Saturday, July 12, 2014

Two Contemporary Comedians With Their Popular Prefixes.



      Actors taking a prefix to their names is not anything new to Tamil Cinema.Even among heroes we have some, taking their first film before their names.This is how Jeyam Ravi and Nizhalgal Ravi differentiate themselves.We have several other actors like Vennira Aaadai Murthi,a felicitous comedian known for his bilabial pranks and names like Oruviral Krishna Rao,Vennira Aadai Nirmala,Pasi Narayanan and so on.There are a few actors with a fancy prefix with their names like Bakkoda Kadher,Omakuchi Narasimhan,Thayirvadai Desigan Bonda Mani etc.But I am referring here to the two fabulous comedians of the Nineteen Sixties to Eighties called Thenagai Srinivasan and Suruli Rajan who were wonderful contemporaries in terms of age and their active period of participation in Tamil films.The prefix Thengai seems to have preceded Srinivasan on account of his role as a coconut seller in a stage play.But Rajan takes the name Suruli because of his native place near the Suruli Falls.Unfortunately, both these comedians did not live long to continue to provide comedy for a vast section of their admirers.
      While Thengai Srinivasan is remembered for his bold eyes and cutting voice,Rajan's singular hoarse voice pattern would be lingering in the ears of the audience, perpetually celebrating his comedy sense. Thengai Srinivasan's comedy waves surged to reach the portals of famous production houses like the AVM Studios,Sujatha Cine Arts,Sathya Movies and Dhandayudhabani Fims, besides being closer to stalwart heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Jai Shankar,Muthuraman,Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan.Suruli Rajan would have rarely shared screen space with MGR but has been a part of many films of Sivaji Ganesan, Jai Shankar,Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. If Thengai Srinivasan was the favourite of director K.Balachander,Suruli Rajan was patronized by A.P.Nagarajan T.R.Ramanna and R.Thiagarajan of Dhandayudhabani Films.
    Unlike Suruli Rajan,Thengai Srinivasan quite often turned to play villain roles with pomp and power, in films liken Muthuchippi,Mayanguhiral Oru Maadhu,Dharma Yudham,Sattam En Kaiyil and Thangamagan.It was a crude form of villainy that he performed in these films similar to that of Nagesh in Aboorva Sagodhargal. Some of his most popular comedy shows were teamed up with Rajini for films like Moonru Mugam and Thillu Mullu. He would have done almost equal number of films with Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. His other great Rajini films are,Anbukku Naan Adimai,Billa and Padikkadhavan. His well known Kamal films are Meendum Kokila,Andha Oru Nimidam and Sakalakala Vallaban. But one of his brilliant and spontaneous comedy shows was in AVM's Kaasedhaan Kadavulada with R.Muthuraman and Srikanth and the song sequence ''Jambulingame Jadaadharaa''would speak volumes of the power of humour that Thengai Srinivasan was capable of delivering.The other two films in a similar category were Jai Shankar's Ungal Viruppam and Kalyaanamaam Kalyaanam.The most memorable films of Suruli Rajan are Moonrezhuthu, Naan,Thirumalai Thenkumari, Vaa Raaja Vaa,Kankatchi, Murattukkalai, and Maanthoeppu Kiliye. The last in this list in which he performed the character of a potential miser,created hilarious moments to become a historic comedy performance.
   Both these comedians evinced a clear preference for decent and purposeful comedy without ever stooping to vulgarity either in their gesticulations or dialogue delivery.Like the veteran actor V.K.Ramasamy,both these comedians were fit for playing the characters of Accountants of Wealthy families or the sidekicks of landlords.Again like VKR,Thengai Srinivasan did characters prone for mischievous deliberations as he successfully delivered in films like MGR'r Rickshakaaran and Sivaji Ganesan's Thiagam. However,unlike Suruli Rajan,Thengai Srinivasan here and there appeared in very serious roles and the best in this frame was Kaliyugakkannan in which his action came closer to that of Sivaji Ganesan in Gowravam. The extraordinary characteristic of Thengai Srinivasan's acting calibre was his veritable sense of sobriety, in doing character and villain roles, giving a picture totally different from that of a comedian.
    Though Thengai Srinivasan's contribution is marked by volume and versatility,Suruli Rajan's acting range and quality can not be underrated.Both these comedians reigned at a time, when Nagesh's career was ebbing and K.A.Thangavel was rarely playing comedy roles.They could be credited on their independent merit of dedication to acting in general and to the comedy zone in particular.They lived at a time when creativity was not running short of originality, or put under the pressures of the new age concepts of humour. Both these comedians could essay roles, with a perfect understanding of the rural and urban audience,though Suruli Rajan could easily fit into the rural pockets and Thengai Srinivasan to both the city and village mood.Above all, the greatest asset of both these comedians was their capacity to promote comedy without any semblance of artificiality.It is in this respect their contribution to Tamil Cinema,remains redeeming and and worthy of remembrance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Heroes on the Comedy Track.

