Monday, January 13, 2020

Rajini's Darbar overtakes Murugadoss.

    A.R.Murugados is known for his sleek and succulent narration of cinematic events.He could resort to the direct narration mode as he did in Ramana and Kathi or could also narrate scenes with pep and precision that  he beautifully did in Gajini,Thuppakki and Sircar. But Darbar does not fit into either of his modes.The first fifteen minutes were an erratic visual furore with gun shots making one doubt whether it is a Murugadoss film. But soon Rajini and his daughter occupy the centre stage,with the highly energetic superstar dancing with his daughter and passing on the glorious spirit of father daughter relationship.
   The first half of the film is a Rajini bonanza to his ardent fans invigorating them with his Baasha days of sparkling style and punch and his inimitable flair for humour. Nivedha Thomas does a beautiful role as Rajini's daughter,creating the very genuine camaraderie of a pampering daughter of a devoted father. Nayantara with her brief,in- between appearances, adds grace to the breezy romance bound interactions between Rajini and herself.One can not imagine the superstar as a stalker.Perhaps that is why he fumbles at his every move.
   I am one of those who would have longed for the presence of Vadivelu in the presence of Yogi Babu to raise really hilarious moments so as to make the first half more rib tickling,because Yogi helplessly lets Rajini take the lead in generating humour and remains most often,at the receiving end.One could really envy the almost immortal youth of Rajinikanth. However effective the cosmetic touches are in restoring one's youth,it is the individual's mindset to retain the gusto of youth,that matters.In this particular regard Rajini is always on the winning side.His bodily movements and the nimble effects they create, are his special assets.Long live his celluloid youth.
  Though Murugadoss attempts to raise his head here and there in the second half,it is once again Rajini whose mad encountering spree, that lifts the second half, with power packed action.When the first half comes to a close Rajini pulls us to the screen for greater expectations. There is a special scene in the second half where Rajini vows to prove his physical and mental fitness within four days to remain as a cop,after an almost fatal attack on his life and the killing of his daughter,which made him psychologically deranged for a while.It is truly one of the super scenes of the film.The dampening climax is an undeserving end of an otherwise fast moving film.
    There is a stench of dubbing through out the delivery of dialogues by most actors  excepting Rajini, Nayantharan, Nivedha Thomas and Yogi Babu. Anirudh did a better job for Petta.The initial formulaic Rajini song, is of Annamalai/Arunachalam type.It is an overall all Rajini film and his fans would all be doubly delighted and thank Murugadoss for not coming in between them and their most adored superstar.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


    'Sivakumar&sons' is an exhilarating three in one formula of Tamil Cinema.Even in the case of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan,his elder son Ramkumar halted as soon as he started the journey of acting and it is Prabu who has sustained the gusto and legacy of Sivaj Ganesan,as luminous as possible.The Sivaji hierarchy seems to be an enlivening continuity with the emergence of its third generation actor in Vikram  Prabu.The same is the case with the R.Muthuraman hierarchy through the succession of heroes from its family tree,in the form of Karthik Muthuraman and Gowtham Karthik.Interestingly,while Prabhu has been earnestly struggling to retain the Chevalier glory,Karthik in a way outshone his father by his fabulous performance in films like Varusham 16,Kizhakku Vasal,Gokulathil Seethai,Mouna Ragam and quite a few other films.Karthik certainly added felicity and profound nuances to acting when compared to the direct,down right way of acting of his father,R.Muthuraman. M.R.Radha and his children belong to another galaxy of acting,with sons and daughters,creating a starry cluster of dynamism and variety.
   As the Superstar said in the Kaappaan song release event,Sivakumar is really a blessed man and a bonny hero,carrying the deserving pride of having groomed two distinct actors,from his own genes.Throughout his acting career,Sivakumar has remained as the incarnation of sweetness and grace,combining in himself the fascinating charm of Gemini Ganesan and the captivating voice vibration of Sivaji Ganesan,without of course incorporating the open thrust in the voice mould of the latter.I have been a constant admirer of the modestly mesmerizing elements in the acting style of Sivakumar,who never let these elements fade through out his acting career.Looks and manners are both inherited and inculcated. Sivakumar has beautifully retained the positive factors that he inherited and has also successfully added his own cherished norms of life,before transforming into an ideal actor.He has mostly played soft roles.Even a couple of characters with negative shades that he performed in films like Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri and Saaindhaadammaa Saindhaadu,{both were beautiful stories from the hands of Maharishi}did not fail to reflect his innate sweetness in demeanour.
