Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Distinguished Director Duo of Tamil Cinema.

       Two people working together in any field, especially in the field of Cinema, is not anything new. For instance, in the field of film music,we have come across illustrious music composers like Shankar Jaikishan ruling Hindi Cinema, for decades.Same was the case with Viswanathan and Ramamurthy in Tamil Cinema and later, Shankar Ganesh became noticeable music directors working together.But there were two directors of Tamil films who took over their career almost during the inception period of Tamil Cinema and stayed well knit, as makers of high quality films for a pretty long period.Born in two different places,with an age difference of about six years between themselves, they worked hand in hand, without any thought of who performed better than whom.They were Krishnan and Panju, the latter, younger in age, but the former, outliving his younger associate.Their passion for film making was ever governed by the standard yardstick of decent cinema.
    Starting with their first film Poompaavai and after a couple of low profile films, they came out with the great film Nalla Thambi, starring N.S,Krishnan,for which the then Dravidian leader C.N.Annadurai wrote the dialogues.Then with the A.V.M blockbuster Parasakthi, they carried the pride of introducing Sivaji Ganesan into Tamil Cinema, who later on became its body and spirit.Their grand creative potential continued to inspire the Tamil film audience, through films like,Kula- dheivam, Ratha Kanneer and Mamiyar Mechiya Marumagal. Besides family dramas, they could delineate events and characters with versatile emotions like motherhood,anguish of childless mothers, nobleness of sacrifice and the grandeur of friendship.They were equally good at action movies.
   Krishnan Panju were notable among those, who could work with both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. They could claim the special distinction of directing MGR with a totally different attitude and frame of mind in their films like Petralthaan Pillaiyaa,Engal Thangam and Idhaya Veenai. Another interesting factor is that these two directors could simultaneously make films of M.K.Muthu and MGR in spite of the fact that MGR came out of DMK and  Muthu was the son of Dr.M.Karunanidhi, the DMK leader and the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
  It should also be mentioned here that they directed almost all the films of M.K.Muthu,such as Pillaiyo Pillai,Pookkari,Samayalkaaran and Anaiyaa Vilakku. Incidentally,the other fact remains that for Parasakthi it was Dr.M.Karunanidhi who wrote the dialogues.The success story of Parasakthi is a glorious part Tamil film history.Some of their other Sivaji Ganesan hits were Dheiva Piravi, Pudhayal, Kungumam and Uyarndha Manidhan.
   Their close association with the AVM banner is another significant aspect of their success and growth as classic film makers.Their outstanding releases under this banner include Parasakthi, Kuladheivam,Dheivapiravi,Server Sundaram,Annai,Uyarndha Manidhan,Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum, Adhey Kangal,Anaadhai Aanandan and Annaiyum Pidhaavum. All these films were reputed for strong story line,neat and impressive narration and beautiful characterization of individuals as vital segments of family and society.
    Clarity in story telling was the unique aspect of all these films. Global events and unforeseen circumstances splitting family members,family interlinks,filial devotion, the evil impact of suspicion between spouses,poverty,romance agony of childlessness, arrogance of wealth and the power of revenge, were all the noted themes of  these films.Almost all these films were mega hits, with their rich ingredients of film making including captivating music.The only exception in this list was Adhe Kangal,which was a thriller but another grand show.The grandest among the works of Krishnan Panju were Parasakthi, Kuladheivam,Server Sundaram, Uyarndha Manidhan Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum and Adhe Kangal.
   Some of the other memorable movies of these two eminent creators were Pathu Maadha Bandham Vaazhndhu Kaattugirein,Vaazhvu En Pakkam ,Velliradham and Enna Dhavam Seidhein.Besides MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,.Krishnan Panju have worked with other heroes like S.S.Rajendran,Jai Shankar,Ravichandran,Muthuraman,A.V.M Rajan and Vijayakumar.Veteran heroines like P.Bhanumathi,Padmini,Sowcar Janaki,Sarojadevi,Vanisri,K.R.Vijaya,J.Jeyalalitha and Sujatha have enriched the quality of their films.
   It was known to everybody that a Krishnan Panju film would not fall short of the set yardsticks of a fine family entertainer with traditional moorings and core values of ethical formulations.There was always this fusion of ideals and emotions like the fusion between the two directors who were always seen as one person.It was this inseparable reality that fixed them ever on the higher pedestal, as the best film makers in Tamil .

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Music as Honey and Breeze.

        Life’s aesthetics consists of so many factors. Of these, music is one of the most influential forms of aesthetic enrichment. Only music lovers know its core value.As such, music should have dominated human imagination from time immemorial. Consequently, taking cultural and traditional cues from its foundation, music  has preoccupied human minds, generation after generation, incorporating  the changing aspirations and trends of each section of humanity.Music by its originality, has conquered mankind both by its vocal and instrumental strength displayed by different people in different countries. The strength of music has most often outlived time, by its capacity to journey through the human ears. creating moments of personal peace, happiness and solace.
      The rhythms, the beats and the melodies of music, have remained as the treasures of fine arts through celebrations of live shows, media transmissions and celluloid augmentation. Films in particular, in almost all human languages, have taken the lead, in preserving and propagating the aesthetic functions of music. Some consider music as the flow of breeze and the fall of honey into their mouth. Tamil films in this regard, are never lagging behind those in other languages. Tamil Cinema holds a very proud position, as the base for the progress and spread of music in its richest form, composed and passed on to music lovers by great music makers .
    This blog has already gloried the presence and contribution of several music directors like G.Ramanathan, K.V.Mahadevan, M.S.Viswanathan, T.K.Ramamoorthy, Ilayaraja, A.R.Reheman and many others, through inclusion of independent and collective articles. In this category, music director Deva who has been described in movie circles as a music maker of honey and breeze, also deserves a special place on account of his unique composition of melodies, duets and gana songs.
      Deva is one among the modest musical voices of Tamil Cinema, well known for making silent achievements  through sheer dedication. What is extraordinary about him is his periodical award winning songs,  that have placed him far above many under achievers. Though he casually started his career with Ramarajan’s moderate film Manasukketha Maharasa,it is a known fact that the movie is remembered more for the songs than for other aspects.
