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 .

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Most Popular Tamil Comedies.



       Tamil Cinema has a fascinating galaxy of films of various genres.There has been a felicitous addition of rib tickling as well as rejuvenating comedies that keep the Tamil film society proud of its creative vigour and performance potential.Every decade has come out with different types of hilarious comedies,contributing to the speed and size of growth of the Tamil film industry.
   Makers of appropriate comedy skits and participants in taking up the onus of transmitting the sense and gusto of humour deserve special accolades in this regard.A majority of films have of course incorporated the comedy element only as subplots. They have done this purely for the purpose of providing comic relief for the audience, from watching power packed narrations of highly emotional themes and heavy story lines.There have also been a consistent flow of full length comedies as well, during every decade, to keep the laughter element as the most cherished form of human behaviour.It is this spirit of comedy that breaks the dullness behind the  repetitive events, ruling through the routine of people of various walks of life.In other words it is the variety aspect of the comedy films, that makes them the most challenging and  outstanding products of creative imagination.This article would look at a few grand Tamil comedies,  that stay stuck to our memory and keep on invigorating our thought process.
    The first ever consummately decent comedy that I watched during my childhood days was the Gemini Ganesan and Savithri starring Missiamma directed by the most eminent film maker L.V.rasad. The film narrated the plight of two unemployed graduates,a man and a woman,who had to lie that they were both husband and wife .Besides these two actors the film had a wonderful cast of highly talented actors like S.V.Renga Rao,K.Sarangabani,M.N.Nambiyar,K.A.Thangavelu and Jamuna.It was one of the cleanest among Tamil movies creating a lot of warmth and joy for the viewers.
    The other reputed Tamil comedy entries were the two great Sivaji Ganesan films Manamagan Thevai and Sabash Meena,The former produced and directed by  P.S.Ramakrishna  Rao,[husband of actress P.Banumathi} vigorously pictured the sparkling attitude of a shrewd girl who did a perfect deceiving elf in conducting herself in two profiles as twins.There was a lot of fun and healthy humor in the combined show of Sivaji Ganesan,P.Banumathi,J.P Chandrababu, Javert Seetharaman and T.R.Ramachandran The other film Sabash Meena, produced and directed by B.R Pantulu was a sparkling tale of impersonation resulting in memorable comical situations. Sivaji Ganesan and J.P.Chandrababu made a robust parade of humor with their unique display of waywardness and temerity.The film became a classic hit.
    Then came Vedhantham Ragavaiah's most popular film Adutha Veettu Penn that had an impresseive cast of greatly talented actors like T.R.Ramachandran,Anjalidhevi K.A.Thangavelu and M.Saroja.It was another clean comedy of the last century passing on, truly lighter moments of  mood changing magic, without deviating from the concepts of natural comedy.The film which was very popular with the audience, had the comedy segment of Thangavelu and M.Saroja transformed into gramophone records and reached many homes, besides being repeatedly broadcast through the All India Radio and Ceylon Radios Commercial transmission.
    The  immortal Tamil comedy of the Nineteenth Century was Sridhar's Kadhalikka Neramillai that introduced Ravichandran into Tamil cinema.It was a grand contextual comedy with the extraordinary role play of R.Muthuraman, Nagesh T.S.Balaiah, and Ravichandran. The humour quotient of the film was so compact and meaningful that it could surpass the barriers of time and find an acceptable reception even this day,without losing its laudable sense of comedy. It was the dialogues that most aptly adorned the scenes with contextual verbal sense and enriched the over all quality of the film.The other positive aspect of the film was its rich music with an archive of timeless songs.The T.S Balaiah-Nagesh combination displayed the core of tremendous comedy sense with a universal appeal.
    Later Sridhar and his assistant Gopu  came out with a couple of full length comedies like Oottivarai Uravu and Kalaatta Kalyanam both starring Sivaji Ganesan,one paired with K.R.Vijaya and the other with Jeyalalitha. The latter was a clear farcical narration and the former was another milestone in graceful humor showing T.S.Balaiah in an unenviable,ridiculous situation.The refreshing dance sequence of K.R.Vijaya for the wonderful song 'Thedinen Vandhadhu' sung by P.Suseela at the initial spell of the film, became the most striking momentum of the film.
