Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Some tales of the Underdog in Tamil Cinema.

 













     Underdog is a term used to refer to the underprivileged section of society that is put to exploitation in terms of both social and economic deprivations.The dividing factor between the rich and the poor has seen the greed for expansion of wealth at the cost of enforced poverty. Most often the brutal hands of wealth have twisted and turned down the rising hands of the poor.'The hungry sheep look up and are not fed"wrote the famous English poet John Milton. The starving poor will look up for help from the rich who as indifferent shepherds,will butcher the sheep rather than feeding them.One of the easiest ways for the rich landlords to plunder the landless,or those with a little piece of land as their holding,is to offer them some money in times of need and thereby make them their lifelong serfs by converting them into bonded labourers,in exchange for the pittance of money lent to them on exorbitant interest.Feudal ferocity has proved to be more horrid than racial hatred.
   India is one of the countries known for decades of suppression of the underdog.With the growth of education and its consequent impact on civilization,the weaker sections of the society have come to see the light of social and economic freedom to a considerable extent.But still the past is a ghost haunting our memories,as pages of history and in the form of the audio visual medium of cinema.Tamil cinema has recorded events of human abuse surrounding the routine of the socially and economically downtrodden strata of society,spread out  both as rural curse and urban menace.
  Most of MGR's films focused on the miseries of the poor and the depressed.His roles became the voice of the underdog,with its vigorous vibrations echoing the struggles,dreams and revolt of the wronged clan towards finding solutions to issues of exploitation.Most of his film songs exhibited a consistent cry for social justice and this particular element in his films,proved to be a big bid to project him as an incarnation of the Good Samaritan and indirectly helped him to emerge as the most popular political leader,reflecting the spirit of the Saviour.
   MGR was constantly shown as the celluloid shadow of the poor,being with them and accompanying their day to to day aspirations,as their alter ego. He would be seen lending a helping hand to the rickshaw pullers,fishermen and the landless/homeless poor.Films like Thozhilaali,Padahotti,Meenava Nanban,Rickshawkaaran and Oorukku Uzhaippavan are just a few screen samples of his hand-in-hand march with the underdog.But beyond MGR and beyond the conventional projection of heroism as a launchpad for social amelioration,there are more valid,focal pointers to Tamil Cinema's thematic and narrative thrust on the ordeals of the  underdog.This particular post in my blog would throw light on aspects of maltreatment of the poor,through a compact list of three films,two of them belonging to the past millennium and one that has recently hit the screens with a big bang.The three films are Sivaji Ganesan's Savaale Samaali directed by Malliam Rajagopal,Sivakumar's Puthuvellam from the hands of K.Vijayan,one of the most popular directors of many Sivaji Ganesan films and the latest Vetrimaaran hit Asuran.
   Both Savaale Samaali{1971} and Pudhuvellam{1975} travelled on a similar track of story line,narrating the plight of the underdogs in the hands of ruthless moneyed landlords.
In both the films,the landlords manoeuvred to usurp the meagre farm holdings of the poor, through opportunistic money lending,so as to make them bonded to their own routine,through suppression of human rights.In both the films,the landlords had arrogant daughters insulting the working class.Both the films had resilient heroes,raging a class war against the wealthy and brought down their arrogance of power and wealth.
  But there were differences too.In Savaale Samaali the village chieftain was tempted to play a game of gambling with the hero{naturally portrayed by Sivaji Ganesan}on terms and conditions,that if the landlord won the game,the hero would be entangled in life long bondage and if the hero won the gamble,he would be allowed to marry the landlord's termagant  daughter.The Landlord reluctantly agreed to the deal with the fond hope,that the hero could never win the gamble.But the results proved to be disastrous to the landlord and the hero who won the game,could not be denied the privilege of marrying the rich girl.What followed later in the story,determined the coming together of the two diagonally opposite classes of society.
  Whereas in Pudhuvellam,the landlord went to the extent of murdering a poor farmer for nonpayment of loans.Hiding this brutal fact,he also made one of the two sons of the victim as his bonded labourer while the other became a confirmed rebel{toughly played by Sivakumar}. Unlike the landlord in Savaale Samaale,the one in Pudhuvellam was a womanizer, despite the fact that he had a daughter of marriageable age.While in Savaale Samaali it was an enforced marriage between the hero and the landlord's daughter,in Pudhu Vellam the tamed and mellowed daughter of the landlord,developed a romantic enchantment for the hero.In Savaale Samaali there was a notorious son for the landlord,who went to the extent of physically shaming the hero's married sister.Apart from these differences,the two films released during the same decade,carried similarities in tone and tenor,because both the films reflected the sentiments and aspirations of the same generation.In demonstrating the power of the underdog, these two films were definite trend setters and were box office hits,on account of their catchy narration and dynamic presentation of events and characters.
   T.K.Bahavadhi and R.S Manohar,mightily exhibited their greed for power and plundering mindset,as the leeches living upon the blood of the poor,in their respective role play,in Savaale Samaali and Pudhuvellam.Nagesh and MRR Vasu were portrayed as sidekicks,Nagesh with a tinge of venom to pull down the landlord richer than him and MRR Vasu blackmailing R.S.Manohar as a witness to the act of murder,committed by the latter. Jeyalalitha and Kannada Manjula were captivating as the epitome of the superiority of wealth,over poverty.
Malliam Rajagopal and K.Vijayan made their films as historical reference points,to the prevalence of the feudalistic bullying of the underdogs,by the parasitic powers of wealth. 
   Among the recent films there has been a rising trend in highlighting the struggles of the depressed sections,to find a footing in the sporting arena.Films like,Maan Karaate,Irudhi Chutru and the latest film Bigil have attempted to break the class,caste, race and gender barriers so as to establish one's legitimate right to claim a place in the sporting field,with their talent and aspiration.A film like Kaakaa Muttai made a huge impact,by focusing on the street urchins' quest for a taste of Pizza.Even the latest Rajini films,like Kabaali and Petta were on the road to retrieve the rights of those,suppressed on the basis of colour and caste aspersions.
   Vetrimaran's latest film Asuran has depicted the uncouth realities encircling the dehumanized routine of the most helpless and ruthlessly let down underdog,in capsules of communal hatred and heart rending brutality.One has to doubt whether the film is about lust for a few pieces of land belonging to the already marginalized section,or a gruesome thirst for blood.What Asuran portrays is absolute class hatred,born of cumulative insult heaped on the underdog,by the barbarously power hungry higher echelons of the social ladder.Interestingly,Asuran also briefly discusses the impact of the vested group's controversial acquisition of the panjami lands,left by the British Raj,towards facilitating the welfare of the socially and economically abused  sections of mankind. The film based on Poomani's novel Vekkai,literally generates heat,with extremely boiling cauldrons,raised on ceaseless emotional fire.
   There are happenings in the film that simultaneously hurt the viewers'eyes and hearts, evoking pity and horror,as the salient dimensions of a gripping narration,without which,a tale of longstanding animosity and feud,can never be so effectively told.Here,actors disappear in characters,who in turn get dissolved in the churning out of sequential course of events,falling into the stabs of weapons of violence.The two final messages that Vetrimaran leaves for the underdog are that,enmity has to be bypassed and not aggravated and the socially downtrodden sections can climb the ladder to higher levels,only through the fruits of education,which would render them the identity that they desperately need. 
   Vetrimaran's Asuran could be called an exemplary treatise on the plight of the underdog, without infusing much of the cinematic ingredients,that would have made it just another film on the time and again talked about class wars.While Sivaji Ganesan and Sivakumar lent their respective roles a higher level of credibility,in portrayal of characters of the underdog brand, Danush, Pasupathi,Manju Warrier and Ken Karunas have become the heart and soul of the underdog by naturally reflecting the predicament of the powerless class, with a perfect grasp of the disgracing subsistence that they form part of. Asuran in all respects,is an agonizing prototype of the real under dog,surmounting the celluloid fetters of character formulation and thematic interpretation. 
   Quoting the famous English poet John Keats differently,on seeing Asuran,"one's heart would ache and a drowsy numbness would pain,as if hemlock one has consumed"This is because life's most tormenting moments of a section of humanity,are piercingly witnessed on the big screen, causing indescribable heaviness,that is rarely experienced through the celluloid mode,during these times of tabloid existence.
                                            ==========================