     There are a couple of directors  who gave hits not only because of their qualitative narration, but also because of the most popular music component of those movies. In this regard, Vasanth’s two films Aasai, and Nerukku Ner,S.J.Soorya's Vaali and Kushi as well as Suresh Krishna’s Annamalai and Baasha celebrated their success along with the amazing songs composed by Deva.I think Deva got awards for all the movies excepting Annamalai. The songs in Annamalai were also a special treat. Besides these, Deva  got an award for Prashanth’s first movie Vaikasi Porandhaachu.
     Deva has given highly energetic numbers like ‘Vandhenda Paalkaaran’[Annamalai]’Naaan Autokkaaran’ [Baasha] and‘Adhanda Idhanda’[Arunachalam]  that can ignite a spark in everybody through the majestic voice of SPB. Almost all the songs in Aasai, Vaali, Nerukku Ner,Kushi Agathiyan’s Kaadhal Kottai and Gokulathil Seedhai still remain compulsively mesmerizing.Songs such as Panithuli Panithuli'{Aasai},'Manam Virumbudhe'[Nerukku Ner} Vaazhkaiye Porkalam {Vedan}'Megam Karukkudhu''Mottu Onru Malarndhida'{ both from Kushi}'Thangamaganinru Singa Nadaipottu Vandhaan' [Baasha] and 'Aasapatta Ellaathaiyum Kaasirundha Vaangalaam,Ammava Vaanga Mudiyuma’{Viyaabaari} are mind blowing. 
     Some of the songs shuttling between low and high pitches like Vetri Nichayam[Annamalai} and Kaalamellaam Kaadhal vaazhga[ film with the same title}could pierce the ears for a soul making process.His other most popular song is ''Vellarikkaa' from Kaadhal Kottai.Gana songs like‘Aandaalu' 'Sundakanji soruda’‘kavalai padaahe sagodhara’Salomia' and 'Kothavaal Chhavadi Ladi Koyembedu Vaadi'' continue to ring in our ears. Other heroes whose films have been enriched by Deva’s music are Kamalahasan [Avvai Shanmugi, Pammal K. Sambandham and Panjathandhiram] Sarathkumar [Kattabomman Sooriyan, and Vedan}Vijayakanth {En Aasai Machan Vallarasu,Sokka Thangam, Kallazhagar, and Enga Anna]Prabu {Paanchalankurichi},Karthik Muthuraman{Seenu} and Sathayaraj[Senathipathi and several others] Ajith{ Aasai,Vaali,Kaadhal Kottai, Mugavari and Citizen} and Vijay { Minsaarakkanna and Kushi}.I have included here only a selected list of films.
     Deva has never claimed a supreme position as a music composer in Tamil Cinema.But he could effectively transmit the grandeur of tunes to human imagination by rightly gauging audience mood and expectation.In other words, he knew what the audience wanted and gave it in a very simple and acceptable form without pretending to be a classic music composer.It is his humility and the quality of his musical stuff that earned him worthy awards on the deserving side.When M.S.Viswanathan the father figure of Tamil film music, conferred the title 'Honeyed Musical Breeze'on Deva, he perhaps rightly felt that the title would prove to be genuine and perfect, by the standard performance of Deva.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Notable Two Hero Films in Tamil.


    Celluloid heroes have two objectives.They have to sustain in the field;they have to retain their celebrity status in terms of  continued charisma and popularity.If they have to constantly meet these two objectives,they should not only excel in performance in isolation but also in comparison with fellow artists, in competitive spirit.Perhaps that is why single hero films inspire many heroes, rather than double hero films or films with a galaxy of heroes.Malayalam film industry has considerably broken this theory on a regular basis, by making two hero films and multi hero films.Each hero has beautifully stuck to their unique identity in form style and performance. Multi hero projects are equally successful in Bollywood.But in Tamil Cinema two hero projects come once away like oasis in a desert.There were days when a colossal hero like Sivaji Ganesan showing a keen interest in two hero projects, of which many were mega hits.
    The Senior viewers of Tamil films would have hardly forgotten the one and only movie Koondukkili  that MGR and Sivaji Ganesan acted together.Even in that film the Chevalier did not mind playing a negative role, because for him acting was not an image building exercise, but a passion for bringing out the best in him as a performing hero.Later, he played another villain role,sharing screen space with Gemini Ganesan in Pennin Perumai.He had a perfect understanding with Gemini Ganesan and the two would have done nearly a dozen double hero projects of which Padhi Bakthi,Paava Pannippu, Paasamalar and Paarthaal Pasitheerum are eternal delights of Tamil Cinema.Among these, Pavamannippu could be called a family drama with M.R.Radha,T.S.Balaiah and S.V.Subbiah stealing the show and Sivaji Ganesan gaining greater space than Gemini Ganesan. Pasamalar was out and out a brother -sister sentimental grand show taking sibling affection to its utmost height for a mind blowing impact.There Gemini Ganesan's role got hidden in between Sivaji Ganesan and his sister,played by Saavithri.
     Whereas Paarthaal Pasitheerum was an exemplary double hero film giving equal scope for both the heroes to display their emotions and power of acting.Every scene in which both the heroes appeared, hardly failed to create an indelible impression in the minds of the viewers.The emotionally tormenting moments exhibiting the nobility of mindset of Sivaji Ganesan and the helplessness of the other hero to openly declare that his friend was literally crucified for his own failings, became the crux of this two hero drama.It was an extraordinary experience, to watch the two heroes performing so naturally without any conscious  spirit of rivalry in trying to excel each other in performance.As a result, it was ultimately the characters who outlived the actors and the film stood as a monumental piece on a two hero subject.
     The other equally memorable and magnificent double hero film of these two men was Sujatha Cine Arts' film Unakkaaga Naan that was an action packed show of friendship on the one hand and maneuvering capitalism on the other.This was another film that gave distinct space for both the heroes, to come out with their best demonstration of individual ideology,personal friendship and the noble mind frame for sacrifice of any kind.Here the competition was regarding who would sacrifice more for the other.Both made emotional inroads into the minds of the audience and both lived as role models of friendship.The film was not a great hit like Paarthaal Pasitheerum.But it stays remembered as a classic double hero film.  
