Friday, November 14, 2014

Tamil Heroes in Contrast.


   














   The concept of hero and hero worship in Tamil Cinema, is at least as old as MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. Till then it was an age of actors, donning roles as heroes.Though there were tall actors like M.K.Thiagaraja Bhagavadhar and P.U.Chinnappa, making a lot of indelible impressions as heroes,it was just an act of greasing the paint with dedication,for playing roles with conviction, talent and utmost involvement.There were fans, but not serious fan clubs as such, functioning with a spirit of frenzy and rivalry.It all started with the dominant heroes MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, whose tenure in Tamil Cinema, was impressively long and magnificent.With their performance levels,popularity and fan club expansion, growing every day, with amazing zeal and charisma,the duo became two monumental heroes of Tamil Cinema.
    It so happened that they began to lead the industry, with their individual preferences dominating at all levels, resulting in a kind of bipolar thrust on the end result of Tamil film making.In short,these two giant-like heroes could influence Tamil Cinema, with their respective pulls and pressures, to the extent of transforming it into an inspiring,profitable and mind blowing endeavour, while at the same time,generating discordant and contradictory responses from film viewers.Ultimately, a new trend of assessment theory was evolved to build an off -screen image for the two heroes, within a potential frame of contrast.Passions very often used to run riot, among the hard core fans of the two heroes, making their  fan clubs as diagonally opposite forums, running with an inherent mood of prejudices and antithetical goals.But these passions were no doubt, governed by ideologies, professional excellence and respect for the field that the heroes belonged to and nourished.  
    Whether it is politics or cinema,two people being equally and simultaneously popular, is almost a piquant situation, causing a serious predicament for the performers and their followers or fans.May be, the persons at the the centre  stage are themselves forced to a create  a mood of divergence among the followers or audience.Perhaps it is their distinct personality and performance calibre that make people accept them as individuals to be compared and contrasted with a passion of affinity or animosity.Certainly, the heroes can not be blamed for a divisive audience because the audience themselves are divided in their preference,appreciation and adoration of the heroes.Personality cult affixing adorable star status, does not come that easy to all heroes.It is out and out a deserving phenomenon.If there are half a dozen heroes at a time, quite often it is just two heroes who turn the mood of the audience into frenzy with both vagaries and values, in forming a special bond with the hero of their choice.But the vital truth is that the two heroes of a period, become makers of an environment of contrast and difference, as the bond with their  fans intensifies into a kind of mania.
     Tamil film industry has solid memories of the segregated fans of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. It is not only an obvious fact that MGR and Sivaji stopped sharing the screen space after the historic film Koondukkili, but is also known history that they were always politically in different blocks at different periods, not sharing the dais with levels of comfort and intimacy.MGR's Dravidian lenience and Sivaji's  Congress affiliation put them as heroes with conflicting political fundamentals.Even in acting, MGR was ever a good Samaritan;whereas Sivaji  was for all waters.While MGR was image conscious,Sivaji  was  a field player.It was the personal charisma,his singular, pioneering social formula for film making and the Tamil people's staunch love for him, that made MGR not just a hero, but a life model for many,particularly the poor and the down trodden.But for the Chevalier hero, whose body and mind were naturally and inseparably bound to acting,the film fans' love for him, was born of admiration for what he was worthy of,in a classic way.In simple terms,it could be said that while MGR inspired as an exemplary model of social and human values,Sivaji   stood as the embodiment of the versatile human emotions and intelligence on screen.
     MGR was rather choosy in accommodating other heroes in his films. Sivaji Ganesan  on the other hand, had a free mind in encouraging competitive participation of  heroes like SSR, Gemini Ganesan, R.Muthuraman and various junior heroes like Jai Shankar,Ravichandran,A.V.M.Rajan, Sivakumar Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. But  MGR would have taken the senior heroes into his fold once a way and not let others like Jai Shankar,Ravichandran and Rajinikanth join even once in his films. Even Kamalahasan   has joined MGR only as a child artist in one of his earliest films Ananda Jothi.The MGR formula of film making was out and out hero- oriented and it was the cherished objective of an MGR film maker, that an MGR film should focus exclusively on the image of a Saviour,  devoted to the well- being of the masses.In doing so,it was thought that the purpose should not get diluted by the participation of other heroes.
   Whereas Sivaji Ganesan  like Kamalahasan, looked upon Cinema as a medium for extracting the best creative potential of every individual in their respective zone associated with the making of a film.The Chevalier not only enjoyed competition but also viewed every hero, as meritorious individual, capable of giving their best, for the successful outcome of a film.In other words, Sivaji Ganesan's concentration was always on the scope and dimension of the role assigned to him and he would always view his performance as well as the performance of others towards ensuring a qualitative output.Off screen image, was always a sequel to his onscreen contribution.
    Among the immediate successors of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan  there was an element of contrast between Jai Shankar and Ravichandran in their outlook of hero image and attitudes towards role performance.But these two contemporary heroes were amenable to each other and would have acted together in films like Naangu Suvargal,Akkarai Pachai,Arunachalam and so on.Their fan base was restricted and Jai Shankar  seemed to have enjoyed greater fan support than Ravichandran. Both were fit for family drama and action films and both shunned taking part in mythological films.Jai Shankar was  particularly well made for detective roles which he performed with pep and style. Moreover, career- wise Jaishankar   was certainly gifted with a consistent support base of production units such as the Modern Theatres, the AVM banner,Devar films and Citadel Pictures{which introduced him as hero in Iravum Pagalum}.Being low profile heroes when compared to the titanic MGR and Sivaji, the scope for contrast between Jai Shankar and Ravichandran was also considerably less.
