Monday, September 19, 2016

Two Villain-cum Character Actors of a Similar Mettle.

      Villains doing character roles, is not new to the world of cinema.Even in Bollywood,the great villain actors of the last century such as Pran and Premnath, had done brilliant character roles.No one can forget Pran's role in Johnny Mera Naam,Be Iman, and Zanjeer. Both Pran and Premnath gave a sterling performance with paternal fervor, in Bobby.Tamil villain actors like  M.N.Nambiyar, M.R.Radha and S.A.Asokan were seen as amazing character actors too.All these men had their individual profiles of looks and levels of performance beyond comparison.Whereas, there are two actors in Tamil cinema, who carry a similar concept of role performance, in terms of their body and mind and they are the most popular Senthamarai and Sangili Murugan.
     This comparison has been necessitated not only by their uniquely sounding names but also by their toughness in posture and a kind of roughness in dialogue delivery.Their faces seem to give a hundred percent guarantee for a reliably crude performance of villainy. Age wise Senthamarai is a decade or so older than Sangilimurugan. His first entry was in A.P.Nagarajan's epic status film Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal released in 1968. He has acted in a couple of other films of Sivaji Ganesan like Andhamaan Kaadhali and Naan Vaazhavaipen.Whereas Sangilimurugan made his first appearance on the big screen in 1979 in 'Suvar Illaadha Sithirangal' directed by K.Baghyaraj.
   Both Senthamarai and Sangilimurugan have acted in more number of Rajini films than that of others.Interestingly both of them have acted in the Superstar's mega hit film Moonru Mugam from the Sathya Movies.While Senthamarai played the  role of a murderous  bootlegger,Sangili Murugan came as his henchman.It was a mighty show of villainy by the duo. Senthamarai's other notable Rajini films were Kazhugu, Naan Vaazha Vaipein,Anbulla Rajinikanth,Un Kannil Neer Vazhindhaal, Adutha Vaarisu, Adhisiapiravi, Thambikku Endha Ooru,Guru Sishyan and Panakkaran. He was mostly a rustic villain in most of these films. Thambikku Entha Ooru' is specially known for his character role, which was dipped in the usual portrayal of an uncouth exterior.Guru Sishayan was yet another film known for the majestic role performance of Senthamarai, as an honest police officer.
   Unlike Senthamarai,Sangilimurugan was a film producer too.He has produced about half a dozen movies like Enga Ooru Paattukkaran,Enga Ooru Kaavakaaran,Periya Veettu Pannakaaran,Naadodi Paattukkaaran,Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai and Sura. While the first two were Ramarajan hits,the second two were Karthik Muthuraman's moderate shows.The last two were Vijay films and one of these, Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai,which was a remake of the famous Malayalam film Aniyathipraavu, was a blockbuster.This movie gave a fresh appeal to the romantic face of Vijay. Incidentally, Senthamarai who had earlier acted with Sangilimurugan in Moonru Mugan, also played key roles in Sangilimurugan's own films like Enga Ooru Paattukkaaran and Periya Veettu Pannakkaran.Most of the very titles of Sangilimurugan's films, carried a rural fragrance and it is quite logical that an actor like Senthamarai who has genuine rustic looks, found a favourable place in the village based films of Sangilimurugan..
   There is a visible sense of devil-may-care attitude and casual indifference in demeanour,in all  the characters played by Senthamarai. His face and mode of dialogue delivery would ever be in perfect unison, reflecting the depth of brutality or emotional grasp of character, needed for a measured display of acting potential, that the role assigned to him warranted.He was a Sathya movies favourite and a rural necessity, when it came to stories bound intact, to the rugged soil.His other noteworthy films were Paandi Naattu Thangam,Raja Nadai,Madras Vaadhiyaar,Kaaki Sattai [again as a smart police officer],Sattam Oru Vilaiyaattu,Naalai Unadhu Naal,Nenjathai Killaadhe and Rettaivaal Kuruvi.
    Sangilimurugan can be called a softer version of Senthamarai particularly in delivering dialogues. But he too naturally takes on his opponents with a hell bent mood of nonchalance.Moreover unlike Senthamarai,he spontaneously fits into the role of a soothsayer or a village temple priest. One cannot forget his vulnerable, as well as conscientious role play in the character of a soothsayer, in Sathya movies' Oorkkavalan. He too has been a periodical Sathya Movies' preference and he too makes it a cakewalk when it comes to performance of characters of the native soil.His other Rajini films include Kazhugu,Sivappu Sooriyan and Naan Mahaan Alla. He has also done a cameo in the latest  Superstar show, Kabali besides doing a round, in films like Jigardhanda and Udhayanidhi Stalin's Manidhan.
   Before I conclude it has to be emphatically stated here, that in addition to their similarities in looks and mode of getting into the groove of acting,Senthamarai and Sangilimurugan hold the singular position of acting together,joining the team of Rajinikanth frequently and one of the two finding a place in the films produced by the other.There exists a rare kind of coexisting principle and sharing of patterns in acting, between these two exemplary actors.They make the audience recall their contribution to Tamil Cinema, with a similar frame of mind and  perception of the rudiments of histrionics, rightly executed, towards the realization of  an effective screen experience.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Four Super Heroes of Tamil Cinema.



