Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A versatile Talent of Tamil Cinema.


    Apart from actors who have enriched Tamil Cinema,there have been very many talents on the creative front, pushing to glorious heights, the various components of film making.Tamil cinema certainly owes its qualitative survival, to its classic film making segments that include illustrious directors,story and script writers, besides the most important section of producers.Only a few days ago, Tamil film industry was deprived of a highly credited script writer,director and actor in the passing away of Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram and this blog carried a modest homage paid to that great film personality.Today Tamil Cinema lost another wonderful film producer and director who was also a lyricist and story writer.It is really a sad news that Mr.Panju Arunachalam a well known name in the Tamil film industry, passed away leaving an indescribable vacuum in the Tamil film field.
    Panju Arunachalam as a film producer,  made Tamil Cinema stand up to its meritorious recognition by adding up a number of highly talked about and commercially viable films to its archives.While he produced some of the rare Rajinikanth films like Bhuvana Oru KelviKuri, Aaarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai and Engeyo Ketta Kural he could also be complimented for giving great Rajini entertainers like Priya,Veera and Guru Sishyan. Similarly three of Kamalahasan's unforgettable films such as Kalyana Raman,Jappaanil Kalyana Raman and Michael Madana Kamarajan were from his P.A Arts' Production unit.Some of his other significant releases were Rasukutti, starring Baghyaraj, Poovellaam Kettupaar,the breezy romance with Suriya and Jyothika in the lead and Cheran's Solla Marandha Kadhai.
    A huge list of fabulous stories emanated from his extraordinary imaginative brain to become films of grandeur and successful realities.Some of his felicitous films in this regard are Mayangugiraal Oru Maadhu,Avanthaan Manidhan, Kavarimaan, Annakkili, Vaazhkai, Engeyo Ketta Kural,Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri,Adutha Vaarisu, Murattu Kaalai, Manidhan,Thambikku Endha Ooru,Paayum Puli,Aboorva Sagodharargal Rajaadhi Raajaa,Meendum Kokilaa,Sagala Kalaa Vallavan, Uyarndha Ullam, Thoongaadhe Thambi Thoongaadhe and several other films produced by the AVM banner.Maximum number of his stories were for the films of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan.It should also be mentioned here that Panju Arunachalam was significantly responsible for the emergence and indisputable popularity of Ilayaraja who composed music for a number of films produced by him.
    Arunachalam  has also directed films like Manamgale Vaa,Puthu Paatu,Kalikaalam and Thambi Pondaatti starring heroes like Prabu,Ramarajan and Rehaman.The eternal melodies and vigorous songs for which he wrote the lyrics were,"Ponnezhil Pooththadhu Pudhuvaanil"{Kalangarai Vilakkam}"Manamagale Marumagale Vaa vaa"{Saradha} "Machaana Paatheengalaa" and "Annakili Onna Thedudhe"{Annakili}"Vizhiyile Malarndhadhu" and "Raja Enbaar Mandhiri Enbaar"{Buvana Oru Kelvi Kuri}"Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu"{Aairilirundhu Arubadhuvarai}"Kaadhalin Deepamonru"{Thambikku Endha Ooru} and "Podhuvaaga Enmanasu Thangam"{Murattu Kaalai} A few important aspects that would call for specific notification are,his association with great actors like Sivaji Ganesan,Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan his long term link with the Rajini director, S.P.Muthuraman and his frequent lenience towards the AVM banner.
    Above all, the fact remains that late Panju Arunachalam never disappointed the audience in giving them, duly cherished family oriented and socially conscious stories, absolutely meant for a decent watch with all the relevant entertainment ingredients, keeping the audience drawn towards the theaters at various points of time, through out his creative and productive career.His concepts of film making were precisely business oriented; but in fixing his commercial targets he never compromised on quality of exhibition, or narration of his story lines.He knew what the audience wanted and gave it in the most acceptable form.His movies and his stories for his movies, were symbolic of a natural process of evolution ,with the singular objective of providing entertainment through the calculated yardsticks of social responsibility and creative compactness .Here lies the value of a versatile talent of Tamil Cinema, and it is in this respect, we should specially salute  the departed soul of Panju Arunachalam .

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Vibrant Script Writer and Film Maker.