     Sivaji Ganesan'e equal parallel heroes  were S.S.Rajendran and R.Muthuraman.Of these two men, S.S.R would have acted as the younger brother of Sivaji Ganesan in quite a few movies.But as friends they made a lovely show in Aalayamani as Sivaji and Gemini created a memorable record of friendship in Paarthaal Pasitheerum and Unakkaaga Naan. Muthuraman would have done not less than twenty films with the Chevalier but their most significant double hero films were, Nenjrukkum varai ,Oottivarai Uravu,Raman Ethanai Ramanadi and Vaani Raani.Of these Oottivarai Uravu was a comedy and Vani Rani was a heroine oriented film.
   But Sridhar's Nenjrukkumvarai sharply portrayed the emotional anguish involving love disappointment,suspicion of genuine love and friendship which formed the inner layers of this great film.Of the two heroes, Sivaji Ganesan as Raguraman loved,lost his love and died for love.The other hero loved,won his love but failed to understand the true meaning of trustworthy friendship and wifely devotion.Nenjirukkumvarai as the title means will last in our hearts as a remarkable double hero movie.In Raman Ethanai Ramanadi, Muthuraman was once again seen as a suspicious husband whileSivaji Ganesan's role was a perfect combination of innocence, epilepsy and grandeur.
     Like Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan has also given a couple of memorable two hero films like Pandhayam and Sakkaram.Both these movies inducted A.V.Rajan as the other hero to act with Gemini Ganesan. Ironically the two films had certain similarities with regard to their theme focus.In both the films one could see how the undue desire for money kills one's peace of mind. Pandhayam, which was a remake of the Hindi hit Sachai,showed how circumstances could change a good man into bad ways and transform a baddie in to noble man.Comparatively Pandhayam was a better show at the box office than Sakkaram.
     After Sivaji and Gemini, it was Jaishankar who did double hero films with Ravichandran, Muthuraman and Sivakumar.He would have done nearly half a dozen films with Ravichandran and the best in their combination was the film Akkarai Pachai which had a strong script and carried inspiring dialogues. Though the story was about two sisters one always aspiring for the higher side of life and the other staying contented with what she was,the film also delicately brought out the dignified character formation of the two heroes, both making a strong impression as individuals.This highly reviewed and rated film was a notable double hero delight.
    Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan as heroes buried their ego and made up a team show, in a few movies.This happened of course only during the starting years of their career.The other pointer is, in most of the films Rajikanth took up the mantle of the villain, because the audience loved to see him in negative roles, portrayed brilliantly in an emerging style of freshness, gusto, body language and unseen pattern of dialogue delivery, dipped in speed and unique Tamil accent.Some such films were Mooru Mudichu,Padhinaaru Vayadhinile and Avargal. Rajini began to sweep the shows by his tremendous spirit of individuality.However there were two special films, one showing them as close friends in a music troupe and the other getting them both involved in loving the same woman.
    Both the films were made by the most popular and outstanding film makers of those days.One was K.Balachander who came out with his mega hit film ''Ninaithaale Inikkum'' and the other was the ace director Sridhar of romantic themes,whose refreshing venture ''Ilamai Oonjalaadigiradhu'' created waves by its unique title,screen play,characterization music and performance of all artists especially Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth. Rajinikanth who donned the role of a doctor made a robust and passionate role delivery. Kamalahasan was compactly emotional, with the sense of guilt, of spoiling the life of another woman in an inebriate state.There were many delicate scenes in the film, known for their subtle and graceful presentation.It was one of the best films of Sridhar and as a double hero film, it accommodated both the heroes in their original form and force.Ninaithaale Inikkum was not only a musical bonanza but a powerful demonstration of  love, friendship,and competitive musical thrust. The film had a strong sentimental base, exhibited in a lighter vein.The audience can never forget these two double hero projects of Kamal and Rajini.
    Apart from these most vibrant double hero films, there were a few others in the combination of Rajinikanth and Vijayakumar [Aayiram Jenmangal and Mangudi Minor] and Vijayakumar and Sarathkumar[Natpukkaaga]. Prabuh and Karthik Muthuraman are also known for doing a few worthy double hero films.Of their dual show,Agni Natchatram was a fascinating film because of its vigorous presentation of the deep bitterness between two half brothers{Prabhu and Karthik}and their final moments of coming together as true brothers.This film was full of youthful energy and its popularity also rested with Ilayaraja's amazing songs.
   Satyaraj and Prabhu. also stand up as mighty men of  double hero projects.They have given at least half a dozen films, of which Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi and Paalavana Rojaakkal remain strongly routed to our memory.While Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi was a  rural drama reflecting the rude and uneducated mindset of two youngsters from a village,both aspiring to marry their beautiful and educated cousin,ultimately who wins the race,was humorously presented.But the race for performance was neck and neck and the film was a clean entertainer.
    Paalaivana Rojaakkal on the other hand was from Kalaignar's beautiful pen that strikingly portrayed the tough struggle carried on by two dedicated youngsters against the powerful lobbies of politics and  its arrogance of power, mixed with corruption. Sathyaraj and Prabhu as the  ferocious youths ,waged a war against the negative forces and finally succumbed to their struggle.It was a realistic film, memorable in the career of Sathyaraj and Prabhu.
    Some of the latest double hero hist were Ullaasam starring Vikram and Ajith, Friends with Vijay and Soorya as heroes and Vettai in which Aarya and Madhavan have shared screen space with equal scope for performance.Of these three films,'Ullasam' was a story of two buoyant youths raised by each other's father in two diagonal directions as per their options of life routine,cherished from their childhood. While Ajith grows as a street rowdy in the hands of Raguvaran,Vikram takes to a decent life path as the adopted son of S.P.Balasubramaniyan.In between there develops a delicate plot of romance, as both the heroes fall in love with the same girl.Who gets the girl's hand is the climax.
   'Friends' was a greater show on account of the strength of the script and the emotional core of the story base.While Friends was an emphatic display of action and comedy,Vettai brought out director Lingusamy's flair for presenting action through a breezy feel of comedy. Vijay and Soorya performed so genuinely and forcefully that it is difficult for any one to ignore them as friends, or the depth of their friendship. Aarya and Madhavan became the high spirited brothers with their gusto not sagging at any point of narration, revealing their sibling intimacy.