    Sivakumar has been a prolific actor,sharing screen space with top most heroes like MGR {Kavalkaran &Idhayaveenai}Sivaji Ganesan{Several films of which Uyarndha Manidhan  Kaval Theivam and Kandhan Karunai will stay immortal},Jaishankar,Muthuraman, Ravichandran and A.V.M.Rajan and later on with Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan and Mohan, despite the fact that he was a much senior actor to these heroes.The one remarkable fact about Sivakumar is that,he has never been craving for Single hero films,nor has he ever hesitated to do second hero or even supporting roles in many films.But it should be said in a similar vein, that he has also given us most memorable hits like Sollathaan Ninaikirein,Ponnukku Thanga Manasu,Pudhu Vellam,Rosaapoo Ravikkaikari,Eni Padikal,Vellikizhamai Viradham,Annakili Aattukkaara Alamelu,Paadha Poojai,Vandi Chakkaram, Chittukuruvi,Badrakali,Sindhu Bhairavi and Thangaikor Geetham.
    Though he has done only two films with the Superstar{Kavikuyil and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri} he has frequently acted with Kamalahasan.{Then Sindhuthe Vanam,Panathuk kaaga,Sollathaan Ninaikirein,Pattikaattu Raja,Kumaasthaavin Makal,Melnaattu Marumagal, Thangathile Vairam and so on}Those were times when Rajini and Kamal were at the starting spell of their career and Sivakumar was already an established actor of hero material.The two films he has done with Mohan are Naan Paadum Paadal and Paasa Paravaikal.Now Sivakumar is a fully blown senior citizen and he has made his mettle in paternal roles as the father of his own son Suriya {Uyirile Kalandhadhu} and as the loving dad of Vijay {Kadhalukku Mariyaadhai} and Ajith{Poovellaam Un Vaasam}.He was also very sweet as Vikram's elder brother in Bala's  Sethu.
   The one unforgettable role he did with Sathyaraj was for the film Malabar Police.Unlike his contemporary heroes Jaishankar and Ravichandran,Sivakumar boldly took up roles that demanded delivery of chaste Tamil dialogues in films like Raja Raja Cholan,Kandhan Karunai, Thirumal Perumai and Thirumalai Dheivam.In mythological profiles Sivakumar was not only compact,but also looked truly divine as Lord Muruga in Kandan Karunai and as Lord Vishnu in Thirumal Perumai and Thirumalai Dheivam.
   Coming to the thespian career of his two sons,a lot has been done by both of them on the big screen and a lot more is expected of them too.While Suriya is more an 'urbanized,exquisite Sivakumar',Karthik Sivakumar,{more familiar as Karthi} is out and out a genuine rural stuff,despite his higher education abroad. Suriya has consistently displayed the delightful parameters of style and elegance.Barring some of his initial films like Nerukku Ner, Kaadhale Niimadhi,Periyannaa and Sandhippoma,one could see multi shades of style in looks and performance in films like Friends,Aaru,Mounam Pesiyadhe,Pitha Magan,Kaakka Kaaka,Gajini,Ayyan,Maatraan,Anjaan,Ayudha Ezhuthu, Thaana Serndha Koottam and the most recent Kaappaan.In terms of performance,there was a lot of vigour delivered in the Singam series besides his action packed high power drama Aadavan,and the robust mischief beautifully portrayed by his role,in Pithamagan apart from the cheeky and sober dimensions of character,he impressively delivered in dual roles in AVM's Perazhagan.Three films of Suriya that have shown him move on the screen with incomparable speed are K.V.Anand's Ayyan and Kaappaan and K.S.Ravikumar's Aadhavan.
   Some of his characters that carried profound emotional layers and poignantly inward looking dispositions added distinct merits of Suriya's performance,that we witnessed in films like Bala's Nanda and Gowtham Menon's Varanam Aaayiram.As a police officer he stiffly imbibed the inimitable crease of the uniform in body and mind and performed brilliantly in films like Kaakka Kaakka and the Singam series especially in the first instalment of Hari's serial shows. While Surya's  Sillunnu Oru Kaadhal was a tale of fascinating romance his Thaanaa Serndha Koottam was a casual street show of humour coupled with anger against the stashing of black money,by a section of the unscrupulous bureaucracy,including that of the investigating agencies.The two notable,disappointing failures of Suriya were 7aam Arivu and NGK.However, in Kaappan he has again exhibited his self determined vigour and dynamism in several respects.