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Two Specially Elegant films of MGR & Sivaji Ganesan























    Films are of different kinds.Some gain ground through fresh story lines based on exalting thematic content.Some excel in style of narration and actors' fresh vibes.Two films of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan stand out as clear revelations of the second category of films.They are Sivaji films' Pudhiya Paravai released in 1964 and the AVM Studio''s single entry of an MGR film titled Anbe Vaa released in 1966.
   Usually,unlike the movies of Sivaji Ganesan,those of MGR were always clearly branded as typical MGR films,because of their set pattern of themes,stories and scenic narrations.Mother sentiment respect for women, clean habits and an inspiring spirit of social justice by voicing the needs and aspirations of the down trodden,were the ever  preset objectives and goals of an MGR film.Whereas,Sivaji Ganesan would travel from the bottomless pit to the Himalayan peak, moving through straight tracks and zig zag courses,reflecting the role of destiny and that of man,in shaping the course of one's life.While MGR's was a single role model,that of Sivaji Ganesan was the sum total of the umpteen shades of all sections of humanity.
   However,these two colossal actors in each one's way,created celebrating moments for Tamil Cinema,for more than three decades.Interestingly,these two heroes had each in their kitty,their special film cited,to eternally delight their respective fans,on account of a commendable course of stylistic narration and a splendid throw in character delivery by them.
   Of the two films,Pudhiya Paravai{Sep 1964} was released fifteen months before the release of Anbevaa {Jan1966}.Apart from the stylish role play of the two heroes,the two films bore a few similarities in screen base and choice of actors.Both the films were narrated from hill stations, Anbeva from Shimla and Pudhiya Paravai from Ooty.In both,B.Sarojadevi was the female co star.Both the heroes were rich guys;one a big business magnate and the other an estate owner. Nagesh and Manorama were in charge of the pantry and kitchen in both the films.While almost each scene in Pudhiya Paravai showed Sivaji Ganesan with cigarette on hand,MGR was seen in rich costumes shot after shot in Anbe vaa. Both the films carried certain amount of Hollywood touch in narration.But the similarities end here.
   It was Viswanathan&Ramamurthy who composed music for Pudhiya Paravai and all the songs were mega hits.But by the time Anbe Vaa was under production,the musical super duo were split as M.S.Viswanathan and T.K.Ramamurthy and so it was the former alone who tuned the richly enchanting numbers of Anbe Vaa.Puthiya Paravai was a suspense thriller,letting the hero boil with emotions in every scene. Anbe Vaa was a breezy romantic comedy,depicting the revolutionary hero in his best sense of humour,doing an exotic character portrayal,frequently rubbing  his woman on the wrong shoulders,resulting in an unending conflict of emotions between the romantic partners.Those days,Anbe Vaa was said to reflect the story base of the famous Hollywood film Come September.Whereas Puthiya Paravai was stated to have been influenced by the British Suspense film,Chase a Crooked Shadow {1958},also called Sleep No more and it had also provided the story base for the Bengali film Sesh Anka {1963}  
   For Sivaji Ganesan,it was another challenging portrayal of the agonized soul and the Chevalier stunningly brought out his calibre through a casual shuffling of emotions and by naturally leading the plight of his character,singularly meant for travelling between the devil and the deep sea.The way he would try to move from pillar to post,to prove his predicament of hiding a past,ambushed in an act of partial guilt,was the most salient feature of the film.
  The very theme of the story line was something new to Tamil Cinema and the narrative mode made the film,more elegant than everything.Dada Mirasi who had directed very few Tamil films like Iratha Thilakam,Annaavin Aasai,Moonru Dheivangal,Odum Nadhi and Poovum Pottum,took the major credit for an extraordinary narration of extraordinary events,comprising extraordinary characters played by extraordinary actors.
   Starting from the Chevalier,the line of dynamic action score revolved around brilliant actors like Sowcar Janaki,Sarojadevi,M.R.Radha,V.K Ramasamy, Nagesh,O.A.K.Devar,S.V.Ramadoss, Manorama and A.Karunanidhi.As far as costume design and scenic presentation were concerned, Pudhiya Paravai carried an exotic feel from the beginning till the end.The special treat of the film would be Sivaji's style of limb movements for the two songs,'Aahaa Mellanada Mellanada' and 'Enge Nimmadhi'. Besides his tucked in nylon shirt with folded sleeves,his manner of holding the cigarette and facial expressions of surprise, suspense, shock, pity and mood of annoyance pointedly against M.R.Radha,were all the hallmarks of winnable freshness 
    The climax of the film will show Sivaji Ganesan in a tight corner,being surrounded by falsehood hitting his face,to drive out the truth from him,that it was he who killed his wife{ Sowcar Janaki}.  He was sure that he only slapped his wife,because of her wayward drunken routine as a pop singer and she would have died only on account of her cardiac related issues. But the helpless fact was that his wife died only after he slapped her. 
   Sivaji's unique style of body language,and the unprecedented cathartic moment involving amazing dialogues and a stupendous forward gait of the Chevalier,with a sudden U turn,would have made a major section of the audience clean bowled.All this would culminate in a desperate tone of confession dramatically voiced by Sivaji,the born actor.Before getting arrested he would tell his new woman {Sarojadevi}that she being a CID officer, need not have used love as a tool,to extract the truth out of him.However,before the curtains dropped,the audience would have heard him pay,a glorifying tribute to the endearing warmth of womanhood in general,in his inimitable style.
   Watching Anbe Vaa,everybody would have wondered how MGR could look so young at the fag end of his forties.He carried the pranks of youth to the fullest extent,waging a romantic battle against his woman{Sarojadevi}in every other scene.He would also prove to be a perfect foil to the plans of Sarojadevi,Nagesh and his gang to chase him out of the huge bungalow,not knowing the fact that he was the owner of the entire property.Comedy came to MGR as naturally as fragrance to jasmine and the whole narration from the veteran hands of A.C Thirulokchander,carried absolute warmth,hilarity and the robust vigour of entertainment.
    Though a majority of MGR films would engage the audience with an action bonanza and beaming music,Anbe Vaa was an exclusive entertainer,not sagging in spirit during its entire course of narration.Alluring costumes and awesome picturing of the hillside locales,carried the audience on an excursion to a world of beauty,through the big screen.Music was upbeat through a timeless treasure house of tunes,with leading songs like 'Pudhiya Vaanam Pudhiya Bhoomi, 'Naan Paarthadhile Aval Oruthiyaithaan','Ullam Enroru Koyilile','Love birds Love' birds and 'Raajivin Paarvai Raaniyin Pakkam'.Unlike most other MGR films,there was no space for speculative villainy in Anbe Vaa.Even S.A.Asokan the most celebrated villain of MGR films,played a soft role and all was well in all respects.There was lot of fun in every aspect including the naming characters like Punnaakku Viyaabaari Punniyakodi.{played vibrantly by T.R.Ramachandran,as Sarojadevi's father.}
   Both Pughiya Paravai and Anbe vaa were really fantasy tales,one told in a mood of irredeemable desolation and the other in an environment of hilarious romance,surrounded by a bunch of devil may care and happy go lucky characters respectively.The history of Tamil cinema will remain incomplete without a reference to these two specially elegant films of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Atlee's Three Cheers with Vijay