    Sivaji Ganesan's other boisterous comedy venture was again B.R.Pantulu's Bale Pandia, in which the Chevalier donned treble roles and made a casual show of his tremendous flair for humor along with the ever vibrant M.R.Radha playing dual roles.The initial scene showing Sivaji Ganesan on top of a multi storied building threatening to commit suicide and the subsequent dialogues uttered by him caused a roar of laughter among the audience.The most unforgettable scene in that film was the song sequence in which the Chevalier and Radha would vie with each other to show their singing might, through the happily remembered song, 'Neeye Unakku Enrum Nigaraanavan' in T.M.Soundarajan's stentorian voice.
   K.Balachander's Bama Vijayam was another clean comedy in the line of Missiamma and it was meant for a decent family watch with T.S.Balaiah,Nagesh and Muthuraman stealing the show, with the able support of veteran actor Major Sundarajan.The film was noteworthy for its effective female participation depicting Sowcar Janaki in perfect form of providing innocent humour.Jeyanthi and Kanchana joined Janaki in beautifully portraying the spirit of domestic womanhood..This film would create a mood of nostalgia,adding moments of longing for such qualitative humor show, not to be seen in the present day films.
    After Bhama Vijayam K.Balachander came out with a lovable comedy film portraying the dubious side of a youth who was an incarnation of falsehood but presented himself as the truest person on earth, with astounding principles and this he had to do, just for the sake of getting a job.The  film seemed  to showcase Rajinikanth in a totally different frame and the attempt clicked, just because of this novel depiction of Rajinikanth with an ISI stamp of humor.The narration of the film was so refreshing that it became a spontaneous hit, with the sparkling support of Thengai Srinivasan who stole the whole comedy show and there were Nagesh and Sowcar Janaki to substantially complement the contextual impact of the comedy sequences, with make up manuals and acrobatics.The remarkable success of the film called for its remake with Mirchi Siva, Prakash Raj and Kovai Sarala substituting Rajini, ThengaiSrinivasan and Sowcar Janaki.
   There was a road comedy wonderfully demonstrated by Nagesh and A.Karunanidhi with other comedians like Bakkoda Kadher in the highly talked about film Madras to Pondicherry.Robust humor travelled along with a bus crew generating spot comedy of a tall order. AVM's Kasedhaan Kadavulada starring Muthuraman,Lakshmi Thengai Srinivasan Srikanth Manorama and others,was yet another fantastic farcical show..In the same farcical category there were two enjoyable comedy films called Veettukku Veedu and Utharavinri Ulle vaa.The former was cast with Jaishankar, Muthuraman, Lakshmi, Nirmala  and Nagesh and the latter with Ravichandran,Kanchana,Nagesh Sachu and others..For both these films Chiralaya Gopu wrote the screen play.These movies also created a lot of humor impact on the minds of the audience.Some of the other notable comedies during this period were Jaishankar's Kalyaanamaam Kalyaanam, K.Balachander's Anubhavi Raja Anubhavi.
    After these films, there was a dry spell.It was Sundar.C who dissipated the dry spell by his silver jubilee hit Ullathai Allithaa starring Karthik Muthuraman,Ramba,Manivannan and Goundamani.The film's success was perhaps due to its lenience in story line and scenic narration to the earlier Sabash Meena that became famous on account of the casual confusions resulting from impersonation.One could say that Karthik and Goundamani just replaced Sivaji Ganesan and Chandrababu and the other things followed as consequential events in modern form. Sundar.C went on to add a couple of farcical films like Mettukkudi and Kalakalappu to his cheerful sense of film making.Similarly P.Vasu and Guru Danapal brought out the comedy potential with their two respectivel Satyaraj films Nadigan and Maaman Magal. While the  first one was an action comedy entertainer,the latter was more a focused humor show.