     It is a known fact that no film can hit the mark without a catchy script.Story and scrip writers could be called the soul of a film.However good a director is and how great the actors are,the ultimate success of a film solely depends upon the weight of its story and its script that form the backbone of any great movie.Language is just a medium.But how effectively that medium is used to take the story and its characters closer to the audience solely depends upon the sparkling impact made by the dialogues. The relevance of word power, to the depiction of a scene and  the characters rolling around the scenic sequences,strikes a potential balance in the process of film making.Tamil Cinema has come across renowned names ruling the script dynamism in film making.One such dynamic script writer is Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram who is no more today.
   Late Mr.Sundaram takes his magnificent prefix from the most successful Tamil drama Vietnaam Veedu splendidly staged by him in the Nineteen Sixties, with the grand participation of Sivaji Ganesan as its protagonist. In fact, this face lifting prefix,was bestowed upon him by none other than Sivaji Ganesan himself. Later in 1970 when the play was released as a movie under the eminent direction of P.Madhavan,it was Sundaram who wrote the script for the historic film, that became another milestone in Sivaji Ganesan's career,performing the most memorable role of prestige Padmanaban. The film is remembered as much for the vigorous role play of the Chevalier as for its most impressive dialogue segment. Sivaji Ganesan as Padmanaban and Padmini as Savithri simply lived as life-like husband and wife on the screen, thanks to the wonderful script of Sundaram and the qualitative direction of P.Madhavan.
   Like most other film personalities Sundaram was also a Sivaji devotee.His script for great Sivaji Ganesan's films like Gnaana Oli, [which went on for long, as another amazing stage drama, with the theatrical team spirit of Sivaji Ganesan and Sundaram]Annan Oru Koil,Grahapravesam,Pareetchaikku NeramaachuJustice Gopinath and Sathyam, created celebrated moments for the film audience.On top of it all, came the monumental film "Gowravam"letting Sivaj Ganesan play dual roles as barrister Rajinikanth and his devoted adopted son.This extraordinarily stylish movie which was yet another brilliant stage play of the duo, was directed by Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram himself and I still remember watching  the very first show of this film on its date of release,with one of my close friends, another ardent Sivaji fan. Sundaram casually moved a big step forward, on the track of Tamil Cinema, as a powerful film maker and script writer.
  The Two MGR films for which Sundaram wrote the script were Naan Yen Pirandhein [a rare MGR film with a solid family base] and Naalai Namadhe[the Tamil remake of the Hindi block buster Yadon ki Baaraat].Sundaram is also a specialist in delineating social mythologies in an exemplary manner,through his captivating stories and scripts.Some of his timeless films  in this respect are,Namma Veettu Dheivam, Navagrha Naayagi,Nambinaar Keduvadhillai, Aaiyiram Kannudaiyaal and,Velundu Vinaiyillai.Sundaram has also worked with his next generation actors like Kamalahasan,[Soora Samhaaram]Prabu [Anand] Sathyaraj [Jallikattu] and Karthik Muthuraman[Raja Mariyaadhai].His most favoured female star was K.R.Vijaya.
   In his later years, Sundaram also turned to acting in films [Appu,Kanna Moochi Yenada} and Television serials.He has acted in almost twenty serials so far, of which Metti Oli,Athi Pookkal, Marmadesam.,Krishna Dhasi,Rishimoolam,Raja Rajeswari,Pillai Nila and Valli will find a distinct place in the history of the Tamil small screen. Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram's voice modulation carries a calculated charm in dialogue delivery.His family- oriented values behind his writing the script,and his sharp psychological perception of characters and their vocal role play, with an organized understanding of the family and social realities, speak volumes of his concerted focus on the traditional core of life, through his imaginative presentation of dialogues,to be delivered by the respective characters on the screen.
     Sundaram's contextual grasp of the harmony between scenes and their semantic revelation is an excellent indicator of his stage and screen sense of creativity.In his passing away,the script component of Tamil Cinema and the thespian side of the small screen, seem to have lost immensely. The views expressed here, are the genuine outcome of the profound regard that this blog writer has cherished  for more than the past four decades, for this outstanding film face, of Tamil cinema.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Special, Rajini Film Maker.