    After MGR and Sivaji Ganesan it is Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth who created a flutter as heroes of gusto and contrast.Unlike all other heroes, these two contemporaries have created a track record of joint show in a number of films, though not at so large a level as the two mighty Malayalam heroes Mammootty and Mohanlal. From Moonru Mudichu, it was a dynamic and beautiful show of contrast that the audience could witness in the duo. Rajini like Sivaji Ganesan,did not hesitate to do villain roles. He was raging with fire and fury in Kamal's  films like Moonru Mudichu, Avargal and Padhinaaru Vayadhinile.
   Like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,these two heroes have sufficiently vindicated the fact, that an analysis of heroes in contrast, requires certain significant factors that necessitate a study in contrast.In spite of a couple of negative aspects like dark complexion and thinness in body frame, Rajinikanth struck a note pf difference as a unique kind of hero with charm and enhanced degrees of vibration that could inspire audience mood, movie after movie.Be it sentiments or action or negative projections {even in the latest Endhiran}  Rajini stands out as a colossal actor hitting the screen, as a hero of exuberance.His caliber for deeper role performance was cleanly established even at the start of his career in films like Buvana Oru Kelvikkuri,Thappu Thaalangal,Engeyo Kettakural and Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai. It is his amazing body language and tone vibration that transformed Rajinikanth from a hero to a Superstar through distinctly successful delivery points, on a non stop basis.
     Kamalahasan   who grew up as an extraordinary hero along with Rajinikanth,began to hone his skills with an aggressive mindset to achieve the impossible at every attempt.He threw a lot of surprises by his unequal bold ventures at all levels of film making, donning common and uncommon roles with zeal and dedication, that included a special focus on make up manuals taking away his personal identity as an actor and hero and making him endowed with a total genuineness of the character he performed.The greatly heart warming thing is, the way both Rajinikanth  and Kamala hasan casually ignore the fact of their being grand heroes with a strong fan base.They seem to care very little for their off screen image.However,the  major difference between Kamal and  Rajini is the way they have dedicated themselves to the film industry.While Rajinikanth   ensures the victory of the film through his dedication, involvement and participation Kamal struggles with all his might and dedication, to take a new avatar every time, as a performing hero with an innate force, that drives him to newer destinations on his celluloid journey.
   Prabu Ganesan  and Karthik Muthuraman   the next generation heroes of the same century,have acted together in more than half a dozen films.Being the sons of Sivaj Ganesan and R.Muthuraman who had always maintained significant rapport between themselves,the wavelength of Prabu and Karthik  matched well and both recorded creditable innings in their career as heroes, that went on unaffected for nearly two decades.The chubby and genial Prabu and the nimble and neat performer Karthik confined their fan base without any visible bickering.
    Between Vijayakanth  and Sarathkumar,the former's fan base, grew by leaps and bounds, to the extent of grooming larger political ambitions in the line of MGR. Sarathkumar  too has his political outfit and as heroes both Vijayakant and Sarathkumar  have been successful in family roles and as cops with indomitable bravado.These two heroes were hardly ever on a war path.Nor did their fan clubs resort to any negative moves against one another. Sathyaraj a  contemporary hero of Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar has established his position more as an actor of stuff performing villain,hero and character roles in an inimitable way.He has not been rolled into any focus of contrast with other heroes.In this respect he is like Gemini Ganesan and R.Muthuraman of Sivajiganesan team and Sivakumar of  the days of Jaishankar  and Ravichandran
    The  latest heroes in contrast are Ajith and Vijay who have both crossed the magic number of fifty films, through a promising show of brilliance in performance. Both these new generation heroes have their hardcore fans' association with their intense preferences, priorities and prejudices.Both these heroes have shown their mettle for sentiments romance and action.Under eminent film makers like Fazil,Siddique, A.R.Murugadoss,S.J Surya and many others,Vijay has  grown as a hero of singular merit and capability displaying his performance ability and dynamism in singing and dancing besides never letting down his commitment to result- oriented planning and execution of an impressive show. He is a hero, loved by many youngsters including children.
   Ajith  has scaled his progress from an ordinary, modest romantic hero to a high profile action hero capable of playing powerful negative characters as don and gambler with consummate style and grace.While Ajith is  lacking in  the dancing vigour and easy delivery of emotional outbursts that are positive credentials of Vijay, the latter seems to be not bothered about lip synchronization in song sequences even at  close shots. Vijay's  energy levels are definitely  on the higher side because Ajith  mostly resorts to a subdued but fascinating display of his inherent gusto, fit for a poignant performance, without much ado or fire.Ultimately the fans have to choose between the high voltage colorful show of Vijay and the breezy,feather touch demonstration of role play by Aith.
   Many heroes come and go.Not all stand up for a sustained career making repeated entries of mind blowing performance.Even mega heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Rajinikanth and Kamalhasan have given failure films here and there.But it is their films that have failed and  not they as heroes.They have always succeeded in collecting their ardent fans  to the theatres   to watch their failed films at least once.There was a time when theatres   were the only avenues of entertainment and during those times, the theatres with the life size cut outs of these hero giants, made a mighty mark, whether matching the quality stuff of their films or not.But now with the threat of video piracy and DVD craze,every home becomes a theatre  without banners and cut outs of the grand scale heroes.