   




  The spirit of camaraderie between a film maker and his frequent hero is of a special kind with a taste of success,based on mutual understanding and appreciation between each other. This is how film makers like A.Bhimsingh, P.Madhavan,A.P.Nagarajan,Krishnan Panju,A.C.Thirulok chander and a few other reputed Tamil film makers gave many a blockbuster with Sivaji Ganesan.MGR and P.Neelakandan developed such a team spirit reflecting the hat trick of making success stories .The same way S.P.Muthuraman and Rajinikanth established an exemplary rapport with each other by their repeated victory march under the banner of the AVM studios.Among the new generation heroes,the Ajith Saran combination gave us a few hits like Kaadhal Mannan, Amarkalam, Attakasam and Asal.
   Similarly Vijay who has climbed up the ladder to enviable stardom through consecutive hits, seems to have become the mascot of film makers like A.R.Murugadoss and Atlee.Of the two Atlee who hails from the grandiose Sankar school of mega film making,has been very fortunate in making very impressive shows like Theri,Mersal and Bigil.All the three films have been mass entertainers with substantial difference in story line,while at the same time casting a mark of similarity,in taking the style of narration to magnificent heights.
  While Theri was a high sounding police story with conventional political abuse of society in general and women in particular,Mersal was a mighty extravaganza with an extraordinary  entertainment quotient supported by A.R.Reheman's stupendous musical grandeur.Theme wise there seems to be an underlying similarity between Mersal and Bigil in the sense that both the films speak about the rights denied to the suppressed sections of society.
   While Mersal focused on the denial of timely medical assistance to the poor and socially downtrodden sections of society,Bigil throws light on the deprivation of right to sports,for those who are marginalized and neglected  in terms of social and economic growth.In both the films Vijay played the father role too,with two sons in the former and one in the latter.
   The assertive factor bringing the two films on a similar journey,is a bunch of unifying threads like sentiment,insult of the underdog and an enormous display of brutal killings as the leading game plan of narration of both Mersel and Bigil.
  Though there were two and three heroines paired with Vijay in Theri and Mersal respectively, Bigil with Nayantara as a single female pair of Vijay,creates a graceful feel with her disarming demonstration of mischievous innocence and subtle nuances in acting.The Vijay Nayantara combination is certainly an added strength to the film because they parade as the naughty pair in most of the scenes.When compared to Mersal there is more to take home in Bigil by way of qualitative memories of sporting spirit as one of the most powerful tools for liberating women from the clutches of male domination and gender discrimination. Besides,Vijay as father and son, leaves an'embracing'touch of his role play in duality.
  Among the villains of the three films,S.J.Suriya will be ever remembered as the ruthless wolfish medico,followed by late J.Magendran as an incarnation of devilry with his inimitable addiction to the proverb "Less said words yield bigger actions."Jackie Shroff fades into thin air in the sound and fury of both the elder and younger Vijay.A special pat to all the actors who performed as sports women.
   A genuine sorry to Ananda Raj,the most murderous villain of Tamil cinema,for his  meekest and least identified presence in the film,though he appears in many scenes. Funnily,even the pastor{George Maryon} who appears only in a couple of scenes,makes an indelible  mark by slapping Nayanthara's dad,{poor Prof Gnanasambandham} whenever he loses his temper.    A.R.Reheman's 'Singa Penney'sung in his own voice,is a wonderful piece of vocal enchantment, despite the fact that it does not fail to remind one of his ever green"Thai Manne Vanakkam''.
   No doubt Mersal was the grandest show of Atlee with Vijay. However, the second half of Bigil will last in our memory as an exquisitely whistling sports show,by presenting gorgeous and visually exciting sports events on the big screen,with meticulous concern for the emotional vibrations of each and every sports person and with a predominant thrust on the power of dedication of a coach to his team,with his potential for grooming the inner strength of the players, that never fails to hit the goal.It is a clarion whistle for projecting the power of womanhood in the sporting arena,especially in the field of football.
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Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Plight of Two Professors.











