Sunday, January 20, 2019

Two thriller narrations on the Tamil big screen.


   Like all other events of life,films come and go.Like some events that refuse to leave our memory,there are a few films that create records and find a permanent place in our memory archives.Sometimes there are unforgettable scenes from movies that keep knocking at our mind's doors,for a retrospective enjoyment,as frequently as possible.It may be an exquisite  romantic sequence as the one we witnessed in the film Sathya,with Kamal and Amala travelling on a bus enriched by a background song tuned by Ilayaraja and Amala showing her biceps prompting Kamal to touch it gently,or the climax of a movie like Mozhi,where the newly wedded Prakashraj and Swarnamalya would come out of the Church and the latter would throw the bouquet in her hand at Jyothika, celebrating the moment of Jyothika agreeing to marry Prithviraj,.
   This blog already carries two articles with comparative notes on similar scenes,one involving a banana issue as shown in Padikkadha Medhai and Karkaatakkaaran and the other presenting the fiery argument between Lord Shiva and Poet Nakkeeran from Naan Petra Selvam and Thiruvilaiyaadal.
    Here comes a scenic comparison of two thriller narrations,one by Nagesh in Sridhar's Kaadhalikka Neramillai and the other by Rajinikanth in Sivaji Productions' Chandramuki. Kaadhalikka Neramillai was a run away comedy hit of the Nineteen Sixties.Each scene and each song of the film,would be worth revisiting.With new faces like Ravichandran and Kanchana,the film breezily travelled through the imagination of the audience,to remain as an immortal experience of film watching.However,the one liveliest scene which showed the film- crazy Nagesh,narrating a little bit of his proposed skit,to his parsimonious father T.S. Balaiah,became a stomach curdling comedy show.
    Incidentally,it was the stingy father who just for a time pass,would ask his son to narrate at least one scene from his film under discussion,so that he could decide if he could fund the production of the film.Thinking that his father's approach was genuine,Nagesh would tell his father that the scene would be horror filling and warn his father not to get rattled.To this Balaiah would say that only cowards would get bowled over by horrifying tales and he was a hard nut to crack. Taking his father's spirit of nonchalance as a challenge,Nagesh would squeeze out the thrilling effect of the scene,so as to bring the horror element into his facial expressions and tone delivery.
    In a series of closeup shots,Sridhar would vigorously present the ongoing fear psychosis transmitted by Nagesh,into the body language of T.S.Balaiah,with gripping words and groaning sounds.At one point,Balaiah would say that the story was really horror prone and his mind was completely disturbed to the extent of getting him unnerved.Soon Nagesh could be seen dreaming about the prospective financier of his film project showering money on his film skit. The pitch of the comedy on the contrary would be,Nagesh demanding money and T.S.Balaiah simply shrugging his shoulders and walking away,with a big 'No' to funds. The whole scene would throw the audience into reels of laughter. How many times we would have watched the scene both on the big and small screens and how many bouts of laughter would have made our jaws ache! 
    There can not be a second opinion that P.Vasu's Chandramugi was a blockbuster show of action,comedy,sentiment and suspense.Likewise,it is an agreed fact that the comedy sequences of the film involving the Superstar and the Vaigai storm {Vadivelu} was a clear breakthrough in generating spot humour.Though the film carried several comic episodes combing Rajini and Vadivelu,the one about the existence of ghosts was one of the super scenes of the film.
    The scene would go on like this. Vadivelu would ask Rajini if ghosts really existed.Suddenly  the superstar would burst out asking "What do you mean''.Soon his face would be seen moving to different angles,travelling between the graveyard and the jameen bungalow,inviting the howling of dogs,the sound of anklets worn by women ghosts and so on.Vadivelu would ask Rajini why he was twisting his face so many times,to create a world of horror.The subsequent audio visuals would be a consummate blending of the mood of horror with that of hilarious ruckus created by Rajini and its impact on a spontaneously gullible Vadivelu. At the end of the narration,when everyone would see Nayanthara wearing white dress and anklets crossing the door and Vadivelu swooning at the turn of events,the horror component would  become a perfect laughter bonanza for the audience.
    Creativity is at times a process of conceiving ideas and situations,similar to the ones from other creative sources.But what makes the difference is its presentation.The change of bottles quite often makes the wine taste different.These two thriller narrations exemplify the grandeur of film makers in using the same concept for an original presentation.In the former,a character actor fools a comedian.In the latter,the hero takes the comedian for a ride.Consequently comedy is generated at the cost of comedians.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Rajinikanth Rejuvenated.