    Every hero of the world of cinema, carries a distinctly identifiable tag.It is language that confines them to a region.But some of them surpass the barriers of language too.Tamil cinema in particular has never been caught in the midst of language prejudices.When it comes to performance, it is the individual and his attitude and capacity for performance that matter.There are so many high profile talents in the field of cinema in general and Tamil Cinema in particular.
   Many heroes have made an indelible mark here, by their looks and luminous layers of performance. But some have stuck to the soil, like every one's heart beat and pulse rate without which life is impossible.It is not a question of heroes doing more than one hundred films in their life time and staying stable.Many heroes like Gemini Ganesan,Muthuraman, Jai Shankar,Ravichandran, Sivakumar,Prabu, Karthik, Sathyaraj,Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar have all done this magic.But there is something more than this, that lifts the hero's career to the peak and keeps him there,meant for admiration and adoration.Very few heroes can adorn the temples of the medium of cinema and attain a kind of immortality.
    Can any one contest the fact that in the midst of a galaxy of heroes, two illustrious men ruled Tamil Cinema from the Nineteen Fifties to late Nineteen Seventies,as invincible idols, during their lifetime and after?.Can any one among the Tamil audience of the last century, recall any name other than MGR, the three lettered mass model and Sivaji, the Six lettered film fiesta?Both these stalwarts, grew up to historic heights,from a very humble base.Both arduously moved inch by inch, from the streets to the big screen.It was a glorious growth from a Lilliput land to the Great Heavens,or a gorgeous journey from poverty to the fountain plaza.All this happened through the years, by their consolidating opportunities into achievements.But providence too served their interests, as a mascot on hand.It looked as though Sivaji Ganesan lived only to perform and MGR performed, only to move closer to the masses.
   Both made history, Sivaji as the encyclopedic version of acting and MGR as the endearing image of the overall big screen.MGR and Sivaji were poles apart, in their understanding and assimilation of the fundamentals and yardsticks of cinema.Nor did they share screen space more than once in their entire career.For MGR, cinema was a medium to take him closer to the people, in the best order of things, that he preferred and popularized.When I say this, I do not mean to underrate his acting credentials. He had mastered the best formula of acting and his style of acting would ever be with in that MGR formula, with its rich aesthetic components, that necessitated a felicitous mood, for celebrating the process of watching cinema,with its significant entertainment ingredients.Whereas for Sivaji Ganesan,each film warranted a self declared period of conception, gestation and delivery.Yes. each of his film was born as a fresh beautiful baby, with its independent looks and character.
    MGR's objective of screen performance was to establish and promote an ideal model of manhood through characters, that symbolized the overall virtues of a good human being.In this respect,he could be called a typecast hero.But he went on refining this typecast hero, film after film, so as to make the theaters become the homes of men and women, with their accepting and including him, as some one closer to their dreams and life realities.That is why years after his departure, even this day, his spirit rules the emotions of people, through his energizing, hope building,songs of eternal value.He was an astute analyzer of the pulse of the people,
    Sivaji Ganesan was an ardent observer of the inner strings of humanity at large.In other words, if MGR was getting into the heart and soul of the masses, Sivaji Ganesan was digging out individuals from the masses, as characters that he portrayed.For MGR the hero was always someone specially good.But for Sivaji the hero was just a character, either good or bad.The immortality of these lifetime heroes is the result of the goodness in character that MGR stood for and the characters good and bad that speak of the performance- hungry hero called Sivaji Ganesan, who was more concerned about the veracity of the roles he played, than about himself and the audience.
    People remember characters like Gunasekran,[Parasakthi],Parandhaaman,[Thirumbi Paar], Manohara,[Manohara],Raju[Paasamalar],Va Vu Chi.{Kappalottiya Thamizhan}Kattabomman,[Veerapaandiya Kattabomman] Karnan[film of the same title],Rengan,[Padikkaadha Medhai]Gopal [Pudhiya Paravai]Prestige Padmanaban [Vietnam Veedu],Saapaattu Raman,{Raman Ethanai Ramanadi}Barrister Rajinikanth [Gowravam], Chinnadorai{Vasantha Maaligai] Rengadhurai [Rajapart Rengadurai],Justice Gopinath[film of the same title] and many others, which form a tip of the iceberg of  characters, that celebrate the grandeur and memory of the actor in Sivaji Ganesan. He did not hesitate to do three different characters in Dheiva Magan and nine variety of  characters in Navarathiri each one providing a different depth and thrust in character delineation, Sivaji Ganesan was always far from  projecting the image of a single hero, as MGR did.