    All rounder Kamalahasan can hardly say no to comedies.He has in his kitty at least half a dozen leading humor tales like Singara Velan,Michael Madana Kamarajan, Avvai Shanmugi,Tenali Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa and Pancha Thandhiram.besides his Sathi Leelavadhi and other take- it- easy films like Pammal K.Sambandham and Vasool Raja MBBS. All these films exhibited the essence of vigorous humor, with sense and nonsense.While Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa was an effortless farce with appropriate timing in gesticulation and delivery of dialogues,Avvai Shanmugi exhilarating and mature family drama with total dedication to the vital principles of humor.If the trio Kamal-Prabudeva and M.S.V ransacked the audience mood with their aggressive dramatic show of humor in Kaadhala Kaadhalaa, the same way the trio Kamal,Gemini Ganesan and Delhi Ganesh generated continuous sparks of comedy, rubbing one another without qualms. Kamal in the guise of a middle aged woman did not fail to tickle romantic beats in the heart of Manivannan thanks to the  make up efforts of Nagesh as he did for Rajinii in Thillumullu.
     But Pancha Thandhiram out beat the other films by narrating the tale of four deviant husbands taking helpless Kamal for a ride through their periodical pranks and self centered moves.The credit for most of Kamal's comedy crackers should go to crazy Mohan for contributing dialogues suitable to the contexts as sulpher to crackers.The one instance in Pancha Thandiram  is when the police inspector asks the men in the car''munnaadi pinnaadi enna irundhudhu"[What was there earlier,behind your back}with a play on words.Another such play upon words was encountered in Michael Madhana Kaamaraajan in the use of the Tamil word 'meen' {fish}mixing it up with the English word 'mean' both as verb and adjective.It is these precise verbal ingredients that make Kamal's comedy films a special humor treat.
   The latest additions in Tamil comedies with a  lighter vein, have been M.Rajesh's films like Bas Engira Baskaran and Oru Kal Oru Kannaadi.There have also been a series of black comedies mostly promoted by Vijay Sethupathi donning hero role with funny shades, mixed with a darker punch . Though the number of full length comedies are not many these days, like action films and other genre movies,the ever young and imaginative body of Tamil cinema is certainly not lagging in freshness and feel of joy in creativity.However the solid truth of the matter is, that we hardly come across a film like Sridhar's Kaadhalikka Neramillai or K.Balachander's Baamaa Vijayam. Kamal's comedy core could be called an exception particularly when it is accompanied by the dialogues of crazy Mohan and made by a vibrant film maker like K.S.Ravikumar. Similarly Sridhar's comedies had Chitralaya Gopu's golden humor brain, as their backbone. I am sure the Tamil film audience are eagerly looking forward to seeing more number of comedies like those of Mohan and Gopu, that create healthy laughter without bordering on the side of vulgarity or hurting one's self dignity in the name of humor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Two Yesses as Contemporaries of Tamil Cinema..


     Tamil Cinema has been quite often under the influence of two predominant celebrities as actors or singers or film makers or as music directors.As far as actors are concerned it has been the case from the days of M.K.T Baghavadhar/P.U.Chinnappaa and MGR/Sivaji Ganesan down to the present scenario of Vijay and Ajit. Among singers such a distinct duality prevailed only between T.M.Soundarjan and Sirkazhi Govindarajan. Similarly among music directors M.S.Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadhevan alone held a remarkable distinction as powerful music makers of a single period.However among film makers we had A.Bhimsingh and the duo Krishnan Panju followed by pairs of directors like P.Madhavan/A.C Thirilokchandar, K.S.Gopalakrishnan/K.Balachander,Balu Mahendra/J.Mahendran, Barathraja/Bagyaraj P.Vasu/ K.S Ravikumar and so on.In this line we have another pair of upcoming dynamic film personalities who have been holding a leading place both as directors and actors.These two fairly young men with a significant stamp of individuality have periodically worked together in each other's films either by making each other's films or in acting at least in a cameo role in each other's films.They are M.Sasikumar and P.Samuthirakani who have won awards for their respective performances and keep moving the Tamil movie concept in a refreshing mould.