     A hero on screen, should be an all rounder.He should be ready not only to play antihero and character roles, but should also reveal his flair for humour. But some like MGR, might not have been ready for doing villain roles.In fact, I do not remember MGR doing any strong comedy roles other than in 'Sabash Maappile'.Though he has certainly provided contextual comedy scenes in a few films,he has always remained a serious hero focusing on his pet themes of social justice, equality and uplift of the poor and downtrodden.Whereas Sivaji Ganesan who excelled in all kinds of roles, was a very impressive performer of comedy in a number of full length comedy films like Thenali Raman,Manamagan Thevai,Sabash Meena,Arivaali, Bale Pandiya,Oottivarai Uravu and Galattaa Kalyanam besides providing scenic sense of humour in several films.As in all other characters,Sivaji as a comedian, was lovable and enjoyable either in isolation or in company with outstanding comedians like J.P.Chandrababu,T.S.Dorairaj,K.A.Thangavelu and Nagesh.
    Gemini Ganesan,the close associate and contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan was also good at comedy though his pet area was always romance.Films like Maaman Magal,Yaar Paiyyan, Missiamma,Manidhan Maaravillai and the first half of Kalyana Parisu with his jovial moments with K.A.Thangavelu, showed him as a perfect bet for comedy.However,it was R.Muthuraman,the other contemporary and preferred companion of Sivaji Ganesan, who was capable of spontaneous and convincing comedy play, in big hits like Kadhalikka Neramillai,Kasedhan Kadavulada, Oottivarai Uravu,Veettukku Veedu,Edhir Neechal,Bama Vijayam and so on.Muthuraman was an endearing actor and he casually impressed the audience by his roles of fake innocence,which he wonderfully displayed in the movies mentioned above. Jaishankar who came later was fit for playing not only serious cop roles but also for generating spot humour in many films like Bommalaattam,Aayiram Poi, Kalyanamaam Kalyanam,Veettukku Veedu,Ungal Viruppam, and Poova Thalaiya. Ravichandran,the other hero of this period who was introduced in Sidhar's major comedy hit Kaadhalikka Neramillai was a more serious actor who could provide comedy only in association with other actors,preferably comedians like Nagesh,Cho Ramasamy and Surulirajan. The other hero who would feel uncomfortable with comedy is Sivakumar.
    Who could say 'NO' to Rajinikanth's self- styled sense of humour ebulliently unleashed in most of his films? His very mannerisms even in stunt scenes, would send the audience to the height of laughter.He could create hilarious moments either with a fly as he did in Velaikkaran or a cobra as found in Thambikku Endha Ooru [While perusing a sexually exciting magazine] and Arunachalan [while dealing with a restive guest small in size, at a marriage] or a monkey as seen in Arunachalam. No one can forget the scene in Chandramugi showing the superstar freezing Vadivelu with a ghost story.It was almost similar to the scene in Kaghalikka Neramillai with a similar context of thriller narration by Nagesh to win over T.S.Balaiah. But Rajini's facial expressions would have definitely made Nagesh humbled. Rajini's boundless comedy fervour was witnessed in several movies like Adhisiappiravi,Rajaadhi Raja,Dharmathin Thalaivan,Dharmadhurai,Padikkadhavan, Uzhaippaali, Mannan and Sivaji.He had teamed up with all comedians like Goundamani, Sendhil, Janagaraj, Vadivelu,Vivek and Crazy Mohan.Above all,he is a hero capable of independently generating comedy spirit.His Thillu Mullu directed by K.Balachander was a blockbuster comedy, that called for a remake with Siva as hero.The humour sense in Rajinikanth seems to be intrinsic and may be that is why, all children love him more than any other hero.
    Rajinikanth's contemporary Kamalahasan being a versatile performer,has immensely established his extraordinary capacity for being both farcical and intelligently humorous on a number of occasions.He has a vast list of films like Singara Velan, Michael Madhana Kamarajan,Kadhala Kadhala,Tenali,Panja Thandhiram,Pammal K.Sambandham,Sathi Leelaavadhi, Avvai Shanmugi and Vasool Raja MBBS. Besides these amazing comedies,Kamalahasan has been a regular provider of comedy sense even in some serious films like Viswaroopam,Aboorva Sagodharargal and so on.
Comedy comes to him as naturally as any other genre and whenever he joins the company of great comedy makers like Crazy Mohan,he goes to the extremity of humour with a feel of exuberance and at times, he even outshines the most professional comedians.Kamal has definitely maintained a brilliant track record of successful journey through comedy.
   Prabu and Karthik are the other two heroes good at comedy.Though Prabu could not excel his father Sivaji Ganesan as an actor, his cheeky innocence has generated humour without a hitch in films like Chinna Thambi,Chinna Maappile,Charlie Chaplin,My Dear Maarthaandan Mr.Madras and Vietnam Colony.But Karthik has ever been a true chip of the old block,that is his father Muthuraman. For him Comedy is a cake walk and he celebrates each and every movement of his, while taking part in a comedy skit.His body language, dialogue delivery and facial expressions perfectly fit into the comedy mould and he has never failed to utilize the golden opportunities for making the audience laugh.Films like Ullathai Allithaa,Mettukkudi,Luckyman,Pistha,Mouna Ragam and Harischandra will definitely make him an astounding hero on comedy track.
   Among director turned heroes,Bagyaraj and Pandiaraj could make a special impact on the big screen,by their sheer, self ridiculing, funny moments.While Bagyaraj would combine comedy and seriousness in perfect cocktail mode,Pandiarajan's serious play would also create laughter ripples because of his physical smallness and peculiar tone that quite often undergoes strain in dialogue delivery and it is this characteristic strain that enriches the humour component of the scene.Both are wonderful makers of comedy of manners.The other director turned hero Sundar.C is an exemplary maker of farce and contextual comedy but as a hero performing comedy,he has to depend upon other great comedians like Vivk,Vadivelu and Santhanam to evoke memorable laughter moments.