          An assertive film maker always stamps his individuality, not only by his choice of themes,story line,weight of script and pattern of narration, but also by his ability to give a U turn to a typecast hero, in a totally different portrayal of looks and role play. Today's superstar Rajinikanth who literally owes his career to his mentor K.Balachander,and had his initial years branding him as a rugged villain or an actor in double hero films, with a captivating image,mannerism and style,was transformed into  a bulldozing hero of rugged charm, by a director with a distinct perception of an actor's flair for performance. It was of course  K.Balachander who identified the over all potential of Rajinikanth But he was caught in a major dilemma of choosing the right focus and thrust required for the evolution of the next generation's two top most heroes, Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan,who happened to succeed MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, as the two mega stars of Tamil Cinema.
    As Balachander  had to simultaneously engage both these talented men, with the scope and space they independently deserved and needed,he could not explore and bring out the best in Rajinikanth through a hero making film.His initial offers to Rajinikanth were for negative roles which this special actor sumptuously enjoyed in films like Moonru Mudichu and Avargal. It was C.V Sridhar who first gave him a positive role in his Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu,but that too was a double hero film with more scope for Kamal.There were other low profile Rajini films like Mangudi Minor,Vanakthirkuriya Kadhaliye,Adupuli Attam and Aaru Pushpangal. Two other earlier films of Rajini, made a mark and they were Bhairavi directed by M.Baskar and Ayiram Jenmangal made by Durai.
    But the first Rajini film that took him to new heights as an independent,well carved hero, was J.Mahendran's historic film Mullum Malarum. Apart from Rajinikanth, who appeared as a rough shod man, with a soft inner self, made of unrelenting love for his younger sister,the cast of the film included Sarath Babu as a police officer and two women, namely,the most talented Shobha and Fadafat Jeyalakshmi [ both committed suicide later].With its vigorous narration and melody of music from the musical prophet Ilayaraja,Mullum Malarum became a specially noticeable and gloriously trend setting Rajini film.In all fairness, it can be said that though K.Balachander was Rajini's mentor,it was J.Mahendran who made him rightly and firmly step on the ladder to super stardom.
    J.Mahendran seems to have drawn the attention of MGR,as a new creative talent, during his student days.Later he happened to gain a little space, in the making of MGR film Kanchi Thalaivan, This happened after a few MGR films like Ponniyin Selvan and Vaazhve Vaa in which Mahendran was to play a vital role,could not take shape or pass the production stage for various, less known reasons. But slowly, J.Mahendran set his foot into Tamil Cinema, as a story,screen play and dialogue writer for many films, of which Vaazndhu Kaattukiren, Vaazhvu En Pakkam and Sivaji Ganesan's grand show Thanga Padhakkam, find a memorable place.But Mullum Malarum was the first film, he directed and it was the first film for Rajini, to fix his growth trajectory as a hero, commanding a hysteric fan base. J.Mahendran's first film itself was a major hit, receiving accolades from the movie critics and reviewers.
    J.Mahendran went on to make award winning films like, Udhiri Pookkal and Nenjathai Killaadhe, He made excellent use of the talent of actors like Mohan,Vijayan,Suhasini and Aswini, in these two films.It was a period of the musical reign of Ilayaraja and he played wonders with his magical wand of making music.Starting from Mullum Malarum, it was the expertise of Mahendran's delicate handling of intricate themes, that evoked the emergence of new aesthetics in film making.The two other Rajini films Johnny and Kai Kodukkum Kai,directed by Mahendran,would definitely remain as the two specially memorable films, for Rajini himself.Unlike S.P.Muthuraman, who made the maximum number of Rajini films,Mahendran made only three films with the Superstar.But each film was different from the other, in the hero's character delineation.While robust masculine verve dominated in Mullum Malarum,Kai Kodukkum Kai showed the man of the film, as one endowed with utmost empathy and humaneness. Johnny in which Rajini played dual roles, projected the conflicting attributes of male waywardness and helplessness, in falling a victim of  negative circumstances.
     In presenting womanhood,Mahendran was always at his best, in showcasing the traditional profiles of feminine glory, through his women protagonists, in films like Mullum Malarum,Udhiri Pookkal,and Kai Kodukkum Kai.Even as a story writer he did not fail to top up, the dignity of submissive womanhood, in Thanga Padhakkam and the feminist in his women characters,in films like Vaazhvu En Pakkam and Vaazhndhu Kaattugiren. His film Johnny, put in contrast the power of considerate womanhood, as reflected in the character of Sridevi, with that of opportunism and betrayal, reflected in the character formation of Deepa.
   Mahendran's themes and story lines were also known for variety.While Nenjathai Killaadhe was an elegant love story,Johnny came out as a tale of love with its vagaries and waywardness.Love born of respect for womanhood formed the base for his Kai Kodukkum Kai. Betrayal of men and women formed part of his narration of the process of love in Johnny.His family dramas were like calm streams with occasional ripples,causing a kind of destabilizing note.He had the guts to portray nasty, mean minded and crude villainy, as the negative face of humanity, that was beautifully reflected in the characterization of Vijayan in Udhiri Pookkal. His villains were perverts [imagine Cinni Jeyanth performing the role of a pervert in Kai Kodukkum Kai} of the vulgar kind, disturbing the mind of the audience in films like, Udhiri Pookkal, Kai Kodukkum Kai and Poottaadha Poottukal. Mahendran's other notable films were Nandu,Metti,Azhagiya Kanne,Kannukku Mai Ezhudhu and Oor Panchayathu The last film made by him was Saagasam. Recently we would have been surprised to see him as an actor, donning the role of a bloody, inhuman villain, committing brutalities of an unacceptable kind, in the Vijay mega hit movie, Theri.
    J.Mahendran's creative ingredients are self made.His reach with the audience, has been significant as powerful waterfalls, reaching the ground from a mountainous range.He could entertain with sense and sensibility.His aesthetic norms of film making, were always of the higher order.Films like Nenjaththai Killaadhe, Mullum Malarum,Udhiri Pookkal and Johnny, would substantially vindicate Mahendran's capacity for capturing a world, of differently beautiful composition.Particularly when it comes to the three Rajini films he made,it could be categorically stated that it is Mahendran who,of all Tamil film makers, has discovered the varied dimensions of the same hero and qualitatively stuffed them, in celluloid form, to pave the way for the extraordinary march of an uncommon hero,to reach the top most slot in Tamil cinema.It is really unfortunate that J. Mahendran did not get the recognition that has always been due to him.But he continues to strike a mark as a special maker of Rajini films,of course with  the exception of  movies like Aarilurndhu Arubadhuvarai, Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri and Nallavanukku Nallavan, directed by S.P.Muthuraman.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Superstar Reverberates.