    The voice vibration in Surya's dialogue delivery is of a captivating mould which is capable of unfolding the inner anguish as we excitedly witnessed in Nanda,whenever he called his mother "Amma".The same voice could roar with a ranting force in Singam.It would be a great missing point if I do not mention the multi dimensional psychic complexities he let loose in Gajini under the incomparable direction of Murugadoss.Gajini is a governing pointer to the growth trajectory of Suriya as an inspired and invigorating performer,with a matchless manifestation of a mind,laid up with the trauma of hallucination and erratic memory power.One could very clearly perceive the impact of memory,playing the truant on his brain,subjected to brutal physical assault.In a way Gajini could be rated as the magnum opus of Suriya's acting career.
    Unlike Suriya,Karthi is made up of rugged stuff that he has effectively revealed in his debut film Paruthiveeran itself.Though no one can grudge Priya Mani getting the best actress National film award  for her brilliant performance in that film,the same way,one can affirm that Karthi also deserved the best actor National film award,for his commendable role play in his very first film. Nevertheless, he got  an award from other creditable agencies.From his very first film,Karthi continued to reflect the rugged rural resplendence,in most of his portrayal of characters in films like Aayirathil Oruvan,Alex Pandian,Saguni,Naan Mahanalla,Madras, Komban and his other rural hit Kadaikkutti singam.While Naan Mahanalla and Madras exhibit remarkable ruggedness and macho might,Komban and Kadaikutti Singam are Karthi's extraordinary rural shows,narrated with gripping realism and splendid emotional involvement.
   The climax scene of Kadaikutti Singam,with the meekest and self defeating demonstration of emotions by karthi,would have made many family oriented film watchers dumbfounded and sentimentally struck down. Komban was another milestone in Karthi's career,neatly establishing the mild threads,interlinking the most dignified relationship between a son in law and father in law.The special charm of Karthi is his capacity to pour out exalted emotions through a rough and tough exterior.Much in contrast to these roles,he breezily performed as a very soft hero in the two most celebrated films Paiyaa and Thozha.Payya was of course an indescribable musical treat from Yuvan Shankar Raja.But it was also an enchanting road show of romance, passing through a turbulent storm of successive threats to the life of both the hero and heroine. Lingusamy's road show in Payya retained the gusto,excluding the track set for a race,in his earlier film Run.
   Thozha could be rated as one of the cleanest films of this new age with Nagarjun and Karthi getting mutually drawn to each other,through a natural course of spontaneous trust and sense of empathy. Like Kamal in Vasool Raja trying to heal the medico's wounds caused on a coma patient,Karthi struggles to revive the morale of the imbecile and wealthy wealthy Nagarjun. All was well in Thozha excepting the physically challenged stature of Nagarjun.Subtle humour {between Karthi and Prakash Raj} and soothing romance were the singular attractions of Thozha.The other most challenging role that Karthi performed,was that of a dedicated cop travelling along a perfectly narrated story line,in Dheeran Adhikaaram Onru. 
   Karthi's Kaidhi,has shown how he could be simultaneously meticulous and casual in delivering the desperate role of a just released convict,waiting and wanting to meet his adolescent daughter put up in an orphanage.It is a solid narration of an ex convict's plight in the hands of a police officer,facing the unavoidable predicament of saving a host of poisoned cops,from a serial attacks by gangsters. Karthi has breezily borne an arduous role on his shoulders,in his own inimitable style of mixing roughness with rhythms, radiating poise,in an action packed thriller kind of film.Ruggedness,effortless excellence and subtle charm,are ever the singular profiles of Karthi.
   Thambi, Karthi's latest release has enrolled him for a very specially sparkling performance, with a fantastic combination of white-lying and valued perception of the entanglements he is facing.Within his character's flair for fraud,there lies hidden,a genuine compassion and love for those with whom he gets associated and this makes him draw a clear line between good and evil.It is a multi dimensional character and Karthi has essayed it with shades of innocence, mischief,stubbornness and inbuilt courage.Besides Jeethu Joseph's clean screenplay,the comprehensive role delivery of Karthi has exalted the status of Thambi,to its appealing and commendable reach.