    Besides these,Mammootty and Mohanlal joined Rajinikanth and Kamal respectively for the films Thalapathi and Unnaipol Oruvan. Suresh Gopi was there with Ajith in Dina and with Sarathkumar in Samasthaanam. Jayaram joined Kamal for a team show in a few films of which Tenali was a clear two hero film. Mohanlal's other double hero films in Tamil are Iruvar with Prakash Raj and Jilla with Vijay.
    I would not have brought in here all the two hero films in Tamil.But the films mentioned here, are quite familiar to the audience due to their popularity and success at the theatres.Moreover,in most other films there would not have been equal scope and opportunities for two popular heroes to show their power of performance with equal wield.Unfortunately, the fan base of Tamil Cinema makes each of their respective heroes to be shown, without any erosion in image.This makes it very difficult for our film makers to think of bringing heroes like Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan,Vijayakanth and Sarath Kumar and Vijay and Ajith in one screen.Perhaps that is why MGR and Sivaji Ganesan were not seen together in any film after Koondukkili.
   If Tamil Cinema had been like the Malayalam field, where Mohanlal and Mammootty have made a joint parade in more than fifty films,we would also have seen more double hero films in Tamil.It is all in the hands of the fans,because they see their heroes as gods and keep them as stars in the sky, with a kind of independent identity not to be compromised at any cost.It is this adoring attitude of fans, that prevents their heroes from undergoing the acid test of being compared and contrasted with others, for the true exposition of what they are, as well as, for the enhancement of creativity.     

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An Ever Modest Film Maker.

      Tamil Cinema has come across exuberant film makers at various points of time.During the earlier years there were fabulous film makers like Gemini Studios S.S.Vasan,AVM's Meyyappa Chettiyar, Vijaya Vahini Studios Nagi Reddy,Modern Theatres T.R.Sundaram,the R.R.Pictures T.R.Ramanna, Padmini Pictures B.R.Bantulu and several others.Besides these production houses, there were other amazing directors like A.Bhimsingh, A.P.Nagarajan,P.Madhavan,Krishnan Panju followed by other most creative and popular film makers like K.Balachander, K.S.Gopala krishnan, Balu Mahendra, Barathiraja,J.Mahendan and S.P.Muthuraman. Among these there was another very modest film maker who under his Mukta Films came out with a sizable number of films of his chosen heroes, worthy of decent  family watch.This film maker V.Srinivasan whose very first film Mudhalaali which is still remembered for the most popular song ''Yerikkaraiyinmele Poravale Penmayile''fetched him national award,later on came to be known as Mukta Srinivasan.During the initial years he worked under eminent directors like T.R.Sundaram,K.Ramnath and K.S.Sethu madhavan.
      This modest face of Tamil Cinema had his own preferences of themes,course of narration,music component and above all his team of actors.His earlier notable releases were Panithirai,Idhayathil Nee and Poojaikku Vandha Malar and for the last in this list,it was K.Balachander who wrote the script.His hero would be Gemini Ganesan the soft romantic face of Tamil Cinema those days.He then tried his hands with sensitive, suspense prone stories with Gemini Ganesan inThein Mazhai and with Ravichandran in,Ninaivil Ninraval.Then came the two Jai Shankar films and Bommalaattam and Aayiram Poi.These films are remembered as much for their quality of story line,music composition and clean narration as for their hilarious comedy sequences. Nagesh and Cho Ramasamy provided a combined show of humour in the first two and Cho Ramasamy with Thengai Seenivaasan and with comedienne Manorama enriched the comedy segment of Bommalaattam.
     After these,Srinivasan's attention was drawn towards the Chevalier.With Sivaji Ganesan some of the interesting movies like Niraikudam,Thavapudhalvan,Arunodhayam, Anbaithedi, Andhamaan Kadhali,Imayam,Paritchaikku Neramaachu and Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum, turned out to be distinct, with variety in theme content, story line and narration .The last two in the list were award winners. All these movies became great pointers to the growing popularity of Mukta Films as makers of aesthetic entertainers on the big screen..Cho Ramasamy was a regular addition in the films of Mukta Srinivasan and he took care of the humour component of all the films, with a significant thrust on satirical verbal force, leading to moments of vigorous humour and loud thinking.In fact, Cho Ramasamy's presence was an added attraction for dependable audience support, for most of the films of the Muka Pictures.
     Mukta Srinivasan's themes and mode of narration were mostly centering around human and psychological foibles.He would also focus on individuals' whims and vagaries, by showing them  as the traits of the main or supporting characters.Some of the pointed expositions in this regard were Somnambulism causing entanglements,including those with criminal implications for the victims {Thein Mazhai}, amnesia resulting in a depressing personal predicament {Ninaivil Ninraval},Day dreaming making the victim worthless in the perspective of others,{Anbaithedi} evening blindness bringing undesirable problems to the victim{Thavapudhalvan] and a husband's inferiority complex over his wife earning more than him,that became an irritant in the conjugal routine {Sooryakanthi}. Srinivasan handled these ticklish issues with maturity and understanding without letting down the momentum in narration.
     Besides these, the film Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum  discussed in a very subtle and commendable way, the plight of an eye doctor, struggling to save his erring son, from the hands of a blind man {Jai Shankar} brutally waiting to kill his son for avenging the death of his wronged  sister.The emotional moments involving Sivaji Ganesan,the opthalmologist and Saritha[Sivaji's daughter-in-law in that film}were a great treat to watch and Srivasan deserves an extraordinary acclaim for this,as a maker of marvellous scenes, worth cherishing, in audience memory.
    Similarly the sentimental sequences of Andhamaan Kaadhali, presenting the helplessness of Sivaji Ganesan and Sujatha in making a meeting point, after a prolonged conjugal separation and the profound emotions displayed by both of them, as love lorn husband and wife, showed the finest possibilities for narrating beautifully,a precious romantic element in a catchy form.Very rarely we come across, movies like Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum and Andhamaan Kaadhali.Apart from Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum,Balapareetchai and Avan Aval Adhu were also award winning films of V.Srinivasan.