    Pa. Ranjith  made us sit up and watch his unusual course of narration of events in his film Madras.It is perhaps  a matter of coincidence that,all the letters of his name spelt in English, form  a major part of the name of Rajinikanth too. The fifty fifty combination of their names gets into perfect fusion in the tremendously hyped film Kabali. For the fans of the superstar, there is enough display of his charismatic style and gusto.But the narrative format is characteristic of the budding director of distinct merit.From the beginning till the end, the action sequences move on, like a steam boat shuttling between a calm  sea and one of turbulent waves.
   Rajini's devotion to his wife [which already hit the victory mark in AVM's Nallavanukku Nallavan under his periodical director S.P.Muthuraman], carries deeper dimensions of the pang of presumed loss of his wife and its intensity of anguish.The scene where Kabali and his daughter meet on an unexpected twist in narration, marks the mind blowing intermission of the film.Really the interval screen falls upon the audience with high voltage thrilling effect.The second part of the film that takes the hero, on a search mission with his daughter to find his yet living wife in India, is a  grand mix of sentiment and appalling action shots.The superstar's meeting his wife is an effective emotional package poignantly unveiled,thanks to the spontaneous melting down of Radhika Apte who plays the role of Rajinikanth's wife.The dignified family reunion is an endearing treat  .
  Through out the film, the combined impact of  tempo, noise and niceties, makes one feel, if one is watching a usual Rajini film, or experiencing a refreshingly fulfilling Rajini film, after a long time, when films like Mullum Malarum and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri brought Rajini the actor,closer to our hearts.All said and done, can anyone get completely retrieved from the Baasha effect, when it comes to the presentation of a gangster story.That there is no place for the usually energizing comedy quotient of Rajinikanth, is certainly a matter of disappointment,though factually speaking comedy has no scope in a movie of this kind.
   Santhosh Narayanan's music was more appealing in Madras.The song 'Maya Nadhi' is of course a melting melody. Nassar and Sangili Murugan are compact in their brief appearances. Danshika, Rythvika, Kalaiarasan and Dinesh have substantial space for performance and they have made good use of their opportunity to be part of a Rajini film.Winston Chao and Kishore exhibit their sheen for villainy with style and brutality.John Vijay has more scope to share a lot of joint appearances with the superstar.Beyond all this ,what was surprising for me is how the film got a U certificate, in spite of being a gangster movie, with too many crude scenes of violence and profuse gunning down of one another in a mad spree. Rajini looks a bit exhausted in quite a few shots.Ageing has its impact.But his innate charm and style remain intact.His breaking down when he comes to know the fact that he has missed for long, his living wife, who he thought was dead and several other scenes, will live long to create a lasting impact on the minds of the audience.The invisible audio climax, with the bullet sound makes the audience leave the theater with each one's guess work about the fate of Kabali.
   Through out the film, there is a reverberating rhythm in the characterization and performance of Rajinikanth, the monumental actor, who is blessed with so much of fan adoration from children to grownups.No doubt, Ranjith has not failed to capitalize on this phenomenal factor.

