Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Antiheroes of Tamil Cinema.


Courtesy,The Hindu.



     A hero is one who occupies the central position and plays a pivotal role.A villain represents the   negative force against norms of goodness and works against the interest of the hero.But at times, there are central characters playing the main role with negative inspirations.We call such characters ant-heroes.Starting from the days of street shows and stage plays, we have come across such negative protagonists attracting the attention of creativity.This is how plays and films centralizing negative characters like Raavanan,Dhakshan,Dhuriyodhana from Hindu mythologies became impressive shows drawing the attention and appreciation of a vast section of the audience.To some extent the epic hero Kovalan could also be called an anti hero because of his disloyalty to his devoted wife Kannagi. One could find many other instances of negative heroes being popularized through dramatization and filming.Films in general and Tamil Cinema in particular, could be seen as being instrumental to the aesthetics of making anti heroes.
     An anti hero as presented on the stage and screen is usually a pest to one's family,society and country.He could be a womanizer,a rogue husband,a street rowdy,a drunken lout,an anti social or even a terrorist.No one could forget the worst kind of negative role that the veteran M.R.Radha magnificently performed in Rathak Kanneer that was one of the grandest shows both on stage and screen.As a virulently mischievous youth and as a crudely humiliating husband with little qualms, Radha made his role in that classic movie,inimitable and invincible.Ratha Kanneer was truly a celebration of the anti hero both in character formation and delivery and the entire credit for its massive victory naturally went to M.R.Radha.I think Tamil Cinema has hardly ever come across an inspiring prototype of the negative hero after that.
    No great Tamil heroes have shunned the temptation for starring as an anti hero.Perhaps,MGR could be an exception.For that matter, even MGR had played a negative character in one of his earliest movies 'Saalivaahanan',in which Ranjan was the main hero,Later when M.G.R.played dual roles in films like 'Neerum Neruppum' and 'Ninaithadhai Mudippavan' one of the two characters carried  negative implications.A similar example in dual roles was that of Sivaji Ganesan in the most famous film 'Uthama Puthiran'.MGR's  negative role was that of a sibling hater in 'Neerum Neruppum',and later he performed as a gangster head with pep and perfection, in 'Ninaithadhai Mudippavan'.In fact, between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,the latter had no obsession for always playing as the incarnation of virtue as MGR was fond of.This was wonderfully reflected by the powerful negative role performed by Sivaji Ganesan in Koondukkili,the one and only film wherein the two top heroes shared screen space with equal importance.
   Sivaji Ganesan did not mind playing the negative hero in films like 'Thirumbi Paar' and 'Pennin Peumai',at the beginning period of his career, after making his very first film 'Parasakthi' a blockbuster,in an amazingly positive role.The Chevalier as Parandhaaman, created indelible impressions as an anti hero,in Thirumbipaar. Sivaji Ganesan was a womanizer in 'Thirumbi Paar',a sibling beater in 'Pennin Perumai' and a venomous twin brother in 'Uthama Puthiran'.He had also performed as a drunken or irresponsible husband in movies like 'Punar Genmam' and 'Thanga Padhumai'.
    Gemini Ganesan who always played soft and romantic roles,performed brilliantly as the Casanova under the exemplary direction of K.Balachander in 'Naan Avanillai'. Previously Gemini was seen as a gangster head in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan'. In both the films, Gemini Ganesan vibrantly proved that he could do an anti hero role, with a flair for killing with fake kindness.The popularity and fascinating grip of Naan Avanillai got so stuck to the mind of film makers that decades later it was remade in two parts  with the same title and Jevan donned the role of Gemini Ganesan with equal charm and negative thrust.
    R.Muthuraman  who was a close associate and contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan spontaneously played an anti hero, both in soft and rebellious frames, in single and double hero  films like 'Avalukkenru Oer Manam','Namma Veettu Dheivam' and 'Maanavan'.Among the next generation heroes,Jai Shankar and Ravichandran appeared only as positive heroes except that Jaishankar played a negative role in the twin hero based film  Panjavarnakkili from the AVM banner. Sivakumar effectively donned the role of a deceitful protagonist in films like Saaindhaadammaa Saindhaadu and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri ,with Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth, respectively.