   Each film of Sivaji Ganesan seemed to have carved the body and spirit of the protagonist, with immense scope for emotional display and elegance in performance, purely with a view to fulfill the thespian urge in the hero.Every one would have thought that Tenali Raman, Ambikapathi, Kattabomman Va.Vu.Chi,and Maha Kavi Kalidas,would have looked and conducted themselves like him.Similarly all the mythological figures like Karnan,Lord Shiva,MahaVishnu and Naaradhar would have been visualized through the body language of this brilliant hero.The image of spiritual saints like Appar and Sundarar have been imprinted in the minds of the audience, through the looks and demeanor of Sivaji Ganesan. He could be shortly called the epitome of the cherished values of history,society and spiritualism.A Chevalier award is not the end of acknowledging his theatrical and cinematic grandeur.
      Ultimatey what happened was, MGR the hero of the masses,became a political heart throb,on account  of his time tested screen image of being a positively inspiring human being,with all right attributes meant for leadership.He could form a political outfit of his own and lead the state of Tamil Nadu as its chief minister from 1977 to 1987 with a brief break for a couple of years.Whereas Sivaji Ganesan, a born actor who also founded a political party, suffered a pathetic defeat at the hustings. This was because the people were prepared to recognize him only as a screen hero of immense value, who would be remembered as the rarest phenomenon in the sphere of cinema,a star in the firmament to be watched with awe, for its myriad colors, symbolic of the infinite variety of mankind.The posthumous reality of both these life time heroes is that,both have reached a state of eternal fame not to be washed away by the passage of time.They are more than heroes.They continue to outlive their times,one as a former dynamic chief minister and the other as the grand master of the Tamil big screen .
     It was during the lifetime of these monumental heroes,a pair of the next generation stars began to glow and glitter with the brilliance of a similar stature.One of the two stars had already established himself as a child artist acting with MGR and Sivaji Ganesan in films like Aananda Jodhi and Paarthaal Pasi Theerum. The other star shot up to fame like a meteor to remain as the undisputed superstar of Tamil Cinema.Both these heroes remain in their own individual capacities, as proud treasures of the tinsel world,to retain their legacy longer,in the line of their predecessors.
     Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth were the two heroes, who were groomed by the profound film making intricacies of a trendsetting and epoch making director, called K. Balachander.The acronym KB, was known to all Tamil film viewers as the pinnacle of film direction with his singular stamp of authority in film making.Soon the two heroes of KB, began to grow to newer heights, with their own inimitable quest for originality, dynamism and depth in acting.Unlike MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, who acted together in just one movie,Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth have acted in more than a dozen films, either as two heroes on the same screen or Kamal as hero and Rajini as villain, sharing equal screen space and importance in characterization .Later they parted ways to set up their own yardsticks and footprints in acting.
    In Kamal,one can see a combination of Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan, with regard to the extensive stimulus  for climbing up the rungs of the acting ladder and the gusto for exhibiting infinite shades of romantic charm,respectively.But his inventive uniqueness, in making each of his films into an over all creative experience and his aesthetic breathing in and breathing out, the air of cinematic freshness, are his hard earned assets, never to be equated with the achievements of any other hero.He can mastermind the whole process of making a film with a total surrender of his body and mind, to that process.In this respect, his acting capital is an invaluable investment notwithstanding the consequences of risks involved in his filming ventures.He will go a long way into the interiors of world cinema, to stay there permanently, for case studies and their research implications, so as to become a point of reference for any meticulous actor in future.It is no wonder that such an incarnation of histrionics, has been honored to become the second Chevalier of Tamil Cinema.
    The Superstar is made of sterner stuff.Unlike Kamal he was not a child artist but he came like a shadow in Aboorva Raagangal and then carved his image on the minds of the audience with a bang, in his next film Moonru Mudichu, reflecting an attitude of storming, through his rugged style and charm.The leonine wield of his acting, has not yet reached its full capacity.He is not only a tornado and a ferocious stream in Tamil Cinema but is also a ripple free river and a gentle breeze. He is both a flower and its thorn.That is why he can excel both as a hero and villain.From Moonru Mudichu to Kabali he has fallen repeatedly into the hands of both creative and commercial giants in film making and come out as the incarnation of excitement and exuberance, in celebrating the joy of a field experience.
    In my longstanding assessment of the films of Rajinikanth,I would compare his mass appeal  to that of  MGR, without the latter's political agenda and his energetic role play, to the passionate histrionics of Sivaji Ganesan. The vibration in his voice,the radiation in his smile and the energy levels of his body language, take him closer to one and all.Not all heroes can become the superstar. If Rajini has moved that high in his career, it is all because of his being Rajini and it is the will of God that the star material in Rajini should glitter more than that of other heroes.Envy can not be an answer to anybody's position in their career.If MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Kamal and Rajini are more than mere heroes, it is purely due to the fact, that they have traveled far ahead of others in showing the world what is special in them, as the iconic interpretation of the soul and spirit of being a hero and it is this distinct characteristic that has made them the super heroes of different times.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A versatile Talent of Tamil Cinema.