   Fans  make comparison and contrast  of their loved heroes either through the theatre  route or at their home terminus. The ever alive situation of a movie watch, is the scenario of heroes in contrast.The picture of contrast keeps changing from time to time ,only in pattern  but not in its spirit of affinity and fellow feeling, instinctively formed towards their pet hero.Before I complete this article,it should be mentioned  that only heroes who have acted in more than fifty films have been included here, for a discussion in the line of contrast.
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Nightingale of Tamil Cinema.



      Nightingale is a bird adored for its capacity to sing beautifully and powerfully.Many poets have sung in praise of the Nightingale for its melodious voice.John Keats one of the noted romantic poets in English, has paid rich tributes to the bird in his poem''Ode to a Nightingale''.He calls the nightingale''light winged Dryad of the trees''and ''immortal bird''born to sing in ''full-throated ease''.There are a few human voices,with utmost sweetness and felicity in enthralling music lovers, through a perfect rendition of  timeless songs.Among playback singers, once a way, we come across gifted voices of extraordinary charm adorning the film industry.This is how female voices like Latha Mangeshkar and P.Susheela have established a grand status as playback singers.
     Tamil Cinema in general and Tamil film music in particular, is greatly indebted to P.Susheela for her mighty and monumental contribution,as a playback singer of fascinating felicity and immaculate charm in her voice.Starting from the Nineteen Fifties,she became the one and only female Tamil playback singer, with an extraordinary ability to combine clarity,force,sweetness and symphony in any song that was offered to her.She has been endowed with  splendid vocal cords to enchant, energize and enthuse the listeners irrespective of the language in which she sang.
     Though P.Susheela started her film career in the early Nineteen Fifties,her hey days in Tamil Cinema were between 1960 and 1985.Some of her earliest solo hits were 'Unnai Kan Thedudhe' {KanavaneKankanda Dheivam} 'Azhaikkadhe Ninaikkadhe'{Manaalane Mangaiyin Baagyam} Unakku Mattum'{Manapandal}'AalayaManiyin Osaiyai Naan Kettein','Kadhal Siragai Kaatrinil Virithu'{'Aalayamani}Athaan Ennathaan'{Paava Mannippu} 'Ettadukku Maaligaiyil Etrivaitha En Thalaivan'{Paadha Kaanikkai} 'Kangaikkarai Thottam' {Vaanambaadi}'Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathile'{Bagya latchumi} 'Kangal Enge Nenjamum Enge'{Karnan}'Paartha Gnabagam Illayao'{Pudhiya Paravai} 'Ninaikka Therindha Maname' {Ananadha Jothi}'Sonnadhu Needhaanaa'{Nenjil Oer Aalayam} 'Unnai Naan Sandhithein' [Aayirathil Oruvan} 'Unnai Kaanaadha Kannum Kannalla' {Idhayakkamalam} and'Kannan Varuvaan Kadhai Solluvaan' {Panjavarnakkili}.
      P.Susheela was the busiest playback singer in all South Indian languages and her busy schedule did not ever deter her vigorous spirit of performance that legitimately resulted in winning awards at the state and national level.It is a proud fact that she was the first woman playback singer to win the national award for her most captivating rendering of the song 'Naalaiyindha Velaiparthu Odivaa Nilaa'for the AVM block buster film Uyarndha Manidhan that also happened to be the 150th film of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan. Incidentally, she got the State Govt.award too,for the same song.
     The next national award she won, was her highly sprightly and energy loaded song 'Sittukkuruvi kkenna Kattuppaadu' from Malliyam Rajagopal's most successful film Savaale Samaali,another Sivaji Ganesan film.This beautifully composed song, both in lyrical beauty and musical richness, celebrated the grandeur of freedom and it was the nightingale's voice that seemed to liberate every music lover, from the entanglement of 'the weariness the fever and fret'of life. Hearing this great song in the incomparable voice of P.Susheela was an exalting experience. What a free flow of breeze it was and how forcefully Susheela's voice infused the gist of freedom as an ennobling experience. Susheela again got the Tamil Nadu State Government's award for singing the sweet number 'Brindhaa Vanathukku Varuginrein' in Sivaji Ganesan's Latchumi Kalyaanam.Far beyond these numbers, there were a few immortal songs, that P.Susheela sang for a few dance sequences with songs such as,'Mannavan Vandhaanadi'{Thiruvarutchelvar} 'Nalandhaana' and Maraindhirundhu Paarkum Marmamenna {both from Thillaanaa Mohanammbaal}
      P.Susheela's best duets were with T.M.Soundarajan.Songs like"Mullai Malar Mele'{Uthama Puthiran}'Naan Pesa Ninaipadhellaam' {Paalum Pazhamum}'Malarndhum Malaraadha'{Paasa Malar}'Anru Vandhadhum Adhe Nilaa' {Periya Idathu Penn}'Thottaal PooMalarum'{Padahotti} 'Aadaludan Paadalai Serthu'{Kudiyirundha Koil}'Poomalaiyil Oer Malliagai'{Ootty Varai Uravu} 'Vizhiye Vizhiye Unakkenna Velai',and 'Chinnavalai Mugam Sivandhavalai'{both from Puthiya Bhoomi}are a few samples of the immortal numbers in their most matching combination of voices. Almost every song she sang with TMS was a right and ripe combination of the female voice with that of the male,not going out of tune at any stage.