      Today's world class actor Kamalahasan came as a flirt and womanizer in a couple of films like 'Sollathaan Ninaikirein' and 'Pattaam Poochi'. Subsequently, as a misogynist Kamal gave an awesome performance in BarathiRaja's 'Sigappu Rojaakkal'.The other two heroes who impressed in the role of a psychic misogynist, were Pratap Pothan {Moodu Pani} and Mohan {Nooravadhu Naal}Mohan had also come as a happy go lucky youth flirting with many girls in Sujatha Cine Arts Silver Jubilee hit Vidhi.How he dodged the heroine and ditched her was beautifully pictured in that film.Here the heroine was not cowed down, but took up the legal fight with the help of a woman advocate and exposed the hero's negative side with clear evidence.
     The only hero who boldly and confidently took up negative roles frequently,was the Superstar. Moonru Muduchu,Gayathri,Thappu Thaalangal, Avargal, Billa and Polladhavan,were milestones in Rajinikanth's career and in all the six films [three by K.Balachander] his character formation saw different dimensions of the negative profile.As a ruffian,as a male chauvinist and sadistic husband,as a rowdy element,as a gangster and as a money lorn thug, it was a hateful list of roles offered to him and he performed all the roles,as the personification of evil, not bothering about his image.In fact, his image got a boost after his veritable and distinct performance as a baddie. In a double role as father and son,the voluptuous elder out beat the meek youngster in Balachander's Netrikkan.
     Recently,in a robotic role in Shankar's Endhiran, Rajinikanth rebuilt his lost empire of the anti hero. His villainy in Barathi Raja's Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,made him more of an anti hero than a proclaimed villain. Rajinikanth in short, could be called the best anti hero of Tamil Cinema.The other bold anti hero of Tamil Cinema is Sathya Raj who is equally undeterred by the compulsions of a positive hero image.His commendable role performance as an elderly hero with negative fundamentals in movies like Mudhal Vasantham,Pagal Nilavu and Amaidhippadai, will stay as imperishable assets of  Tamil Cinema.
     While Vijayakanth exuberantly performed negative roles such as a self obsessed,vindictive male, in films like Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri and Amman Koil Kizhakkaale, Prabu  conveniently escaped the itch for doing the antihero,though some of his earlier roles belonged to the uncouth category. Kartik Muthuraman the ever sparkling actor,performed a power packed vengeful role in Kan Simittum Neram. Baghyaraj also did a hatefully negative role in Kanniparuvathile.
     Among the new generation actors,Vijay was seen in 'Priyamudan' as a self bound romantic, to the extent of claiming by hook or crook, the girl he loved,Later Vijay was seen as a powerful negative element, in one of the two characters he played in Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. Ajith simply enjoyed his roles as a gambler and gangster head in Billa 1 and ll,and Mangaathaa. Besides these, Ajith had wonderfully performed earlier, as a wolfish twin brother in S.J.Surya's Vaali. Both Vijay and Ajith have powerfully carried on their negative shows, with energy and style. Barath was seen in a negative role in Chellame,as a psychologically pervert youth. Jeeva played brilliantly the character of a crooked,insensitive,guy with a lust for money in the film Yee .Nitin Satya and Nanda came as self centred and sadistic husbands in Satham Podadhe and Eeram,respectively.The chief characters played by Vijay Antony in Naan and Sudeep in Naan Yee were full of negative vibrations.
       The charm of  negativity is a unique product of creative imagination.This is how Satan is pictured as charmingly ensnaring Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.In fact it is Satan's character that affords a splendid dimension to Milton's Paradise Lost. Salman Rushdie's ''The Satanic Verses'', carried a mesmerizing effect, as much by its title, as by its content.As we all know, the positive side of life is a straight course,like the Gandhian path.But the negative exit with its zig zag ramifications, offers a vital scope for variety and complexity, like an integrated circuit with its opening and end points, not being perceptible to the common man's eye.The negatives of life, encompass an abnormal and extraordinary punch and it is this punch in the character development of anti heroes, that drives home an extraordinary appeal.This peculiar aspect keeps the audience, frequently enamoured of the darker side of what life is about and how one  lives it.The anti heroes of Tamil Cinema, are thus made up of sterner stuff,  as men capable of hurting with a gusto and getting admired for their way and style of hurting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Fascinating Film Maker is No More.