   Between Vijayakanth and SarathKumar,the latter would be a better choice for comedy, because Vijayakanth like MGR is of a serious brand, bound to the action segment relating to social amelioration. Sarath's comedy side would have happily entertained his fans in films like Janakiraman, Thenkasi Pattanam,Arasu and Yei.The other hero Sathyaraj, has proved his humour sense in his own unique style, in movies like Nadigan and Maman Magal.Among the younger generation heroes, Vijay has been more convincing on the humour side than others.Comedy scenes from films like Thiruppaachi,Vettaikkaran and Velayudham have substantially proved his ability to cause laughter.Among new comers,Shiva and Vemal are fit to perform as comic heroes.
    Among Malayalam heroes Mohanlal ,Jayaram and Prithviraj have been successful on the comedy track with their looks and manner of dialogue delivery taking their fellow comedians for a ride. Jayaram in particular is capable of generating moments of laughter by his appearance and unique style of dialogue delivery both in Malayalam and Tamil.He has joined Kamalahasan's band wagon of high end comedy twice,in Tenaly and Pancha Thandiram.Most of his Tamil films as hero or second hero were hardly lacking in spot comedy. Vijay's Thuppakki was the latest addition in this aspect.But there is one Malayalam hero who has been beaming on the comedy side with limitless vigour for transition of moods and flow of laughter in almost all his films and that is Dileep.No one can beat him in this regard. Dileep and Comedy are inseparable.Be it physical comedy or verbal humour Dileep has been invincible on the humour track and he has always made it a perfect blend of action and comedy in all his films.He deserves a special place in comedy zone.
   Tamil and other language films have a long list of talented comedians providing enjoyable comedy, through a sub plot either relating it to the main plot or carrying on the sub plot as an independent portion of a film.But heroes joining the comedy show for fun or doing a full length comedy film, would always be a different kind of experience for the audience in general and for their fans in particular.That is how the movies listed above and others like Siva Manasula Sakthi,Boss Engira Baskaran Oru Kal Oru Kannaadi,Theeya Vela Seiyyanum Kumaru and Kalakalappu have hit the screen with a bang and entertained the audience to the fullest extent.In fact, it is always good to see the comedy prone heroes do a round on the comedy track. Even here, some are born great and some achieve greatness.The most acceptable and commendable heroes as comedians in Tamil would be, Sivaji Ganesan,Muthuraman,Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan and Karthik.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Venerable V.Nagaiah.

      Tamil Cinema has benefited a lot by the extensive contribution of actors,directors,producers and music composers from its most fraternal Telugu Film industry.Among heroes, there were N.T.Ramarao,A.Nageswararao and Suman who have adorned significant roles in Tamil films.But among character actors,after S.V.Rengarao,it is V.Nagaiah,the veteran actor who comes to our memory, as an actor performing modest and respectable roles, with flawless perception and portrayal.
    V.Nagaiah is significantly an old timer whose cinematic appearances were clearly meant for a clean and perfect reflection of life's most cherished value supporting systems, such as self dignity in poverty,absence of arrogance in wealth,love for fellow human beings and conviction in one's perception of what is right and what is wrong.In addition to these, there always predominantly came up as one of his top priorities,his unflinching faith in god and the spiritual fundamentals, attached to god realization.All these attributes made him a venerable actor, upholding the grandeur of both Telugu and Tamil Cinema.
    The uniqueness of V.Nagaiah was his shaking but firm voice modulation.His voice had the singular capacity to squeeze out sorrow and the pang of suffering.Perhaps that was the reason why he was chosen to play a vital role in Ezhai Padum Paadu,a film based on Victor Hugo's novel ''Les Miserables''.He was a perfect fit for playing the righteous person in any context,be it as a spiritual head or as the organizer of an orphanage as he did in films like Dheiva Magan, Saraswathi Sabatham, AVM's Ramu and so on.My memories of this dignified actor, takes me to my childhood days of watching films like, Pennin Perumai,Tenali Raman and Sarvadhikari.
    Like most other character actors of the last century,Nagaiah had also acted more number of films with Sivaji Ganesan.Even among the films mentioned above,excepting Sarvadhikari,the other films were those, starring either Sivaji Ganesan or Gemini Ganesan or both.Two of his other MGR films I remember are,Parakkum Paavai and Nam Nadu.Whereas, he has a list of Sivaji Ganesan films like Edhir Paaraadhadhu,Ellaam Unakkaaga,Ambikapadhi, Alayamani,Valar Pirai,Paava Mannippu,Pachai Vilakku, Shanthi,Iru Malargal,Thillaanaa Mohanaamabaal,Naan Vanangum Dheivam,Kai Kodutha Dheivam, and Iru Dhuruvam.With Gemini Ganesan,besides Ramu,he has acted in films like Kanavane Kankanda Dheivam and Karpagam. Nagaiah has also acted in mythological films like Sampoorana Ramayanam,Lava Kusa,Bhaktha Markandeya and Datchayakgnam.