 



  Tamil cinema abounds in romances,family dramas,action and suspense thrillers,historical fiction,horror films mythological narrations and so on.We would have come across repetitions in treatment of themes and narration as well as in fixing titles for films.
   Similarly,there have been films glorifying the careers of farmers,doctors, lawyers,cops, bureaucrats and judges,besides taking a dig at politics,as a career.Among Tamil heroes,it is none other than Sivaji Ganesan who would have donned almost all kinds of characters.He was a sincere railway engine driver {Pachai Vilakku},a sensitive Station Master,{Anbukkarangal}an admirable advocate,{Ethiroli and Gowravam}a dedicated doctor,{ Paalum Pazhamum and Dr.Siva} an honourable Judge,{Justice Gopinath,Needhipadhi and Padikkadhavan}and a dynamic police officer{Thanga Padhakkam and Vellai Roja}to mention a few professions,in which he excelled as an actor.
    As the list goes,when a Tamil film director of the Nineteen sixties wanted to portray the predicament of a college professor,he would naturally have thought only of the chevalier to fit impeccably into that role,with all noble shades of the profession attached to it.This was how the film Andavan Kattalai{1964}should have come into existence, under the production house of PSV pictures owned by P.S.Veerappa,one of the most luminous villain actors,who adorned the Tamil big screen during its early decades.The film ran successfully, thanks to its unique theme and narration under the able direction of K.Shankar, who was best known for his most successful hits like Panathottam,Paadhakaanikkai,Aalayamani,Idhu Sathiyam,Kudiyirundha Koil,Panjavarna kili,Adimai Penn and Mirudhanga Chakravarthi.
    The hero Krishnan in Aandavan Kattalai was shown as an exemplary professor with cherished values of personal ethics and nobility,stuck to his heart besides being dedicated to the core principles of Swami Vivekananda. As a staunch devotee of the saintly philosophical  leader,the hero maintained self dignity and celibacy,as his basic code of life and this dignifying factor earned him a lot of respect from his students,colleagues and the society at large.However, to turn his lofty ideals into turtle,there came a girl student called Radha {fascinatingly performed by Devika}who was bent upon winning the love of this self declared celibate.Her immense beauty and enchanting demeanour,soon pulled the heart of the professor to her side,like the captivating advances of Meneka,who won over the sober saint Viswamithra. 
    Andavan Kattalai beautifully showcased the ordeals and privations,that would normally cloud the life of a most respected teacher,falling in love with his own student.Loss of social acclaim and subsequent hurling of abuses from those who adored once,are the most unbearable eventualities in the life of those,who once stood to their conviction,but later fell a prey to temptations,that had destructive blows knocking at the door.The stories of fallen angels  are a bundle of ills,hitting the victim,one after the other,like serial bombs killing one's name and fame,at one go.This is what happened in the life of the college professor in Aandavan Kattalai. For a Himalayan hero like Sivaji Ganesan,these shades in character formation,consisting of a galaxy of dimensions and emotional holocaust, were just a cake walk and he walked away with success,reflecting the range of emotions encircling the character.

    The purpose of this article is not to narrate the story of the film,but to bring home the fact that Tamil films have cut a solid niche for their victory march on various tracks and this film marked such a victory march,by walking delicately on a tight rope with extraordinary dalliance.Music by Viswanathan and Ramamurthy added a stupendous value to the film with soothing melodies like "Azhage Vaa"in the mesmerizing voice of P.Suseela"Amaidhiyaana Nadhiyinile Odam"the ever delightful duet,sung by T.M.S and P.Suseela and the most philosophical number"Aaru Maname Aaru"from the mighty voice of T.M.Sondarajan.Javert Seetharaman as college principal,S.A.Asokan as the antagonist and A.V.M Rajan and J.B.Chandrababu as the adoring students,were all seen more as characters forming a vital part of the film,than as mere actors. Aandavan Kattalai followed the mega hit film Aalayamani.Both these films in the combination of P.S.V Pictures and Sivaji Ganesan,would ever remain as milestones in the acting career of Sivaji Ganesan.But the difference is Aandavan Kattalai focussed on an unusual theme and successfully moved towards its remarkable goal post.
   The next film that discussed the trials and tribulations of a noble college professor was Nootrukku Nooru{1971},a fine movie from the brilliant creative hands of K.Balachander,under the  Kalakendra film production house.It was totally a different film for the action hero Jai Shankar,who was more sleek and sharp in detective roles.Here too,the hero,Prof. Prakash,was the most esteemed person of the institution,where he worked,with unflinching commitment to the noble traits of the teaching profession.
   All the students as well as his colleagues adored him for his indisputable credentials of professional excellence and personal values.The Principal {played by Gemini Ganesan with his innate warmth and subdued charm and grace}also held him in high esteem. Nevertheless, situations changed soon,ringing tragic notes without raising alarm bells.The image of the incomparable teacher,took an unforeseen beating on account of three girls charging him of sexual harassment. 
    However,as a note of contrast it was the Professor's fiancee {Lakshmi}who arduously undertook the ordeal of finding out the truth of the unbelievable allegations from three girl students against the professor,for their own varied personal reasons. Among the three,one {Srividya} had a crush for the teacher,which the professor vehemently turned down after a suitable course of warning and advice to the girl,as to how dignified the relationship between a teacher and a student should be.The second girl Julie {Vijaya Lalitha}who fell for a labourer called Robert,working in a quarry owned by her formidable father,became pregnant following a romantic relationship with him and when her lover was shunted to another unknown place, she got unnerved about her unwed pregnancy and fixed the professor as the scapegoat,for concealing the truth of her own plight. 
    The third student{Jeyakumari} blamed the teacher for a letter of love proposal, purportedly written by him,though the author of the letter was a mischievous boy classmate of the girl.The film like most other Balachander's powerful screen shows, precisely pictured the course of events,with relevant flash back reviews and with calculated moves for untying  the knots of entanglement that led to the imprisonment of the Professor. Like Aandavan Kattalai Nootrukku Nooru also depicted the distinct threads of issues involving man woman relationship  and the invisible bond of love that exists between great teachers and their heartwarming students.Unlike in Aandavan Kattalai the student movement spearheaded by Nagesh in Nootrukku Nooru was shown as the most effective venture,in retrieving truth from the clutches of falsehood.
    If Aandavan Kattalai was a fantastic show of human emotions{most prevalent during the Nineteen fifties and Sixties when sentiments always overtook sense and sensibility}leading to a cathartic climax,Nootrukku Nooru was a realistic approach to finding solutions,through well planned action drives,rather than weeping over demoralizing events  in a mood of depression and pointless frustration.As far as music is concerned, the former stood on a higher pedestal despite the fact that V.Kumar's solo scintillating number"Naan Unnai Vaazhthi Paadukiren" in the mellifluous voice of P.Suseela,was really worthy of repeated hearing.It was perhaps the directorial stamp of K.Balachander to set this song getting repeated in the film,not only for the sake of revisiting the actual happenings,but also for the purpose of taking the beautiful song closer to the hearts of the audience.
    Themes and narration of events and characters are the most vital parts of any worthy film. Nevertheless,it is the characters who deliver the essence of themes,through their enlivening participation in various scenic events,programmed and carried on by the entire film making unit.Without characters,the story is just a skeleton.It is they who provide the flesh and blood and transmit enormous levels of energy to the viewers.The demonstration of themes by characters passing through well knit events,makes a film hit the goal post,with outstanding appeal and power of reach.Film makers who facilitate characters to rise,fall and rise,also enable the actors to perform their given roles,as independently as possible.Role realization is the hallmark of the acting arena.
    The Chevalier was never found lacking in role perception and commanding delivery of any character,because he was an actor who delivered nine roles in a single film and created new records. Hence,it was no wonder that he perfectly fitted into the garb of a college Professor and underwent the plight in his uncommon style.But Jai Shankar who belonged to the succeeding generation and was best known as an awesome action hero,also proved his worth as an all rounder,by performing the role of a college professor,in a film directed by an exacting film maker like Balachander. For Jai Shankar,apart from the pressures of the role,the nervousness of acting in the film of a director with a whip,would have been yet another plight.
                                                 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