    Apart from actors who have enriched Tamil Cinema,there have been very many talents on the creative front, pushing to glorious heights, the various components of film making.Tamil cinema certainly owes its qualitative survival, to its classic film making segments that include illustrious directors,story and script writers, besides the most important section of producers.Only a few days ago, Tamil film industry was deprived of a highly credited script writer,director and actor in the passing away of Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram and this blog carried a modest homage paid to that great film personality.Today Tamil Cinema lost another wonderful film producer and director who was also a lyricist and story writer.It is really a sad news that Mr.Panju Arunachalam a well known name in the Tamil film industry, passed away leaving an indescribable vacuum in the Tamil film field.
    Panju Arunachalam as a film producer,  made Tamil Cinema stand up to its meritorious recognition by adding up a number of highly talked about and commercially viable films to its archives.While he produced some of the rare Rajinikanth films like Bhuvana Oru KelviKuri, Aaarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai and Engeyo Ketta Kural he could also be complimented for giving great Rajini entertainers like Priya,Veera and Guru Sishyan. Similarly three of Kamalahasan's unforgettable films such as Kalyana Raman,Jappaanil Kalyana Raman and Michael Madana Kamarajan were from his P.A Arts' Production unit.Some of his other significant releases were Rasukutti, starring Baghyaraj, Poovellaam Kettupaar,the breezy romance with Suriya and Jyothika in the lead and Cheran's Solla Marandha Kadhai.
    A huge list of fabulous stories emanated from his extraordinary imaginative brain to become films of grandeur and successful realities.Some of his felicitous films in this regard are Mayangugiraal Oru Maadhu,Avanthaan Manidhan, Kavarimaan, Annakkili, Vaazhkai, Engeyo Ketta Kural,Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri,Adutha Vaarisu, Murattu Kaalai, Manidhan,Thambikku Endha Ooru,Paayum Puli,Aboorva Sagodharargal Rajaadhi Raajaa,Meendum Kokilaa,Sagala Kalaa Vallavan, Uyarndha Ullam, Thoongaadhe Thambi Thoongaadhe and several other films produced by the AVM banner.Maximum number of his stories were for the films of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan.It should also be mentioned here that Panju Arunachalam was significantly responsible for the emergence and indisputable popularity of Ilayaraja who composed music for a number of films produced by him.
    Arunachalam  has also directed films like Manamgale Vaa,Puthu Paatu,Kalikaalam and Thambi Pondaatti starring heroes like Prabu,Ramarajan and Rehaman.The eternal melodies and vigorous songs for which he wrote the lyrics were,"Ponnezhil Pooththadhu Pudhuvaanil"{Kalangarai Vilakkam}"Manamagale Marumagale Vaa vaa"{Saradha} "Machaana Paatheengalaa" and "Annakili Onna Thedudhe"{Annakili}"Vizhiyile Malarndhadhu" and "Raja Enbaar Mandhiri Enbaar"{Buvana Oru Kelvi Kuri}"Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu"{Aairilirundhu Arubadhuvarai}"Kaadhalin Deepamonru"{Thambikku Endha Ooru} and "Podhuvaaga Enmanasu Thangam"{Murattu Kaalai} A few important aspects that would call for specific notification are,his association with great actors like Sivaji Ganesan,Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan his long term link with the Rajini director, S.P.Muthuraman and his frequent lenience towards the AVM banner.
    Above all, the fact remains that late Panju Arunachalam never disappointed the audience in giving them, duly cherished family oriented and socially conscious stories, absolutely meant for a decent watch with all the relevant entertainment ingredients, keeping the audience drawn towards the theaters at various points of time, through out his creative and productive career.His concepts of film making were precisely business oriented; but in fixing his commercial targets he never compromised on quality of exhibition, or narration of his story lines.He knew what the audience wanted and gave it in the most acceptable form.His movies and his stories for his movies, were symbolic of a natural process of evolution ,with the singular objective of providing entertainment through the calculated yardsticks of social responsibility and creative compactness .Here lies the value of a versatile talent of Tamil Cinema, and it is in this respect, we should specially salute  the departed soul of Panju Arunachalam .

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Vibrant Script Writer and Film Maker.

     It is a known fact that no film can hit the mark without a catchy script.Story and scrip writers could be called the soul of a film.However good a director is and how great the actors are,the ultimate success of a film solely depends upon the weight of its story and its script that form the backbone of any great movie.Language is just a medium.But how effectively that medium is used to take the story and its characters closer to the audience solely depends upon the sparkling impact made by the dialogues. The relevance of word power, to the depiction of a scene and  the characters rolling around the scenic sequences,strikes a potential balance in the process of film making.Tamil Cinema has come across renowned names ruling the script dynamism in film making.One such dynamic script writer is Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram who is no more today.
   Late Mr.Sundaram takes his magnificent prefix from the most successful Tamil drama Vietnaam Veedu splendidly staged by him in the Nineteen Sixties, with the grand participation of Sivaji Ganesan as its protagonist. In fact, this face lifting prefix,was bestowed upon him by none other than Sivaji Ganesan himself. Later in 1970 when the play was released as a movie under the eminent direction of P.Madhavan,it was Sundaram who wrote the script for the historic film, that became another milestone in Sivaji Ganesan's career,performing the most memorable role of prestige Padmanaban. The film is remembered as much for the vigorous role play of the Chevalier as for its most impressive dialogue segment. Sivaji Ganesan as Padmanaban and Padmini as Savithri simply lived as life-like husband and wife on the screen, thanks to the wonderful script of Sundaram and the qualitative direction of P.Madhavan.