    Like S.V.Rengarao.Nagaiah was the special favourite of director K.S.Gopalakrishnan.While S.V.Rengarao always sported an aristocratic look,Nagaiah would be a perfect bet for donning the role of a wealthy man{ Pennin Perumai and Karpagam]or a pauper, looking for justice{in many films including MGR's Nam Naadu}.He would serve with modesty and rule without arrogance.He would have rarely performed a hateful character.His eyes would always transmit a sense of piety and poise.His voice vigorously combined elements of firmness,empathy,grief and serenity.Over- acting was never a part of his dictionary of character display.For him, Cinema was like a spiritual process.He was one of those rarest actors, who adored the film field, with utmost dedication and commitment. He made himself a venerable actor, not only by his looks and manner of acting, but also by his continued reverence for Cinema, as if it was a temple of learning.In this particular respect, Nagaiah out beats all other actors of his generation and those who succeeded him.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Conjugal Core in Tamil Cinema.

Vietnaam Veedu.



      'Conjugal core' is a term used for interpreting the base and structure of husband and wife relationship that carries deeper emotional,familial,cultural and other contextual parameters such as the religion one belongs to and the country one lives in.In a multi-lingual and diversely cultural country like India, one could not find an identical pattern of relationship.It will differ from family to family and from society to society.But above all, it is the deeply personal, mutual compatibility and mutual love and respect between a man and a woman that determine the emergence and exuberance of a healthy conjugal core.Cinema on the whole,can not exist without touching upon both the external and intrinsic layers of this fundamental human phenomenon.Tamil films have effectively and proudly carried on, a mighty show of man woman relationship not only through the channel of love, but also through that of the most enduring relationship between spouses.
     Today, the existence of man woman relationship, encompasses newer dimensions created by the ongoing developments such as dating,feminism,women empowerment and so on.Ego projections goaded by the equality syndrome,misconceived notions such as priorities of mutual chemistry and wavelength seem to interrupt the normal course of married life. The need for home routine adjustments on a daily basis,vastly tells upon the conjugal core, besides the usual stray intrusions of fear of the other person coming in between spouses.Joint family system being mostly out of the picture,the spouses as individuals, do not fall victims of nuisance caused by other family members.However, they fall a prey to their own whims and vagaries that tend to throw humps on the road,thwarting the smooth journey of the conjugal vehicle.Beyond all these perceptions, the fact remains that the sentimental stuff of the conjugal side is greatly missing in husband and wife relationship on account of the inevitable pressures of the hunt for money, to make living easier and comfortable,whether happier or not.As such, the conjugal core has to follow the new precept of 'go with the flow' instead of 'live under the roof of love'.
    The sentimental pillars of the family foundation, remained pretty firm and sturdy,during the last century and the Tamil films released from the Nineteen Fifties till the close of the previous millennium, proved to be relevant to the ground realities and laudably showcased the symbiotic rudiments of husband wife relationship.The emotional rapport between husband and wife, became the main topic for discussion on the big screen and the spouses were quite often portrayed as backup providers, in times of each one's emergency for support.
   It was an actor like Sivaji Ganesan who became the fittest role model for picturing the husband in a variety of formulations.As the proud male head of the family{PaarMagale Paar,Baratha Vilas Motor Sundaram Pillai,Uyarndha Manidhan},as an affectionate and sympathetic husband {Paalum Pazhamum,Kulama Gunama,Vietnaam Veedu,Thirisoolam,Vaazhkai},as a jealous and suspicious spouse{Deivappiravi,Nichaya Thaamboolam,Aalayamani},as a henpecked or humiliated husband{Padithaal Mattum Poedhumaa,Bale Pandia},as a man caught in between a devoted wife and an ex-lover{Irumalargal},as a helpless husband between two wives{Thenum Paalum} as a laggard and vagabond life partner{Bagyavadhi,Punar Jenmam,Thanga Padhumai and Iruvar Ullam} as a husband becoming a victim of low caste inhibitions{Savaale Samaali} and above all as a husband taming a wild wife{Arivaali and Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa},Sivaji Ganesan would have adorned the numerous shades of the conjugal lot with apt and awesome portrayals. Joining hands with glorious female team mates like Padmini,Sowcar Janaki,Saroja Devi,K.R.Vijaya and J.Jeyalaitha, he made the Tamil big screen a home and the events on the screen passed on as real life happenings.
    However, Sivaji Ganesan's best conjugal stories were of course,Paar Magale Paar,Paalum Pazhamum,Baratha Vilas,Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa and Thirisoolam.Though Thirisoolam was a little more melodramatic,it was a film that poured forth the heaviness of emotion so naturally that it made the audience get involved in the whole gamut of emotional outbursts.The outstanding fact here is that more than all other heroes of his time and after, it has ever been the presence of Sivaji Ganesan on the Tamil big screen that has made stories on the conjugal core carry their due impact on the viewers.As MGR always performed roles with an eternal juvenile gusto,he was rarely seen doing a strong character in any conjugal story.but the greatly remembered films of MGR in this category are Kaavalkkaran,a rare kind of MGR film that portrayed beautifully,the deeper layers of conjugal bond,Nalla Neram,that showed an animal loving husband and an animal hating wife as two conflicting sides of the conjugal foundation and Naan Yein Pirandhein that pictured delicately, the predicament of a married man with children falling under pressures, to hide the facts of his marriage and act as a bachelor for the sake of his poverty ridden family.
