan established the fact that she was an excellent actor supported by strength of emotions and feminine independence.Her other great film was Engeyo Kettakural with Rajinikanth,at the initial spell of her acting career.
     Rathika was literally a firebrand during the beginning period of her acting journey.But her subdued acting grandeur got a face lift in films like Ninaivu Chinnam,Poonthotta Kaaval kaaran, Nallavanukku Nallavan,Sippikkul Muthu,Thaavani Kanavugal,Keladi Kanmani, Kizhakku Cheemaiyile, and Pasumpon.Her fiery acting stamina, was beautifully displayed in films like Oorkaavalan,Poisaatchi and Jeans. 
    Revathi ,one of the finest R heroines of Bharathiraja,could be called an outstanding performer like Lakshmi,with regard to suppressing emotions but at the same time setting her firm ground of powerful feminine stand well understood, through her focused  role delivery. Films like Man Vaasanai,Pudhumai Penn,Kizhakku Vaasal,Mouna Raagam,Devar Magan,and Marubadiyum are the hallmarks of her power of feminist grace expressed either clearly or in a subtle style.At the same time, films like Oru Kaidhiyin Diary and Punnagai Mannanan would demonstrate her capacity for smart portrayal of roles.In reflecting pathos she would stand out as  the best, in films like Kai Kodukkum Kai and Vaidhehi Kaathirundhaal.
     Simran and Jyothika are the other two impressive heroines of Tamil Cinema.Simran was of course more on the glamour side but in expressing suppressed anguish and anger she has expressed a special identity for herself through films like Thullaadha Manamum Thullum, Vaali,Kannedhire Thonrinaal, Arasu,Ezhumalai and Natpukkaaga.Her proven dancing credentials were an asset to Tamil cinema like those of Ramba.Jyothika has ever been her original stuff in powerful delivery of emotions and dialogues in the line of Savithri and K.R.Vijaya. Her performance in Chandramugi, Mozhi and 36 Vayadhinile, are her best scores.She is one actress capable of evoking a mood of self dignity of womanhood in the midst of grief and a sense of longing for being accepted for what she deserves, as an individual, rather than as a woman treated on conditions of gender equations.
     Kushbu has  been adored in Tamil Nadu as a wonderful actress of brilliant charm and glamour and her roles in films like Chinna Thambi,Annamalai,Varusham 16,Kizhakku Vaasal Naattaamai and several others have made her part and parcel of the Tamil soil, though her origins belong to the Northern part of India. Meena a distinguished  heroine of sweetness, charm and mellowed mode of acting, has been a fascinating part of Tamil Cinema from her childhood.As a child artist,she won the hearts of the audience, through her captivating performance in Anbulla Rajinikanth, as the Superstar's fan and later co starred with him, in films like Ejamaan,Veera and Muthu.Her enchanting appearance could be tagged to her roles in films like Sethupathi IPS, Maaman Magal,Muthu,Avvai Shanmugi and Harischandra.As a modest character she has been fine in Bharathi Kannamma,Oru Oorla Oru Rajakumari and Aanandha Poongaatre.She has sufficiently proved that she is a right mix of grace, modesty, sweetness and glamour.Malayalam Cinema has been meaningfully utilizing her talents and her latest entry in this regard, is her charming and impressive role play in Drishyam.
    Whereas Roja and Ramba have been categorically on the glamour track, though the former has come out with creditable performance in films like Unnidathil Ennai Koduthein,Maakal Aatchi and Vallal.The new millennium has a long list of newer addition of heroines getting into the groove of genuine acting.to carry forward the objectives of Tamil Cinema to more challenging heights and greater glory.Two dynamic actresses whom this blog would like to glorify are Fadafat Jeyalakshmi and Soundarya,who died young.
    Though the world is by and large in the grip of macho might and grip,many women have shown that they are as great as an MGR or Sivajiganesan,a Rajinikanth  or Kamalahasan a Vijay or Ajith.But most of these heroines could not see their one hundredth film as heroes do. What we need is a frequent release of purely heroine- oriented films, with a  hearty thrust on the prominence of womanhood, in forming the story base and characters that could outshine the role of heroes.