   Like most other film personalities Sundaram was also a Sivaji devotee.His script for great Sivaji Ganesan's films like Gnaana Oli, [which went on for long, as another amazing stage drama, with the theatrical team spirit of Sivaji Ganesan and Sundaram]Annan Oru Koil,Grahapravesam,Pareetchaikku NeramaachuJustice Gopinath and Sathyam, created celebrated moments for the film audience.On top of it all, came the monumental film "Gowravam"letting Sivaj Ganesan play dual roles as barrister Rajinikanth and his devoted adopted son.This extraordinarily stylish movie which was yet another brilliant stage play of the duo, was directed by Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram himself and I still remember watching  the very first show of this film on its date of release,with one of my close friends, another ardent Sivaji fan. Sundaram casually moved a big step forward, on the track of Tamil Cinema, as a powerful film maker and script writer.
  The Two MGR films for which Sundaram wrote the script were Naan Yen Pirandhein [a rare MGR film with a solid family base] and Naalai Namadhe[the Tamil remake of the Hindi block buster Yadon ki Baaraat].Sundaram is also a specialist in delineating social mythologies in an exemplary manner,through his captivating stories and scripts.Some of his timeless films  in this respect are,Namma Veettu Dheivam, Navagrha Naayagi,Nambinaar Keduvadhillai, Aaiyiram Kannudaiyaal and,Velundu Vinaiyillai.Sundaram has also worked with his next generation actors like Kamalahasan,[Soora Samhaaram]Prabu [Anand] Sathyaraj [Jallikattu] and Karthik Muthuraman[Raja Mariyaadhai].His most favoured female star was K.R.Vijaya.
   In his later years, Sundaram also turned to acting in films [Appu,Kanna Moochi Yenada} and Television serials.He has acted in almost twenty serials so far, of which Metti Oli,Athi Pookkal, Marmadesam.,Krishna Dhasi,Rishimoolam,Raja Rajeswari,Pillai Nila and Valli will find a distinct place in the history of the Tamil small screen. Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram's voice modulation carries a calculated charm in dialogue delivery.His family- oriented values behind his writing the script,and his sharp psychological perception of characters and their vocal role play, with an organized understanding of the family and social realities, speak volumes of his concerted focus on the traditional core of life, through his imaginative presentation of dialogues,to be delivered by the respective characters on the screen.
     Sundaram's contextual grasp of the harmony between scenes and their semantic revelation is an excellent indicator of his stage and screen sense of creativity.In his passing away,the script component of Tamil Cinema and the thespian side of the small screen, seem to have lost immensely. The views expressed here, are the genuine outcome of the profound regard that this blog writer has cherished  for more than the past four decades, for this outstanding film face, of Tamil cinema.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Special, Rajini Film Maker.

          An assertive film maker always stamps his individuality, not only by his choice of themes,story line,weight of script and pattern of narration, but also by his ability to give a U turn to a typecast hero, in a totally different portrayal of looks and role play. Today's superstar Rajinikanth who literally owes his career to his mentor K.Balachander,and had his initial years branding him as a rugged villain or an actor in double hero films, with a captivating image,mannerism and style,was transformed into  a bulldozing hero of rugged charm, by a director with a distinct perception of an actor's flair for performance. It was of course  K.Balachander who identified the over all potential of Rajinikanth But he was caught in a major dilemma of choosing the right focus and thrust required for the evolution of the next generation's two top most heroes, Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan,who happened to succeed MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, as the two mega stars of Tamil Cinema.
    As Balachander  had to simultaneously engage both these talented men, with the scope and space they independently deserved and needed,he could not explore and bring out the best in Rajinikanth through a hero making film.His initial offers to Rajinikanth were for negative roles which this special actor sumptuously enjoyed in films like Moonru Mudichu and Avargal. It was C.V Sridhar who first gave him a positive role in his Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu,but that too was a double hero film with more scope for Kamal.There were other low profile Rajini films like Mangudi Minor,Vanakthirkuriya Kadhaliye,Adupuli Attam and Aaru Pushpangal. Two other earlier films of Rajini, made a mark and they were Bhairavi directed by M.Baskar and Ayiram Jenmangal made by Durai.
    But the first Rajini film that took him to new heights as an independent,well carved hero, was J.Mahendran's historic film Mullum Malarum. Apart from Rajinikanth, who appeared as a rough shod man, with a soft inner self, made of unrelenting love for his younger sister,the cast of the film included Sarath Babu as a police officer and two women, namely,the most talented Shobha and Fadafat Jeyalakshmi [ both committed suicide later].With its vigorous narration and melody of music from the musical prophet Ilayaraja,Mullum Malarum became a specially noticeable and gloriously trend setting Rajini film.In all fairness, it can be said that though K.Balachander was Rajini's mentor,it was J.Mahendran who made him rightly and firmly step on the ladder to super stardom.