    Next to Sivaji Ganesan the other actors,who compactly fixed into the husband's role were Gemini Ganesan,R.Muthuraman and Sivakumar.Gemini Ganesan's best would be Iru Kodugal and Sivakumar's Sindhu Bhairavi and Badragali will stay remembered.But after Sivaji Ganesan,one could place Muthuraman as a unique hero in the role of a family head.Like Gemini Ganesan {Vaazhkai Padagu,Kalathur Kannammaa,Parthaal Pasi Theerum etc.} he was a good choice for playing the character of a suspicious husband as seen in films like Nenjirukkum Varai and Raman Ethanai Ramanadi.His other three wonderful films that pictured him as an egoistic and uxorious husband were Sondham,Sooryagandhi and Dheerga Sumangali.I would rate director A.C.Thirulok Chander's Dheerga Sumangali starring R.Muthuraman and K.R.Vijaya, as an amazingly told conjugal story with profound depth of emotions and conjugal intimacy to adorn the historic gallery of Tamil Cinema.
     The most remembered climax of the movie showing the husband and wife dying together, following a cardiac arrest, illustrated they way they lived as husband and wife and loved each other with a true spirit of give and take.The emotion-packed narration and the exalting role performance of the hero and heroine put the film supremely on the higher ladder of Tamil Cinema that has a special place for presenting themes and stories with utmost veracity and perfection.In the same line Sivaji Ganesan's films like Vietnaam Veedu and Vaazkkai celebrated the grandeur of wifely devotion and the soul making conjugal routine between ideal spouses.While in the first,the prestigious head of the family falls dead,in the latter,the devoutly supporting wife of a man cherishing self-dignity is seen breathing her last,not being able to withstand her husband's tormenting issues.In both the films, filial ingratitude turned viral so as to uproot the conjugal foundation.
     It was a period when the audience mood was always in favour of refined narration of man woman relationship be it a love story or the one on the conjugal track and it was ever upbeat at the emotion generating performances, relating to family life.The social fabric in India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular, remained intact without being influenced by external factors especially, those emanating from globalized trends and outlooks.
     Among the heroes who succeeded Sivaji Ganesan and Muthuraman, it was Rajinikanth who like the Chevalier,earnestly took up roles of husbands revealing the different layers of the male mind.This he did wonderfully,at the very beginning of his career.He was a forgiving husband in P.A.Arts Pictures's Engeiyo Keitta Kural,a womanizing husband in K.Balachander's Netrikkan,a rogue husband in Gayathri,a sadistic husband in Avargal, a reformed and passionate husband in AVM's Nallavanukku Nallavan and a grooming husband in Sivaji Productions'Mannan'. Of these,Nallavanukku Nallavan, stays as an unforgettable presentation of conjugal core, portraying a very loving and understanding husband and wife,played brilliantly, by the Superstar and Radhika, the most powerful actor daughter of M.R.Radha.
    When it comes to the role of women in films on conjugal themes,the most common feature has been the meek portrayal of wives devoted to the domestic responsibilities. Padmini and K.R.Vijaya were frequently offered such characters. Sowcar Janaki and Jeyalalitha, have also donned such roles in films like Padikkadha Medai,Uyarndha Manidhan,Paar Magale Paar,Seetha and Sooriyakanthi. But these two great actresses, have also represented the case of rebellious wives craving for feminist independence in movies like Pudhiya Paravai, Panam Padaithavan, Pattikkaadaa Pattanama and Kanavan. The new age of Tamil cinema, has come out with an impressive delineation of suppressed and neglected wives, through exemplary films like Barathi Raja's Pudhumaipenn and Balu Mahendra's Marubadium and in both the films Revathi revealed her amazing capacity for acting, as a mighty and modest wife of selfish and domineering husbands.
    K.Balachander's movies like Avargal,Achamillai Achamillai and Manadhil Urudhi Vendum also dynamically narrated the plight and power of ill treated wives.Whereas,K.S.Gopalakrishnan's Saratha came out with a totally different conjugal story,of an impotent husband earnestly making attempts for a remarriage of his wife and the traditionally devoted wife stoutly rejecting the move. Subtle narration of the ripples caused in the conjugal life of couples, on account of a man or woman crossing the life of spouses, either before or after marriage, became the talking point of films like Manirathnam's Mounaragam and Balu Mahendra's Marubadiyum.
     During the recent decades,Tamil Cinema has definitely explored the various possibilities for refreshing the Industry through new ideas and revision of creative fundamentals, with the stunning support of technology and technical imagination.But have we ever come across soul sustaining narration of interpersonal relationships that guarantee the ennobling part of human life?The themes are as much conflict ridden as the world is.But the peace and sacredness of privacy and the sense of belonging that constitute the conjugal core, are hardly represented in the celluloid form.In the name of freshness, there is quite a lot of adulteration and mixing of creative modes, that do not belong to us.Let us import technology;but let our instinct be always ours,Indian and Tamil for the foremost part.Shall we ever truly revisit our conjugal core, in all uprightness and sentimental closeness?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Thriller on a Different Track.

    A thriller is generally a film of suspense, mystery and action segments, narrated in an eerie and stunning mode, duly supported by its relevant music component. In this regard, the Malayalam film 'Drishyam' released by the end of 2013 could not be called a thriller. But the sudden turn of events on screen, incorporating an action segment, slowly building up a mood of gripping tension, that binds the audience straight to their seats, makes the film being classified as a thriller on a different track.