      The TMS/P.Susheela duets were of a classic brand because both were known for established norms of voice pattern, voice clarity,vocal thrust and precision in pronunciation of words.Their voices travelled along on the musical track with one hundred percent fusion calling for repeated hearing.The other male voices with whom Susheela's elegant voice occasionally joined were those of P.B.Srinivas{'Paal Vannam Paruvam Kandu'from Pasam' and 'Ennaruge Neeyirundhaal' from Thirudaadhe were outstanding pieces of meldy and sweetness},A.M.Raja {'Thingalurangiya Pothum Thenralurangiya Podhum' from Petra Magana Vitra Annai would remain as an immortal number}Chidambaram Jeyaraman{'Vinnodum Mugilodum' from Pudhayal was simply exuberant} Sirkazhi Govindarajan {Sirikkinraal Inru Sirikkinraal from Nallavan Vaazhvan was a pure piece of soothing melody}and S.P.Balasubramanyan{ several beautiful duets particularly 'Aayiram Nilave Vaa' from Adimai Penn and 'Iyarkaiyennum Ilaya Kanni' from Shanthi Nilayam need a special mention}.
      Apart from her mind blowing solo songs, sad melodies and duets,there is a galaxy of joyous numbers that came to dominate the audience imagination.Some of the songs that actually stole our hearts and keep the scenic sequence also lingering in our memory are' Theidinein  Vandhadhu' {Oottivarai Uravu}''Aadai Muzhudhum Nanaya Nanaya''{Namnaadu} 'Kannan Ennum Mannan Perai Solla Solla' 'Ammammaa Kaatruvandhu Aaadai Thottu'{ both from Vennira Aadai}'Sithirai Maadham Pournami Neram' {Raman Ethanai Ramanadi}'Renga Renagaiyya'{Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu}and 'Oraayiram Naadagam Aadinaal {Sumathi En Sundhari}.Besides these most valued songs, there were a few beautiful numbers that P.Susheela sang with other female singers like L.R.Eswari and Jamuna Rani.Songs that need a special mention in this category are,'Thoodhu Sella Oru Thozhi Illaiyena'{Pachai Vilaaku} 'Malarukku Thenral Pagaiyaanaal'{Enga Veettu Pillai}both with L.R.Eswari and 'Punnagai Mannan Poovizhi Kannan'{Iru Kodugal }with Jamuna Rani.
     As a playback singer P.Susheela was leading Tamil film music nearly for three decades .It was a tone capable of conquering human emotions with a spontaneous reach that made her deliver her notes, with utmost confidence, ease and magnificence.With an incomparable voice sweetness, she sang powerfully and beautifully, not only film songs, but also religious songs like 'Maanika Veenaiyendhum Maadhevi Kalaivaani' and 'Idaividaa Sahaaya Maadha,Inaiyilaa Dhevamaadha' to be broadcast frequently on the AIR even before she became popular as a playback singer.The charismatic appeal in her voice throw, was inimitable and she sang with full throated ease to transport human imagination to 'magic casements and fairy lands' like the nightingale that enthralled John Keats.It is in this unique form,she becomes the nightingale of Tamil Cinema.
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Knife is Sharp.



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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Satirical Voice of Tamil Cinema.



     Tamil Cinema has taravelled on several tracks and has celebrated a galaxy of themes and styles of narration.There have been actors of all kinds enriching the fundamentals of Tamil cinema as an effective medium of entertainment.However,in promoting the satirical tone of narration there has been only one film personality who is greatly esteemed as a creative and critical expert in the line of Girish Karnard in Kannada.That is the most experienced, multi faceted Cho Ramasamy,the noted Tamil playwright,actor,comedian, prolific commentator and bold critic of political and social foibles.It is his pragmatic vision and poignant element of satire that has made his performance very interesting in all the activities mentioned above.As this blog is confined to films I am constrained to restrict my focus on Cho as a film maker and actor.
    When compared to his contemporary comedian Nagesh,Cho's participation on the big screen was not voluminous.But in whichever film he appeared either in isolation or being teamed up with other comedians like Nagesh and Thengai Srinivasan, Cho's contribution would stand apart as a factor motivating audience intelligence and analytic mindset along with humour.This he would pass on, through an assertive element of satire with an aggressive component of caricaturing individuals and social systems, embedded with untenable loopholes.In this regard, his main target would be the political whims and fancies filled with inherent follies, looking for instant and permanent remedies.
     Cho's exclusive cleverness lies in giving contextual twists to any dialogue that would ultimately end up in taking a dig at individuals or groups.He would see to it that he cracks spontaneous and timely jokes at the expense of others  and make the audience enjoy his verbal dig.Though Tamil film comedy has never been lacking in verbal force and humour,Cho's additional score would always be the satirical thrust infused in words mostly genial in content and at times pungent in tone if the situation warranted.
     If Nagesh was closer to MGR in the earlier years of his career,Cho began to find a place in the later films of MGR.Some of the popular films of MGR that included Cho's comedy flair were Sange Muzhangu,Adimaipenn, Maattukkaara Velan, En Annan and Engal Thangam.The same way he enjoyed equal amount of confidence with Sivaji Ganeasan in films like Paar Magale Paar,Gowravam, Galaattaa Kalyaanam,Thangapadhakkam,,Nirai Kudam,Thavapudhalvan, and Anbaithedi,The last three were from the Mukta Films'production house and it is a known fact that Cho was a regular addition in the films of Mukta.V.Srinivasan.The fact that Cho was the most valued comedian in other Mukta Films' movies like Thein Mazhai,Ninaivil Ninraval,Aayiram Poi  Bommalaattam and Sooriyakanthi, showed the amount of rapport he had with that film company.In Thein Mazhai and Ninaivil Ninraval his comedy scenes with Nagesh became the talking point.