    J.Mahendran seems to have drawn the attention of MGR,as a new creative talent, during his student days.Later he happened to gain a little space, in the making of MGR film Kanchi Thalaivan, This happened after a few MGR films like Ponniyin Selvan and Vaazhve Vaa in which Mahendran was to play a vital role,could not take shape or pass the production stage for various, less known reasons. But slowly, J.Mahendran set his foot into Tamil Cinema, as a story,screen play and dialogue writer for many films, of which Vaazndhu Kaattukiren, Vaazhvu En Pakkam and Sivaji Ganesan's grand show Thanga Padhakkam, find a memorable place.But Mullum Malarum was the first film, he directed and it was the first film for Rajini, to fix his growth trajectory as a hero, commanding a hysteric fan base. J.Mahendran's first film itself was a major hit, receiving accolades from the movie critics and reviewers.
    J.Mahendran went on to make award winning films like, Udhiri Pookkal and Nenjathai Killaadhe, He made excellent use of the talent of actors like Mohan,Vijayan,Suhasini and Aswini, in these two films.It was a period of the musical reign of Ilayaraja and he played wonders with his magical wand of making music.Starting from Mullum Malarum, it was the expertise of Mahendran's delicate handling of intricate themes, that evoked the emergence of new aesthetics in film making.The two other Rajini films Johnny and Kai Kodukkum Kai,directed by Mahendran,would definitely remain as the two specially memorable films, for Rajini himself.Unlike S.P.Muthuraman, who made the maximum number of Rajini films,Mahendran made only three films with the Superstar.But each film was different from the other, in the hero's character delineation.While robust masculine verve dominated in Mullum Malarum,Kai Kodukkum Kai showed the man of the film, as one endowed with utmost empathy and humaneness. Johnny in which Rajini played dual roles, projected the conflicting attributes of male waywardness and helplessness, in falling a victim of  negative circumstances.
     In presenting womanhood,Mahendran was always at his best, in showcasing the traditional profiles of feminine glory, through his women protagonists, in films like Mullum Malarum,Udhiri Pookkal,and Kai Kodukkum Kai.Even as a story writer he did not fail to top up, the dignity of submissive womanhood, in Thanga Padhakkam and the feminist in his women characters,in films like Vaazhvu En Pakkam and Vaazhndhu Kaattugiren. His film Johnny, put in contrast the power of considerate womanhood, as reflected in the character of Sridevi, with that of opportunism and betrayal, reflected in the character formation of Deepa.
   Mahendran's themes and story lines were also known for variety.While Nenjathai Killaadhe was an elegant love story,Johnny came out as a tale of love with its vagaries and waywardness.Love born of respect for womanhood formed the base for his Kai Kodukkum Kai. Betrayal of men and women formed part of his narration of the process of love in Johnny.His family dramas were like calm streams with occasional ripples,causing a kind of destabilizing note.He had the guts to portray nasty, mean minded and crude villainy, as the negative face of humanity, that was beautifully reflected in the characterization of Vijayan in Udhiri Pookkal. His villains were perverts [imagine Cinni Jeyanth performing the role of a pervert in Kai Kodukkum Kai} of the vulgar kind, disturbing the mind of the audience in films like, Udhiri Pookkal, Kai Kodukkum Kai and Poottaadha Poottukal. Mahendran's other notable films were Nandu,Metti,Azhagiya Kanne,Kannukku Mai Ezhudhu and Oor Panchayathu The last film made by him was Saagasam. Recently we would have been surprised to see him as an actor, donning the role of a bloody, inhuman villain, committing brutalities of an unacceptable kind, in the Vijay mega hit movie, Theri.
    J.Mahendran's creative ingredients are self made.His reach with the audience, has been significant as powerful waterfalls, reaching the ground from a mountainous range.He could entertain with sense and sensibility.His aesthetic norms of film making, were always of the higher order.Films like Nenjaththai Killaadhe, Mullum Malarum,Udhiri Pookkal and Johnny, would substantially vindicate Mahendran's capacity for capturing a world, of differently beautiful composition.Particularly when it comes to the three Rajini films he made,it could be categorically stated that it is Mahendran who,of all Tamil film makers, has discovered the varied dimensions of the same hero and qualitatively stuffed them, in celluloid form, to pave the way for the extraordinary march of an uncommon hero,to reach the top most slot in Tamil cinema.It is really unfortunate that J. Mahendran did not get the recognition that has always been due to him.But he continues to strike a mark as a special maker of Rajini films,of course with  the exception of  movies like Aarilurndhu Arubadhuvarai, Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri and Nallavanukku Nallavan, directed by S.P.Muthuraman.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Superstar Reverberates.