    An unruffled start, shows a docile Mohanlal found time and again, watching movies on the television at his cable TV office located in a village. Then come a few neatly pictured scenes of family routine, highlighting Mohanlal’s character as a hard working orphan, being blessed with a loving wife and two daughters and this gives an impression as if we are watching yet another family drama, taking us on an unusually slow pace. This appears to be a deliberate approach to give least room for any guess of  thrilling developments- in- waiting for Mohanlal and his family.The only hunch for some untoward happening in the offing, is felt by the periodical, conflicting interactions that take place at the local teashop, between Mohanlal and a selfishly exploiting cop{aggressively portrayed by the usually comedy prone actor Kalabhavan Shajon}.
    The sailing is smooth for Mohanlal and his family, until an unexpected incident crosses the way of Mohanlal’s elder daughter when she is allowed to participate in a nature camp arranged by her school. A video of the girl taking bath, secretly taken by a crooked camp mate, by using his mobile phone, triggers the subsequent tension moments of the film. The notorious teen ager who is the son of a woman police officer, blackmails Mohanlal’s daughter with the video clipping, trying to exploit the situation. This leads to the helpless and unpremeditated killing of the boy by the girl and what happens after this, makes the film a kind of thriller, hitherto not watched on the big screen.
    What makes the film distinct is the way a calm Mohanlal handles the situation, his regular movie watch visuals, promptly helping him come out with a perfect recipe,to save his family, from getting entangled in the case of murder of the boy.With flawless manipulation of events and records and with a psychologically tricky extraction of favourable endorsements from all witnesses, he surmounts hurdle after hurdle, of the police investigation process, which has been pictured without any cinematic input.It is a sort of realistic investigation experience we undergo. The resilient cooperation of the family members in executing Mohanlal’s intelligent retrieval programme, is another milestone and each one including the little younger daughter, crosses it with excellent equanimity and poise, as if nothing abnormal had happened in the family.But still something goes awry with the whole exercise, when the younger daughter who under intolerable conditions, budges to police torture, leading to an unexpected climax. 
   Nothing is unnatural here. Nobody overdoes the job. There is no unwanted intrusion of sound and fury. Asha Sarath as the Police Officer adequately expresses her emotion as a loving mother and Siddique as the boy’s father delivers a dignified role. Meena as the wife of Mohanlal is subdued and well tuned to the character of an emotionally strained mother. The most positive aspect of the movie is its intelligently carved mode of narration, with extraordinary compactness in each frame.There is no deviation from the core of a familiar story line, being treated with freshness in presentation. 
    Mohanlal the conventionally blown up hero in varied styles in different films, is confined to a real life character mould. Here he silently excels in essaying the role of an ordinary husband and father, rowing happily his small family boat, but,getting stuck all of a sudden, by the blow of a tsunami type of horrid occurrence, that keeps him frozen with life chilling consequences.He conquers the demands of the role with his customary acting exuberance. Drishyam on the whole, resembles a ripple free lake, but at the same time it causes, extraordinary ripples in the minds of the viewers.The film should be duly credited for its commendable editing, by seamlessly blending the change over of scenic sequences with unique aesthetic layers, throughout its narration. To conclude, the movie seems to open up a new track for the travel of the thriller vehicle. Director Jeethu Joseph deserves a worthy recognition for this track change, in a thriller show.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Theme of Love in Tamil Films.

                                                  {Devadas Courtesy,The Hindu}

     Love is a concept so pregnant that it has been conceived and delivered in as many forms as the number of human beings on earth.Literature and the film media, have evolved captivating contexts of love, to cater to the tastes and aspirations of readers and film viewers.The focus has generally been on the physical,passionate,Platonic,pragmatic and personalized patterns of love.Tamil cinema from the days of its birth throes, has time and again,visited the immortal zone of love,for bestowing upon the audience, the emotional,intellectual and aesthetic thrills of love making.
    The physical side of love is perhaps, the most inevitable core of delineation of love.It has been portrayed to the extent of creating, a visual extravaganza,to capture human imagination in boundless dimensions.Directors like Barathiraja and Balu Mahendra, have been experts in the description of the physical aspect of love without vulgarity.Their sense of aesthetics in this regard, has been on an exalted plane.However, the physical fundamentals of romance,have lured the attention of many film makers,to titillate the imagination of the audience,with an over doze of sexual display and vulgarity.Besides,Casanova model of stories have quite often taken the lead, in promoting the physical context of love- making.Heroes of films like A.S.Prakasam's Pattaam Poochi, [with Kamalahasan playing the lead role] K.Balachander's Major Chandrakanth,{A.V.M.Rajan being shown as jilting, in the name of love}and Sujatha Cine Arts'Vidhi{starring Mohan as the Casanova} are just a few samples in this category.Kamalahasan played a similar role in K.Balachander's Sollathaan Ninaikirein with his famous dialogue in the climax''the last in the list is lost at last''.