சிவாஜியும் கமலும் :-ஒரு சிறப்புப் பார்வை

 




     தமிழ்த்திரையுலகின் தன்னிகரில்லா சினிமாஸ்கோப்,செவாலியர் சிவாஜி கணேசனுடன்,வேறொரு நடிகரை ஒப்பிட நினைப்பதற்கே ஒன்றுக்கு பலமுறை யோசிக்கவேண்டும். இருப்பினும்,இதுபோன்ற ஒரு ஒப்புமைக்கு கமலைவிட வேறு ஒரு நடிகர் இருக்க வாய்ப்பில்லை என்பதற்குத் தமிழ்த்திரை வரலாறு சான்றுரைக்கும்.
 "பிள்ளைக்கு தந்தை ஒருவன்;நம் எல்லோருக்கும் தந்தை இறைவன்"எனும் டி.எம்.எஸ்ஸின் தேன்சுவைப் பாடலுக்கு சிவாஜி வாயசைக்க,அவர் கரங்களில் ஒய்யாரமாக படுத்துறங்கும் காட்சியில்,AVM ம்மின்'பார்த்தால் பசிதீரும்' திரைப் படத்தில்,ஒரு ஏழு வயது சிறுவனாக நடித்தவர் கமல்.
    என்னதான் AVM ம்மின் 'களத்தூர் கண்ணம்மாவின்'ஜெமினி கணேசனின்  பிள்ளையாக கமல் அறிமுகமானாலும்{'பார்த்தால் பசிதீரும்' படத்திலும் அவர்  ஜெமினியின் பிள்ளைதான்} சிவாஜிக்கும் கமலுக்கும் இடையே ஏதோ ஒரு ஆழ்ந்த நடிப்பு முடிச்சு இருந்திருக்கவேண்டும்.அந்த முடிச்சு பல ஆண்டுகளுக் குப் பிறகு,கமலின் 'தேவர்மகன்' திரைப்படத்தில் தந்தை மகன் வேடங்களில் அவிழ்க்கப்பட்டு,அட்டகாசமாக அரங்கேறியது.
    மலையாள திரைப்பட இயக்குனர் பரதனின் கைவண்ணத்தில்,'தேவர்மகன்'  திரைப்படம்,ஒரு குறிப்பிட்ட சமூகத்தின் பழக்க வழக்கங்களையும் உள்ளுணர் வுகளையும்,துல்லியமாக  காண்போரின் ஆழ்மனதில் பதியவைத்தது.தன் மூலம்,சிவாஜிக்கும் கமலுக்கும்  இடையே நிழல்பிம்ப முத்திரைகள் நின்று நடமாடி,ரசிகர்களின் நாடித்துடிப்போடு சேர்ந்து நர்த்தனமாடின.
   தந்தை மகன் உறவின் புதிய பரிமாணத்தை வெளிப்படுத்தியதன் மூலம் 'தேவர்மகன்'திரைப்படம் சிவாஜியையும் கமலையும் இணைத்துவைத்து,புதிய கோணத்தில் கமலை மட்டுமே பார்க்கத் தூண்டியது.காரணம்,கலைவாணியின் தவப்புதல்வனான சிவாஜியை,எத்தனையோ கோணங்களில் ஏற்கனவே பார்த்தாகிவிட்டது.கமல் உலக நாயகன் என்றாலும்,சிவாஜி எனும் நடிப்புக்கடல் அகன்று விரிந்து,அலைகளாய்ச் சீறி,அண்டத்தையே அதிரவைத்தது என்பதை,  அவரின் உள்மனது,ஊன்றி உணர்ந்திருக்கும்.
    சிவாஜியின் அடுத்த தலைமுறை நடிகனா கமலுக்கு,கே.பாலச்சந்தர் எனும் சாட்டை கமலுக்குள் கிடந்த கலைஞன் எனும் பம்பரத்தை,பலதிசையில் சுழலச் செய்து,சாகசக் குதிரையாய் மற்றவர்களை முந்தச் செய்தது.ஆனால் சிவாஜி யோ ஒரு தான் தோன்றி மலை.அது தன்னைத்தானே சிறுக சிறுகச்  செதுக்கி, இராஜ இராஜ சோழன் உருவாக்கிய தஞ்சை பெரிய கோபுரம்போல்  உயர்ந்தது. 
    கமல் அசுரத்தனமான,புத்தியுள்ள ஒரு நடிகர்.புத்தியோடு யுக்தியும் இணைத்து,புதிய முயற்சிகளை பெருமையுடன் பிரசவித்தது,கமலின் தனிச் சிறப்பு.நாள் தோறும் வளர்ந்துவரும் தொழில் நுட்பமும்,கமலின் புதிய முயற்சி களுக்கு உறுதுணையானது.
    பராசக்தியின் மைந்தனோ,நடிப்புச்சுவற்றில் பரமபதம் ஆடி,பிராம்மாண்ட வெற்றிகளால் உயர்ந்து,ஆதிகேசவன் ஆனவர்.கமலை இருவராக,மூவராக நால்வராக,தசாவதாரமாகக் கண்டிருப்போம்.உருவ மாற்றங்களாலும்,அந்த  மாற்றங்களில் நடிப்பாற்றல் நளினங்களாலும்,குறிப்பிட்டு சொல்லும் படியான உயரத்தை எட்டியவர் கமல்.சிவாஜியோ ஒவ்வொரு திரைப்படத்திலும் நடையால்,உடையால்,உடல் அசைவால்,சிம்மக் குரலால்,குரலின் நெளிவு சுளிவுகளால்,நடிப்பை உரமாக்கி உலகளந்தவர்.
    குடும்பத்தில்,சமூகத்தில்,சரித்திரத்தில்,புராணத்தில்,இலக்கியத்தில் 
இதிகாசத்தில்,தமிழ் இனம்,தான் கடந்து சென்ற அத்துணை பாதைகளிலும், சிவாஜி னும் நடிகர் தோன்றிய பல கதாபாத்திரங்களை சந்தித்திருக்கும்.
    பாமரனாக,படித்தவனாக,செலவச் சீமானாக,சல்லிக்காசில்லாதவனாக, கணவனாக,தந்தையாக பிள்ளையாக,அண்ணனாக,தம்பியாக,நண்பனாக நல்லாசிரியனாக,திருடனாக,காவலனாக,கவியாக,காதலனாக,மன்னனாக, போராளியாக, எஜமானனாக,சேவகனாக,பலகதாபாத்திரங்களுக்கு உயிரூட்டி வாழ்வியலை முழுமையாக வெண்திரையில் கலங்கரை விளக்கமாக்கிய சிவாஜி,விட்டு வைத்த வேடங்களே இல்லை,எனச் சொல்லலாம்.