      Rajinikanth is a special kind of hero because he inspires his fans more than any other actor.It is his electrifying energy levels in voice vibration and bodily movements that have remained as a treat to his most ardent fans whose last Rajini feast was Shankar's Sivaji. Following this most memorable film,Shankar and Pa.Renjith took Rajini on a totally different track of screen journey thereby making most film goers long for a Rajini film in the line of Baasha,Muthu,Padayappa Chandramukhi and Sivaji.The young director Karthik Subburaj deserves a special pat for presenting Rajini in his Petta,with a totally refreshing make up that takes the superstar to his forties.The first half of the film  reverberates with invigorating events comprising Rajini's invincible style,sense of humour and tempestuous action sequences.The most fascinating Rajini formula is born again and it looks as though Rajini himself breezily enjoyed his role play from the start till the end.
    In a star studded film,Rajini overtakes all the others by his singular determination to get vigorously closer to his starved fans.The huge cluster of stars includes Rajini's one time famous director Mahendran and the new generation popular actors like Vijay Sethupathi,Bobby Simha,Sasikumar, as well as the two women Trisha and Simran who had no chance to act with him so far. Besides there is the Bollywood fame Nawazuddin  Siddiqui as Villain.Anirudh's music takes the film to its height of enjoyment with mood upbeat songs. Tirru's cinematography and Vivek Harshan's editing are significantly responsible for the impressive show,the film makes.Yet another unusual beauty of the film is the in-between ringing of old tunes from films like Paava Mannippu,Sumaithangi,Paasamalar and Mullum Malarum,transmitting the glory of the immortal Tamil film songs of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies for a nostalgic reverie.It is a reflection of the director's aesthetic quest to blend the old with the young.
   Though the events after the interval move on predicted lines the most celebrated climax of the film throws a couple of surprises that put Vijay Sethupathi in an unenviable predicament.The contrived scheme of actions carried on by the hero with epic references seem to raise an undercurrent of qualms and ethical questions,against the rightness of destroying the enemy through the back door. Vijay Sethupathi certainly stands victimized by the entangling manipulations of the hero.The concluding haughty laugh of the hero would draw more sympathy to Vijay Sethupathi sitting in absolute shock at the turn of events.
    What makes Petta an engaging movie is the travel of the Superstar with his unfailing trade mark genre of energy demonstration despite factors of ageing. Rajini has once again vindicated Shakespeare's maxim that 'age can not wither' him.The film will get into the nerves and emotions of his fans to stay firmly in their memory until a similar Rajini film is released.After all,they want to see their hero ever young and do the impossible in his inimitable style.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Jyothika's Jaunty role play of characters


      Most new age heroines of Tamil Cinema,have occupied only the glamour space and left the field with their glamour image.Exceptions in this regard would be Kushbu, Simran, Devayaani and Jyothika. Interestingly,all these four women were born in Mumbai the city celebrated for its Bollywood fame as much for its Dalal Street. All these four women have settled down in Tamil Nadu.While Kushbu remained as the heart throb of the Tamil film fans,Simran's dynamism as a brilliant dancer and an emotive actor is  well known to Tamil Cinema. Devayani consistently maintained her distinct features of role play.All these women need a separate tribute in the form of articles in this blog.This particular piece is aimed at showcasing and complimenting the exceptionally competitive acting calibre of Jyothika,who stepped into the corridors of Tamil Cinema as a debutante in the S.J Soorya directed film Vaali, starring Ajith {in dual roles}and Simran.Jyothika certainly made her mark in this blockbuster film through her intermittent appearances as the imaginary love interest of the hero. 
   As a heroine she was first paired with Suriya in Poovellaam Kettpaar and the duo continued their acting journey as fascinating pairs of Tamil cinema in the line of Gemini Ganesan and Savithri,S.S.Rajendran and R.Vijayakumari and A.V.M.Rajan and Pushpalatha and also became life partners like the other three pairs.The other great films of Jyothika with Suriya were,Uyirile Kalandhadhu,Perazhakan,Kaaka Kaaka,Mayaavi and Sillunnu Oru Kadhal. Jyothikaa was paired with Ajith three times {Mugavari,Poovellaam Un Vaasam and Raja}, twice with Vijay{Kushi and Thirumalai} Vikram{Dhool and Arul} and Madhavan{Dum Dum Dum and Piriyamaana Thozhi}.