     While the predominant presentation of love in Tamil Cinema,has either been passionate Platonic and pragmatic, aberrations of personalized and selfish love game, would have been witnessed here and there, in films like Sridhar's 'Policekaaran Magal'{ K.Balajee ditching his gullible girl], S.P.Muthuraman's Buvana Oru Kelvikkuri {Sivakumar as a selfish lover}and Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai { Sangeetha as a materialistic character,ditching the hero to further her prospects}.Sivakumar did a similar role in Saaindhadamma Saindhaadu,in which he was paired with Sridevi. J.Mahendran's Jaani showed Deepa jilting Rajinikanth for the sake of her dreams of a luxurious life. Balachander's Achamillai Achamillai and Manivannan'a Amadhippadai showcased selfish heroes leaving their women in the lurch, to promote their political ambitions.Tamil Film watchers could recall a few more movies of this category.
    What has always occupied the creative imagination is the poignant presentation of the passionate and Platonic perceptions of love.This innate human attribute will hardly be found wanting, at any point of time in human history.Starting from the days of Ambikapathi,Anarkali,Laila Majnu and Devadas,it is the painful and exalting moments of the lovers,that have gained momentum in evolving and narrating love stories.Among the films cited,Devadas became an epic love story, with late A.Nageswara Rao making a brilliant impact of the most tragic,lovelorn character.The last remembered, powerful and qualitative presentation of this kind of love story would be,Oruthalai Raagam.
     For quite long, Tamil Cinema was obsessed with family stories, with an adequate mix of romance, towards fulfilling the emotional expectations of the juvenile section among the film watchers.In between, there came amazing  films on serene love and in this list we continue to cherish in our memory,movies like Devadas,Anarkali,Ambikapathi,Annakkili,Vasantha Maaligai Oruthalai Raagam and Mudhal Mariyadhai.All these films poignantly narrated the profound layers of selfless love that would treat the person loved as much more important than their  own heartbeat because it was perhaps the feel of love that kept their heart beating.Identically, all these films culminated on a tragic note, either in one of the lovers or both, losing their lives for the sake of their profound passion for love.
    Directors like Sridhar and Vikraman discussed this vital segment of passionate love at different times in different modes.In Sridhar, love always struck one's mind as an ennobling experience resulting in a pleasurable course of sacrifice.Whereas in Vikraman's films, the element of human goodness becomes a feel good factor, making individuals rejoice in positive celebration of their unrequited love by doing the best for the ones whom they deeply loved.If in Sridhar's movies the man or woman would give up their lives for their lovers as seen in Nenjil Oer Aalayam, Nenjirukkumvarai ,Avalukkenru Oer Manam and Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkirein,in Vikraman's world, one could find the role of commonsense, in rejuvenating the entire process of love.Films of Vikraman such as Poove Unakkaaga,Unnidathil Ennai Koduthein and Unnai Ninaithu went on to speak about the amount of human goodness that would take love to newer Platonic heights in living totally for the benefit and welfare of the loved one.The unique philosophy of love as far as Vikraman is concerned, is the positive realization of peace and happiness through a pragmatic approach.Never once in his films could we see the lover turning to negative emotions while falling in love or when love misfires.The'all is well'principle becomes the base of Vikraman's love stories.
   The agony of untold love has been the central point of quite a few films like K.Balachander's Sollathaan Ninaikkirein and Thaamarai Nenjam,Robert Rajasekaran's Oruthalai Raagam, and Sivasakthi Pandian's Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga. But Balachander has also portrayed the tormenting moments of unrequited love in Kaviyathalaivi apart from focusing on the higher side of ennobling love in Vellivizha. In his Punnagai Mannan the hero after losing his first love, accepts his new love, after a prolonged spell of hesitation and reluctance,thereby vindicating the practical, survival philosophy.This movie also put forward the theory that love could ever remain as a frequently blossoming experience.
   The practical difficulties and obstructions that thwart the passionate journey of love in the form of familial and social lobbies projecting the supremacy of religion,caste,customs and status against true love, became the main theme of the films of Barathiraja. During the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties this poetically powerful face of Tamil Cinema, gave us very many beautiful films like Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,Niram Maaraadha Pookkal,Kadalora Kavidhaigal,Alaigal Oivadhillai and Mudhal Mariyadhai, the last one becoming an extraordinarily Platonic narration of love with a fine rural background.One could also see the passion of love, passing through each one's nerve in the emotionally heavy films like Kadalora Kavidhaigal and Alaigal Oivadhillai.
   The thrills and excitements of falling in love found their valid acceptance in the love stories narrated by Manirathnam in films like Pagal Nilavu,Mouna Raagam and Alai Paayudhe.It is Manirathnam who drove the journey of love through the deeper psychological tunnels of the lovers.
Among the new generation directors,there are some who have successfully portrayed childhood friends rediscovering themselves as lovers through a casual course of introspection.Films like R.B.Choudhri'sThithikkudhe, Ezhil's Poovellam Kettuppaar and Prashanth's Piriyaadha Varam Vendum, belong to this category. Similarly during the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, we were flooded with love films on men and women making love through letters.telephones and so on.Some even went to the extent of presenting extreme cases of lovers cutting their tongues for the sake of love.Calf love and the exuberance of falling in love were beautifully presented by Balu Mahendra, in films like Azhiyadha Kolangal and Idhu Oru Kana Kaalam.Balu Mahendra could also delve into the vagaries of men shuttling between two women in the name of love, in films like Rettai Vaal Kuruvi and Marubadiyum. But he could also portray neatly and genuinely, the immaculate width of love in Mooraam Pirai.
