Villainy is a concept of value addition to fiction, drama and most importantly for the world of cinema, irrespective of nationality,language and culture. This is perhaps due to the fact that life is always a mixture of good and evil;the latter quite often bent upon destroying goodness in any form. A film in any language, can hardly have its take- off, without a character denoting traits of villainy.If no such character is there,nature or the circumstances surrounding the characters will carry the villainous effects.Even the most popular Harry Potter series have notorious villain characters like Voldemort and Beatrix. Most of the action movies and thrillers sustain the interest and entertainment aspects for crowd pulling, only through a catchy conceptualization of the villain roles as a formulaic addition.
Tamil cinema in this regard,has almost celebrated the inclusion of villainy as a potential ingredient ever since its inception. The very thought of villainy would bring to one's mind the wicked faces of the various villain actors of Tamil films,who personified evil in their exemplary style.During the time of P.U.Chinnappa,one could not forget the villain actor R.Balasubramanian whose performance as the cantankerous Kudilan in 'Manonmani' created an indelible impression.Can any film goer among the senior audience ever forget the suave but cruel role of determined villainy by so stylish an actor like Ranjan in 'Chandralekha'? Another actor of this period who made villainy an adorable trait was S.A.Natarajan, who claimed immortality for evil by his inimitable performance in movies like 'Mandirikumari' and 'Manohara'.
With the assertive entry of MGR anchoring goodness as the one and only trademark of a hero, villainy became inevitable to create the stage for a fighting ground between good and evil and then establish the supremacy of the essence of goodness. The difference between MGR and his strong contemporary SivajiGanesan was that ,villains created the circumstances causing challenges and sufferings for the hero in MGR movies;whereas,in Sivaji movies, the circumstances themselves quite often became the source of villainy putting the hero in a fix .
If Sivaji was ready to accommodate fellow heroes in his movies with a friendly spirit, MGR had all embracing approach to villain actors like P.S Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar,S.A.Asokan and R.S.Manohar who maintained an all time rapport with him. T.S.Balaiyah and M.R.Radha have been deliberately excluded from this list because,they need a different space,for their varied dynamics of acting.However it should be mentioned here that these two actors were unique in being villains on the screen without indulging in notable fisticuffs or in any other serious fighting scene.It was their singular scheming frame of mind in reflecting villainy that counted a lot.They were villains of a distinct mould. While Radha would periodically raise and pull down his decibel with profuse mischief mongering,,Balaiah would articulate dialogues with a voice that would foretell the impact of his performance.
Among these veteran villains,it appeared as though P.S Veerappa was born for the only purpose of performing villain roles with an innate passion for it.His cruel looks,wicked serial laugh and his terrorizing delivery of dialogues were his highly complimentary traits of acting. Veerappa's crude display of villainy in movies like 'Mannadhai Mannan','Albaabaavum Naarpadhu' Thirudargalum''Mahadevi' 'Anandajothi' 'Vanjikkoattai valiban' and 'Kaidhi Kannayiram' will ever remain an intimidating factor, especially among the child audience.
M.N.Nambiyar,who started his career as a comedian in 'Bhaktha Ramadas' and 'Vidhyapathi' became a classic villain actor in a lot of MGR movies besides doing villain and character roles in movies of Sivaji and Gemini Ganesan. Nambiyar's depiction of evil was always characterized by scheming efficacy,dramatic gesticulations and formidable voice modulations.His role as Rajaguru in 'Mandirikumari' and his crude display of villainy in movies like 'Sarvaadhikaari''Uthama Puthiran'' 'Kudiyirunda Koil' 'Naan Anaiittal''Pudhia Boomi' 'Naalai Namadhe' 'Sirithu Vaazhavendum' and 'Thirisoolam' is a haunting replica of horror. He was an incorrigible bad man in 'Kavalkaran' though he played the role of MGR's father-in-law in that movie.But he was a redeemable villain in' Enga Veetu Pillai' 'Ayirathil Oruvan' 'Rajapart Rengadurai' and 'Thillana Mhanabbal'.He has also played the role of an honest police officer in some movies and ended up his career with a beloved grandpa screen image.
S.A Asokan was always a boisterous villain and his hell-bent voice and mannerisms made him a villain of verve and vigour. His extraordinary performance as villain in movies like 'Naan' 'Nam Naadu' 'Adimaipen' 'Ulagam Sutrum Valiban' 'Rickshakaaran''Thedivantha Mapillai' and 'Vandikkaaran Mahan' will live long in the memory of regular film goers.But he also did wonderful character roles as father,elder brother and a loyal friend.No one can forget him as Duriyodana in 'Karnan' and as Gopal in 'Uyarndha Manithan'.