   A repeated award winner for her best performance in several films Jyothika is reputed for her sparkling body language,with her sprightly eyes talking more than her mouth. S.J.Soorya's Kushi was a turning point in her acting career exhibiting her feminist gusto blended with an egoistic exterior and a poignant blow of emotions as the interior.In Vijay's combination the film became an extraordinary hit,fetching her the Film fare award for best actress.With the same acting vigour Jyothika won the best actress award of the Tamil Nadu Government three times for her amazing demonstration of ecstasy in acting,as the leading lady of films like Perazhakan, Chandramukhi and Mozhi made by Sashi Shankar {under the AVM banner} P. Vasu { produced by Sivaji Productions} and Radha Mohan respectively.
    Some of her roles that have impressively unfolded the power of womanhood were,that of a complex woman shuttling between contextual misconceptions and introspective realization of facts in Kushi, as a visually challenged woman and as an intensely romantic woman in dual roles in Perazhagan,as a positive person with an impeccable faith in the pure friendship of her husband with his childhood girl friend in Piriyamaana Thozhi,as a split personality inspired by hallucinating perceptions in Chandramukhi,as a speech impaired woman in Mozhi,as a brave and robust woman police  officer in Naachiyaar and as a desperate woman fighting for realizing her personal career dreams,both in 36 Vayadhinile{a remake of the Malayaalam hit How old are you?} and Kaatrin Mozhi {another remarkable show of Radha Mohan after his Mozhi},Jyothika's journey in the celluloid world has been one of absolute commitment, conviction and competence.
    Jyothika has delivered all her roles with a mood of consummate celebration of her performance zeal and powerful  depiction of characters.Her facial glory in compensating speechlessness in Mozhi and her perfect absorption of the split personality complexities governed by an intrinsic quest for hallucinations in Chandramukhi,were her highly creditable scores as an actor,capable of penetrating into the inner layers of the intricate roles she played. Director Radhamohan could be said to have pulled out Jyothika's levels of grandeur in acting, both in his Mozhi and Kaatrin Moazhi.There has always been a sense of casual ease and effervescence in Jyothikas' acting that has taken her to new heights.Her eyes express a kind of longing for a series of dreams and a passion to achieve her dreams.One of her indisputable assets has been her spirit of endearing herself to the audience by her performance zeal,rather than by a quest for glamour.
    She always acts with subdued grace,born of a subtle grasp of the context and a close relevance of her role play,in tune with the context.She displays a special vibration mode, through her facial expressions and tone delivery.Ripeness in performance does not come that easy to all.In reflecting self confident portrayals without any exaggeration,she is in the line of Radhika who has attained an incomparable status as an actor of individuality and force,like Savithri of the previous century.Some of Jyothika's unique roles for me are from Kushi, Perazhakan,Mozhi, Chandramuki,Priyamaana Thozhi,Naachiyaar and Kaatrin Mozhi. Her other memorable movies are Tenali with Kamal, Poovellaam Un vaasam with Ajith,Dhool with Vikram, Pachaikkili Muthucharam of Gautam Menon{in which she played a negative role} 36 Vayadhinile and Manirathnam's latest hit Chekka Chivandha Vaanam.Jyothika's powerful bold eyes and her distinct mode of presenting her vocal vagaries,have fixed her in audience memory,as a unique category of actress,with unflinching self confidence and exemplary grace. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Immortal Screen Image of Avvaiyaar


    Tamil language can afford to be legitimately proud of its age old literary legacy.The chronological and voluminous content of Tamil literature is as great and vast as that of the literature of most other world languages. As far as poetry is concerned,the didactic nature and epic grandeur of Tamil Literature,are of a unique kind,with a galaxy of classics and life related precepts and maxims in single or double line order.Tamil literature has categorically and affirmatively laid down rules and directions of life,leading to ennobling goals for the creation of an exemplary society and illustrious race.
     Among those who have shown the pathway to glorious living,Avvaiyaar {a term which means esteemed/ respected woman} has gained an immortal place for enriching Tamil literature.The history of Tamil literature makes references to a Tamil Saintly poet called Avvaiyaar who is said to have lived during the 3rd century B.C.E playing a significant role as a poet of the Sangam literature period,besides being directly blessed by Lord Muruga,considered to be a special deity of the Tamil race.