      பொற்கைப் பாண்டியனும்,இராஜ இராஜ சோழனும்,கட்டபொம்மனும் 
கப்பலோட்டிய வ.வு.சியும், கர்ணனும்,பரதனும்,தெனாலி ராமனும்,அம்பிகா பதியும்,காளிதாசனும்,அப்பரும்,சுந்தரரும்,சிவனும்,நக்கீரனும்,முருகனும், வீரபாகுவும்,கலக முனியும்,அரிச்சந்திரனும்,பெரியாழ்வாரும், திருமங்கை யாழ்வாரும்,அனார்கலியின் சலீமும்,அறிஞன் சாக்ரடீசும்,ஜூலியஸ் சீஸரும் பகத் சிங்கும்,இன்னும்பல  வரலாற்று மற்றும் இதிகாச நாயகர்கள் எல்லோருமே,சிவாஜியின் வடிவிலேதான்,நம் கண்முன்னே தோன்று கின்றனர்.
   இதுபோன்ற மாபெரும் சகாப்த நிலையை,கமல் உட்பட வேறு எந்த ஒரு கலைஞனாலும் உருவாக்க இயலுமா என்ற ஐயற்பாட்டிற்கும் அப்பாற்பட்டு, அவ்வாறு உருவாக்க இயலாது என்பதே, திட்டவட்டமான உண்மையாகும்.
    இவை எல்லாவற்றையும் கடந்து,சிவாஜிக்கும் கமலுக்குமிடையே அடிப்படை யிலேயே ஒரு வலுவான ஒற்றுமை யாதெனின்,அவர்கள் இருவருமே எந்த ஒரு திரைப்படத்திலும் 'பஞ்ச் டைலாக்' பேசி,தங்களது நடிப்பாற்றலை வெளிப் படுத்தியது இல்லை.
    ஆனால் அவர்களுக்கிடையே,நடிப்பில் ஒரு உள்ளார்ந்த வேறுபாடும்  என்றைக்கும் விடுகதையாக நிற்கும்.அவ்விடுகதைக்கு விடைகாணும் வழியில்,சிவாஜிக்குள் ஒவ்வொரு முறையும் ஒரு  வித்தியாசமான மனிதனைக் காணமுடிந்தது என்பதும்,மாறாக,கமலுக்குள் ஒவ்வொரு முறையும் ஒரு   வித்தியாசமான நடிகனைக் காணப்பெற்றோம் என்பதும்,உண்மைகளாக வெளிப்படும்.
     சிவாஜி வாழ்ந்த காலத்தில்,மனித உணர்வுகள் மேலோங்கி இருந்தன. அன்றைக்கு கணினி இல்லை.கைபேசி இல்லை.வாழ்க்கை நடைமுறைகளுக் கும் வாழ்க்கையைப்பற்றிய கனவுகளுக்கும்,உயர்ந்த உணர்வுகளும் எண்ணங்களும் அடித்தளமாக அமைந்தன.தான் வாழ்ந்த காலத்தில் உலகெங் கிலுமுள்ள வாழ்க்கை நடைமுறைகளையும்,தான் பிறந்த மண்ணின் மகத்து வமான உணர்வுகளையும்,உள்வாங்கிய சிவாஜி எனும் ஒப்பற்ற கலைஞன், நடிகனுள் மனிதனானார்.'அவன்தான் மனிதன்' என்று சொல்லும் அளவிற்கு  நடிகனுள்  மனிதத்தைப் புகுத்தியவர் நடிகர் திலகம் சிவாஜிகணேசன். 
   கமலோ,தான் வாழும் காலத்தில்,ஒரு படைப்பாற்றல் மிக்க கலைஞனின் ஆத்ம வேட்கையை விதையாக்கி,திரையுலகில் ஓர் அற்புத விருட்சமானார்.இன்றைய தமிழ்த்திரையுலகில் கமலின் சாதனை உயரத்தை,வேறு எவரும் எட்டவில்லை. எட்டவும் இயலாது, அதே போன்று,கமலோடு சேர்ந்து வேறு எவரும்,இன்றும் என்றும்,தமிழ் திரைவானில்,சிவாஜியின் இமயச் சிகரத்தை நெருங்கக்கூட முடியாது.
    இறுதியாக,சிவாஜி எனும் நடிப்புப் பல்கலைக்கழக நூலகத்தில்,கமல் எனும் கலைக்களஞ்சியத்தை வைத்து அழகு பார்க்கலாம்;அதன் பக்கங்களை புரட்டிப் பார்க்கலாம்.படித்து வியந்துபோகும் அதே வேளையில்,சற்றே நிமிர்ந்து பார்க்கையில்,பல்கலைக்கழகத்தின் கம்பீரத்தில்,மெய்சிலிர்த்து,மெய்மறந்து போகலாம்.சிவாஜிக்குள் கமலே தவிர,கமல் சிவாஜிக்கு நிகரல்ல. 
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   பின்குறிப்பு:- 
   இக்கட்டுரையில் சிவாஜியையும் கமலையும் தராசில் வைத்துப்பார்ப்பதற்கு அவர்கள் நடித்த திரைப்படங்கள் எவையும் குறியீடுகளாக எடுத்துக்கொள்ளப் படவில்லை.'பார்த்தல் பசிதீரும்' மற்றும் 'தேவர் மகன்' ஆகிய இரு திரைப் படங்கள் குறிப்பிடப்பட்டது,இந்த இரு நடிப்பு உச்சங்களை ஒப்பிடுவதற்கான  தொடக்கப் புள்ளிகளே தவிர,ஒப்பிடுவதற்கான திரைப்படங்கள் அல்ல. 
                                                                                             ப.சந்திரசேகரன். 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Film that deserves a worthier review