   Both Suriya and Karthi have come across ups and downs and both have carved a niche for themselves in their own independent might and manner.The one striking note of difference between the two actors is,the eternal dazzling spark in Suriya's performance,pretty much in contrast to the ever enchanting casual ease, that has been the steady determiner of Karthi's style of acting.It is not that they have travelled enough on the road of Tamil Cinema.They have more to travel on the highways and crooked streets of the celluloid world. But their travelling experience has made them deserve their own characteristic space in acting, by proving their grease calibre, as the worthy sons of a worthier father.While the father spread a lot of natural fragrance in acting,his sons have imbibed it,so as to flourish it into an all pervading aroma of the body and soul of acting and fulfill the aspirations of the new generation,that they represent as naturally as they can.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Thumbs up to Thambi

  Thirteen years ago there was a film called Thambi,starring Madhavan and the film directed by Seeman,ran well because of its powerful dialogues and effective narration.Here comes another film carrying the same title.But this is totally different from the former because of its genre,relevance to the title and riveting narration.
   Jeethu Joseph,the powerful maker of great Malayalm films like Detective,Memories, Drishyam and Oozham is not new to Tamil cinema.He has already become a name here,by his Papanasam  which was a Tamil remake of his Drishyam and in which Kamalahasan took up the lead role of Mohanlal of the Malayalam original.Papanasam became very popular with the Tamil audience. So can Thambi,on account of its vigorous narration and suspense elements kept intact,till the climax.The film lives on its four powerful pillars Karthik,Satyaraj,Jothika and Jeethu Joseph.
    Karthik Sivakumar does his title role with a clean mix up of natural ease,felicitous humour and power of muscles and mood.One can enjoy every shade of his breezy and buoyant role delivery. Satyaraj maintains his strong base and his energy levels in his screen presence.His demonstrative portrayal of roles was never found wanting in any of his films ever since he occupied the centre space in Tamil cinema.The climax of Thambi showing Satyaraj and Karthik in close confrontation,reflects how differently empowered these two actors of two generations are,in their grasp and control of contexts and their dynamism to fit into those contexts.This is the second time Satyaraj and Karthik come together after their memorable role play in Kadaikutti Singam.It is a meaty role for Satyaraj in Thambi and he meets it with consummate effortlessness in deliberation. Jyothika the dauntless performer of roles such as Naachiyaar and Raatchasi,perfectly steps into the role of the elder sister.It is a sweet experience to see Jyothika and Karthik as Sister and 'younger brother',without forgetting the fact that in real life too,they are elder brother's wife and husband's younger brother.
    A special tribute to the  last century's dynamic woman Sowcar Janaki,who paralyses paralysis,by her speechless perceptions of contexts through a perfect vision of what is happening around her.The way she looks at Karthik,her suppressed sense of suspicion about his bonafides,her mischievous and deliberate wheel chair fall to help him in time,are a real treat to watch.Three cheers to the old actress.Old is really more than gold.The same way,one has to say three cheers to Master Ashwant,who continues to remain a mini atom bomb for Kathik,until the poor boy gets sadly killed by an electrified fence.All other characters played by Nikhila Vimal, Bala,Harish Peradi,Ilavarasu and Anson Paul{the last two as cops,one corrupt and the other duty bound}will stay remembered.
   A film lives by its narration of events and depiction of characters.Both are impressive in Thambi to make it worthwhile,as a piece of high end entertainment. Drishyam and its remake Papanasam were effective crime-cum action thrillers,strictly bound to their theme and course of narration without any room for other factors of entertainment.But Thambi is a sparkling show of humour,family emotions and demonstration of the power of those emotions,to reform a person's motives and mindset.The underlying link between Papanasam{Drishyam}and Thambi is the desperate urge to save some one from a deed of crime,helplessly committed and make sustained moves to bury all sorts of evidence of the crime.In this particular respect,one could see the addiction of a film maker to certain types of creative concepts,that stay more relevant to them,than others. 