   The History of Tamil literature also refers to another Avvaiyaar of the tenth century A.D who had contributed her high thinking maxims during the Chola Dynasty and shaped the Tamil society for enlightened destinations.Interestingly the term 'Avvaiyaar'in Tamil could even be interpreted to mean,"who is the old respectable woman?"{Avvai-elderly woman; yaar-who}.Tamil cinema has of course given us a combined image of both the Muruga devotee of the Sangam period and the instructive voice of the Chola Dynasty.But the actor who has squeezed out the essence of the venerable Avvai {old woman} has ever been K.B. Sundarambal, who alone has frequently donned the role of Avvaiyar and made us fix her profile with that of the ancient saintly poet.
    Kodumudi Balambal Sundarambal was both a stage artist and screen actor,in addition to being a wonderful singer with a clarion voice.She was a political activist during the Freedom Movement and became a member of the legislative council of Madras State in 1951 as a Congress Nominee.After a brief married life with her fellow actor S. G. Kittappa,who passed away six years after their marriage,she devoted the rest of her life to music and selective devotional roles in films.Her face with the sacred ash marks adorning her forehead,cleanly reflected sanctity and spiritual fervour. She was seen as Avvaiyaar at least in three films viz. Avvaiyar produced by Gemini Studios in 1953 and later in Vijayalakshmi Pictures' Thiruvilaiyadal and Kandan Karunai both directed by A.P.Nagarajan. Her earliest Tamil film entries were Nandanar,{1935}and Manimekalai {1940}.
    Some of the other notable films of K B S were Poompuhar {as Gavundhi Adikal} Maha Kavi Kalidas,Thunaivan,Karaikaal Ammaiyaar{ as Karaikaal Ammaiyaar,the distinguished devotee of Lord Shiva}and Thirumalai Dheivam{as a woman saint called Narayani}.The most extraordinary credentials of K B S were the spiritually enchanting looks and the magnificence of her voice.It is this voice which is still being heard and enjoyed despite her absence from this mundane world since 1980.The way she used to address Lord Muruga,carried the absolute essence of love,devotion and self-surrender to the deity whom she worshipped from the bottom of her heart.The same way,whenever she was seen addressing Lord Muruga as 'Muruga' her probing,poignant voice seemed to drive the audience into a spiritually melting process,creating an inexplicable quantum of ecstasy similar to a state of bliss,capable of evoking the communion of the human soul with the Brhaman.
    What a glorious moment it is listening to her stentorian voice,singing songs like"Mayilerum Vadivelane"{Avvaiyaar}"Gnanappazhathai Pizhindhu"and "Pazham Neeyappaa"{Thiruvilai yaadal}"Kaalathil Azhiyaadha Kaaviyam peravandha"{Maha Kavi Kaalidas}"Vaazhkai Enum Odam"{Poompuhar}and"Ezhumalaiyirukka Namakenna Manakkavalai"{Thiru Malai Dheivam}.Likewise, we would have enjoyed her songs like "Ayyane Anbarku Meyyane"and "Muthamizh Dheivame Vaa"{Avvaiyaar}Thappithu Vandhaanappaa"{Poompuhar}" Onraanavan Uruvil Irandaanavan"{Thiruvilaiyadal}"Senruvaa Magane"{Maha Kavi Kalidas} "Piravaadha Varam Vendum"{Kaaraikaal Ammaiyaar}"Ariyadhu Ketkin"{Kandan Karunai} "Gnaanamum Kalviyum"and "Koopitaa Kuralukku Yaar Vandhadhu"{Thunaivan} and ''Kelupaapaa''{Uyirmel Asai}. Besides film songs,she had also sung devotional songs of which I recall the classical number 'Thanithirundhu Vaazhum Thavamaniye"that I had heard during my early boyhood,from the the gramophone record player.
    K.B Sundarambal's songs are ringing in our ears as much as her divine looks are indelibly imprinted in our memory.She was one of those mighty musical voices of the Tamil soil,in the line of M.K.T Bhagavadhar,T.M.Soundarajan and Sirkazhi Kovindarajan,leading the lyrics by the force of voice clarity and perfection in accent.Tamil Cinema owes her a lot,both in terms of her inimitable vocal splendour and incomparable spiritual dignity,towards performing sacred roles.Above all,she will live for ever,not only as the screen image of the Tamil saintly poet Avvaiyaar,but will also be cherished in audience memory as the truest replica of that saintly poet,whose Aathichoodi and Kondrai Vendhan continue to govern the life of every individual, endowed with a fair knowledge of Tamil Literature.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Vetrimaran's World of Violence,Vengeance and Vendetta.