    Negative tendencies transforming love into a kind of obsession and mental sickness,formed the theme of films like Vijay's Priyamudan and Vishal's Chellame{in which Barath was shown as the obsessed lover}.Love taking its cues from babyhood,attracted the attention of director S.J.Soorya for developing his story line for his most successful Kushi.The ego projections between lovers preventing them from expressing their love and the tone of jealousy on account of excessive love shown either by the man or woman could be seen as the repeated themes of Tamil films on love stories.{eg; Sivaji Ganesan's Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal and Vijay's Kushi}.Sensible priorities and family dedication have also been discussed as governing principles of the pragmatic side of love in movies like Love Today,Kan Ethire Thoenrinaal, and Santhosh Subramanyan. Age at times is kept at bay when the passion of love begins to dominate.This peculiar case has been witnessed mostly as an aberration or as something natural in films like Balachander's Aboorva Raagangal and Kalki and Simbu's Vallavan. The same theme was handled with poetic felicity by Barathiraja in Mudhal Mariyadhai.
     A bird's eye  view of the love stories experienced in Tamil Cinema would vindicate the inexhaustible nature of love, as the sum and substance of human life.The infinite variety of love has always been the most intoxicating and engaging force on the makers of films surpassing the barriers of language.Consequently,each love film would be different from the other with characters and situations throwing light on a newer dimension of love.Neither the film makers nor the audience would ever be tired of this universal aspect of human life.But beyond each one's observations and interpretations of the ever interesting love stories, the fact remains that some films outlive the passage of Time, to keep lingering in our thoughts and memories, as the grandest and most valued tales of love.Some such films in Tamil are Devadas,Vasandha Maaligai,Annakkili, Oruthalai Raagam, Mudhal Mariyadahi and Kaadhal. The other fact is that the theme of love is never going to become dry at any point of time, in the process of inspiring and energizing creative imagination.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Two South Indian Films on a Christian Concept.


    The Lamb and Christianity are not only spiritually connected but are also emotionally interrelated. The Christian faith symbolizes the lamb as Christ himself, by its belief that Christ is the Lamb of God. Besides, the Lamb is equated with innocence and the power of salvation through sacrifice.By all means, the Lamb plays a pivotal role in Christianity.
   Recently,two films released within a gap of three years had something to do with the Lamb, not only in their titles but also in their representation of ideas and ideals. One was the Dileep starring Malayalam film ‘Marikkundoru Kungnaadu’{Mary Has a Little Lamb} that came in 2010 and the other was the Mysskin film’ Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum’{The Wolf and the Lamb} released in 2013.While the former was out and out a story emanating from a truly Christian background, with a Christian hamlet providing the story base, the latter was not just a thriller, but a bit iconoclastic too, in its evolution of theme and narration.Though the theme  base and mode of narration were different, both these films finally established the supremacy of the Lamb with the force of a lion.
    As usual, like most other films of Dileep,‘’Marikkundoru Kungnaadu’’ was also greatly enjoyable with its Dileep ingredients of humour, love, sentiment and action. In addition to these, the main character played by Dileep,was cleanly bound to the Christian ideology of the lamb being meek, innocent and being placed at the altar, often for a sacrifice. The goodness of the Lamb with its immaculate nature, was vindicated solidly at least on two occasions in the film. When the Church father was falsely implicated in a case relating to a nocturnal visit to a woman’s bedroom, Dileep playing the lamb, saved the Father  from the predicament, by accepting the fact that it was he who dressed in the Father's cassock, was in the woman’s bedroom during his visit to meet his lover Mary.Secondly, at the end of the film,when the lost golden cross of the Church was retrieved, one of the two robbers [impressively performed by Biju Menon} who budged to the powerful emotional appeal of the Lamb {Dileep} not to take away the Cross,was not exposed as a partner in the theft and thereby shown mercy and grace, in the name of  the Lord. These two contexts were more than enough, to prove the power of the Lamb and its symbolic significance.
   The Tamil thriller ‘’Onaayum Aaattukkuttium’’ starring director Mysskin as the wolf and Sri, as the Lamb, projected the darker side of crime  and macabre adventure, that most often find prominence in many of Mysskin films. Here the Lamb was shown as the typical Saviour, who could gain a lion’s might when it came to dealing with a Satanic mind set.Mysskin’s creative mould is made of sterner stuff with a passion for the darker side of the human psyche and its potential for portending evil. As in some of his earlier films, the devil is punished, here too, with  the glory of the Lamb of God, overpowering and conquering the evil at the end. However, ironically, Mysskin seems to prioritize the presence of more number of wolves in the present day world, through scenes displaying human arrogance, indifference and brutality, in happily witnessing others suffer, shedding blood. May be, this emphasis on lupine crookedness, is a deliberate attempt at spot- lighting the dazzling presence of nobility, however small it might look, in the midst of the massive crowd of wolves. It is finally the victory of the Lamb in the film, that catapulted the supremacy of virtue over vice.
      The two films mentioned here, might differ in their story line and style of narration. The Malayalam movie would have drawn more audience because of its openness in presentation and its all pervading entertainment quotient, coupled with the endearing presence of a hero like Dileep,to warm up the audience.But the Tamil film could also definitely reach its targeted audience, through its  departure from the usual cinematic line and cross the barriers of one’s imagination, through its complexities of negative dynamism, surpassed finally, by the positive pro active formulation of the Lamb theory. Both these films would have succeeded in effecting a warming up of the souls of those, who are passionately devoted to Christ and Christianity.