     Cho has worked with all great heroes like MGR, Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan,Jai Shankar, Ravichandran Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth.Cho's  association with the Superstar appears to be stronger than with Kamalahasan and  the number of films he has worked with Rajini would be an evidence of this fact.His comedy scenes in Guru Sishyan, Manidhan and Adhisiappiravi created a lot of fun .As Visithiraguptan in Adhisiappiravi,Cho led the audience to wonderful moments of laughter. Besides these films his character in Rajini's Aaarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai was of special significance.
     If Cho had just been another actor, his popularity yardsticks would have been confined to the celluloid world.But he has established his position rather unshakably as a film maker and exuberant writer with an exemplary critical frame of mind.Some of his stage plays that were made into films like Mohamadbin Tuklaq,Yarukkum Vetkamillai,Unmaye Un Vilai Enna and Mr.Sampath speak of his trade marks of satire and social perceptions.Particularly,the film Unmae Un Vilai Enna was thought provoking.Cho definitely deserves a special place as a film personality, because of his variety in focus and versatility in the execution of his creative capabilities.Very few actors have set the audience to think,by their contribution on and off the screen,like Cho Ramasamy.
    Cho's egg like eyes and the vibration in his usually excited voice, are his special attractions.His sense of humour and comedy fundamentals have always remained perfectly decent.Vulgarity would be the last thing he would ever resort to, in generating laughter.The vibe of his satirical tone is enough to kindle laughter and set the audience to thinking aloud.As a Tamil movie comedian Cho will always occupy a distinct position and his space with his singular voice of satire will ever remain incomparable.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AACHI,THE GREAT.

                                                      
    













      Aachi is a very popular brand name for quite a few food products made in Tamil Nadu and sold around the world. But here  it is Aachi, the most  famous Tamil comedienne and character actor I am talking about. Manorama who is affectionately called Aachi,first acted as heroine in the film Konjum Kumari  after appearing  in a few movies like Maalayitta Mangai and Kalathoor Kannamma released in the Nineteen  fifties.
    Tamil Cinema has successfully introduced and patronized quite a lot of women talents, performing as heroines, comediennes and character actors. Among comediennes there were robust performers like T.A.Madhuram,T.P.Muthulakshmi,M.Saroja,Kumari Chachu,Madhavi and Kovai Sarala. But none of them ruled the Tamil big screen for so long a time as Manorama, acting in a wide variety of roles in more than one thousand movies. She stands apart as a colossal actress surpassing the claims of any other woman in the Tamil film industry.
     As a vibrant and winning comedienne, her hey days were with Nagesh, contributing equally to the humour segment of many MGR and Sivaji Ganesan movies, competing with that veteran and at times even overshadowing him.From the Nineteen Seventies to Eighties, Tamil films without Manorama were not many.Besides Nagesh, she would be a perfect pair with other comedians like ThengaiSeeinivasan,Cho,Surulirajan,V.K.Ramasamy and M.R.R Vasu. Manorama was not only a versatile actor like Sivaji Ganesan,  but was also a good singer lending her voice to music, in films like Edhir Neechal,Poovaa Thalaiyaa, Dariisanam Bommalaattam,Sooriyakandhi and so on.Some of her best shows in humour  were in Anbe Va,Baratha Vilas,Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa,Galattaa Kalyaanam, Thiruvilaiyaadal, Saraswathi Sabadham,Kandhan Karunai,Edhir Neechal, Bommalaattam,Kaasedhaan Kadavulada, Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal,Samsaaram Adhu Minsaaram and Nadigan.
    Like SivajiGanesan,Manorama  was adept in using different dialects in Tamil with native ease and felicity.Her bold and clear tone was ever her asset and with that she would deliver dialogues with consummate force and confidence, making a deliberate audio  visual impact on the audience. Emotions of anger and righteousness would naturally rise through relevant intonation in her utterance of dialogues and the same way her tone would settle down to adequate levels of submission and modesty whenever  the context warranted humility and grace. She could comfortably reach levels of sentimental melodrama and realistic patterns of behavior without any semblance of overdoing, from her side.
    While no one can forget her comic roles in several films, she has also been invincible in performing character roles particularly that of a devoted mother reflecting  powerfully, the positive energy and compassion of motherhood. Manorama  stands as the most cherished and loved mother character in films like Sooriyan [where she shows immense love to the hero Sarathkumar whom she treats as her son}Pudhiya Paadhai [in a similar role with Parthiban as hero],Chinna Thambi,Kizhakku Vaasal,Pangaali, Gentleman ,Jaihind,Saamy, Annamalai, Chinna Gounder,Marumalarchi,Vallal,Gemini, Honest Raj, Parambarai,Periya Kudumbam, Thaamirabarani, Naattamai and Natpukkaaga. In all these movies as the mother of heroes like Rajinikanth, Prabu,Karthik Muthuraman, Sathyaraj, Sarathkumar, Vijayakanth,Arjun and Mammootty,she has represented  the inspiring, emboldening  and sacrificing dimensions of  an unflinching mother, creating a vacuum in the life of her sons through her death or separation.