     Crime is one of the pet subjects of film makers.As humanity has imbibed criminality from its genesis,narration of the crime zone has been popular ever since the inception of world cinema. Film makers resort to crime depiction either as a direct course of narration or as an indirect presentation with suggestive and intertwined layers of scenic coherence,focusing on flash back techniques or subtle link shots,calling for a close watch of the development of events,through an off the track mode of dialogue delivery.Crime portrayal on the screen can be in the form of a thriller,or a horror demonstration,or simply an action promotion.Tamil films have successfully touched upon these varied patterns of narration,depending upon the director's aptitude and imagination.
    Vetrimaran who began his dedicated thrust and focus on the inhuman side of humanity with his critically rated first film Pollaadhavan starring Dhanush,has successfully continued his directorial journey on this favoured path,giving us three more hits such as Aadukalam, Visaaranai and Vada Chennai*.{*Specific titles of this kind seem to disturb the psyche of those who are personally related to such titles.The Metro Plus Supplement of the Hindu dated 10th December 2018,has recorded the views of some people who feel that the pride of their identity is very much hurt by titles focused on localities,without an understanding of their present environment and life style} 
   Dhanush has remained as the steadfast partner of most of the films of Vetrimaran both by joining the production process and by acting as the protagonist in three of the four films excepting Visaranai.The same way G. V. Prakash Kumar has composed music for three of these four films leaving Vada Chennai in the hands of Santhosh Narayanan.The frequent inclusion of actors like Kishore,Daniel Balajee and Samuthrakani has also reinforced the film making base of Vetrimaran.
    Knives,Swords,pickaxes,blades,guns and even tiles have been the tools for Vetrimaran's gangster characters,to thrive as perpetrators of pain.Rivalry,beastly targeting of the prey,betrayal for personal aggrandizement and uncouth revenge are the four pillars on which the gruesome structure is raised.There is absolutely no sense of belonging,because nobody knows who will betray whom and there is ever a weapon dangling behind everybody,to raise a back stab.But the charm of Vetrimaran is rather insidious,driving the audience glued to the screen, to surprise destinations,all of a sudden. Vetrimaran is a born celebrator of the spirit of rivalry,romance and sportsmanship,blending them all as integral segments of his ghastly celluloid chart,so as to lend some charm to the chillness of brutality. 
    A bike or a cock or the carom will transmit a kind of enchantment either by travelling along with the criminal agenda or by even surpassing it if necessary.It is stark realism that determines the quality of a Vetrimaran film,through an underplay of roles by most characters including his heroes.Who else can fit into this natural garb of role play other than the most natural actor Dhanush,who eases himself through casual,breezy delivery of dialogues and fixes himself in the minds of the audience,like an unassuming next door guy.Hence,he becomes the most appropriate choice for Vetrimaran to deliver heroism without engineering any extra effort of a blow up or image cult.  
   Vetrimaran's dark world does not exclude the crime belt of a section of the cops that exercises its police belt,to serve itself at the expense of the criminals,or to transform innocent youths into criminals by a hook of its strategic police brain.This is what we sadly witnessed in Visaranai. Vetrimaran's narration has never been direct or transparent.It is as much hidden as the dark criminal nexus,so that the narration can flawlessly percolate into the interiors of crime designs and cull out characters in their original form.
    Though a place for women could be called redundant in a crime cast,Vetrimaran has made the presence of women justifiable,by adding delight to the dryness of many diabolic death plots besides squeezing out heavier emotions harbouring untold revenge programmes,as seen in the character of Andrea Jeremiah,neatly etched out in Vada Chennai.As far as delight formula is concerned,Divyaa Spandana,Tapsee Pannu and Aishwarya Raajesh have compactly created fascinating sparks,by their controlled display of glamour,in Polladhavan,Aadukalam and Vada Chennai respectively.  
   Where violence alone prevails there is no scope for waste of words.Hence crisp and cutting dialogues echo the mind frame of men who spill blood more,than spelling words.Brevity is not only the soul of wit,but  also the mark of violence.The concluding statement of a cop in Visaranai,will beautifully endorse this assessment,when the cop says"both are done"to mean that both the honest police officer and the innocent youth have been done to death.