    On the comedy track also,Srinivasan has clearly shown that he can provide decent humour with relevant scenic continuity adding gusto to the over all narration and quality of his films.Apart from Cho,his other preferred comedians were, the veteran comedians Nagesh,Thengai Srinivasan, Neelu and Mouli [whom he first introduced  as an actor in Sooryakanthi}.All Mukta films movies were endowed with adequate and appropriate comedy segment, mostly supporting the main plot and at times, existing separately as independent sub plots. Thein Mazhai,Ninaivil Ninraval, Bommalaattam, Aayiram Poi, Kadhaanaayagan and Vaaikkozhuppu, were a few of his films known for valued comedy sequence.
    From Sivaji Ganesan to Paandiarajan,Mukta Films Srinivasan has worked with many prominent heroes, including Rajinikanth{Pollaadhavan and Sivappu Sooriyan} and Kamalahasan[Andharangam and Cinema Paithiyam}.Interestingly Mani Rathnam's  block buster movie Naayagan ,with Kamalahasan's supreme performance winning him an award,was produced by Mukta Films.
     V.Srinivasan stands apart, as a modest but outstanding film maker, not only for producing the colossal film Naayagan but also for being part of Andhanaal, the first Tamil film without any songs, directed by Veena S.Balachander.He has worked with distinguished film makers like L.V.Prasad and K.S.Sedhumadhavan. He has teamed up with music directors K.V.Mahadevan,M.S.Viswanathan, T.K.Ramamurthy, V.Kumar and Ilayaraja
    However, he has not worked with the mass hero MGR even once.In the passing phase of events,all things pass by.Many people come and go.Some are immortalized for their achievements.But many talents remain without being marked high, in spite of their power of performance to be marked high, because they are modest and have not claimed their place or clamoured for it.Mukta.V.Srinivasan belongs to this modest category of film makers,whose power of performance stands vindicated by the successful reach of most of his films, with a vast section of the Tamil audience..

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Riveting Remake.

       Remakes are not new to Tamil Cinema.Late K.Balaji was reputed for producing Tamil remakes of Hindi and Malayalam films.Some of them like Raja,Engirundho Vandhaal and Vidhi were mega hits. Rajinikanth's Muthu,Chandramugi and Kuselan were remakes of great Malayalam blockbusters of which the first two were remade to suit Rajini's fans with a Mida's touch,though they did not reflect the true spirit of the original.But Kamal's Papanasam,a remake of Mohanlal's most loved and talked about film Drishyam, not only gives an extraordinary feel of the original but has also put up a throw of freshness.The director Jeethu Joseph deserves a special pat, for not letting the remake of his original, deviate from the core dynamism of presentation, besides coming out with a refreshing stage for portrayal of events,scenes,characters and their emotions.The freshness of the film sustains on two counts.
  Firstly,Mohanlal's cycle journey has been  suitably accelerated by Kamal's two wheeler TVS moped speed that symbolically augments the speed in narration so as to make a three hour watching of  a lengthy movie into an absorbing experience.Who else other than Kamalahasan could have effectively replaced Mohanlal in a subdued underplay of the role of a hero, as the head of a crisis prone family moving from a calm journey to a stormy struggle? Secondly,unlike Drishyam,Papanasam has two heroes.One is Kamalahasan and the other is the enticing Tirunelveli Tamil dialect.Starting from Kamalahasan, everybody, including Kalabhavan Mani and M.S.Bhaskar, makes the delivery of dialogue so natural that it it literally takes us to the Papanasam routine.
  But the impact of Drishyam has been so irretrievably fixed in the minds of the audience that it would be difficult for them to get out of it, for the sake of watching its Tamil Version.Frame by frame the film has been remade with conviction and commitment so as to make a revisit of the original. Though it is a pleasure to see Gowthami back on the big screen, giving a neat and veritable performance as the responsible and loving mother of two daughters,one can not dismiss the fact that she is looking a bit fatigued .One cannot also ignore the temptation to compare her with Meena of the original, whose inspiring looks and  graceful bickering moments with Mohanlal were the bonus scores of Drishyam.A remake is of course a remake.But this is the case of a riveting remake because of Kamal's outstanding performance and his inseparable Tirunelveli slang.I always had a feeling that Kamal has not been focusing on family sentiment.This longing has been fulfilled now,a long time after Mahanadhi. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tamil Cinema's Timeless Villain.


    Villainy is as old as humanity.Creating concepts of villainy and a focus for its proper display are the greatest challenges facing the creator of any art form, that demonstrates evil or bad behaviour denoting the yardsticks of villainy.Fiction and drama, have specialized in the working of the human mind and its reflection as character and behaviour. Cinema has distinctly extended the dimensions of good and bad manners and ways of life, through a dedicated presentation of themes, stories, events and characters.Villainy in Tamil Cinema, is factually as old as Tamil Cinema itself.This Blog has already discussed fairly, the varied trends in villainy prevailing in Tamil Cinema, under another article entitled, 'The Archetypes of Villainy in Tamil Cinema'.The objective of this article is to make an exclusive tribute to a villain actor whose villainy on screen is closer to the inception of the Tamil film industry. It is M.N.Nambiyar,the marvelous villain actor,who deserves this special encomium for remaining as the timeless villain of Tamil Cinema.
    The composition of villainy involves two things.They are,a foul psyche and its fouler manifestation. One may be a scheming villain,a crude villain,a loud villain or a smiling villain. M.N.Nambiyar has proved many a time that he is the combination of all these tough and trendy traits of villainy.What always created a special impact in the case of Nambiyar was his singular modes of gesticulation and. unique voice modulation creating the most gripping shades of villainy.
     Two of the earliest films that showed him as the sweet quoted villain,were Nichaya Thamboolam and Thirudaadhe,the former a Sivaji Ganesan film,and the latter an MGR special.He also did a similar dubious role in Missiamma a Gemini Ganesan hit. Later he appeared once again in such a role in one of MGR's last leg films Neethikku Thalaivanangu. As a deceptive villain, Nambiyar was perfectly captivating because of his charming and graceful looks.As Nambiyar was one of those actors who moved to the screen from the stage,he knew at the deeper levels, the intrinsic parameters of timing in dialogue delivery and bodily coordination in acting,that made him a special asset to Tamil Cinema,leave alone his inborn flair for performing villainy with felicitous involvement.