R.S.Manohar like M.N.Nambiyar,came to Tamil Cinema from the drama troupe.He played mostly as the main villain's henchman and his astounding physique effectively contributed to the role he played particularly for the stunt scenes.He was closely associated with MGR movies for quite long but his independent performance as hero in 'Kaithi Kannayiram' and in 'Vannakkili' in the role of Poochi were of a unique kind. He was a sure inclusion in all the movies of the Modern Theatres and he made his roles unforgettable in movies like 'Vallavanukku Vallavan','Iru Vallavargal' and 'Vallavan Oruvan'.He was also a regular addition in Sathya Movies films.
Among the four fine villain actors described above,P.S.Veerappa,and M.N Nambiyar were good at fencing and the latter was equally comfortable with boxing. Asokan had shown his skill in boxing and wrestling sequences and R.S.Manohar both in fencing and boxing.Some of the character actors of the last century, who made indelible impressions as villains were S.V.Rengarao in films like Annaiyin Aanai,Raja and Nam Naadu, T.K.Baghavadthi in Sabatham,V.K Ramasamy in nearly a dozen films of which Parasakthi and Thiagam are ever remembered. and T.S.Balaiah with memorable strokes, in films like Pudhayal and Maman Mahal. Interestingly T.S.Balaiah performed humor tinged villainy in many films of which Thookku Thookki and Madhurai Veeran need a special recognition.
With the disappearance of traditional concepts of Villainy in Tamil cinema,the archetypes have changed to satisfy the new generation expectations in the display of wickedness and cruelty. Consequently,the villain today reflects the diverse levels of the negative side of the human psyche.The villain of Tamil films like his counterpart in other languages,is the ripe incarnation of the murkier macabre mould of the underworld.Today's villain will tease,taunt,indulge in banter and bullying, besides grooming his ulterior motives to achieve his personal ends by hook or by crook.The greed for power and money are the twin motivating factors for wicked governance in addition to craving for sex and violence.The highly prevalent context of terrorism also vitally contributes to the presentation of the forces of villainy on screen.
To day, anybody can don the role of a villain. Even the softest Chaaruhasan appeared as villain in 'JaiHind '.Super star Rajini,Sathyaraj and Sarathkumar made impressive entries as villains before turning into heroes.The fresh and stylish utterances of Rajini,the taunting style of villainy of Sathyaraj and the formidable physique of Sarathkumar, enriched their position as villains on screen.
Raguvaran, who turned into a classic villain after appearing as a hero did wonders by his husky voice and its disturbing intonations.His performance as villain in 'Puriyada Pudir' was a brilliant show.Just by repeating the words 'I know I know' several times he made himself the real portrait of a horrifying sadistic husband. As a villain in many Rajini films,he was always impressive.He was menacing and formidable in 'Oorkaavalan' and 'Raja Chinna Roja',gruesome in 'Badsha',challenging in 'Arunachalam' and deceptive in 'Muthu'
Nassar is generally a suave villain with a controlled display of wickedness.As a corrupt police officer turned politician he performed with force in Walter Vetrivel. He was the crudest villain in 'Thevar Mahan' refusing to mend his inherent badness and brutality that he perpetuated in the name of his community. Nassar's intrinsic ability to grasp the hidden layers of the character he plays,makes it easier for him to perform the role with its valid proportions of the dynamism of villainy. His villainy is always free from the back stab type.His villain roles in Thennavan and Thavasi need a special mention.
The villainy of Praksh Raj was noisy and hell bent in 'Pokkiri' ,noisy and comical in 'Gilli',double tongued and scheming in 'Vaanavil', of the betraying type in 'Perarasu',a redeemable and convincing model in 'Aiyya' and of the crudest Machiavellian brand in 'Aaasai'. Prakash Raj is in short, the brand master of Villainy with a right mix of noise,violence,brutality and at times, a clean show of comedy.
Anandaraj has usually delivered a brutal kind of villainy in a gripping and controlled manner.As a criminal auto driver in Pula Visaaranai and later in many films of Prabu and,Sarathkumar Anandaraj stays in our memory as a special brand of villai actor.His effective demonstration of villainy, added considerable fillip to the film Baasha. FEFSI Vijayan through his menacing looks and formidable physique has made villainy an intimidating show of horror in films like Dhil and Villain.Vincent Asokan has not been utilized properly to become the true villain actor of his father's brand. Kota Srinivasa Rao's villainy is always noise bound through a peculiar type of his voice modulation. Asish Vidyarth and Sayaji Shinde have been quite unique in discharging their impressive villainy either as typical gangster heads or as villains in police uniform.
The one time heroes like Jaishankar and Ravichandran did not hesitate to do villain characters towards the end of their film career. The former, appearing as an open type of villain and the latter representing the villainy of a crude ,perverted mind were equally successful in their respective villains roles. Producer Umanath did a refined villain role in Mani Ratnam's Agni Natchatram.as director J.Magendran made a crude show of villainy in Vijay's Theri. Director Manivannan has appeared as villain in a few movies. His portrayal of villainous characters reminds us of the comedy- mixed villainy of [Late]M.R.Radha and T.S.Balaiah. The screen villains and their types are ever on the increase based on the directors' perception of the world they live in.