   The goon space has no room for comedy or humour.But at times any character will generate humour through their spontaneous utterances like the ones made by some of the jail mates in Vada Chennai.When one of the prisoners on hearing the news of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi,calls him the C M of Tamil Nadu,it subtly brings out the fact that ignorance never matters for those who excel in crime.All things happen naturally in the negative world of Vetrimaran be it the alluring lungi dance of Dhanush in Aadukalam,or the stealthy kissing episodes of Dhanush and his lover Aiswarya Rajesh in Vada Chennai.
    Perhaps it is such relieving scenes that retrieve the audience imagination at least for a while,from the gripping sequences of heart rending heartlessness of the aggressive promoters of thuggery and criminality,reigning an arena of the underprivileged.The worst part of all this macabre violence is that they they kill for sport,money, power and above all  for the self.There is politics.There are cops both honest and corrupt.There are hardcore criminals and soft ones.All in one bundle.That is Vetrimaran's vision of the bleak side of life.Whenever I watch a Vetrimaran film the following famous maxim of William Shakespeare strikes my mind.
        "As flies to wanton boys are we to Gods.They kill us for sport"
  By the way,there is a particular  scene in Vada Chenna showing Rajan{ finely performed by Ameer} getting brutally stabbed and killed by his trusted lieutenants in a restaurant,which would instantly bring to one's memory,the gory death of Julus Caesar in the Roman Senate Hall, in the hands of his silent rivals and trusted friend Brutus,in Shakespeare's wonderful historical tragedy"Julius Caesar"  
   In Vetrimaran's crime world,thugs kill one another like flies and they kill with a hunter's instinct and killer's arrogance.That is why all characters plunge into a stream of blood, leaving a minuscule of good elements to survive.Even these good elements seem to be waiting for the right moment to wreak vengeance and vendetta.It is this nagging back force of revenge that makes Vetrimaran's film skit sustain,with distinct vigour and virulence.May be that is why all his films stand critically reviewed and his Aadukalam won several national awards, including the best director's award. for him.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Four Finest Films of Gemini Ganesan.

     Gemini Ganesan was a born lover.He was born to be a romantic.He had a honey tongued voice that would travel through the ears of not only the women he loved,but also those of the audience,who watched him perform the role of a lover.Gemini made everybody munch his sweet words heard,like chewing gum,so as to make the sweetness linger for a longer duration. No other hero of Tamil cinema has ever passed on such a rhythm of language linked to the embryo of love,like the umbilical cord linking a baby to its mother.Almost all his films were dipped in nothing but sweet love,which was found to be sustaining in his veins even in his early seventies,when he acted in Kamalahasan's fabulous comedy Avvai Shanmugi in which he was found flooded with streams of love that he cherished for Kamal, in disguise as a woman called Shanmugi,
  Though he was not a tall hero to the stature of MGR or Sivaji Ganesan,he was an actor of classic standards and norms,set to establish the truth of what genuine love and romance mean. Starting from the days of his films likePathini Dheivam,Gunasundari,Sadhaaram,Aasai Karpukkarasi,Sowbakyavadhi,Mallika,Kairasi,Meenda Sorgam and Bhoologa Rambai it was an endless love journey for him on the Tamil big screen.
   Some of the movies of this less celebrated but fascinating hero,quite often surpassed the love zone and created history.Vanjikkottai Vaaliban,Paarthiban Kanavu and Konjum Salangai are some of his films ever cherished in audience memory for their being grand shows.His other immortal films are Missiamma,Kalathur Kannamma,Kaathirundha Kangal,Bhagyalakshmi, Kaalam Maari Pochu, Paadha Kaanikkai,Vaazhkai Padagu,Karpagam,Shanthi Nilayam,Ezhai Pangalan,Panamaa Paasamaa,Poovaa Thaliyaa,Kaaviya Thalaivi,Thaamarai Nenjam and Velli Vizha.He had breezy comedies to his credit such as Maaman Makal,Halo Mr.Zameendhaar, Thenilavu and Manidhan Maaravillai.I have excluded all the films he acted with Sivaji Ganesan because they were all double hero stories,with a greater thrust on the roles of the Chevalier. The list of his filmography would be very vast that includes the negative roles he played in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan and K.Balachander's Naan Avanillai. But there are four finest films of this wonderful actor that would stand up in singular pride and talk about the unsaid but silently enjoyed cinematic glory of life's lofty edge.