    But such things happen rarely, like oasis in a desert.It is the lack of adaptability for and acceptance of,what a heroine deserves, that pulls her down to the secondary position.That is why, we have no heroines but heroes. That is why, we have not frequently come across immortal heroines like Padmini, Savithri, Sarojadevi, K.R.Vijaya and Jeyalaitha.It is this immortality that will give meaning and status to the heroines of Tamil Cinema.Otherwise the status of heroines will stay where it is,just on the cosmetic line of film making, adding fleeting moments of glory to the physical side of womanhood, at the cost of its emotional and intellectual niceties.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Felicitous Film Maker of Family Dramas.

     During the early years of Tamil Cinema, its focus was mostly on family dramas.Here and there we would have come across historical or mythological films and a few thrillers.Family sentiment was the strong core of Indian cinema in general, because of the prevalence of the joint family system and the enormous faith cherished by everyone in the traditional core values of family life.Spouses deriving solace from each other,filial bond,parental love,sibling intimacy and an unfailing association with the paternal and maternal relatives which formed the base of family life, were invariably passed on to the larger than life events on the big screen.
    There were at least half a dozen film directors who had specialized in family drama.Of these,the duo Krishnan Panju, A.Bhimsingh and K.S.Gopalakrishnan were brilliant film makers. While others dealt with family stories with other significant elements such as rural charm, romance and the impact of society on family life, it was A.Bhimsingh who always clicked his camera intensely into every nook and corner of the family routine.The emphasis on family unity, was always a vital parameter of his depiction of family dramas.
    What made Bhimsingh's narration outstanding, was the total absence of artificiality in story telling, character delineation and dialogue delivery.One could always feel that the happenings on the screen were happenings in real life.There was nothing overdone, to call for an assessment of  melodramatic. content,In other words all that happened in a Bhimsingh film could very well happen in each one's family.It is this genuineness in presentation, that made the release of his films the most desired  occasion for theatre visits.
    Starting from his earlier innings such as Ammaiyappan and President Panjaksharam[both starring S.S.Rajendran] it was a race of family emotions supported or disturbed either by the family formation or by external aspects such as career and friendship.The intrusion of friendship into family life as a strengthening bond,was strikingly noticed in films like Padhi Bakthi and Paarthaal Pasitheerum.Films like Paava Mannippu, Paasamalar and Bhandha Paasam discussed  intimate sibling love, Paalum Pazhamum beautifully presented the profound layers of love between husband and wife. Pachai Vilakku, narrated the sad story of an Engine driver[again played by Sivaji Ganesan] of the Indian Railways, who went to the extent of giving up his life, in order to save a running train and its passengers, from the sabotage caused by an anti social wing.
    Whereas, Padikkadha Medhai and Paar Magale Paar were exuberant family dramas, with whole packed emotions, arising from conflicting interests between parents and children as pillars of the joint family fold.Padikkaadha Medhai with a huge cluster of characters, poignantly portrayed the plight of a wealthy family falling into ruins all of a sudden.The consequences of the family's fall were so grievous, that the children and parents were instantly disconnected from the family tree. Sivaji Ganesan as an adopted member of the family, played a key role in reuniting the family members after the pathetic death of the family patriarch.Each and every scene was so true to life, that those who watched the film would still be feeling its impact as an everlasting life experience.
     In Paar Magale Paar, Sivaji Ganesan himself was seen as an aristocratic and status conscious father whose obsession for wealth was awaiting humiliation at the sight of the fact, that one of his two daughters was actually the offspring of a servant woman.The weight of the story lay in the difficulty in tracing the identity of that particular daughter.The confusion was actually caused in the maternity ward, by the accidental death of the nurse, who mixed up the two new born kids while giving them their first bath.The film was a memorable event on the screen with Sivaji Ganesan and Sowcar Janaki as husband and wife, creating the greatest family drama by their gripping performance.