Friday, July 15, 2016

T.R.Ramanna the Ritzy Film Maker.,


                                       T.R.Ramanna the Ritzy Film Maker.,                   .

         Like all other business activities,film making has its own ups and downs.However, during the last century film production houses were not many and the spirit of competition was always healthy. The absence of television until the mid seventies and the non existence of electronic governance and its resultant video piracy, made the film making industry exist without any sudden shocks of fall in business.Starting from the Gemini Pictures and the AVM mega production house, there were a sizable number of film making units like Jupiter Pictures,Vijaya Vauhini Production house, Vijayalakshmi Pictures,Padmini Pictures,Devar Films Circuit,the Modern Theatres, Sathya Movies,Kalakendra& Kavithalaya film houses of veteran director K.Balachander and K.Balaji's Sujatha Cine Arts.
     Among these was the R.R.Pictures, maintained by Thanjavur Renganayaki Ramanna,the most notable film maker and sibling of the most fascinating actress T.R.Rajakumari. In fact T.R.Ramanna was a forerunner in the field, along with the Gemini and AVM big banner houses.He has to his credit several dynamic film making credentials, that could afford him, a specially distinguished place in Tamil Cinema. Ramanna is pretty much known for his diversified narrative skills, in taking social and spiritual themes closer to the hearts of the audience.His unforgettable mythical and spiritual entries were, Kaathavaraayan,Sri Valli, Arunagirinadhar and Ilangeswaran..
      Unlike A.Bhimsingh and K.Balaji who never thought of making even a single movie with MGR as hero and unlike Chinnappa Devar who for reasons not known,deliberately excluded Sivaji Ganesan,among his heroes,T.R.Ramanna who has a slightly bigger number of MGR films in his film archives, did not fail to make a good number of Sivaji films.In fact, Ramanna could be proud of making the one and only film of the two heroes, starring together, for the first and last time and that film was Koondukkili. Even in that film Sivaji did only the role of an anti hero, as a womanizing, treacherous friend of the other hero MGR. T.R.Ramanna did five other films with Sivaji Ganesan as hero and they were Kaathavarayan, Sri Valli,Thanga Surangam.Sorgam and Ennai Pol Oruvan. Of these Kaathavarayan  and Sri Valli were based on Hindu mythology,Sorgam was a breezy family drama and the other two were action packed entertainers.
    Ramanna a stylish director of longstanding merit, made nearly eight films of MGR, with a variety in theme and story line. Besides Koondukkili,which was his first film with MGR,there were powerful family dramas like Periya Idaththu Penn ,Panakkaara Kudumbam and Panam Padaithavan,fabulous entertainers like Gulebakaavali,historical fiction like Pudhumai Pithan and thrillers like Parakkum Paavai. T.R.Ramanna also made an unusual MGR movie, that showed the conventionally positive spirited hero, caught in a web of tragic circumstances, culminating in his death and this special movie was Paasam.
    T.R.Ramanna and his sister T.R.Rajakumari, who was popularly known as the dream girl of Tamil Cinema,worked together in movies like Gulebakavali,Pudhumai Pithan,Periya Idathu Penn and Paasam. Rajakumari was first paired with MGR as his pair. Later,she acted as the elder sister of MGR in Periya Idathu Penn and finally also became the mother of the hero in Paasam. Whereas,MGR ever remained as a youthful hero, till the end of his career.As far as the narrative style of Ramanna is concerned,one could always feel it as a creative process, dipped in a galaxy of emotions with a proclaimed focus on entertainment and action sequences.