    Interestingly,two of the four movies were directed by Sridhar the refined,romantic film maker and the other two by K.Balachander the elegant narrator of real life situations,causing subtle entanglements for the protagonist.Yes. Kalyana Parisu,Sumaithaangi,Iru Kodukal and Punnagai are for me, the finest films of Gemini Ganesan,the sweetest hero.To me,what brings the four films into a single bundle is the theme of human predicament,denoting an inextricable web of life's complexities.It is like gold being put into flames for its purification.In all the four films,the hero is thrown into a boiling cauldron of emotions,arising out of helplessness and extraneous pulls spoiling the life of an individual.
   Both Kalayana Parisu and Iru Kodugal narrated the plight of a man caught in between two women but both were totally different in their genesis and development of events.In Kalayana Parisu the two women were sisters,both loving the same man and one of them who is actually loved by the hero gives up her love,for the sake of her sister and the hero is compelled to fall into the pyre of sacrifice .As the sister who marries the hero comes to know her sibling's sacrifice of love,she turns guilty and urges her sibling to marry some one.The unpalatable climax is the marriage of the sibling to another guy{played with dignity by A.Nageshwara Rao} and the death of the elder sister a few months after giving birth to a son.The elder sister's death and the younger one's marriage happen,one preceding the other,letting the hero leave his son as his marriage gift to the woman whom he ardently loved.Gemini Ganesan came out as pure gold from the excruciating course of events.Vijayakumari and Sarojadevi were the affectionate sisters with a mutually sacrificing mindset.
    Iru Kodukal was also the story of a man entangled in a two women web.But in this film the two women were not sisters.The plight of the hero was that of a middle class man whose genuine love with a woman was pulled down by unforeseen circumstances and parental manipulations.The hero's marriage with another woman and the return of the original lover as his superior officer{district collector} took the further course of events to the extent of making the hero's routine move between a flooded river and its fiery bank.It was like sailing between the two mythological rocks called Scylla and Charybdis.
    For Gemini Ganesan a two women story became an enchanting enterprise and he impressively underwent the struggles with his neat emotions,rising over the tides and crossing them as naturally as he could.In fact,Vellivizha was also a film showing Gemini Ganesan shuttling between two women destinations but the narration in Iru Kodukal was so natural and dynamic that it made the audience spell bound, by a life like routine moving on the silver screen. Sowcar Janaki reigned supreme as the forlorn lover and I A S officer while Jeyanthi the wife of the hero passively and naturally went on with her whining domestic core.How grand Tamil Cinema was those days and how nostalgic we turn when we think of those days.
    When compared to these two films,Sumaithangi and Punnagai were poignantly hero oriented movies celebrating the grandeur of noble character formation.While Sridhar's Sumaithangi was both a romantic tale and a family drama,with the latter element surpassing the former, Punnagai was out and out Balachander's resolute idealization of an individual, in a multi coloured society.If Sumaithangi's hero was the embodiment of selfless sacrifice,the hero of Punnagai was the incarnation of truth i.e symbolizing an individual's unflinching dedication to truth. Punnagai which means 'smile' in English,reflected the committed smile of the Mahatma born of innate,immaculate truth. Sumaithangi which would mean a person born to bear others' burden showcased Gemini Ganesan as a person born to bear the cross for others.
    Both these films were the meekest revelations of the ennobling attributes of humanity.Gemini Ganesan's modesty and underplay of emotions made him a colossal hero with his soft voice stamping the transmission of nobility without any murmur.The spirit of stoic resignation and the pious acceptance of the happenings in life were brilliantly focused by factors like characterization and narration.I have not said anything about the other characters of the two films because everyone was made to draw inspiration from the hero,whose display and demonstration of the deeper layers of his character were dramatically gripping.
   Many would have thought that Gemini Ganesan was a mediocre hero, running after the trees to catch the heroine on a stereotyped road of romance.But his acting stuff was far beyond the perceptions of the audience.Most of his films would undoubtedly exhibit his inveterate warmth and ecstatic spirit of acting,without undue promotion of body language or overdoing of scenic requirements,but with adequate display of emotions as soothingly as possible.His sonorous voice modulation stapled him to the character he played,with remarkable ease and felicity.All his films threw an endearing experience to the purview of the audience.The above four films in particular,belonged to the finest category of Gemini Ganesan films.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Woman with a face fit for Thrillers.