    Baagapirivinai was a still grander show of family experience with members of two generations of a joint family, living together and vested interests trying to break the roots of the grand family, by insisting upon partition of the joint family's wealth and resources.Films like Pazhani,Bhandha Paasam and Padithaal Mattum Podhuma confined the action component to the inner family circle with one or more of the siblings growing either selfish or greedy or suspicious.Almost all these films were award winners either drawing the national award or Certificate of Merit from the Government of India.
    Like A.P Nagarajan who specialized in myths and spiritualism and like K.S.Gopalakrishnan who stuck firmly to rural story backgrounds,,A.Bhimsingh devoutly cherished the core and depth of family drama to take it passionately to the audience, without any pretension what so ever.Music was another amazing supporting factor of all the films of A.Bhimsingh, with the duo Viswanathan Ramamurthy or K.V.Mahadevan stealing the hearts of film goers, with soul sustaining songs.Above all, what made a Bhimsingh  film stand up straight and greet the mood of the audience, was the supreme presence of Sivaji Ganesan as hero, heightening and fulfilling the expectations of the audience with grace, grandeur and governing participation.
    All the films mentioned in the previous paragraphs, were Sivaji starring blockbusters with the prominent support of the other hero Gemini Ganesan or a few other heroes like S.S.Rajendran and R.Muthuraman.His other Sivaj Ganesan films include Raja Rani,Naane Raja, Petramanam,Shanthi, Senthamarai,Paalaadai and Paadhukaappu. No one can say if Bhimsingh's films guaranteed the growth trajectory of Sivaji Ganesan,or if the latter's presence and role play enhanced the quality and ensured the victory of those movies.Whatever be the contention, it is an established fact, that all films of A.Bhimsingh with Sivaji leading the show, were inimitable family dramas.
      Bhimsingh's prominent Gemini Ganesan films were,Thirumanam, Kalathur Kannamma and Ponnu Vilaiyum Bhoomi. Kalathur Kannamma takes the credit for introducing Kamalahasan as a child artist besides being one of the most remembered films of Gemini Ganesan.Thirumanam was a highly talked about movie.Some of the other different films of this high profile director were, Sahodhari, Paadha Poojai,Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal. The last two were based on the two famous novels of Jeyakanthan. Sahodhari will always be remembered as a great movie with the remarkable performance and songs of Chandrababu.Paadha Poojai had Sivakumar and Jeyachitra in the lead roles.An absolutely different film of Bhimsingh was Saadhu Mirandaal, with T.R.Ramachandran playing a neat role.It was a thriller kind of film and could be called a deviation from the professed path of film making, of this great director.
    Two specially distinct features of Bhimsingh's film career were, his preference for the Tamil letter 'рок'as the fist letter of a number of his films and his obvious avoidance of MGR as the hero of any of his films.Though no specific reason could be attributed to this rejection, the fact remains that MGR has not acted in any of his films.Setting aside these observations,it should be categorically mentioned here, that no other film director in Tamil, has gone deeper into the intricacies of a well founded institution, called family.In upholding family values and in portraying characters of exemplary virtues and behavioural patterns,A.Bhimsingh always created records of kind, not just for the sake of winning awards, but positively for the purpose of creating a classic sense of order and discipline in  the family foundation, with its inherent fundamentals of love,understanding,mutual concern and sacrifice.In portraying the true spirit of family objectives, it was A.Bhimsingh who was found to be enjoying what he was trying to project on the screen.It is this innate felicity in narrating family stories, that made him, the master film maker, of family dramas.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fantasy Tiger, Fails to Pounce.

    Gorgeous settings,magnificent locales,exquisite presentation of the hero and his charming girl,impressive underplay of villainy by Sudeep,fascinatingly horrid reappearance of Sridevi on Tamil screen after a long spell,convincing graphics,gripping stunt scenes and credible Hollywood style of scenic display,are certainly the most positive features of Actor Vijay's latest film Puli.A couple of throbbing dancing numbers make Devi Prasad's musical core something special.Father Vijay roars and pounces more ferociously than son Vijay. But beyond these the film seems to lack tempo and ceases to entertain with consistency.It really made me long for the film 'Vedhala Ulagam' released by the AVM banner in 1948,starring actor singer T.R.Mahalingam.