  Jithu Joseph's creative formula centres around acts of crime,the genesis of crime and the cathartic developments that continue to hold on to the moment of a criminal act.Committing a crime is easy.But the ordeal of concealing the act of crime eats away one's peace of mind the rest of one's life,unless and until the criminal deed is done to death.This is what Jeethu Joseph has focused on,during the narration of both Papanasam and Thambi.But the latter is strewn with humour sparks in the first half and is amply action packed in its second half.One could say Jithu Joseph has combined in himself a little bit of popular Malayalam movie makers Fazil and Joshy in making Thambi more a family entertainer and action drama,than a mere crime thriller.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Concept is the Hero


   P.S.Mithran's 'Hero'inspires the audience by its most absorbing concept,highly relevant to the existing realities of the educational system,that deserves less to be said but more to be criticized.The soul of the film is its concept and in this way the concept becomes the real hero.The film firmly highlights the fundamental flaws in the present educational system practised in India.
   The two potential factors causing futility of education are the parental misconceptions about the end result of education with least understanding of the dreams and aspirations of their wards  and the system promoters' money-oriented drive,with the single objective of enslaving the end product of education.Very few films would have struck the core failures of the system,as Hero has done,with hitting dialogues from P.S.Mithran and his team.In this particular way,Hero is a special movie.
   The first half of the film passes on with breezy narration taking us along,with the natural hero Siva Karthikeyan and his debut female star Kalyani Priyadarshan.It is a known fact that Sivakarthikeyan is a homely hero in the line of Dhanush,though he is a little more physically well built than the latter. But none of us would like to see these two actors as mass heroes because their acting vibes make them come closer to the audience as the guys next door.So does new comer Kalyani Priyadarshan with her very modest and true to the soil kind of acting.Both Sivakarthikeyan and Kalyani Priyardhan deliver a lot of freshness and appeal,making the first half of the film enjoyable,through flashes of clean romance and humour.The way how Sivakarthikeyan's imitation of the balloon theory of building self confidence boomerangs before the eyes of its originator,is one such interesting humour flash.
    It is really unfortunate that the expectations of the viewers about a great film get stuck during the course of its  stereotyped narration in the second half.The excessive instructive tone of narration especially in the climax,reminds us of the climax of Sivakarthikeyan's Velaikaran wherein Mohan Raja resorted to a similar approach,to expose the ills prevailing in multinational business houses that ruthlessly enslave the consumers through spurious food products.In fact,the second half becomes a mixture of Shankar's Gentleman and Sivaji,besides making the film share the theme and narration of Velaikaran,by the presence of the same hero and with the same tone of instruction.If Shankar made currency notes shower from a college building tower,P.S.Mithran lets a big balloon drop six hundred crores on a similar location.
   Hero suffers in the second half,purely on account of highly cinematic and incredible happenings making the audience doubt whether they are watching an action thriller or a science fiction film.Even in Mithran's first inimitable venture Irumbu Thirai,the narration was controlled and gripping,despite the fact that an incredible narration would have suited the plot.Though one could not fault Ruben's editing,a little more attention could have been paid in blending Arjun's past with his on going struggle to promote students' creative and innovative talents.There is certainly a layer of confusion in effecting a fusion,between events pertaining to the action king's dedicated role delivery. 
    Yuvan Shankar Raja's music has its fascinating strokes both in its background score and in the presentation of song sequences. Abhay Deol as educationist Mahadev,aptly symbolizes the devilish mindset of the bunch of gangsters abusing the educational structure,securely framed to serve their crude commercial objectives,at the cost of a gullible society,drowned in an ocean of wrong notions about educational goal posts.The other actor who needs an applause is Ivana, who as teen aged Madhi,naturally brings home the frustrations and anguishes of a talented youth, looking up for recognition.
     In the midst of the Shaktiman events,comes an interesting appeal to parents,to look into the rough note books of their children,which are like Biblical bench marks, of the inner fire running through the imagination of every youth,of what they really want to be and what their life's goals are.Before the film ends,there is another remarkable statement that would have gone unnoticed by many and the statement is,there are quite a lot of creative and innovative brains among the youth in India,but there are very few who try to discover them.This is yet another pointed perception that makes concepts,the real hero of the film. In spite of cliched narration Hero is worthy of a family watch,because of its message reflecting the truth of the diseased educational system,that lobotomizes the youth,by killing individuality and creativity in exchange for a cozy and comfortable routine.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Mamangam Masterstrokes


    What makes the fairly big budget Mammootty starring Mamangam singularly different from the most recent Bahubali and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy,is its genuine and pointed mode of narration cutting down the audio visual magnificence that Rajamouli and Surendar Reddy delivered as pieces of awesome extravaganza. With profoundly committed performers like Mammootty,Unni Mukuntan,Master Achuthan and Siddique,Mamangam strikes the imagination of viewers,as real happenings,with adequate spicy ingredients such as captivating screen shots, scintillating music and fascinating choreography.In a movie of martial arts,women have less role to play{Of course Tamannah was an exception both in Bahubali and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy}.So women here have nothing to do other than exhibiting their subdued emotions of sorrow and power of endurance.