     Ameerjan,a noted film maker of the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties has passed away.He would have directed more than a dozen movies,of which Poovilangu,Vannakanavugal and Siva were for the Kavithalaya banner.The fact that he was closely associated with Director K.Balachander is solid proof of his creative stuff. Ameerjan as a film maker is known for mixing romance with ruggedness and crime.Unlike other directors,his two chosen heroes were Murali and Karthik,though he gave the two hit movies Siva and Uzhaithu Vaazhavendum with Rajinikanth and Vijayakanth as heroes respectively.
    One could see an all pervading adventure element in all his films.Of the five films he worked with Karthik,Vanna Kanavugal, Dharma Pathini and Unnai Cholli Kutramillai came out with good reviews.In all these films romance and crime coincided with a prominent upscale of male ruggedness as the charming factor beautifully displayed by the amazingly talented hero Karthik who excelled in such roles in films like Mouna Raagam and Agni Natchatram.The other two films Natpu and Vanakkam Vaadhiyaare were not that much spoken of.
   Ameerjan introduced Murali as hero into Tamil Cinema with a telling story and character in Poovilangu.Along with this soft romantic hero who is no more today,he also introduced Kuyili as heroine,in the same film.This movie with a catchy and subtle title,became a hit. It also introduced another actor called Mohan,who is popular as Poovilangu Mohan doing solid roles in television serials,besides acting in films.After this film, Murali remained as Ameerjan's pet in his other films like Pudhiyavan, Vannakanavugal,Ilankanru,Thulasi and Kurumbukkaaran.
   Ameerjan's contribution to Tamil Cinema may not be voluminous.But it is validly qualitative and aesthetic in terms of entertainment value.His clear narration and adept mixing of romance with masculine charm and feminine glory could be ever spoken of as the most salient features of film making.He is not just a noted film maker nut a neat creator.The fact that he has joined the brain of Kalakendra and Kavidayala production units' K.Balachander, not only during the latter's life time but also,soon after the latter's death, for an eternal association with him, is a great matter of coincidence to talk about.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Four Different Films of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan.



       Mudhal Mariyaadhai

      It is a known fact that every actor has a distinct style of acting.Between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan the former was an outstanding action hero and the latter was an all rounder.But both had their trademarks in acting, with regard to their body language,dialogue delivery and style of emoting. Even in song sequences one could perceive the uniqueness in lip synchronization,movement of limbs and manner of  gait that would clearly differentiate a Sivaj film from  an MGR film because the former was known for perfect matching of his lip movements for the delivery of songs.
     However,at times as a matter of rarity,there would come one or two films that would focus popular heroes in a totally different frame and vibration, that would completely take away the familiarity and formula of acting of the actors and present them as some one fresh from the oven, or as new born.There are specifically a couple of films of the two heroes, that made the audience taken aback, by the presence of an unusual MGR or an unseen Sivaji Ganesan in their characterization, portrayal and performance.The films for discussion in this category are MGR's 'Paasam' and 'Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa' and Sivaji Ganesan's 'Deepam' and 'Mudhal Mariyaadhai'.
      'Paasam' was an R.R pictures' film, released in the early Nineteen Sixties. R.R.Pictures T.R.Ramanna would have produced more than half a dozen films, with MGR as hero.Besides these,this ace director takes the credit for directing MGR and Sivaji Ganesan together in the one and only movie, 'Koondukkili'. R.R.Pictures' films like 'Gulebagaavali','Periya Idathu Penn' 'Pankkaara Kudumbam' 'Parakkum Paavai' and 'Panam Padaithavan' were mega hit MGR films, well known for their action component and music quotient. But 'Paasam' was a totally different type of film, with an unusual story line, picturing MGR, as a disappointed lover for the first time.
     Though the action segment and musical richness of an MGR film were not missing in 'Paasam' too,MGR's hairstyle, make up and mode of acting, were distinctly memorable. There was a tragic undercurrent passing on, through out the narration, culminating in the death of the hero, on seeing the dead body of his mother.Except the song 'Ulagam Pirandhadhu Enakkaaga' celebrating the spirit of self-actualization,the MGR formula of stimulating the audience with optimism and the gusto of hope was absent in Paasam. While M.G.R was emotionally drawn towards Sheela,she would be in love with K.Balaji and Saroja Devi would be seen devoutly in love with MGR.