  'Puli' altogether seems to be a medley of quite a few Hollywood films including the Academy Award winner Brave Heart and the Harry Potter series.Being stuffed with horror elements in narration it can not be a worthy watch for kids.Being neither a complete supernatural fiction nor a totally out -of -reality narration, it does not seem to reach adults, in its intended form.May be teenagers who are neither free from childhood fantasies,nor  have realized adulthood facts, will enjoy this sandwich.
   Being an ardent lover of actor Vijay's films, I was happy when he became careful in choosing his roles and story lines, after a series of failures like Kuruvi,Villu and Sura.That he was able to repeat his hat trick of victory through movies like Kavalan,Velayudham,Thuppakki and Kathi,boosted his capacity for giving only hits.In fact, the tiger in Vettaikaran roared and pounced much more powerfully than this Puli.
   After seeing this film, two points were nagging my mind.Firstly,why should Vijay think of playing such a role, which does not fit him in an acceptable profile?Secondly why should director Chimbu Deven resort to such an alien kind of theme and story line, which obviously lacks relevance, compactness and vigour in its over all impact.Like the character of Vijayakumar which has been wasted without any dialogue delivery,befitting the veteran's capacity for grandeur,huge funds seem to have been wasted in a futile exercise in building this exhaustive world of fantasy. Chimbudeven's portrayal and presentation of Torture King Pulikesi XXlll, was far more enchanting and entertaining than this disappointing 'extravaganza'.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Two Vijay Super Singer Judges, as Playback Singers.

    Vijay Super Singer competitions for seniors and juniors have been making remarkable records in many  aspects.One of its most interesting features is the composition of its judges.The usual bench consists of popular playback singers like Mano,Srinivas,Unnikrishnan,K.SChitra and Sujatha Mphan besides the periodical addition of Usha Didi and T.L.Maharajan. This blog already carries an article on Mano in comparison with S.P.Balasubramanyam.The objective of the present article is to discuss the singing style and impact of Srinivas and Unnikrishnan,leaving the other four, for independent  or comparative inclusion in later articles, under different headings.
    These two singers have been brought under a comparative discussion because both Srinivas and Unnikrishnan made their entry into Tamil Cinema with the A.R.Rehaman label and both made their first shots distinctly memorable.The songs that made them special were ''Manamadhura Maamarathu' from Minsaara Kanavu and ''Ennavale'' from Kaadhalan the former sung by Srinivas and the latter by Unnikrishnan.
    Interestingly,Unnikrihnan who is about six years younger than Srinivas  made his entry first and he also joined Srinivas. for his first song in Minsaarakanavu. Unnikrishnan's voice is as modest as he is,without claiming to be too big on any count,but at the same time making a powerful and indelible impression on the listener.It is a clear, soothing, digging and forceful voice capable of venting a galaxy of emotions at one go.Be it 'Ennavale' or the succeeding songs like 'Uyirum Neeye Uravum Neeye' {Pavithra}'Narumugaiye'{Iruvar}'Meenamma' {Aasai} 'Inninisaipaadivarum'{Thulaadha Manamum Thyullum}'Thenmerku Paruva Kaatru' {Movie with the same title }and'Manam Virumbudhe Unnai'{Nerukku Ner} 'Roja Poondhottam'{Kannukkul Nilavu}they were all felicitously, enchanting, emotional and romantic melodies.
