Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Transition Time Heroines.

   















 





   From the early Seventies onward,Tamil Cinema was undergoing changes at all levels.Film makers began to look at the entire gamut of their creative form with a modernistic mind to update and enrich the film medium, if not with an unconventional attitude to break all traditional norms. The Hindi movies of the same period were technically far more advanced to the extent of competing with Western standards.There were more colour films in Hindi than those in other Indian languages.MGR took the initiative to bring more of his movies in the colour form. Most of the Sivaji movies were also getting rid of the black and white tag. 
       As the glamour quotient was exhaustive in the Hindi films,this selling factor began to weigh more with South Indian film producers,particularly, those belonging to the Tamil and Telugu film industry. Though solid themes and substantial story lines continued to be mandatory,speed and glamour had to to be incorporated to meet the vital demands of the commercial side of producing a movie.It is this most dominant new trend, coupled with the elimination of existing taboos on sex and women's role towards sex delineation in films, that determined the fate of the new women entrants to the acting field. 
      The space for effective demonstration of characterization was still available for women;but they had to get out of their rigid notions regarding the close up shots with the heroes, in order to glamorize.Contrary to expectations,the transition moves brought in more women for acting. Some of them acted very well, besides contributing the glamour portion.Some could not move beyond the glamour point.But there were a few who stuck to the old norms.
       Among the new comers,there was Usha Nandini who emoted and glamorized, mostly with Sivaji Ganesan in many films that include 'Rajapart Rengadurai' and 'Gauravam' It was during this time MGR introduced two of his new heroines Manjula and Latha. His 'Rikshakaran' with Manjula was a blockbuster,with the latter adding greatly to the glamour element.Though she continued to act with MGR in about half a dozen movies,including 'Ulagam Suttrum Valiban',her equal number of films with Sivaji Ganesan, especially  'Dr,Shiva', and 'Engal Thangaraja'  and later her character in the controversial 'Marupiravi' with Muthuraman, established her position as a good actor .Latha was a great glamour queen in about  ten MGR movies. However, MGR films like 'Urimaikural' and 'Neethikku Thalai Vanangu' also showed her ability to perform roles with adequate emotion.She did only one movie with Sivaji but her performance in Sridhar's 'Azhage Unnai Aaaraadikkiren' and later in 'Aayiram Jenmangal' with Rajinikanth,made her a heroine of higher acting mettle.
     There were some actors who were more bothered about their roles than the show of glamour.It was a long list of acting stuff  that included the earlier entrant Srividya and others like Pramila introduced by Balachander, Jeyachitra,Saritha [another Balachander sponsored talent,]Sripriya, Sujatha,Sumitra,Fadafat Jeyalakshmi and Poornima. Of these,barring  Sujatha and Sri Vidya,the first four were the regular players of  the aggressive,melodramatic acting type, with ample scope for forceful dialogues that projected them as the bold firebrands among women. Jeyachitra in particular,had a stonger hold in Tamil Cinema,being periodically paired with Jai Shankar and Sivakumar. Her performance starting with Kurathi Magan,directed by K.S.Gopalakrishnan,was always on an upswing,gaining spontaneous control of the role assigned to her.She played commendably,in films like Sollathan Ninaikirein {directed by K.Balachander}
Akkarai Pachai,Vellikkizhamai Viradham and Thein Sindhudhei Vaanam.
     Sripriya was a greatly talented artist who could fit into the calm traditional mould  as in Balachander's Aval Oru Thodarkadhai or the aggressive feminist type of character as she bravely portrayed in Aattukkaara Alamelu. Like Sujatha,Sripriya was equally comfortable in being paired with a senior most,colossal actor like Sivaji Ganesan, or actors like Sivakumar substantially senior to her as well as her contemporaries like Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. Resembling actress Latha to some extent,she had also acted with her in a few films of which Neeya needs a special mention.She takes the credit for acting in the movies of renowned film makers like K.Balachander and Sridhar. If Latha had acted in Sridhar's Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkirein,Sripriya did a meaty role in the veteran director's film Ilamai Oonjaladugirathi, starring both Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth. She had been paired with Kamal and Rajini quite often and the two films that warrant special attention in this regard are Savaal with Kamal and Annai Oer Aalayam with Rajini. Besides these two,Sripriya has done as heroine in many movies of Sujatha Cine Arts and Devar Films circuit.Like her successor Radhika, Sripriya could be remembered as a symbol of feminine courage and freedom.  