     Nambiyar was one of those actors who was simultaneously performing character roles along with villain roles in early Tamil releases like Thigambara Saamiyaar, Makkalai Petra Magaraasi, Baagapirivinai, Naan Petra Selvam, Nallavan Vaazhvaan, Boologa Rambai and Paasamalar.He also convincingly portrayed the role of an honest police officer in movies like, Nallavan Vaazhvaan, Panthottam, Ragasiya Police and Ninaithathai Mudippavan, all MGR films.As a police officer, he was chic and stylish in all these films.What was extraordinary about this outstanding actor was his facial composition and body frame that could naturally fit into any kind of character be it of a royal mould or a social/ familial/tribal type. 
      Some of the earliest grand shows of Nambiyar's incomparable villainy were the MGR blockbusters Marmayogi, Mandhirikumari  Sarvaadhikaari and the moderate hits like Arasilankumari and Arasa Kattalai. He was either a Raajaguru or scheming royal lieutenant or a flirting guy in these immortal films.Similarly inspiring were the roles he performed, in the Sivaji Ganesan super hits like Vanagamudi, Uthamaputhiran and Thanga Padhumai. One great thing about M.N.Nambiyar was that he was a non controversial actor at all times and that is why he could get patronized both by the MGR and Sivaji Ganesan camps without any degree of discrimination.
      Nambiyar was seen as the crudest and most violent villain both in looks and demeanour in some of the notable MGR films like Naan Aanaiyittaal,Padahotti, Kudiyirundha Koil,Pudhiya Bhoomi,Kaavalkaaran,Naalai Namadhe, Sirithu Vaazhavendum and Pallaandu Vaazhga.Of these Kavalkaaran was a totally different type of film in which he played the role of an irredeemable rich criminal-cum-father-in law of MGR.In Engaveettu Pillai he was the greedy and ruthless brother-in-law of the hero MGR, but finally got mellowed through a process of reformation, as in the film Aayirathil Oruvan, which showed him as a bad provincial ruler unethically attempting to marry the heroine.In Sridhar's Urimaikural,he was the scheming son of a greedy mother who finally got beaten and reformed by the hero {MGR}.The other detestable villain characters in which he appeared were for the Sivaji Ganesan starring Thirisoolam and Rajini Kanth's Naan Mahaan Alla. A few other films that exhibited the brutal side of his villainy were, MGR's Dheivathai,En Kadamai, Parisu, Nododi,Madapura, Vivasaayi, Thozhilaali and Aasaimugam.
      Some of the rarest and most memorable roles that Nambiyar performed brilliantly, were as a rich zamindar bent upon destroying the love of his son even during the rebirth of his son and his lover, in the film Nenjam Marappadhillai and as a rich man displaying the arrogance of wealth or  not allowing his sister or daughter to marry a poor, beneath- his status man, in films like Raman Ethanai Ramanadi Enga Oor Raaja and Rajapart Rengadhurai. He compactly and buoyantly fixed himself, in performing  roles such as poet Ottakoothan in Ambikapathi  as an aristocratic zameendhar in Thilaanaa Mohanaambaal and as Balathevar in Raja Raja Cholan. 
    Unlike P.S.Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar did not have bold eyes to make a physical thrust of villainy.But his eyes could at times speak more than his tongue because his eyebrows could rise and shrink to suit the emotions required for the scene .The effectively calculated rise and fall of intonation in his delivery of dialogues and the corresponding gesticulations he would make, were the invincible trademarks of his villainy would inspire many mimicry artists and comedians like Vivek to imitate him, not for the sake of mockery but for the pleasure of doing it.If P.S.Veerappa was good mostly at fencing, M.N.Nambiyar was equally adept in fencing, boxing and wrestling.This comparison should not be misunderstood,because P.S.Veerappa who was an inimitable and contemporary villain actor of Nambiyar,had shown his tremendous skill for fisticuffs in films like Kaidhi Kannayiram and Ananda Jothi.The point here is, unlike P.S.Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar had acted in more number of films on social themes and so the need for practising and performing other genres of stunt activities, was more for M.N.Nambiyar than for Veerappa. 
    M.N.Nambiyar lived longer than P.S.Veerappa and he could share screen space with a long list of actors starting from MGR and Sivaji Ganesan down to the youngest actors like Vijay, Prashanth and so on.Similarly both as a villain and character actor he would have acted with comedians like N.S.Krishnan, K.A.Thangavelu,J.P.Chandrababu,Nagesh and Vadivelu quite often sharing their comic spirit with him.Incidentally,the very first film of M.N.Nambiar 'Vidyabadhi' showed him as a comedian and many years later,it was K.Bagyaraj who restored the comic mantle to Nambiyar in his film Thooral Ninnupochu. In the film Winner, one can see Vadivelu teasing M.N.Nambiyar with a funny remark that the death of MGR has made his  mischief rather uncontrollable. Surprisingly,Nambiyar would not make any reaction to this remark. Perhaps he would have silently enjoyed and endorsed Vadivelu's cheeky remark.
     No one can ignore his elderly character roles,mostly as a lovable grand dad in the films of heroes like Rajinikanth [Ejaman}Vijayakanth[Ezhai Jaadhi}Vijay{Poove Unakkaaga} and Prasanth{Winner}.It is known to the Tamil audience that this ardent villain of Tamil Cinema was a staunch Ayyappa Devotee and a teetotaler.His journey from villainy to valued character roles on the stage and on the screen, was ever a spontaneous course, because of the magic in his voice and the volume of his vision, that could easily travel from the destination of villainy to that of virtue.It was his inbuilt capacity to undergo this by polar journey that keeps him in the most reputed and prestigious position as the timeless villain of Tamil Cinema.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Tamil Cinema on Kings,Kingdoms and Empires:- A Historical Perspective.