    Whereas,'Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga'{Kadhal Kottai}'Roja Roja' {Kadhalar Dhinam}and 'Maargazhi Thingal Allava' {Sangamam}were profound emotional outbursts. There were also great energizing numbers like 'Sonia Sonia' {Ratchagan}'Selayile Veedu Kattavaa' {Aval Varuvaalaa } 'Haire Haire Hairabba'{Jeans}'Mayilu Mayily Mayilamma'{VIP}'Nilavai Konduva' [Vaali} 'Ivan Yaaro'{Minnale}and 'Vennilaa' [Kushi}.In rendering all his songs,Unni krishnan proved his depth and exuberance in pouring forth contextually valid emotions, with a rare kind of style and depth in presentation.There were many more mesmerizing songs of Unnikrishnan, under the music composition of eminent composers like A.R.Rehaman, Ilayaraja,Deva,S.A.Rajkumar and Harris Jeyaraj.
    Unlike Unnikrishnan,Srinivas was not fortunate in lending his scintillating voice, for many block busters.Most of his songs were  for average, or, to-be forgotten films.But there were great hit songs like'Yenge Enadhu Kavidhai'{Kandukondein Kandukondein} Maha Ganapadhi {Amarkalam} Kaalai Arumbi{Kanaa Kandein}'Minsaara Kanna'{Padayappa}and'Apple Penne Needhaano{Roja Koottam} Snehidhane {Alai Payudhe} 'Mouname {Mozhi}' Yarumilaa'{Kaavia Thalaivan}'that carried verry significant waves with music lovers.The song 'En Uyire' from the film Uyire could pierce the soul with an incomparable sense of anguish and agony. Songs like 'Aalangatti mazhai{Tenaly}'En Mannava' {Linga}'Nenjam Enum oorinile' {Aaru}' 'Enrenrum Punnagai'{Alai Paudhe}are some of the most vibrating numbers of this penetrating singer.
    Srinivas has a  travelling voice, similar to that of Hariharan and he is strikingly capable of juggling with his own voice.He is a self exploring singer, with an outstanding musical research attitude, with regard to the conception and delivery of tunes and the effective role play of the human voice,in harmony with the instruments.However in my opinion, the opportunities that came in the way of Unnikrishnan, were more fascinating and dynamic, in delivering quality music and he made the best use of them.On the other hand, despite his tremendous voice potential and singing ability, similar opportunities did not come in the way of Srinivas and there lies the gap between the two,as far as popularity and larger acceptance of  their film songs are concerned.
    Both Unni and Srinivas have an immensely power packed voice.Both have the positive base of their expertise in carnatic/classical music.No one can say 'no' to their songs, because they have all the captivating ingredients involved in the rendition of songs, by their endearing voices.As judges at the Vijay Super Singer programmes,it is Srinivas who always steals the show.But as a singer it is Unni who has stolen the imagination of the audience, by giving more memorable songs for a large number of very popular films.As a commoner,I am always for the songs of both these fabulous voices.It is left to a voice expert like Mr.Anand Vaidyanathan to say, whose voice characteristics can be explored again and again, for the presentation of mind blowing musical magic, of varied kinds.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An Eight Decade Old, Young Comedian.


     Tamil Cinema can be proud of its comedians who have shown a genuine capacity for immeasurable humour.Starting from N.S.Krishnan,we have come across a huge line of comedy makers like T.S.Dorairaj,K.A.Thangavelu,J.P.Chandrababu,A.Karunanidhi,Kuladheivam Rajagopal, Nagesh, Cho Ramasamy,Thengai Srinivasan, Surulirajan,S.V.Shekar,Y.G.Mahendran, Goundamani, Senthil, Janagaraj, Vivek, Vadivelu, M.S.Bhaskar, Karunas, Santhanam and an upcoming group of new comedians that includes Soori.
     Besides these names we have a list of second rung comedians such as Kottaapuli Jeyaraman, Ezhumalai,Friend Ramasamy, Bakoda Kadhar,Appulachari aka Ramarao,Neelu,Mouli,Usilai Mani, Omakuchi Narasimhan,Madhan Babu, Charlie,Cinni Jeyanth, Paandu, Singamuthu,Mayiluswamy Balaji, and Kanja Karuppu.Among these,Charlie,Singamuthu and Mayiluswami have contributed significant laughter moments in a number of films in combination with front line team mates Vadivelu and Vivek.