     The play back voice of P.B.Srinivas  for MGR, for the love duet ''Paal Vannam Paruvam Kandu''  in a dream sequence cherished by Sarojadevi,was also a different experience.{The other MGR song sung by P.B.Srinivas was ''Ennaruge Nee irundhaal'',another duet  for the film Thirudaadhe}T.R.Raja kumari an earlier pair of MGR, acted as his mother and M.R.Radha as his brutal,unseen father.The all pervading tragic intensity, made the film reach only a selected section of the audience.Though it was considered a failure movie, Paasam has perfectly left indelible impressions of the subtle shades of acting that MGR was capable of. As the ardent fans of MGR always wanted him to be a winner and a transmitter of positive energy they could not accept him in a tragic skit. But to me, this is an unusual childhood treasure of an MGR movie.
       Krishnan Panju's ''Petraaldhaan Pillaiya'' was a beautifully carved film with delicate touches, reflecting the hero's longing for a kid.MGR wonderfully displayed an invisible vibration as a paternally anguished soul, with an easy flow of innocence, that he had effectively portrayed earlier in 'Enga Veettu Pillai'.Songs like 'Nalla Nalla Pillaigalai Nambi'and 'Sellakkiliye Mella Pesu' are eternally enchanting numbers from the masterly musical composition of M.S.Viswanathan.For the first time, MGR demonstrated his power for playing a character dipped in the pangs of grief. He truly brought out a man's profound love for a child.
     The difference in narration was achieved by reducing the action element and romantic segment that were considered to be the regular features of an MGR film.The other notable aspect was the role of M.R.Radha, as a benevolent brother of the heroine, played by Saroja Devi.However, unfortunately, after the release of the film, there came the news of Radha shooting down MGR and the latter surviving the attack. After a substantial period of hospitalization, with a marginal setback to his vocal cords, MGR returned as a robust hero and came out with many blockbusters like Kaavalkaaran, Adimaipenn,Namnaadu, Urimaikkural, Rickshakaaran and Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban, However, Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa will ever be remembered for projecting MGR in new form and for its qualitative narration of a different story line that made history both on screen and off screen. 'Paasam' and Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa' in my perception, would ever remain as two extraordinary MGR films.
      K.Balaji was one of the prominent makers of Sivaj films and they both enjoyed longstanding rapport and comfort levels in working together.It was more than a quarter century association between Sivaji Ganesan and K.Balaji and they would have done more than a dozen films together. Among all their joint ventures,Deepam a remake of the Malayalam  film Theekanal [starring Madhu] was like an unruffled stream, speaking of initial vagaries of the hero superseded by serene love.Sivaji Ganesan and Sujatha appeared to be a perfect pair in the line of Sivaji Padmini and Sivaji K.R.Vijaya.
       It was a refreshing love story with tragic layers reinforced by the strength of the story and its compact narration.What was different here, was the soothing course of acting by Sivaji Ganesan, without trying to be melodramatic, as he would normally do when it came to emotion packed characters There was Sivaji's fascinating style of acting but it was differently fascinating with the charm of silence and dignity. Ilayaraja's  music with its overflowing richness in songs like 'Poovizhi Vaasalil Yaaradi Vandhadhu' and 'Andhapurathiloru Maharaani',became unique numbers of a totally different Sivaji Ganesan film, that pictured the hero as dead, at the end.The phenomenal force of acting and leonine delivery of any role, that were familiar to the audience as the innate assets of Sivaji Ganesan, were found to be missing, in this aesthetically well made movie.On the other hand an unruffled hero conquered the imagination of everybody.This outstanding film released in 1977,was directed by K.Vijayan, who had worked both with Sivaji Ganesan and K.Balaji for many films.
       Eight years later,there came P.Barathi Raja's Mudhal Mariyaadhai with the proclamation ''Imayathudan Inaigirom''{We are joining the Himalayas}with a straight reference to the zenith of histrionics that Sivaji Ganesan stood for.However, ironically, the Himalayas was presented not in its usual colossal profile but in its height of modesty,poise,self dignity and child like frame of mind with a consummate touch of nobility.There were certainly serene love stories experienced on screen earlier, in films like Devadas,Nenjrukkumvarai,Avalukkenru Oer Manam and Annakkili.But here,it was the tale of love of a man in his mid fifties and it was not just love, but more than that.It was an all inclusive compass of friendship,love and companionship surpassing the physical and sexual boundaries.It was out and out a realistic narration, with the characters sublimating the concept of love and the actors realizing the sublimity of love in all earnestness and exalting attitude. Barathi Raja would have made many successful love stories, but Mudhal Mariyadhai was the most captivating of them all.