    Even during the days of slow motion films, Ramanna's Pudhumai Pithan and Gulebhakavali were found to be rich entertainers on a speedy track, with amazing action potential at all levels and enchanting musical value, thanks to the mind blowing sound track and musical composition of the ever eminent G.Ramanathan [films like Pudhumai Pithan, Kaathavarayan,Sri Valli and Arunagiri nadhar] Viswanathan& Ramamurthy and later M.S.Viswanathan{Several films},or T.K.Ramamurthy [Thanga Surangam and Moonrezhuthu}for the rest of his films.I think  the exceptions were Koondukkili for which music was left in the hands of K.V.Mahadevan and Vairam taking the tunes from T.R.Papa..
    Excepting Puthumai Pithan, Ramanna produced and directed, the other seven films of MGR. Similarly Kathavarayan was the only Sivaji movie, produced and directed by him.All the remaining films directed by Ramanna were not from his R.R.Pictures production house.Again Manapandal starring S.S.Rajendran and B.Sarojadevi,was the only movie produced by R.R.Pictures, but not directed by him.When the two new  heroes Jai Shankar and Ravichandran came to lime light, Ramanna's attention promptly shifted to them, leading to some great films like Nee,Naan,Kumari Penn,Moonrezhuthu,and Vairam. Of these,Naan, Kumari Penn and Vairam were popular hits.During the last spell of his film career, Ramanna also made a film starring Rajinikanth and this film Kuppathu Raja  also became a great success, among the B and C sections of the audience.
    As far as Ramanna's heroines were concerned, his early stars were B.S.Saroja, T.R.Rajakumari, G.Varalakshmi  S.Varalakshmi,Raja Sulochana and E.V.Saroja.But his most frequent heroines were B.Sarojadevi and J.Jeyalalitha. The other notable heroines were Savithri, K.R.Vijaya,Bharathi, Usha Nandini and Radhika. Starting  from the first generation comedians of Tamil Cinema,like K.A.Thangavelu and J.P.Chandrababu and the later years' veteran comedians such as Nagesh,Suruli Rajan ,Thengai Srinivasan and Ennathe Kannaiah,all have  contributed their humor might in the films of Ramanna.
    But when it came to the role of villains Ramanna's most preferred villain actor was R.S.Manohar. This actor of theatrical excellence became a  must in Ramanna's films as he was in the movies of the Modern Theatres.The other favourite villain actor of Ramanna was S.A.Asokan. Strangely, M.N.Nambiyar who played the villain in a majority of M.G.R films, was seen only in Ramanna's Parakkum Paavai,that too in a less important role. P.S.Veerappa the other prominent villain actor of MGR films, was never inducted in the films of Ramanna. T.S.Balaiah was seen in Pudhumai Pithan and M.R.Radha in a couple of films [Paasam and Periya Idathu Penn}.
      Beyond all this statistics of Ramanna's films,the most undoubted fact is that Ramanna was a ritzy film maker proving  his commercial strength, by his periodical hits like Pudhumai Pithan.Guleba gaavali,Periya Idathu Penn,Panam Padaithavan [chiefly remembered for all hit songs],Sorgam Kumari  Penn,Naan and Kuppathu Raajaa. In addition to the distinctly powerful entertainment value of his films,the over all quality of narration deserves a passionate compliment.His heroes, heroines, villains and comedians were all reputed for, invaluable quality of performance.Music was another ecstatic factor of many Ramanna movies.It can be assertively stated, that as a ritzy film maker he has made the memories of his films percolate into the imagination and understanding of a majority of the audience, who will stand up and say, here was a film maker who made Tamil Cinema live long.     

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Four Tamil Films with a Circus Base.


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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Proud Place of Padmini Pictures.


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