    Beyond all these names, there is one comedian who has been associated with Tamil Comedy on the big screen, for fifty years and on the small screen for quite some time.This comedian who set his foot into Tamil Cinema with the blessings of  director Sridhar, in his Vennira Aadai,carries his first film title as his name prefix and has silently created a record of acting in more than one hundred films.
   Vennira Aadai Moorthy as he is known to everybody close to Tamil Cinema,is nearing eighty years of age..But his sense of humour is ever in its ebullient youth.His peculiar lip[bilabial] sounds,odd physical gestures and double meaning dialogues, make him a comedian of special breed.Comedians are of two kinds.The first brand of comedians can by themselves, set the stage for humour and evoke laughter sessions,either with or without the support of others.
    Most of these comedians mentioned in my first list, would hold an outstanding position in this regard. A.Karunanidhi could not succeed as much as other comedians of his period. Senthil might also be an exception because without Goundamani it would be difficult for him to run the show.But the second rung comedians,mostly lend the supporting hand to their team leading comedian.At times, some of them even overtake their lead comedians as Mayiluswami and Charlie did with Vivek in Dhool and Thenkasippattanam respectively, or as Singamuthu used to outshine Vadivelu in several films.
    Contrary to the comedians of the first and second types,it is Vennira Aadai Moorthy who has made it possible that there could be a breed of third type of comedians standing on their own, by neither leading a team nor supporting it.Here is a comedian who will be part of a team, but be a main source of humour and not a sidekick of the leading comedian.He will demand his position in a team, simply by his independent level of role play and at times command over others, either by his age factor, or by his cheeky and poking laughter generation with absolute time sense.Like V.K.Ramasamy, he would abuse the other leading comedians by terms such as Moodhevi [ugly spirit]and Mundam[torso] and will get his abuses meekly accepted by others.
    Vulgarity which was at times a part of the comedy show of veteran actor V.K.Ramasamy,  is a pet concept of humour for Moorthy too.But unlike in V.K.Ramasamy where one could rule out the possibility of innocence, Moorthy could stand as a symbol of innocence, even if he is foul mouthed. This is because his face carries a semblance of innocence and very often he lets out only half of the cat out of the bag and the hidden part of the cat, will save him from the blame of exposing the vulgar sight.In other words, Moorthy is always capable of safeguarding his half understood, double meaning dialogues, by clothing them with his ready made garment of saner words, that would change an indecent situation in to a perfectly decent and acceptable context.It is in this aspect of special humour promotion, that Moorthy always remains unbeatable.
    Moorthy's deceptive eyes are his boon, making him the right choice of''to believe or not to believe''  roles.Equally,in the role of a crack or a gullible person{as he memorably did in Nadikan},no one can excel Moorthy's performance.He can casually be taken for a ride by his pupils if he were a school or college teacher, or even as the head of an educational institution.As a hostel warden, he would be a laughing stock.He is a perfect bet for the role of a hen pecked husband.His other cake -walk roles are those of a tout,a deceptive sage and a helpless cop.Some of his movies that would instantly knock at our memory doors, are Kaasedhaan Kadavulada, Nadigan, Aval Varuvaalaa,M.Kumaran S/O Maha lakshmi,Gopala Gopala. Vaadhiyaar, Vedham,Vallakkottai and Manam Kotthi Paravai. Moorthy may not be fit for a solo comedy show; but he is always a solo comedian in the midst of others, by stamping firmly on the ground with his feet, for a great show of an ever agile, young sense of humour. Moorthy's experience in Tamil Cinema, is fifty ears old.However,taking his actual age into account, he can rightly be called an eight decade old, young comedian.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Distinguished Director Duo of Tamil Cinema.