     Film reviews are easier to make than making a film.One cannot imagine the enormous difficulties and hurdles faced by a production unit in making a big budget film that is given poor reviews to the extent of spoiling the audience support at the theaters and thereby reducing its profit levels. K.V.Anand is one of the most earnest film makers with well set plans and objectives to reach his creative goals.From his Kana Kandein,one could very well understand his socio political concerns and his criticism of self aggrandizement practised by a section of humanity against its fellow human beings. Anand's cry of anguish has always been against the ruthless selfishness of some people in the higher strata of society exploiting the weaker sections and killing their aims and aspirations to come up in life.To start with,it was the character of Prithviraj in Kana Kandein,who donned the role of a merciless money lender like Shylock of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, claiming others'pound of flesh for his self expansion programmes. 
   Anand relentlessly continued this theme in films like Ayyan,Ko,Maatraan and now in Kaappaan. The  underlying vital factor of most of his celluloid narrations has relied on the supremacy of big business houses,scheming to destroy the smaller ones like crocodiles swallowing most other oceanic living beings.In spinning his tales,he has gone a step further to focus on the abuse of science by a group of industrialists and scientists,bent upon destroying nature and human beings for their survival.In Maatraan,Anand even went to the extent of exposing the paternal brutality of a scientist, who valued chromosomes as superior realities meant for his ugly expansion of research for profiteering at the cost of his own sons,whom he treated as mere offshoots of his scientific invention.Though Anegan was a love story,that too reflected the barbarous self interest of a wealthy devil[wonderfully performed by Karthik Muthuraman} as antagonist.
  Setting aside for a while,Anand's themes and story lines,he could be proud of his distinct narrative style that has carried a unique pattern of elegance,from Kana Kandein to Kaappaan.I too agree that there is nothing new in the story base of Kaappaan.In fact,these days most films of popular heroes including those of the Superstar, rely only on winning the goodwill of the audience,through mega revolutionary ideas such as revamping the educational scenario to make it accessible to the poor,drawing the attention to the ills prevailing in medical education, throwing light on the plight of farmers at times leading to suicide levels,exposing the all known corruption demon,controlling every system of society,from top to bottom and so on.Today's cinema is generally about stories of exploitation and exploitation has been the theme ever since the days of MGR.Does not cinema too exploit the people by stealthily opening the door for politics to topnotch actors,by playing with the emotions of the people.Fortunately Anand's films do not provide a base for political ambitions and his narration has categorically proved to be far beyond this line.
   Coming to Kappaan,as a brief side show of this article,it is a film where every unit seems to have dedicated its body and mind towards clinching a product that would prove to be a block buster.It is too early to say if the film is a blockbuster or not.But certainly it is not a failure. Suriya has worked terribly hard,to put in his massive efforts in every scene,from Thanjavur to London via New Delhi. He is really smart in every frame and has exerted excellently in stunt scenes. Mohanlal has maintained the composure and dignity of the PM's role assigned to him and one need not teach a veteran and an ever commendable actor like Mohanlal how to perform any role. Samuthrakani has smartly essayed his role and Arya is his natural and casual self.It looked as though the interval came so soon,because the first half went off at a break neck speed.There were a few duller moments in the second half but speed picked up soon ending up with a very impressive climax show.Though Harris Jeyaraj did not make all his songs reverberate "Sirikki Seenikatti"was a heart throbbing number.The film could have got rid of the Pub song[shown to be in London}.Harris Jeyaraj deserves a special pat for his contextually befitting background scores.
   Each genre of film is narrated by film makers in their own unique style.Some film makers do the job keeping the priorities of mass heroes as their own and take the narration at every stage to further the image of the hero.Though Anand and Suriya have been team mates for three times,the director's intention does not seem to promote the image of his hero.Nor has Suriya  ever claimed to be a crowd puller.He is a worthy actor with worthy stuff.From Nerukku Ner to Kaappaan he has grown as an actor in different dimensions and in Kappaan he has striven to the core,to retain his involvement and love for acting.In these aspects,I am sure the film has saved the image of both K.V.Anand and Suriya.In my view Kaappaan deserves worthier reviews.
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Monday, September 16, 2019

From Music to Grease

 