    She has definitely been a creditable addition into the films of two great heroes. One is Sivaji Ganesan and the other is Rajinikanth. Though she would have acted in the films of every other hero, Sivaji and Rajini  have inducted her as a valued colleague and senior artist respectively, in most of their films.She has certainly reciprocated their gesture by her open adoration of Sivaji Ganesan  and categorical statements of gratitude to Rajinikanth. A couple of scenes in the epic like film Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal  would  show how much she admired and  respected Sivaji Ganesan as an actor of grand scale. The number of Sivaji Ganesan films she acted were many  and one could see her even in the later year films of the Chevalier such as Thiagam,Viduthalai,{a combined show of Sivaji and Rajini} and Needhipathi released during the Eighties.
      As far as Rajini  is concerned, starting from  Kuppathu Raja she has often joined the films of Rajinikanth in a vital character role. While Annamalai  showcased her as the  beloved and dignified mother of the hero, she has generated spontaneous humour in other films like Pokkiri Raja,Billa,Thee,Thanga Magan,Adutha Vaarisu, Guru Sishyan,Naan Adimai Illai, Ejamaan, Mannan and Arunachalam. Both in Pookiri Raja and Guru Sishyan, she appeared as a greedy woman getting caught in the hands of Rajini, thereby generating moments of laughter. In Thangamagan she was compact as the adopting mother of Rajinikanth. She has also acted in other Rajikanth films like Bhairavi,Aaru Pushpangal, Sivappuchooriyan and so on.
    With Kamalahasan, apart from Kamal’s first film Kalathoor Kannammaa, Manorama has  been the world hero’s pet actor in his  most popular films like Aboorva Sagodharargal, Per Sollum Pillai,SingaraVelan,Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi, Savaal,Sattam, Enakkul Oruvan, Michael Madhanakamarajan and Vaazhve Maayam .
    The major Tamil film  production houses have utilized Manorama’s talents as many times as possible. Though she was introduced as a heroine by Modern Theatres, other film makers like Devar films, Vijayalakshmi Pictures, A.V.M.Pictures,Muktha Films and  Sujatha Cine Arts would usually have a script with a provision for an important comedy or character role for Manorama. In this respect, her number of entries will be more with Sujatha Cine Arts and AVM pictures. Manorama’s personal popularity as a meritorious artist should have been the major reason for her inclusion in a vast number of movies produced by these production units.Similarly a huge line of eminent directors starting from A.P.Nagaran and K.Balachander down to P.Vasu ,K.S.Ravikumar and Shankar, have brought out the best layers of acting from Manorama.
    Aachi  has reached a monumental status in Tamil Cinema, which even many outstanding heroines could not attain. It is really an extraordinary thing for some one to stay wanted in a field  after making a long standing contribution through dedication and magnificent performance. As an artist of  individual potential and versatility in demonstration, she will ever occupy the foremost place in Tamil Cinema in the line of Sivaji Ganesan. She would not have got an award like the Chevalier.But she is ever our Aachi the great.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Tamil Film Actor of Theatrical Excellence.



    






            
      During the last century, quite a number of actors gradually moved to the big screen from the stage like a cluster of stars. Starting from great heroes like P.U.Chinnappa,K.R.Ramasamy, MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, many villain and character actors also enriched Tamil Cinema with their theatrical experience.The list would include many actors like M.N.Nambiyar,M.R.Radha, TKS Brothers, S.V.Sahasranamam ,V.S.Raghavan and the most illustrious comedian N.S.Krishnan. In this list there was another amazing actor, well built in body frame and impressive in looks, with a pair of clear, bold eyes. That was R.S.Manohar, an exemplary stage artist who founded his own National Theatres and performed many stage plays of which remains, the immortal play Ilangeswaran eulogizing the epic grandeur of Raavana, the king of Sri Lanka who as per the epic Ramayana, kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita and kept her as captive. I have heard many of my friends telling that besides the deviation in narration and glorification of an anti hero,the unique technicalities involved in the stage presentation of a newer version of the epic resulted in a grand appreciation of the live show of a theatrical extravaganza. R.S.Manohar came to be known as Lankeswaran Manohar.
    As a film actor R.S.Manohar is rightly remembered as a dedicated, talented and diligent artist. The fact that he was closer to both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan and that he was a favoured actor of the Modern Theatres,R.R.Pictures,Sathya Movies , Gemini Pictures and Sujatha Cine Arts Pictures, are enough to prove his credentials as a remarkable performer. Manohar was good at fencing and boxing and had a face fit for playing mythological, historical and family roles. He was  equally convincing as a villain and character actor. He had a gruffly voice and with that he would deliver clear dialogues through calculated efforts.His well built physique added to his sparkling image as a powerful villain and henchman. His levels of sobriety in role performance were creditably high. But he had a face fit for performing humorous roles also, as he did it Vallavanukku Vallavan for the song sequence ‘’Paaradi Kanne Konjam/Paithiyamanadhu Nenjam’’.