      Simplicity and realism were the hallmarks of this film and Sivaji Ganesan who always revelled in exploring new dimensions in acting,was visibly curtailed by the director's whip to walk and talk as the director wanted him to do.The Himalayas yielded to this artistic necessity or perhaps he thought it was yet another chance for him, to explore a fresh field for acting and took up the challenge as usual. The result was, watching a completely different Sivaji Ganesan as a middle aged man harassed by his wife, with his suppressed breath easing out, in the presence of another woman, who was the epitome of dignity,warmth,compassion and a clean frame of mind.
      Even small scenes that would have passed off insignificantly,arrested the attention of the audience.This is how,the two women {the hero's wife and his companion}were shown as serving food in two different ways, the wife, as squeezing her nose out and then serving food without washing her hands and the other woman, as washing her hands first and then serving food.The other wondrous scenes are those of the hero's companion collecting beads on a grey hair of the hero and the hero trying to lift a huge stone and finally succeeding in that mission, in order to defeat the challenge thrown by his companion.
   Above  everything, it was one of the most decently told love stories not crossing ever, the thumb rules of such a narration.The climax scene showing the hero in his death bed, with his body making a sudden jerk,at the moment of his cherished woman companion on parole, setting her foot on his soil, formed the core of delicate presentation.On the whole, it was a special love story totally different from all other love stories of Barathi Raja himself and it made its special effect due to each and every refreshing aspect, especially that of a subdued, and meek Sivaji Gaesan winning the show, at the behest of a vibrant director, breathing in the air of Tamil Cinema, in order to breathe out the grandeur of nativity.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Homage to R.C Sakthi and A.Vincent.

    Tamil Film industry is consecutively bereaved of two eminent film personalities in Feb 2015.One is R,C,Sakthi,a remarkable film director of the Nineteen Seventies to Nineties and the other is A.Vincent  an illustrious Tamil cinematographer who has also been a cinematographer of several Telugu films as well and a couple of Hindi films like Dil Ek Mandhir and Nazrana.Vincent has also directed a lot of  Malayalam films including award winners like Aswametham andThulaabaaram .He has directed the Tamil version of Thulaabhaaram too.Both R.Sakthi and A.Vincent were fascinating creators in their own respect and their loss creates a feel of contemporary nostalgic effect, because of their outstanding and valued association,with many directors,actors and cameramen during their period besides making the audience brood over their quality and precision in creativity.
   R.C.Shakthi has made the two memorable movies of Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth,namely Unarchigal and Dharmayutham.{Incidentally it should be mentioned here that A.Vincent has direted a Malayalam film with the title Dharmayudham starring Prem Nazir} While Unarchigal discussed the physical and emotional side of man woman relationship,Dharmayudham was an emotional thriller with a revenge perspective and presented  the hero's psychic predicament in relation to the waxing and waning of the moon.With this movie Rajini was reborn as an action hero of ruggedness and charm.The movie is also remembered for the two wonderful songs rendered by late Malaysia Vasudevan,one a solo number 'Oru Thanga Radhathil' and the other a soothing duet with S.Janaki, 'Aahaaya Kangai'.
     Some of other great films of Sakthi are,'Manitharil Ithanai Nirangala' {another film with Kamala hasan}'Sirai' 'Santhosha Kanavugal','Mana Kanakku','Varam' and 'Koottu Puzhukkal'.Of these,Sirai was an extraordinary film dealing with the delicate theme of a married woman from an orthodox Hindu family, being spoilt by a thug and let down by her husband for this stigma, for which she was not at all responsible..The woman who chooses to live with the other man, accepts widowhood after he dies.Lakshmi who donned that difficult role gave her usual, subtle touches to that pitiable woman character and mad it a poignant portrayal. Rajesh who played the thug gave a neat performance and the film was highly spoken of,like the original short story of Anuradha Ramanan,on which the film was based.