   P.Samuthirakani who is a bit senior by age,also entered the  film industry earlier than Sasikumar. He started grooming his creative ground realities at the golden film school of K.Balachander and also appeared in minor roles in films like Parthaale Paravasam[directed by K.B] at the beginning of the new millennium. M.Sasikumar  too began his film career in the company of directors like Bala and Ameer. But his first film Subramanyapuram produced and directed by him,became a super hit and the film had Samuthirakani playing a villain role in the most natural form. Sasikumar also played a vital role in that film which had Jai, cast as hero.With its nostalgic, retrospective story line and action sequences, belonging to the Nineteen Eighties this film of the first decade of the new millennium, created magic record of kinds, thanks to the qualitative, creative thrust of Sasikumar &co.
   For a change a little later,Samuthirakani directed the film Nadodigal in which Sasikumar played the lead role and this film proved to be the true yardstick for measuring his creative potential.This mega hit film became the talking point for the film stuff of this emerging duo with identical insight into the norms of making films by lifting them out of their artificial moorings of an exaggerated screen base.Both the films mentioned above, were award winners.In continuation of these success shows, Sasikumar produced the outstanding film Pasanga,directed by Pandiraj and this unique film also won the national award.
    It is not that Sasikumar and Samuthirakani are not at all cinematic.But their narrative parameters are within the barriers of naturalism.They never seem to overdo things, whether it is their delineation of characters as film makers, or their own way of acting in the role assigned to them.Their dialogue delivery for instance, is never over blown.They talk as ordinary people talk and reflect the real content of living.The only difference is that, Sasikumar frequently does some dance numbers in his own style and even this is not taken seriously by the viewers as any attempt at image building.
   After Naadodikal,Sasikumar produced and directed Easan in which Samuthirakani played the role of a police officer as naturally as possible.Then came Samuthirakani's Nimirndhu Nil starring Jayam Ravi in which M.Sasikumar lent his voice for dubbing.Even in the recent film Vetrivel the two actors have shared screen space.What is most common between them is their firm grasp of the soil while representing the world of Tamil cinema.
   Sasikumar's Sundara Pandian was a very popular film with mass appeal and story value.The most memorable dialogue at the end of the film goes as follows "If the person who has stabbed you is your friend,even if you have to die,you should not divulge it".Beyond the intrinsic layers of love, the film carried a vital thrust on the quality of friendship and the kind of friends one should choose in life. Sasikumar's association with Bala and Ameer, does not fail to pass on their influence on him, particularly with regard to the negative implications in human relationship, as one of the vital ingredients in his manner of story telling. One such indicator is the element of betrayal of friendship, that happens as an undercurrent both in Subramanyapuram and Sundara Pandian. The other notable entries of Sasikumar are,Kutti Puli,Poraali and Bala's Thaarai Thappattai.
    Samuthirakani has consistently established his position in poignantly portraying  character as well as villain roles with convincing merit and reliability.No one can undermine his role performance as a value oriented school teacher, in the very well filmed, but not properly received movie,Saattai. In every frame of that character one could see the genuine struggles of a  socially motivated teacher, deeply penetrating into the character formation.The beauty with Samuthirakani is that one cannot see the actor overtaking the character .On the other hand the actor gradually transforms into the character with accuracy and  perfect understanding of the purpose and genesis of the character.Similarly in performing villain characters, he can become very crude if necessary, as he does in Payum Puli as the elder brother of Vishal, or a comedy crook and a mean villain, like the one he performs in Rajini Murugan.It was with  convincing ease did he perform the character role as the father of Danush, in Velaiyillaa Pattadhaari.Samuthirakani's acting verve has earned him a special place in the Malayalam film industry also.
    How much Samuthirakani deserves his special national award, for his subdued but striking performance as a police inspector with qualms,in the award winning film Visaranai, is an obvious and veritable reality. Vetrimaran of course deserves great recognition for narrating a ticklish story line, dealing with the criminal side of a section of the police department, with utmost precision and subtlety.The climax scene which suggestively and casually reveals the killing of the accused on fabrication, along with the conscientious police inspector, by a simple audio declaration, that both the proposed killings are over,{"ரெண்டும் முடிஞ்சுது சார்"} becomes the salient feature of Vetrimaran's course of narration.But beyond all this kind of distinct pattern of filming,it is Samuthirakani's underplay of the role, that adds weight to the certainly mind blowing movie.