  Mamangam means a period of twelve years both in Tamil and Malayalam.In Tamil Nadu it is a celebration marking the Hindu Pilgrimmage followed by a holy dip in the Mahamaha Thirtha every twelve years.Even now Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu remains as the unique temple town on account of the Maamaangam holy dip celebration.Whereas in Kerala it marks a prestigious festival,said to have been celebrated at Tirunavaya of the Malabar region on the banks of the Bharadhapuzha during the 18th century.The significant issue regarding the festival is the usurping of the festival rights by the Samoothri{Zamorin}from Valluvakonathri [known as Valluvanad} and the latter as Chaaverukal {warriors} and suicide squads.venturing to behead the Samoothri as a mark of revenge.The usual happenings are the defeat of the warriors in the hands of the fighting force of the Zamorins and the dead bodies of warriors being thrown in to the wells to make sure that none of the corpses returns home for cremation,after the massacre.
   M. Padmakumar's gripping narration with the glorious title song and the brave introduction of Mammooty as Chandroth Valiya Panicker is a sustaining factor through out the film.The fact that Chandroth Valiya Panicker has not killed the Samoothri even after reaching the latter's height prone seat,but simply flew from there, results in his being smeared as traitor and hated by his own kith and kin.Twenty four years later truth comes to light when two more warriors Chandroth Panicker{Unni Mukuntan} and a twelve year old boy Chandhunni{three cheers to Master Achudan for his mind blowing performance in consistent sobriety and mood fitness for warfare} leave their Chandroth Tharavaadu for a similar confrontation with the Zamorins,letting the family members both proud and frustrated.
    The second half  of the film traces the mysterious death of Zamar Koya{Tarun Arora}a foreign business man considered to be an important associate of the Zamorin.It is Thalachennor{Siddique} the right hand of the Zamorin who brutally investigates the killing of Zamor Koya.The later events reintroduce the Chandroth Valliya Panicker who has turned to a healer and yogi status,desisting from warfare,though its fire is still there with in.The healing episodes bring together the Chandroth trio and clears the stained perceptions of Chandroth Valiya Panicker's bravery and loyalty to his soil.The saluted death of Chandroth Panicker {Unni Mukuntan}and Chandunni {Achuthan}in the hands of Zamorins and the creditable climax of Mammootty transforming into a warlord again,in order to bring back the dead body of Chandunni after a horse pulling of Thalachennor to his deserving death,are the memorable moments of watching Mamangam.
   The film could be reputed for the entire team's unswerving dedication to its thematic content and visual imprints.There is no deviation from the task understood and deliberated. Besides Padmakumar's creative involvement and the actors' natural absorption of roles,Manoj Pillai's cinematography,Raja Mohammad's editing and M. Jeyachandran's music have all pulled the screen back to the days of the events,said to have taken place two centuries ago.The exceptional success of the film is,despite its grand visual exhibits,the film is less cinematic and shows events as really happening before us.It is in this way,the film travels on its well set track taking an exit totally different from  the celluloid glorification of bravery and patriotism,wonderfully watched as big cinema shows in Bahubali and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddi.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Factor of Disability,portrayed in Tamil Cinema.



    Cinema is an effective medium interpreting life's realities in terms of themes,events {both contextual and non contextual}and characters.In the treatment of above aspects,it is difference in narration,that lends an amount of variety and appeal.Sometimes the narration would lay a greater emphasis on events than on characters,or vice versa.The characters are usually weighed by their inherent elements of goodness and badness.Occasionally,the narration would also focus on the physical stature of characters,either as being physically stout,or vulnerable to disabilities on account of some bodily flaws,that draws a predicament to character delineation.