       Two people working together in any field, especially in the field of Cinema, is not anything new. For instance, in the field of film music,we have come across illustrious music composers like Shankar Jaikishan ruling Hindi Cinema, for decades.Same was the case with Viswanathan and Ramamurthy in Tamil Cinema and later, Shankar Ganesh became noticeable music directors working together.But there were two directors of Tamil films who took over their career almost during the inception period of Tamil Cinema and stayed well knit, as makers of high quality films for a pretty long period.Born in two different places,with an age difference of about six years between themselves, they worked hand in hand, without any thought of who performed better than whom.They were Krishnan and Panju, the latter, younger in age, but the former, outliving his younger associate.Their passion for film making was ever governed by the standard yardstick of decent cinema.
    Starting with their first film Poompaavai and after a couple of low profile films, they came out with the great film Nalla Thambi, starring N.S,Krishnan,for which the then Dravidian leader C.N.Annadurai wrote the dialogues.Then with the A.V.M blockbuster Parasakthi, they carried the pride of introducing Sivaji Ganesan into Tamil Cinema, who later on became its body and spirit.Their grand creative potential continued to inspire the Tamil film audience, through films like,Kula- dheivam, Ratha Kanneer and Mamiyar Mechiya Marumagal. Besides family dramas, they could delineate events and characters with versatile emotions like motherhood,anguish of childless mothers, nobleness of sacrifice and the grandeur of friendship.They were equally good at action movies.
   Krishnan Panju were notable among those, who could work with both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. They could claim the special distinction of directing MGR with a totally different attitude and frame of mind in their films like Petralthaan Pillaiyaa,Engal Thangam and Idhaya Veenai. Another interesting factor is that these two directors could simultaneously make films of M.K.Muthu and MGR in spite of the fact that MGR came out of DMK and  Muthu was the son of Dr.M.Karunanidhi, the DMK leader and the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
  It should also be mentioned here that they directed almost all the films of M.K.Muthu,such as Pillaiyo Pillai,Pookkari,Samayalkaaran and Anaiyaa Vilakku. Incidentally,the other fact remains that for Parasakthi it was Dr.M.Karunanidhi who wrote the dialogues.The success story of Parasakthi is a glorious part Tamil film history.Some of their other Sivaji Ganesan hits were Dheiva Piravi, Pudhayal, Kungumam and Uyarndha Manidhan.
   Their close association with the AVM banner is another significant aspect of their success and growth as classic film makers.Their outstanding releases under this banner include Parasakthi, Kuladheivam,Dheivapiravi,Server Sundaram,Annai,Uyarndha Manidhan,Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum, Adhey Kangal,Anaadhai Aanandan and Annaiyum Pidhaavum. All these films were reputed for strong story line,neat and impressive narration and beautiful characterization of individuals as vital segments of family and society.
    Clarity in story telling was the unique aspect of all these films. Global events and unforeseen circumstances splitting family members,family interlinks,filial devotion, the evil impact of suspicion between spouses,poverty,romance agony of childlessness, arrogance of wealth and the power of revenge, were all the noted themes of  these films.Almost all these films were mega hits, with their rich ingredients of film making including captivating music.The only exception in this list was Adhe Kangal,which was a thriller but another grand show.The grandest among the works of Krishnan Panju were Parasakthi, Kuladheivam,Server Sundaram, Uyarndha Manidhan Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum and Adhe Kangal.
   Some of the other memorable movies of these two eminent creators were Pathu Maadha Bandham Vaazhndhu Kaattugirein,Vaazhvu En Pakkam ,Velliradham and Enna Dhavam Seidhein.Besides MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,.Krishnan Panju have worked with other heroes like S.S.Rajendran,Jai Shankar,Ravichandran,Muthuraman,A.V.M Rajan and Vijayakumar.Veteran heroines like P.Bhanumathi,Padmini,Sowcar Janaki,Sarojadevi,Vanisri,K.R.Vijaya,J.Jeyalalitha and Sujatha have enriched the quality of their films.
   It was known to everybody that a Krishnan Panju film would not fall short of the set yardsticks of a fine family entertainer with traditional moorings and core values of ethical formulations.There was always this fusion of ideals and emotions like the fusion between the two directors who were always seen as one person.It was this inseparable reality that fixed them ever on the higher pedestal, as the best film makers in Tamil .