    Pa. Ranjith  made us sit up and watch his unusual course of narration of events in his film Madras.It is perhaps  a matter of coincidence that,all the letters of his name spelt in English, form  a major part of the name of Rajinikanth too. The fifty fifty combination of their names gets into perfect fusion in the tremendously hyped film Kabali. For the fans of the superstar, there is enough display of his charismatic style and gusto.But the narrative format is characteristic of the budding director of distinct merit.From the beginning till the end, the action sequences move on, like a steam boat shuttling between a calm  sea and one of turbulent waves.
   Rajini's devotion to his wife [which already hit the victory mark in AVM's Nallavanukku Nallavan under his periodical director S.P.Muthuraman], carries deeper dimensions of the pang of presumed loss of his wife and its intensity of anguish.The scene where Kabali and his daughter meet on an unexpected twist in narration, marks the mind blowing intermission of the film.Really the interval screen falls upon the audience with high voltage thrilling effect.The second part of the film that takes the hero, on a search mission with his daughter to find his yet living wife in India, is a  grand mix of sentiment and appalling action shots.The superstar's meeting his wife is an effective emotional package poignantly unveiled,thanks to the spontaneous melting down of Radhika Apte who plays the role of Rajinikanth's wife.The dignified family reunion is an endearing treat  .
  Through out the film, the combined impact of  tempo, noise and niceties, makes one feel, if one is watching a usual Rajini film, or experiencing a refreshingly fulfilling Rajini film, after a long time, when films like Mullum Malarum and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri brought Rajini the actor,closer to our hearts.All said and done, can anyone get completely retrieved from the Baasha effect, when it comes to the presentation of a gangster story.That there is no place for the usually energizing comedy quotient of Rajinikanth, is certainly a matter of disappointment,though factually speaking comedy has no scope in a movie of this kind.
   Santhosh Narayanan's music was more appealing in Madras.The song 'Maya Nadhi' is of course a melting melody. Nassar and Sangili Murugan are compact in their brief appearances. Danshika, Rythvika, Kalaiarasan and Dinesh have substantial space for performance and they have made good use of their opportunity to be part of a Rajini film.Winston Chao and Kishore exhibit their sheen for villainy with style and brutality.John Vijay has more scope to share a lot of joint appearances with the superstar.Beyond all this ,what was surprising for me is how the film got a U certificate, in spite of being a gangster movie, with too many crude scenes of violence and profuse gunning down of one another in a mad spree. Rajini looks a bit exhausted in quite a few shots.Ageing has its impact.But his innate charm and style remain intact.His breaking down when he comes to know the fact that he has missed for long, his living wife, who he thought was dead and several other scenes, will live long to create a lasting impact on the minds of the audience.The invisible audio climax, with the bullet sound makes the audience leave the theater with each one's guess work about the fate of Kabali.
   Through out the film, there is a reverberating rhythm in the characterization and performance of Rajinikanth, the monumental actor, who is blessed with so much of fan adoration from children to grownups.No doubt, Ranjith has not failed to capitalize on this phenomenal factor.

Friday, July 15, 2016

T.R.Ramanna the Ritzy Film Maker.,


                                       T.R.Ramanna the Ritzy Film Maker.,                   .

         Like all other business activities,film making has its own ups and downs.However, during the last century film production houses were not many and the spirit of competition was always healthy. The absence of television until the mid seventies and the non existence of electronic governance and its resultant video piracy, made the film making industry exist without any sudden shocks of fall in business.Starting from the Gemini Pictures and the AVM mega production house, there were a sizable number of film making units like Jupiter Pictures,Vijaya Vauhini Production house, Vijayalakshmi Pictures,Padmini Pictures,Devar Films Circuit,the Modern Theatres, Sathya Movies,Kalakendra& Kavithalaya film houses of veteran director K.Balachander and K.Balaji's Sujatha Cine Arts.
     Among these was the R.R.Pictures, maintained by Thanjavur Renganayaki Ramanna,the most notable film maker and sibling of the most fascinating actress T.R.Rajakumari. In fact T.R.Ramanna was a forerunner in the field, along with the Gemini and AVM big banner houses.He has to his credit several dynamic film making credentials, that could afford him, a specially distinguished place in Tamil Cinema. Ramanna is pretty much known for his diversified narrative skills, in taking social and spiritual themes closer to the hearts of the audience.His unforgettable mythical and spiritual entries were, Kaathavaraayan,Sri Valli, Arunagirinadhar and Ilangeswaran..
      Unlike A.Bhimsingh and K.Balaji who never thought of making even a single movie with MGR as hero and unlike Chinnappa Devar who for reasons not known,deliberately excluded Sivaji Ganesan,among his heroes,T.R.Ramanna who has a slightly bigger number of MGR films in his film archives, did not fail to make a good number of Sivaji films.In fact, Ramanna could be proud of making the one and only film of the two heroes, starring together, for the first and last time and that film was Koondukkili. Even in that film Sivaji did only the role of an anti hero, as a womanizing, treacherous friend of the other hero MGR. T.R.Ramanna did five other films with Sivaji Ganesan as hero and they were Kaathavarayan, Sri Valli,Thanga Surangam.Sorgam and Ennai Pol Oruvan. Of these Kaathavarayan  and Sri Valli were based on Hindu mythology,Sorgam was a breezy family drama and the other two were action packed entertainers.