     Sakthi has worked with differently talented heroes like Kamal, Rajini, Vijayakanth, Prabu,Rajesh and Raguvaran.During the course of nearly a dozen films R.C.Sakthi has obviously established a name for himself as a flawless filmmaker of neat skits and framer of amazing characters not just to appear on the screen for a brief spell, but to live longer in the minds of the audience, as extraordinary human beings.This is certainly a distinct victory point for a film maker  and this why Sakthi's death is disturbing to the creatively committed film makers and film lovers.
      A.Vincent who created great sensation for being the cinematographer for Sivaji Ganesan's blockbuster movie Uthama Puthiran,made success waves with C.V.Sridhar, by being his pet cinematographer for many of his great hits like Kalayana Parisu,Punar Jenmam,Kadhalikka Neramillai,Thein Ninalvu,Sumai Thaangi,Nenjil Oer Aalayam,Nenjm Marappadhillai Meenda Sorgam,and Policekaaran Magal.Sivaji Ganesan's box office hits like Vasantha Maaligai and Savaale Samaali and MGR's mega hit movie Enga Veettu Pillai owe their success story, also to the grandeur of cinematography, displayed by A.Vincent.
   Like K.Balaji who loved to work with Sivaji Ganesan,A.Vincent also preferred to be on the Chevalier's camp for about a dozen films.As a film director, he has created indelible impressions on the Malayalam film industry. by making many qualitative films in addition to the two films mentioned in the first paragraph of this article. Precision,appealing impact and neatness coupled with compactness in presentation, have remained as the permanent hallmarks of A.Vincent.The award winning Thulaabaram, remade in Tamil,with actors of conviction like A.V.M.Rajan, Muthuraman, Saradha and Kanchana, made the Tamil audience know him,as a film maker harping on the fundamentals of realism without pretension.As a cinematographer, it has been an endless saga of remarkable achievements for him, because, he had both the vision and  will to entertain, with all relevant and rewarding  yardsticks of transforming cinema,into an aesthetic experience.Both Sakhi and Vincent deserve a hearty salute from everyone interested in cinema.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Taxing Among the Trilogy.


       No doubt Gautham Vasudev Menon's ''Ennai Arindhaal'' was eagerly looked forward to, not because of the hype made by the media about the film, but because of the quality stuff, that the director is capable of, as a film maker.What a brilliant show 'Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu' was,as a  a differently narrated cop story and how compact Kaakka Kaakka was, frame by frame as an emotionally told police story.But here, the monologue kind of narration,the shuttling between breezy and noisy picturing of events, with out anything new in the story line, make the whole process of watching the film a frustrating experience.The solacing moments are the few scenes involving Ajith and Trisha and the break that Ajith takes with his adopted daughter to Jodhpur. Vivek's talent for sensible humour has been under utilized and the reasons for the hero's aversion for the gangster world has not been poignantly presented.
     The most redeeming factors of the film are the rich lyrics of Thamarai and a couple of melodious numbers by Harris Jeyaraj. The film should definitely give a break for Arun Vijay but he should learn to control his decibel.The pre climax chase and run events are worth watching, thanks to the speed in narration. Ajith looks chic and charming and does not disappoint his fans as a performer with style and grace. Gautham Menon continues his adoration of fatherhood and his dignified presentation of women.But on the whole,in spite of the exquisite aesthetic components in narration, the film is taxing with its background music score and the intermittent bouts of loud delivery of dialogues.To me, it seems to occupy only the third place in the trilogy of police stories of Gautham Menon, for want of a valid and creditable story line and lack of fresh course of events, that would otherwise have made it a great film, on the uniformed service.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Versatile Beard.

       Bearded men are rare in Tamil Cinema,that too among those who have a screen image as popular heroes.The recently successful director -cum hero in this category is M.Sasikumar.Earlier we had Manivannan who with his  beaming beard was a dynamic director, character actor,comedian and villain.The other reputed Tamil director P.Vasu is quite often seen with a beard.But Tamil Cinema can never ignore the most vibrant T.Rajendar whose constant beard speaks of his versatility in the film field.Like Oliver Goldsmith in English literature known for his manifold accomplishments as poet,novelist,essayist short story writer and playwright T.Rajendar has displayed his creative might as film director, story and dialogue writer,lyricist,actor,singer and music composer.