      This blog carries several articles on big and small actresses of the Tamil big screen.A special tribute has been made to the sterling celluloid women like T.R.Rajakumari,Padmini, Savitri, Sarojadevi, K.R.Vijaya and J.Jeyalalitha besides acknowledging the extraordinary acting credentials of Radhika, an actress of the new generation.Tamil cinema carries in its historical pages,a charming,graceful and very pleasing actress called Kanchana,who was introduced by none other than Sridhar, one of the most illustrious directors of the Tamil film industry.The film Kadhalaikka Neramillai in which Kanchana made her debut,was a full length comedy and she was paired with R. Muthuraman in that run away hit,released in 1963.
  Born as Vasundharadevi in a fairly wealthy family,Kanchana became her screen name.Her next film was Veera Abimanyu, in which she appeared as the most enchanting Uttara, starring with A.V.M Rajan as Abhimanyu.It was a fantastic mythological film in which Gemini Ganesan played the role of Lord Krishna. Kanchana has always remained as the cutest and highly unassuming woman of Tamil cinema.She could fix herself in roles of comedy{Bhama Vijayam and Utharavinri Ulleva,besides Kadhalikka Neramillai} and lovelorn characters {Parakkum Paavai,Naan Yen Pirandhein and Vilayattu Pillai} and that of a trust worthy friend {Thulaabaaram and Avalukkenru Oer Manam}.But the best roles that came in her way were those of a fear struck woman with jittery nerves and horror borne eyes.She proved to be a perfect fiddle for playing characters of timid, unnerved women lacking in courage.
    It was the A V M's mega hit thriller Adhe Kangal that first brought out the natural nervousness and timidity in Kanchana, in most of the scenes when sudden stunning events occurred.This thriller was in fact a revenge film depicting a youth in disguise of an old man working as the chef and servant of a rich family purely to indulge in murders of the members of the family,in order to avenge the death of his mother, who was actually set on fire by one of the elders of the family{Kanchana's father}.The movie was rated as one of the best thrillers those days and Kanchana's role play as the most fear ridden girl,deserved a special acknowledge ment for natural role play.She was paired with Ravichandran in this most enjoyed film of the last century .
    Following this there came another film Ponnu Maappillai produced by P. S. Veerappa which was also a murder mystery,creating tremulous moments for Kanchana,who played the heroine against Jaishankar. But the most memorable thriller was Shanthi Nilayam in which Kanchana portrayed the role of an orphan  girl put to untold suffering at every stage in her life.Fear and forlorn feelings framed her character with an expression of awe and misery stamped on her face.This film had an indirect lenience to the famous English novel Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte.Gemini Ganesan was the protagonist of the film who was also a victim of desperate circumstances, generating the thriller events of the story.
    The film was a great success with the audience,besides fetching a national award for best cinematography.Incidentally,it is quite interesting a fact that this great actress who reliably portrayed the role of the victim of horror also played the agent of horror in the R.R.Pictures' MGR film Parakkum Paavai.The negative role she played as an agent of crime attempting to undo the life of another woman {B.Sarojadevi} just because the man whom she loved was in love with the other woman, dramatically carried the thriller effect of the film until its climax.But still it was difficult to believe that  Kanchana who could only reflect herself as an embodiment of fear, could also secretly work out thrilling moments for others.
    Kanchana was both a heroine and a supporting actress.She did not do too many Tamil films.But the movies she did,still stay memorable purely on account of her meekly,beautiful and subdued performance.She has been Director Sridhar's favourite heroine doing about four films including the fabulous film Sivandha Mann which was largely shot abroad and in which she was paired with Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan,after acting as one of his daughters in Gemini Pictures' Motor Sundaram Pillai. Kanchana has appeared in the films of almost all leading heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan,Jai Shankar,Ravichandran,R.Muthuraman and A.V.M Rajan.Two of her significant last roles were that of Rajinikanth's mother in Johnny and that of a lawyer in Mani Rathnam's Mouna Ragam. Beyond all these details, the fact remains that Kanchana was one of the rarest and naturally beautiful actresses with a face ever ready to display nervousness and fear as child's play.It is this aspect that made her an actor fit for thrillers.