    Ramanna a stylish director of longstanding merit, made nearly eight films of MGR, with a variety in theme and story line. Besides Koondukkili,which was his first film with MGR,there were powerful family dramas like Periya Idaththu Penn ,Panakkaara Kudumbam and Panam Padaithavan,fabulous entertainers like Gulebakaavali,historical fiction like Pudhumai Pithan and thrillers like Parakkum Paavai. T.R.Ramanna also made an unusual MGR movie, that showed the conventionally positive spirited hero, caught in a web of tragic circumstances, culminating in his death and this special movie was Paasam.
    T.R.Ramanna and his sister T.R.Rajakumari, who was popularly known as the dream girl of Tamil Cinema,worked together in movies like Gulebakavali,Pudhumai Pithan,Periya Idathu Penn and Paasam. Rajakumari was first paired with MGR as his pair. Later,she acted as the elder sister of MGR in Periya Idathu Penn and finally also became the mother of the hero in Paasam. Whereas,MGR ever remained as a youthful hero, till the end of his career.As far as the narrative style of Ramanna is concerned,one could always feel it as a creative process, dipped in a galaxy of emotions with a proclaimed focus on entertainment and action sequences.
    Even during the days of slow motion films, Ramanna's Pudhumai Pithan and Gulebhakavali were found to be rich entertainers on a speedy track, with amazing action potential at all levels and enchanting musical value, thanks to the mind blowing sound track and musical composition of the ever eminent G.Ramanathan [films like Pudhumai Pithan, Kaathavarayan,Sri Valli and Arunagiri nadhar] Viswanathan& Ramamurthy and later M.S.Viswanathan{Several films},or T.K.Ramamurthy [Thanga Surangam and Moonrezhuthu}for the rest of his films.I think  the exceptions were Koondukkili for which music was left in the hands of K.V.Mahadevan and Vairam taking the tunes from T.R.Papa..
    Excepting Puthumai Pithan, Ramanna produced and directed, the other seven films of MGR. Similarly Kathavarayan was the only Sivaji movie, produced and directed by him.All the remaining films directed by Ramanna were not from his R.R.Pictures production house.Again Manapandal starring S.S.Rajendran and B.Sarojadevi,was the only movie produced by R.R.Pictures, but not directed by him.When the two new  heroes Jai Shankar and Ravichandran came to lime light, Ramanna's attention promptly shifted to them, leading to some great films like Nee,Naan,Kumari Penn,Moonrezhuthu,and Vairam. Of these,Naan, Kumari Penn and Vairam were popular hits.During the last spell of his film career, Ramanna also made a film starring Rajinikanth and this film Kuppathu Raja  also became a great success, among the B and C sections of the audience.
    As far as Ramanna's heroines were concerned, his early stars were B.S.Saroja, T.R.Rajakumari, G.Varalakshmi  S.Varalakshmi,Raja Sulochana and E.V.Saroja.But his most frequent heroines were B.Sarojadevi and J.Jeyalalitha. The other notable heroines were Savithri, K.R.Vijaya,Bharathi, Usha Nandini and Radhika. Starting  from the first generation comedians of Tamil Cinema,like K.A.Thangavelu and J.P.Chandrababu and the later years' veteran comedians such as Nagesh,Suruli Rajan ,Thengai Srinivasan and Ennathe Kannaiah,all have  contributed their humor might in the films of Ramanna.
    But when it came to the role of villains Ramanna's most preferred villain actor was R.S.Manohar. This actor of theatrical excellence became a  must in Ramanna's films as he was in the movies of the Modern Theatres.The other favourite villain actor of Ramanna was S.A.Asokan. Strangely, M.N.Nambiyar who played the villain in a majority of M.G.R films, was seen only in Ramanna's Parakkum Paavai,that too in a less important role. P.S.Veerappa the other prominent villain actor of MGR films, was never inducted in the films of Ramanna. T.S.Balaiah was seen in Pudhumai Pithan and M.R.Radha in a couple of films [Paasam and Periya Idathu Penn}.
      Beyond all this statistics of Ramanna's films,the most undoubted fact is that Ramanna was a ritzy film maker proving  his commercial strength, by his periodical hits like Pudhumai Pithan.Guleba gaavali,Periya Idathu Penn,Panam Padaithavan [chiefly remembered for all hit songs],Sorgam Kumari  Penn,Naan and Kuppathu Raajaa. In addition to the distinctly powerful entertainment value of his films,the over all quality of narration deserves a passionate compliment.His heroes, heroines, villains and comedians were all reputed for, invaluable quality of performance.Music was another ecstatic factor of many Ramanna movies.It can be assertively stated, that as a ritzy film maker he has made the memories of his films percolate into the imagination and understanding of a majority of the audience, who will stand up and say, here was a film maker who made Tamil Cinema live long.