     Cinema as a creative form has never failed to carry on its twin objectives of entertaining and enlightening.There have been pointed expositions at various levels, of issues concerning individuals and groups, the latter taking different identical positions such as family,society and humanity as a whole, with local or global compositions.There have been interpretations of civilization and culture, with generational implications.There have been geographical influences in framing and shaping regional fundamentals of culture tradition and morality.There have been war and peace, aggression and conquest,victory and defeat as cyclic events across the world.Prosperity and famine, feudalism and egalitarianism, fascism and socialism,expansionism and coexistence, types of governance such as monarchy,democracy,oligarchy and even anarchy  have all come and gone, as world realities cutting across nations.
  All this has moved on, as  corollary conditions of the passage of time and have made human beings susceptible to the outcome of time related- events, chronicled as history of regions and the world. Cinema in a galaxy of languages, has responsibly exhibited these realities most often confining to happenings at the time of its creativity.Occasionally films have also focused on periodic occurrences looking back retrospectively on the course of events and their relevance to mankind, creating a temporary or lasting impact, on the lives of people.Such an approach with a historical thrust is accompanied by elements of heroism and grandeur in narration.
   Some of the English historical films that come to my memory are,Ben-Hur,The Guns Of Navrone King Arthur,Waterloo, Cleopatra, Lincoln, Gone With the Wind,The Great Escape,Genghis Khan, The Ten Commandments, Elizabeth the Golden Age,Brave Heart and The Patriot.The list I am sure is a minuscule from the voluminous archives of English Cinema, focused on world history.What makes most of the English historical films gorgeously appealing, is the magnificent display of scenic splendour,powerful action and the make- believe, or factual veracity of events and characters.Music component also plays a vital role, in making these movies totally different from the other genre films.There is always a sense of epic glory in history films, dipped in heroism, conspiracy, espionage, adventure,aggression, revolt and resistance, all culminating in war, involving victory and defeat, with their inherent layers of sacrifice and loss of lives.Watching one extraordinary historical film, creates a life time experience to be treasured and remembered.
    Indian cinema in general and Tamil cinema in particular, can also make amazing claims of having presented a stupendous show of history, in terms of global standards.Even during the days of inadequate technical advancement, our people have set  commendable  standards and yardsticks, for producing films on provincial and national events and personalities, to find an immortal place in the map of time.Some of the Hindi films in this regard are Jodha Akbar,Ashoka the Great,Jhansi Ki Raani, Gandhi,The Passage to India,Train to Pakistan and so on.
    Tamil historical films have crossed the regional barriers and dealt with historical personalities like Krishnadevarayar['Tenaliraman'] and Queen Padmini of Chittoor{'Chittoor Rani Padmini'}.The first one was simultaneously made in Telugu and Tamil and in both the versions N.T.Ramarao donned the role of Krishnadevavarayar. Sivaji Ganesan whose face was rightly made for social and royal themes, replaced A.Nageswararao in the role of Tenaly Raman. and had graceful Jamuna as his wife.In Chittor Rani Padmini,based on a traditional story of historical mould,with its story background located in Rajasthaan, Vijayanthimala,the most fascinating actress and dynamic dancer,played the title role,while Sivaji Ganesan appeared as King Rana and M.N.Nambiyar as Alauddin Khilji,the Sultan of Delhi.The film unfortunately failed at the box office.
     There were many films with historical themes and it was MGR or Sivaji Ganesan seen as prince or king, in most of them.Some of the noted films of MGR in this category were Mandhirikumari,Jenova, Marudha Naattu Ilavarasi,,Marmayogi,Mahadevi,Mannaadhi Mannan,Madurai Veeran,Chakravarthi Thirumagal,Rani Samyukta[in which MGR played the role of King Pridviraj]Rajarajan,Raja Desingu Arsailankumari,Nadodi Mannan[an epoch making film produced and directed by MGR himself}, Kanchi Thalaivan[ a story from the mighty pen of DrM.Karunanidhi relating to the Pallava empire] Arasa Kattalai,Aayirathil Oruvan{a fiction film on bonded labourers, overpowered by imaginary provincial rulers,and this run away hit, could gain an epic status because of its over all grandeur in presentation} Adimai Penn[a great success from the production house of MGR ] and Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundara Pandian,
    The story line of all the films mentioned above, was generally related to rulers of actual or imagined provinces or the kings of the Pandiya, Chola and Pallava empires. Among these films, Nadodi Mannan was a mixture of black and white presentation in the first half and in colour in the second half.The  colour films of MGR in this genre, were the last three, in the list mentioned above. The striking features of all these films were, the royal costumes meticulously made, the chaste Tamil dialogues delivered forcefully and clearly by MGR and all the actors,the impressive show of heroism,the scheming back door villainy of politically ambitious and power hungry forces represented by great actors such as P.S.Veerappa ,M.N.Nambiyar, R.S.Manohar, S.A.Narajan,  andT.S.Balaiah and a few others, the fitting musical addition and the exquisite display of art, in erecting exhaustive settings and the dedicated shooting of the whole process of events, with accuracy at all levels.
     Besides earnestly trying to present history,a majority of these films stuck to the traditional and cultural aspects, prevalent during the period referred to, with relevance and authenticity. Excepting  Rani Samyukta,Rajarajan and Arasilankumari all the films of MGR with historical background, were mega hits and films like Mandhirikumari,Mannadhi Mannan, Mahadhevi, Chakravarthi Thirumagal Nadodi Mannan,Aayirathil Oruvan. Adimaipen and Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundara Pandian were  block busters.The last in the list was the last film of MGR,the evergreen hero of Tamil Cinema and the story base of this great film was provided by the reputed Tamil novelist Akilan.
    The list of Sivaji Ganesan's historical films is also very impressive, though not as long as that of MGR.His earliest hits were Manohara,Vanagamudi and Uthama Puthiran,Then came the epoch making Veera Pandia Katttabomman produced by B.R.Pantulu of Padmini Pictures.Like Pantulu's grand epic Karnan,this huge historical piece has been digitally remade and is eagerly expected for a revisit.What a sprightly and invigorating performance it was, for the Chevalier,playing the role of a provincial king from a Telugu region ruling from the extreme southern region of the Tamil soil,roaring like a lion and not budging to the British invaders, towards paying duty and taxes.From the beginning till the end, the movie was a wonderful treat in all respects.The narration was so gripping and dramatically so stimulating, that it made elements such as historical authenticity and veracity a secondary factor.With a grand cast of veteran actors like S.Varalakshmi,Gemini Ganesan, Padmini,O.A.K Thevar,V.K.Ramasamy and Javert Seetharaman, along with Sivaji Ganesan,this silver jubilee hit continues to haunt audience imagination, with its amazing cinematic stuff.