    It is not new for singers and music directors to do acting.Tamil Cinema is well known for its singer cum actors like M.S.Subbulakshmi,T.M.Soundarajan,Sirkazhi Govindarajan,Bala Muralikrishna,S.P.Balasubramaniyan and Mano who have played either leading or supporting roles on the big screen.Whereas M.K. Thiagaraja Badhavadhar,P.U Chinnappa,T.R.Maha lingam,S.Varalakshmi,and J.B.Chandrababu were actor cum singers.
   Among music composers it was M.S.Viswanathan who did some memorable characters  in movies like Kadhal Mannan and Kaadhala Kaadhalaa.These roles did not fail to evoke spontaneous laughter among the audience on account of the humour content.If we take the younger generation music directors, it is G.V.Prakash Kumar and Vijay Antony who have been making serious and responsible attempts to do acting on a larger scale,as heroes of films of which some of them have attracted audience base and gone for creditable reviews.
  Of the two,G.V. Prakshkumar resembles a boy next door,bearing little of the hero material on his face.But the fact that he is the nephew of Oscar winning A.R.Reheman,is an indicator of the stream of music running through his veins as a genetic phenomenon.G.V.P has composed music for quite a number of popular films like Vijay's Thalaiva&Theri,Ajith's Kreedom{Akkam Pakkam Yaarumillaa Boologam Vendum is a scintillating melody},Danush's Pollaadhavan {three songs}&Aadukalam{known for the most popular lungi dance song ''oru ponnu pinnaala''},Vikram's Dheiva Thirumagal&Thandavam,Karthik Sivakumar's Aayirathil Oruvan,Saguni & Komban{Who can forget the energizing numbers Kambikarai Vetti and Karuppu Nirathazhaki}and a few other hits like Angadi Theru,Veyil,{Veyilodu Uravaadi is a soothing song}Seval,and Rajini's Kuselan.I am sure my list is not complete. 
   As an actor,Prakash is small but with full of strength.His debut film Darling,a critically reviewed thriller showed him as a hero of considerable merit.His other two highly cherished films are the children thriller Pencil and Bala's beautiful film Nachiyaar,with Jyothika playing the leading lady and a powerful woman cop.G.V.P's other moderate entries like Trishaa Illaatti Nayanthaaraa,Kadavul Irukkaan Kumaaru,Enakku Innoru Per Irukku,Sarvam Thala Mayam carry immense title value and will be remembered for the very same titles reminding the audience that they are GVP films.His other four notable films are Bruce lee,Watchman, Kuppathu Raja and Semma. Prakashkumar has to go a long way from the music station to the thespian destination.
   The other outstanding representative of music and drama is Vijay Antony.Unlike G.V.Prakash Kumar,Vijay Antony is not a prolific music composer for Tamil films.Besides composing music for films starring himself as hero,his great musical shows were for Vijay's Vettaikkaran{all songs of the film were hits;Puli Urmumudhu and Oru Chinna Thhamarai were invigorating and enchanting numbers respectively} &Velayudham{Molachu Moonu Elayavidala was a melodious song in the voice of Vijay Antony himself},Uthamaputhiran of Danush and a few other well known films like Vedi, Rasikkum Seemaane,Naan Avanillai, Sattapadi Kutram,Iruvar Mattum and so on. Interestingly,he has composed music for the Telugu version of the Tamil film Angadi Theru for which G.V.P made the tunes.
    Vijay Antony,the actor, has certainly been more promising than GVP on account of the most watchable traits of his films like freshness in handling of themes and the thrust of negative ingredients unfailingly accompanied by a tickling touch of spontaneous humour as we frequently witnessed in his films like India Pakistan,Pichaikaaran and Thimiru Pidichavan. One could witness a variety of themes such as accidental impersonation{Naan},excessive modesty and softness {Salim}conflicting interests in man woman relationship{India Pakistan}, exemplary filial devotion,{Pichaikaran} super naturalism blended with psychic complexities {Most of his films especially Salim and Saithaan}Machiavellian political machinations,   {Yaman} a dedicated march towards correcting social evils{Thimiru Pidichavan}and the inherent complexities of murder mysteries{Kolaigaran}
   The one vital factor that permeates through the narration of most of Vijay Anotony's films,is an underlying psychological predicament like insomnia,obsession with the past,mental anguish over aberrations and an inexplicable sense of agony of the psyche. Vijay Antony's morose looks,morbid facial mode,exclusive smiles,calm demeanour,sudden uproars,are the factors that aptly appropriate the psychological journey ending up in cathartic destinations,and fine tune the final product,with an adequate mixing of action,sentiment and sly comedy.The horror element shows its head,only when it is basically required.When one goes for an ultimate assessment of a Vijay Antony film,one can be sure of the hidden psyche coming to the forefront to deliver a rare stuff of audio visual melodrama.
   To me most of his films look like sweet cakes fresh from the oven,with different flavours,but never losing the trade mark of a set pattern of the psychic interior governing the whole exterior.I would rate his India Pakistan as one of his finest and breeziest films not disturbing the mind of the audience,with any undue negative thrust.All his other films hit the mind and caused a psychological hurt somewhere in their narration.His Pichaikaaran was a special tale commendably told through the inner layers of anguish,satire and surrender to destiny .The other interesting fact is that,barring his Salim and Annadurai,all his other films Naan,India Pakistan, Yaman, Saithan, Pichaikaran, Thimiru Pidichavan,Kolaigaran carry letter N as the concluding part of the film titles besides denoting a negative stench in their wield.
     During these days,when even popular and seasoned heroes find it difficult to sustain their grease and crease in performance,Vijay Antony is someone who has the grit to travel far beyond his musical zone,to invent and reinvent himself as an actor.He has shown more than once,that he is capable of depicting the multi negative shades of the human mind,with a predominant blending of positive values.This approach is in fact an indirect revelation of life, ever being  an equitable mix up of the good and bad.Between the two music directors mentioned here,one could categorically say that while G.V.Prakash has sustained his musical zest with an endearing quest,Vijay Antony has exhibited more emphatically than his counterpart that,both music and grease can synthesize a louder perception of the creative formula.It is this combined creative formula of music and grease,that can deliver at its best,the thematic content, story value,succinct and substantial narration of scenic events and a befitting role play,justifying the significance of characters. Vijay Antony seems to be a docile spark developing into dynamic flames of cinematic shows.