    Starting his film career with Orudhalai Raagam,T.Rajendar made a clean sweep for quite some time,coming out with great hits like Rayil Payanangalil,Thangaikkor Geedham,Uyirullavarai Usha,Uravai Kaatha Kili,Mydhili Ennai Kaadhali,Samsaara Sangeedham, En THangai Kalyaani and Oru Thaayin Sabadham. His other moderate entries were,Sonnaaldhaan Kaadhalaa,Kaadhal Azhivadhillai and Veeraasaamy.
      What is special about T.Rajendar besides his cheek bound beard, is his Tamil, with its innate flair for alliterations.His felicity in the deliberation of Tamil dialogues with copious alliterations would at least partially remind one of Kambar's great legacy of high sounding words making sense and substance. T.Rajendar is synonymous of sentiments.His  creative thrust has emotional well being as its core and he would not bother if he has to resort to melodramatic narration, for the sake of dramatic efficacy of delineation of events,situations and  characters.
    I would say T.Rajendar is the most emotional of all makers of Tamil films, because, he never lets down the spontaneous urge for shedding tears, whenever he cannot control his emotions.One who cries naturally, while being emotionally disturbed, is a true human being, because weeping under emotional stress is one of the basic characteristics of human life.Very often, one can see T.Rajendar crying even on stage, whenever he is emotionally struck.This is a valid demonstration of a film personality of traditional mould and T.Rajendar is undoubtedly an upholder of the traditional base .
     Oruthalai Raagam with all its ingredients of juvenile gusto,pangs of romance, positive energy of friendship,fascinating power of music and the stout interlinking emotional chord,was one of the grandest Tamil films of the Nineteen Seventies. Rayil Payanangalil that followed Oruthalai Raagam continued to reflect all these ingredients with a little bit of decline in the power of narration. Shankar, Rooba,Jothi,Usha,and Ravinder whose tenure in Tamil Cinema did not last long were definitely great talents spotted out by the ever versatile T.Rajendar. Nalini who first appeared in a secondary role in Sathya Movies' Raanuva Veeran and Amala who made a successful and sparkling round in Tamil films for nearly a decade and a half, were introduced as heroines by T.Rajendar, in his mega hit films Uyirullavarai Usha and Mythili Ennai Kadhali, respectively.  
     One can see even the titles of T.Rajendar's films singing rich musical tunes into the ears of film lovers. Mythili Ennai Kaadhali was a mind blowing film with fantastic music and dance components and the exclusive contribution of T.Rajendar at all levels, made the film a historic piece, displaying the aesthetics of film making.Thangaikkor Geedham gave a lift to the career of Anand Baabu the actor son of Veteran comedian Naagesh. The film also showcased Sivakumar's newer dimension in acting. Nalini scored reasonably for her capacity to emote without overacting.This talented actress made use of the base created in T.Rajendar films for her later and stronger performance in films like Paalaivana Rojaakkal and Nooravadhu Naal.
     As a music director T.R.gave beautiful melodies like 'Idhu Kuzhandhai Paadum Thaalaattu' 'Naan Oru Raasiyillaa Raajaa, Kadavul Vaazhum Boomiyile' Vaasamillaa Malaridhu {all from Oruthalai Raagam},'Salangaiyittaal Oru Maadhu'Naanum Undhan Uravai{from Mydhili Ennai Kaadhali} Vagaikkarai Kaatre Nillu,Indhira Logagathu[Uyirullavarai Usha}Endhan Paadalgalil Nee Neelaam bari{Uravai Kaatha Kili},Amaidhukku Perdhaan Saanthi, Noolumillai Vaalumillai{Rayil Payangalil and many others.Of these Naanum  Undhan Uravai is a high pitch number powerfully rendered by SPB, pouring forth the agony of the soul. The other similar songs were Nan Oru Raasiyilla Raaja and Noolumillai Vaalumillai from the masterly voice of TMS. Majority of the songs in T.Rajender's composition, were delivered by  veteran singers like TMS,SPB and Jeyachandran,
     T.Rajendar delivered in his own voice a couple of sweet melodies like Thatti Paarthein {Thangaikkor Geedham}and Ada Ponnaana Manase Poovaana Manase {Mythili Ennai Kaadhali}. T.Rajendar has proved to be a qualitative music composer by enriching Tamil Cinema not only through his solo hits,duets and melody songs but also through gaanaa type,high spirited songs like 'Ada Goppa Mavane' {Uyirullavarai Usha} 'Ennaasa Mydhiliye'{Mythili Ennai Kaadhali}and 'Emmaadi Aathaadi' {Manmadhan} all in his  gruff but receivable tone and tenor. What makes him an exceptional music composer is his right awareness of mixing rhythm with lyrics and making  perfect instrumental addition to vocal presentation.Being a poet himself, he seems to have no difficulty in turning words into musical units,in tunes worthy of  wonderful auditory experience.