  The physical flaw may be one of colour or some sort of impediment such as a handicapped look or being visually challenged or hearing/speech impaired.If such a physical oddity falls on secondary or supporting characters,it usually goes unnoticed.Instead,if the physical flaw shadows the protagonist,it gains absolute importance,letting the audience emotionally empathise with the plight of the hero or heroine.Tamil cinema during its formative and following decades,effectively dealt with the trauma of the leading characters being laid up with a physical challenge,in the form of personal agony and social stigma.
   Tamil films specifically proved that more than social stigma,family prejudices and parental neglect made the physically challenged persons,victims of insult and disgrace,leading to a status of depression and insecurity.In 1962, P. Madhavan's Mani Osai narrated the tragic tale of a hunch backed youth,disowned by his wealthy father{well played by M.R.Radha},owing to reasons of stigma falling on the family as a curse. It was a poignantly pictured film with realities governing the core of narration and the flow of sentiments rooted to the ground.Last century's famous Kannada hero Kalyankumar gave a riveting role delivery,delving deep into the hearts of the viewers.The climax of the film showed the noble minded hero giving his pair of eyes,to his haggard younger brother{R.Muthuraman} before his death and the guilty father confessing to everybody,that the hunch backed hero was his elder son.The song Devan Kovil Mani Osai in the clarion voice of Sirkazhi S.Govindarajan,will eternally stay in the memory of those who watched the film,or heard the song,amazingly composed by the veteran musical duo Viswanathan &Ramamurthy.
   Four decades after the release of Mani Osai,there came another film on a hunch backed guy. This film Perazhagan {2004} produced under the AVM banner and directed by Sasi Shankar dealt with the subject in a humorous vein,making us feel that not all physically challenged people visibly let out their agonised feelings over their physical deformity.This film starring Suriya and Jyothika,both in dual roles,was a clean entertainer with Vivek and the hunch back Suriya with his protruding upper teeth,creating quite a few laughter moments,.The audience derived a lot of fun rising from the cheekiness of Suriya and the mocking tone of Vivek.The other interesting fact about the film is that,one of the dual roles played by Jyothika was that of a visually challenged woman.Besides this physically challenged pair,there was the other pair of a Sober Suriya and his fiancee,the fair looking Jyothika,who got killed in a road accident and whose eyes gave vision to the visually impaired Jyothika. Besides depicting deformities and mistaken identities,the film also threw light on the burdening pangs of deprivation of beauty and love.On the whole,the film had more fun to watch than sentiments to cry about.
    The AVM's mega production house had released two other films on the frustrations of being physically disfigured or deformed. Naanum Oru Penn directed by A.C.Thirulokchandar {1934] memorably portrayed the sufferings of the woman protagonist who was hated by her father in law for her black complexion.The film starring C.R.Vijayakumari in the leading role, gave her an opportunity for a stellar performance,drawing huge crowds to the theatres,for this singular reason.The song Kannaa Karumai Nira Kannaa{tuned by Sudadharsanam} in the captivating voice of P.Suseela,could be called another point of reference to the success of the film. S.V.Rengarao as the prejudiced father in law,gave a neat performance in his usual unique style of role delivery.
   AVM's other film Ramu brought forth the sufferings of a young boy{Master Rajkumar} who loses his power of speech following a shocking incident and regains it later.Incidentally, C.R.Rajakumari also played as a speech impaired woman,not happily received by her mother in law {M.V.Rajamma}in the film Kodimalar directed by C.V Sridhar.
   Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan had brilliantly demonstrated the tormented mindset of a physically challenged person with his incomparable stamp of spontaneity,originality,and substance. The immortal film Bhagapirivinai,showed him as a man with one arm invalidated following an electric shock,while trying to pull out a kite stuck on a live wire.Despite this handicap and the consequent shame and abuses thrown by others on this physical deformity,he demonstrated his strength of personality with robust energy.It was only during an occasion when he was not able to lift his child by himself,did he break down. However,the film ended on a happier note with the hero regaining his normal limbs after a another electric shock.