    In mythological roles, be it that of Ravana or Lord Shiva, he was  facially compact like S.V.Rengarao,who had a perfect face to fit into any character from Hindu mythology. Manohar was magnificent as Lord Shiva in the film Datchayakgnam with Jamuna as Goddess Parvathi. It was almost like watching Sivaji Ganesan as Shiva in Thiruvilaiyaadal. Though the film was not a hit its memories are inerasable for those who had watched it. The other mythical films of Manohar were, Thiruneelakandar and Mahakavi Kalidas.  In royal garbs Manohar was greatly appealing in films like Raja Raja Cholan, Aayirathil Oruvan and Adimaippen. When it comes to villainy, Manohar had an independently fascinating style of performance  with regard to body language, dialogue delivery and aspects relating to stunt scenes. Nobody can forget the boxing scene at the start of the film Kaavalkaaran that showed MGR and R.S.Manohar  in a professionally rich form.The fencing scene between him and MGR in Aayirathil Oruvan was another treat.Almost all his fight sequences with MGR in films like Panakkaara Kudumbam,Parakkum Paavai,Panam Padiathavan, Olivilakku, Rickshawkaaran and Idhayakkani were full of fire and ferocity.
      R.S.Manohar performed villainy with force and brutality in several films like Naan,Parakkum Paavai, Raaja,Vallavan Oruvan,Idhayakkani and Rickshawkaaran. Like M.N.Nambiyar,He enjoyed equal intimacy with both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. If he would have acted in more than fifteen films with MGR, he had also shared screen space with Sivaji Ganesan in Raja,En Magan,Rojavin Raja , Sivagaamiyin Selvan,Raja Raja Cholan, Sangili, Paattum Baradhamum,Chitra Pournami and Mahakavi Kalidas.The other popular heroes with whom Manohar got into fisticuffs on the screen were Jaishankar and Ravichandran.The number will be more with Jaishankar because both of them were  favourite actors of the Modern Theatres.RS.Manohar would have acted in almost all Modern Theatres' releases including Chitraangi,Petra Maganai Vitra Annai and Konjum Kumari.Similarly he was a regular addition in the films of R.R.Pictures' films.The other memorable films of Manohar are the most historic Konjum Salangai,and the greatly valued film Idhayakamalam besides the children movie Pattanathil Bhoodham.
     Some of the hero-cum- character roles Manohar  performed were in films like Vannakkili, Vallavanukku Vallavan and Kaidhi Kannayiram. In Vannakkili it was a redeemable negative role that brought him a lot of accolades from the audience.Similarly,Manohar's character almost as hero carried a telling position as a cop in the old film with the lengthiest title''Thayaipoal Pillai Nolaippoal Selai''In Iru Vallavargal it was again a redeemable negative role, as the elder brother of Jaishankar. All these films became hits and Manohar’s contribution was noticeably on the higher side, in all these films. Manohar has acted with many heroes from MGR to Pandiarajan. His  films with Rajnikanth like Billa,Thee and Thangamagan were super hits. What is more significant in Manohar’s role assignment is that he would be a crucial character in carrying on the tempo or suspense in narration of the main plot ,however small his role was. This is how his role solved a ticklish issue of the husband suspecting the fidelity of the wife as seen in the film Vaazhkapadagu, {another Gemini pictures movie before the release of Olivilaaku}.Manohar’s character served a similar purpose in Thangamagan.In Rickshakkaran,as the wayward husband of Padmini,he would play a major role in finally exposing the darker side of a judge, played by Major Sundarajan.
    Whatever be the character that was offered to him and however small it was,R.S.Manohar was never lagging behind in his dedication and whole hearted contribution to the delivery of the role in its perfect presentation. The salient part of his acting mode was his calculated manner of dialogue delivery with relevant display of contextual emotion and flawless diction with proper stress and intonation. This must have been one of the positive impacts of his regular stage performance. It was his devotion to the stage that groomed his acting style on the screen with necessary changes incorporated on a modest scale. The over all impact was ultimately the audience getting closer to the nuances of theatrical excellence scrupulously  displayed on the screen  as the right kind of comprehensive evolution in acting.It was this factor that constantly projected R.S.Manohar as an actor different from  the others, making straight entry into Cinema, without  getting routed through the stage. The end result is R.S.Manohar is remembered today as a dramatist, stage colossus and film actor with infallible grace, embracing all his profiles.   
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dynamic Comedy Duo.



             
















    Tamil Cinema has not been lacking in dynamics of comedy and humour at any point of time, ever since its inception. Even during its founding years, Tamil films were reputed for vibrant comedy, displayed by amazing comedians such as N.S.Krishnan, Kali.N.Rathinam, T.S.Dorairaj and later  by great actors like K.A.Thangavelu, Nagesh and V.K.Ramasamy. It was these people who took verbal comedy to its decent and enjoyable heights. But even among these comedians, we would not have seen a continued team spirit, in the line of the Hollywood famous Laurel and Hardy.
   However, there are two comedians of Tamil Cinema,who launched a team show and went on well, with unusual gusto and exuberance, calling for spontaneous audience admiration, for nearly two decades. Strangely, both these actors began acting on an independent track.By a touch of fortune,they came together to reach new heights  in commendable verbal comedy with an intermittent spell of physical comedy necessitated by contextual compulsions.These two comedians Goundamani and Senthil  will ever stay tuned to the memory of a large section of the Tamil audience,who were fortunate as movie watchers, during the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties.