       Tamil Cinema during its expansive growth and progress has been immensely proud of the valid and invaluable contribution of very many talents in a number of fields related to the  art of film making .Mostly, we have seen them as independent talents in their respective area of specialization, such as acting,singing,music composing,choreographing,directing and other activities concerning over all cinematography.But here is an individual, who can contribute meaningfully as story and screen play writer,lyricist,music composer and actor.He is all in one, doing a little more than the director-cum-heroes like Bhagyaraj,Paarthiban,Cheran and Sundar C. Like the beard that has come to stay with him,his talents have ever remained as his perpetual assets, making him more distinguished by the term 'the versatile beard' .

Monday, January 26, 2015

''Uninspired'' May Be,But Stunning Though.


    On seeing Shankar's latest film 'I' it struck me that Mr.Baradwaj Rangan was perhaps right in saying in the Cinema Plus Columns of The Hindu,that ''a terrific performance has been let down by an uninspired and exhausting movie''.Note here that he did not call the film uninspiring.A stupendous show of events,extremely dedicated performance by Vikram excelling on several counts, and the equally committed and supportive role performance by others, be it the heroine Amy Jackson or the quadrilateral show of villainy by Suresh Gopi, Ramakumar Ganesan,Ojas Rajani and Upen Patel and the comedian Santhanam, definitely make every frame of the movie excitingly watchable,
     A.R.Reheman's 'Merselaaiyittein' will keep ringing in the ears, as the desired tune for quite sometime.But the length of the film could have been pruned by cutting short some of the scenes relating to the transgender expositions, bordering on vulgarity and the last stunt scene on a moving train, between the hero and the modelling rival. Shankar's show has always been a pendulum oscillating between ardent romance and ample social concern.Though the focus has been more on social and political issues embroiled in corruption stories  as exhaustively disposed off in films like Gentleman,Indian, Mudhalvan,Anniyan, and Shivaji, romance has certainly occupied the felicitous imagination of Shankar as diversified, but exotic romantic tales, beautifully narrated through films such as Kaadhalan,Jeans,Endhiran and now ''I''.
     One could never spot out any similarity in the story base of any of these romantic narrations, though the Shankar brand of visual ecstasy would remain as the constant enriching factor of all his films.The revolutionary Gentleman,the Patriotic Indian,the politically responsible Mudhalvan and the aggressively righteous Anniyan  as a split personality,took different routes to achieve the extermination of the wrong side of humanity.'Nanban'  was more a satirical piece  without a protagonist to be remembered. Shivaji and Enthiran were more Rajini shows than Shankar's. While Kadhalan depicted the usual power of love over the rule of money and status,Jeans just discussed the twins syndrome.Boys became a robust show of youth. Enthiran established the highly imaginative idea that love could  as well be experienced through a robotic incorporation of the human psyche.
    But ''I'' is totally different as a romantic piece. It shows that pure and consummate love always surpasses physical boundaries with a Platonic zeal and it was this concept of love that had endeared  a director like Sridhar,closer to the audience.But what is lacking in ''I'' is the depth in presenting this serene side of romance.The reason might be due to the fact that greater levels of concentration have gone into stunning make up manuals  and a magnificent display of Cinematography.A technically inspired Shankar could have been inspired a little more, in injecting the deeper layers of consummate love.Though not inspired in this regard, the film is definitely inspiring on the track of  technical exuberance and the hunger for performance  concertedly contributed by the Shankar and Vikram team.The adventures undertaken in affording horrid physical transformations to the hero and the villains and  the modules of ridicule presented by Santhanam under the guise of a Press reporter seem to pull the seriousness in narration to a tiresome process.To salute at the grand performance of Shankar and Vikram or to stand dismayed at the horrible sight of disfigured hero and villains is each one's will.