     A couple of historical films of Svaji Ganesan also flopped at the box office.They were Raja Bakthi and Rani Lalithaangi. However,Pantulu's ''Kappalottiya Thamizhan'' dealing with a few salient events relating to the Indian freedom movement, with special reference to the happenings in Tamil Nadu, fulfilled audience expectation though it could not be equated with the success rate of Veera Paandiya Katta bomman. But the film beautifully brought out the emotional aspect of the struggle for freedom, under the effective stewardship of a noble minded businessman, called Va.Vu.Chidambaram Pillai. The film also threw light on other freedom fighters like Poet Subramanya Bharathi,Vaanchinaadhan Subramanya Siva,Madaswami and so on.The narration was extraordinarily realistic with the underplay of emotions,by stalwart actors like Gemini Ganesan,S.V.Subbiah,T.K.Shanmugam and K.Balaji, besides the grandiose Sivaji Ganesan. I am sure, many would have shed tears on watching the film at the theatres.
    Then came Raja Raja Cholan under the ace direction of A.P.Nagarajan. This was another color film on a historical subject starring Sivaji Ganesan,after Veera Pandia Kattabomman.The film had a huge cast of great actors like M.N.Nambiyar,R.Muthuraman.Sivakumar,T.R.Mahalingam, R.S.Manohar  S.V. Sahasranamam, Sirkazhi Govindarajan,S.Varalakshmi,Vijayakumari  Lakshmi and Manorama. This film carries the pride of being the first cinema scope movie in Tamil.In spite of great contribution and support from Sivaji Ganesan and many other talented actors and technical crew,this film noted for veracity in narration, clean dialogues and good music quotient,could not become a box office hit, because of lack of vigor and dynamism in over all presentation.However, there is no doubt that Sivaji Ganesan as usual, made every one feel that Raja Raja Cholan would have been like him and would have walked and talked like him.This made Raja Raja Cholan an unforgettable piece of historical narration in celluloid form.
    Gemini Ganesan who was a close contemporary of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan and an intimate associate of the latter, also stays remembered for playing dynamic roles in films based on historical fiction.Gemini Ganesan's films like Pathini Dheivam [based on Shakespeare's Winter's Tale]Guna Sundari[story base lifted from Shakespeare's King Lear] and mythical entries like Kanavane Kankanda Dheivam,Sowbagyavadhi, Manaalane Mangaiyin Baagyam,Boologa Ramabai and Mangaiyar Ullam Mangaadha Selvam were tales of the royal stuff.Besides these,there were special historical films like Konjum Salangai, Vanjikkottai Vaaliban and Parthiban Kanavu.
    Konjum Salangai is remembered for its fabulous folklore music and fascinating narration of romance and adventure. The story written by Ku.Ma.Balasubramaniyan and directed by M.V.Raman accompanied by the grand musical show of S.M.Subbiah Naidu made the film an aesthetically rich and commendable show.The film is remembered as much for the immortal song ''Singaara Velane Dheva'' as for its other creditable aspects..Parthiban Kanavu was a clean show of historical fiction, based on a novel written by Kalki Krishnamurthy,with the same title.The story of Parthiban Kanavu had direct references to events relating to the Pallava and Chola empires.It is ever remembered for the enchanting role performance of  Gemini Ganesan and,Vaijayanthimala and the appealing performance of ace actors like S.V.Rengarao,T.S.Balaiah, P.S.Veerappa and S.V.Subbiah.
     Vanjikottai Valiban was a felicitous narration of conspiracy,conquest,misrule, struggle for independence and became a mammoth show, like the other Gemini pictures' movie Chandralekha starring M.K.Radha, T.R.Rajakumari and Ranjan,In entertainment value and marvellous presentation,Chandralekha and Vanjikottai Vaaliban would ever retain their status as films of epic grandeur.The artistic excellence of both the films in general and the classical dance competition between Vaijayanthimala and Padmini in Vanjikottai Vaaliban in particular, would ever be preserved as the invincible treasures of Tamil Cinema.The mega settings erected by Gemini pictures for both the films, became a visual ecstasy speaking of high standards of film production, set and practised by Gemini Pictures,as an outstanding film production house.A couple of  other popular movies of Gemini Ganesan in this line were, Veerakkanal and Ellorum Innaattu Mannar.
     It should be mentioned here that films like Ambikapathi,[starring Sivaji Ganesan and P.Banumathi as the immortal lovers of the Kulothunga Chola kingdom]Avvaiyar,[ a film on the female spiritual poet and saint of the Chola empire played by K.B.Sundarambal] and Poompuhar[based on the epic Silappadhikaram with S.S.Rajenran, Vijayakumari and Rajashri donning the roles of Kovalan, Kannagi and Madhavi], carried direct or indirect connections with the Chola and Pandia empires spread over the vast stretch of Tamil Nadu, at different periods.Stories of kings and queens, princes and princesses,also formed part of films like S.S.Rajendran's Muthu Mandapam,Mani Makudam and Petra Maganai Vitra Annai and AVM Rajan's Chitrangi.[the last two films produced by the Modern Theatres].The other two qualitative additions in this genre are, Citadel films Vijayapuri Veeran and A.V.M's  Veera Thirumagan,both celebrating the acting potential of C.L.Anandan and the unique feel of dynamism in presentation. Veerathirumagan is specially known for its enduring musical richness.
    I would have left out some movies for want of memory.But the list provided here is certainly vast and valid  to show that Tamil Cinema has not at all been lagging behind, in depicting history and history- related fiction,with authentic understanding,supportive imagination and artistic commitment. Part of it might be pure fiction and part of it might be a combination of real events, blended with imagination.But on the whole, it has been a solid demonstration of faith, in presenting men and matters,with a single minded devotion to how things would have been and events would have occurred, at different periods of time.Moreover, films of  this genre,have also thrown light on gloried individuals, as kings and queens and as fighters for human freedom,justice, progress and happiness.