   Sivaji Ganesan was shown in Paalum Pazhamum as an eminent doctor losing his vision during the course of a medical research in a chemical laboratory.The presumed death of the doctor's wife on account of tuberculosis made the doctor strenuously research on a medicine to cure the disease during when the doctor temporarily lost his vision.In Muktha Pictures' Thava Pudhalvan Sivaji Ganesan suffered from evening blindness and the film beautifully showed how he struggled to hide this infirmity from his mother while at the same time suffering in the hands of an immoral woman,who exploited his helplessness and went on extorting money from him.The Chevalier also appeared as a victim of epilepsy in Raman Ethanai Ramanadi and performed his role in a way,gripping the minds the viewers and lasting in their memories with the imprints of his perfect role delivery
     Sivaji Ganesan was also portrayed as a speech impaired person in the film Valarpirai directed by Daasari Yoganand.It was a meek show of the hero silently undergoing the deep pangs of his speech disability.In P.S.V Pictures's Aalayamani he was a very rich man who would be bound to a wheel chair following a car accident.Previously his domestic servants used to admire his stylish gait and after becoming lame,he would ask them how stylish his gait was in his wheel chair, thereby symbolically expressing the throes of a disabled person.Incidentally,in all the above four films It was B.Sarojadevi who was paired with him as the female leading character.
   In 1969, there came Deivamagan, one of the masterpieces of the Chevalier,showing him in triple roles as father and twin sons.It was almost a cult film under the inspiring direction of A.C Thirulokchandar. Like Mani Osai, it was also a story of father who disowned his facially disfigured son.But unlike in Mani Osai,in Dheiva Magan the father who himself had a disfigured face,did not like to see a replica of himself constantly re experiencing all the tormenting moments of his life through his son suffering a similar disability.Luckily,the younger of the twins grew up as a handsome guy.In a particular scene,all the three characters would be shown being present in the same room,with the father writing a blank cheque for his disowned elder son,the play boy younger son thanking his dad for keeping a blank cheque ready for him and the hiding elder brother pleading with his father through his eyes,to give the cheque to his younger brother.
     It was one of the grandest scenes in Tamil cinema history and to see the Chevalier perform three roles with no trace of semblance in appearance or expression.Those were splendid days of Tamil cinema,governed by creative imagination and performance excellence,without the far reaching technical advancement and assistance that are available for making films today.How much the make up personnel would have worked hard to make the same actor appear in the same situation without an iota of similarity either in looks or in role play.The present generation of film making units should certainly look back in retrospect and salute their predecessors for the amount of perfection that they struggled to maintain in their projects.
    Arjun's Karna {1995} released 26 years after Dheivamagan also narrated the paternal neglect of a physically challenged son between the twins because of his legs becoming invalid.Years later the disowned son who turns a highly sought after advocate comes to the help of his mindless father and happy go lucky younger brother.Recently Radhamohan's Mozhi came out with a fine portrayal of a speech impaired woman of self esteem and uncompromising dignity powerfully projected by Jyothika as the leading character of the film.
    Kamalahasan was lame in Padhinaaru Vayadhinile {1977},visually impaired in Raaja Paarvai {1981} and was a dwarf by birth,caused by villains physically attacking his mother during her pregnancy, in Abhoorva Sagodhararkal {1989}.He excelled in all the three roles reflecting spontaneity and positive vibes,besides experiencing suppressed emotions resulting from his disabilities.While he was both docile and rebellious with a rustic exterior in Padhiraaru Vayadhinile,he exhibited dignity as a person without vision,being ill treated by his step mother in Raaja Paarvai.In Abhoorva Sagothararkal he delivered a classic performance as a dwarf undergoing the frustration of rejected love and revengeful ire,against those who killed his father and made him physically disabled.All these were wonderful shows of Kamalahasan.
   During these days of social advancement and civilized thinking, words like 'blind''dumb'and 'deaf' have all become pejorative terms,subject to disapproval.In order to establish the right of a human being to lead a socially respectable life,a lot of positive thinking is infused into familial and social perceptions of individuals,to avoid prejudices against persons laid up with some kind of shortfall in appearance, stature and movement,depriving them of the prospects of a normal life like others.This sensitive human issue bearing serious psychological implications,is being viewed with more considerate and refined attitudes,so as to build self confidence among the victims of disability and substantially motivate them to rise up as other physically privileged lot and see success notes in their lives,by achieving the impossible, setting aside their shortcomings. After all,how many of us live here,without any physical or psychological disability,at one stage or other in our lives!
   The welcome transition in personal and social outlook regarding physical disabilities,could be seen not only on the big and small screens but also in real life today.I have listed here some of the striking cases of disabled characters portrayed in Tamil Cinema.It is not the number that matters.It is the types of disabilities that do.In that case,this article I believe,has done some justice to its theme and purpose. 

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.