     As far as their independent comedy roles are concerned, Goundamani  would have scored more credits  than Sendhil because of his extraordinary verbal force, which he would have sensibly used teaming up with all heroes including Kamalahasan {Singaravelan and Indian need a special mention} and Rajinikanth [ Padhinaaru Vayadhinile, Uzhappaali, Mannan and Baabaa in particular}.Goundamani’s  grand show of verbal comedy took several U turns and stomach curdling curves whenever he joined the company of Sathyaraj. Some of the special films in this regard are Thirumadhi Pazhanichami,Vela Kidachuduchu,Walter Vetrivel, Bramma, Nadigan, Pangaali,Vallal,Thai Maaman,Kungumapottu Gounder,Maaman Magal and Malabar Police. I think Goundamani  would have acted maximum number of films with Sathyaraj as hero. Goundamani's  role as a political aspirant in Sooriyan {with Sarathkumar as hero} was another feather on his cap with a performance full of lively wit vibrant satire.He also celebrated his solo comedy in films like Payanagal Mudivadhillai and Naan Paadum Paadal. 
    For Sendhil  without  Goundamani, it is not that easy to display his intrinsic  humour potential. It is the presence of Goundamani  that inspires him to make a marvelous show of his cheeky side of humour taking his senior comedian casually for a ride, every now and then. Tamil audience can never erase from their memory hard drive, the most hilarious scenes from films like Kattabomman, Chinna Gounder, Chinnavar, Manasukketha Maharaasaa, Thangamana Rasa, Naattaamai , Gentleman,Jaihind. Karna, Indian, and the most famous Karagaattakkaran. The banana scene from the last film mentioned here, would stay as an epoch making comedy scene like that  of K.A.Thangavelu narrating his bogus award winning function to his wife M.Saroja, in Kalyana Parisu and  Naagesh narrating the ghost tale in his proposed film to his father T.S.Balaiah, in Kadhalikka Neramillai.
   There is a remarkable scene in a movie in which Goundamani  would have explained the meaning of cholera as an evil spirit. Subsequently fearing the spread of cholera, Goundamani will travel on the pillion of the cycle pedaled by Sendhil . When Goundamani’s foot gets stuck to the back wheel, he will shout ‘kaalraa Kaalra’[my foot man! my foot] Senthil  will coolly say that he knows it is cholera and that is why he is riding fast so that both of them can escape from it. In another film, Sendhil  will watch Goundamani consoling a bereaved son at a funeral, stating that the dead man was not only a father to his son but also a venerable father to everybody in the village. Soon in  a similar context,Sendhil  will be seen consoling a bereaved husband, stating that the departed wife was not only a beloved wife of her husband but a loving wife of everyone.How much Sendhil   gets thrashed for this, is anybody’s guess. Senthil  will then innocently think, why when Goundamani says such things he is not beaten by anybody, forgetting the context and its requirements of behaviour and manner of talk.
    In another film Goundamani  will  be selling tender coconuts and Sendhil as his assistant driven by the temptation to become a coconut seller will soon indulge in stealing Goundamani’s tender coconuts, using a rope and pulling them one after the other, to another place installed by him as a shop. He will do this with the help of Vadivelu.  In Jai Hind, every time when Goundamani{ a cop, in that film}goes to sleep, Sendhil will appear in his dreams, goading him to do the unwanted, thereby causing a demotion or some other punishment in his job. Through out the film, Senthil will be a nightmare for Goundamani. Who, other than Sendhil ,will have the temerity to argue that  he an  eight standard passed out candidate, is superior to Goundamani, a tenth standard failed person, because a pass is always superior to  failure in an examination.
    The collateral damage that Senthil  causes to Goundamani in several movies, is the creamy layer of hilarious comic situations ending up in thunderous applause from the audience. The most unforgettable comedy in this category is from K.S.Ravikumar’s Naattaamai  wherein, Sendhil plays the notorious womanizing father of Goundamani. While Goundamani will be helplessly looking for  a girl for himself to be his wife Sendhil will effectively thwart the former's attemptsThe other noteworthy aspect of Goundamani's search is his desire to know who his mother is. Whenever Sendhil addresses Goundamani as'My son' Goundamani will retort by calling him'Dei Thagappa'}.Though Naattaamai was a grand show in all respects, one could firmly acknowledge the dynamic reach of Goundamani Senthil comic anecdotes adding to its historic victory at the box office.
   At one point of time or the other any trend  has to meet its natural end. This dynamic duo could not be said to have parted ways. But  the audience preference began to move towards newer display of laughter quotient and comedians like Vivek and Vadivelu took over the screen for the evolution of  social concepts and contextual display of physical comedy combined with verbal banter. However, Sendhil  like Goundamani ,established his  individual might of comedy, by his special association with the Superstar in films like Muthu,Arunachalam and Padayappa and the comedy segment of these films was a clear indicator of what Senthil is  independently capable of .
   Goundamani, who was introduced by Barathiraja, continued to remain a constant addition in most of the films of this  epoch making film maker. His talent has also been successfully utilized by many able hands like R.Sundarajan, Manivannan, Ramarajan, Ve.Sekar, P.Vasu, K.S.Ravikumar,R.V.Udhyakumar and Shankar. Besides he was  regularly included in the films of the Motherland pictures. Sendhil being almost the alter ego of Goundamani would have been there in most of the films directed by the above film makers.Perhaps Shankar would have inducted him in a few more films like Jeans and Boys.Sendhil has also been a special favourite of actor Thiagarajan who gave him the first opportunity in Malayur mambattiyaan.
    Like Nagesh whose comedy show dominated Tamil Cinema for more than two decades, the humour  component of Goundamani and Senthil  flew high  wielding their welded wings to newer zones. Trends might change every now and then. But each age has a special message to pass over to posterity. It is this message that makes history. In this regard  the message passed on by the duo is that, if two individuals set aside their ego, they can create new records in joint ventures  with a dynamic reach of their joint show.
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