   Both Sasikumar and Samuthirakani seem to shoulder the onus of creating a new wave in Tamil Cinema.As contemporaries working in the field of cinema, which is under various pressures such as focus on image building, competitive and divisive tendencies,money power and video piracy,we do not know how far they will succeed in retaining their on going sheen, without getting typecast in the years to come.However, as Barathiraja and Bagyaraj turned the Tamil film industry to newer directions with their individual trademarks of creativity,the hope remains that M.Sasikumar who is rooted to a balanced mode of performance and Samuthirakani who has not only occupied the big screen but has also reached every home through his television serials like Anni and Arasi, will go a long way in updating the image of the Tamil film industry, in their own style and formula of film making and histrionics.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Spark is Sporadic.


    Atlee's Raja Rani  would have significantly raised the expectations of the audience for his second film Theri [Spark]  mainly because of its star value.The greatest spark in the movie is the presence of Baby Nainika as Vijay's daughter and her cutest interactions and lovely rejoinders to her dad's words and actions.She kick starts the initial momentum of the film with the bike chasing the car and the dampening end up of the chase.There is certainly a spark in Vijay the police officer, caning the rowdies, who occupy a classroom in a government school for boozing and treating them with the thumb rules of teaching. The sparks hit us here and there, at unexpected moments with a couple of bullet strokes ,one at the scene when Vijay is talking to Samantha's father at the coffee house in his usual humorous vein and the other when a sudden hit of a bullet, kills Samantha when she is asking Vijay how he rates her as his wife.
     The Shankar school impact is obvious in Atlee in the way he delivers fascinating visuals and stunning stunts with a kind of mega effect.But it stops with that.There is no continuity in making impact through each and every scene of narration, that one could find in Shankar. This is a young kid's attempt to parade through an action packed arena.Hence there is no continuity of the spark in narration .The absence of a separate comedy track or a professional comedian not joining the hero's hand, is perhaps another spark dowser, because however graceful Vijay's sense of humor is,it gets stereotyped after a particular point.
    Between the two heroines,Samantha scores higher, may be due to the fact, that she has been given more space for role play.The first meeting between Vijay and Samantha does create a spark with Samantha initially asking him to remove his cooling glasses and later on saying that he deserves to wear the glasses, because he has saved children suffering as beggars and street vendors in the hands of cruel rowdies.There are intermittent sparks as verbal flashes, in most scenes concerning Vijay and Samantha and those between Vijay and his most passionate mother Radhika.
    The outstanding spark of the film is the demonstration of villainy through J.Mahendran, the most noteworthy director of of the Nineteen eighties who made commendable movies like Nenjaththai Killaadhe,Udhirippookkal and some special Rajini films, like Mullum Malarum,Jaani and Kai Kodukkum Kai. Mahendran's unruffled looks, controlled dialogue delivery and subdued mannerisms create the much needed spark in most contexts.But the same way he seems to be helplessly made to look tamed and meek, in the climax scene, without any chance to let the spark come out of him.This eminent director who is capable of grander acting skills, could have been used more meaningfully by extracting more sparks of dynamics in acting, hidden in his directorial brain.
   The spark of G.V.Prakashkumar's music is confined to a couple of songs, particularly the one sung by the father and daughter at the very beginning of the film.I would not compare this film, citing theme and  contexts of similarity, to other films like Baashaa,Chatriyan and Ramana as some reviewers have done . In those films the action segment was never found sagging.But here it is.May be it is due to the fact that here,one does not see action segment alone.There are more of sentiments, fun and breezy interpersonal links here, than in those films.It is not just a full fledged action film.It is on the other hand a Vijay film meant more for his fans, with his style and pep, to focus more on the actor's profiles of spark, rather than reflecting sparks of various formulations in film making, that one witnessed in Atlee's Raja Rani. Perhaps if the spark had permeated through out the film,it would have become an extraordinary Vijay film like Thuppaakki.