    Whereas, Sri Vidya,Sujatha, Sumitra and Poornima were models of a subdued pattern of performance .While Sri Vidya's graceful show in 'Aboorva Ragangal',[A Balachander revolution in Tamil Cinema] brought her laurels, Sumitra,who teamed up with Rajini,Kamal and Sivakumar' played sober roles and later settled with an impressive show of mother characters. Sujatha made herself unforgettable, by underplaying her emotions in 'Annakkili'.Sujatha's fine aspect of acting, always included her capacity to suppress emotions and at the same time modestly reveal the dignity of womanhood through a silent affirmation of her faith in feminism.This could be implicitly felt in her characters witnessed in films like 'Aval Oru Thodarkadhai' 'Avargal' [both from Balachander's rejuvenating brain]'Vazhndu Kattugiren' and in her latest 'Amaidhipadai'.
     Both Sri Vidya and Sujatha perfectly fitted into  mother roles with poise, charm and firmness making their characters true to life.It is really unfortunate that both these women did not live long, to achieve further in their career. Poornima who did 'Thanga Magan' with Rajini and joined Mohan for many hits like 'Kilinjalgal', 'Payanangal Mudivadhillai' and 'Vidhi',later joined Bagyaraj for his 'Darling Darling Darling' and relinquished her acting career,to marry the ever genial Director. Fadafat Jeyalakshmi [the prefix before her name was her mannerism in 'Aval Oru Thodarkadhai'] was a blend of aggressiveness and softness in performance,as witnessed through her dynamic contribution to films like 'Mullum Malarum',Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai' and Thiagam'.The untimely and unnatural death of Fadafat Jeyalakshmi pitiably clipped her celluloid wings lest she should have continued her creditable calibre for performing meaty roles and claimed a laudable position in the  Tamil film industry. Jeyasudha, like the earlier time Rajashri, believed that an extra step in glamour,would augment her opportunities for acting.
     Sri Devi,who was already very popular as a child artist joined the transition age as a potential contender for talent and achievement and got her talent honed by the great actor makers Barathi Raja  ['Padhinaru Vayadhinile' and 'Sigappu Rojaakkal' ] Balachander ['Moonru Mudichu' and 'Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu'],Balu Magendra ['Moonrampirai']and Magendran ['Jaani'].She is one actress who has acted in a good number of films with the two dominant heroes of her time,Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth and her films with Kamal would outnumber those with Rajini. Her most popular films other than those mentioned here,were Guru,Vazhve Mayam,Saindhadamma Saindhaadu [all with Kamal] and Pokkiri Raja, Thanikkaattu Raja, Dharma Yudham and Naan Adimai Ilaai [with the Super tar]. Sridevi was synonymous of feminine charm and glory and no wonder that like her predecessors Vijayanthimala and Hema Malini,she too moved to Bollywood for fame and national acclaim.
      Then, there was Ambika  who beautifully mixed up glamour with acting and she had her acting spell duly shared between Rajini and Kamal. Ambika  also had the unique privilege of doing one movie with Sivaji Ganesan in 'Vaazhkai' besides frequently acting with the Chevalier's son Prabu. Her roles in  Rajini's 'Engeyo Ketta Kural ' of a rural woman going astray in life and in 'Andha Ezhu Naatkal' with Bagyaraj, of a married woman unable to forget her lover, established her ability to take up heavier roles at an early age.She has acted in a number of hit movies like Sagala Kalaa Vallavan, Kaakki Chattai,Kadhal Parisu and Uyarndha Ullam with Kamalahasan and with Rajinikanth she has acted in successful films such as Naan Sigappu Manithan and Padikkaadhavan. Her other famous films include Naan Paadum Paadal, Vellai Roja, Makkal En Pakkam and Anna Nagar Mudhal Theru.
     Urvasi who was introduced by Bagyaraj in 'Mundanai Mudichu' under the AVM  banner, became known for her spontaneous flair for the comic side and became busy both in Tamil and Malayalam films. Jeevitha another new face joined Karthic [Muthuraman' son] and Vijayakanth for a few movies and disappeared from the scene. Nalini and Amala [a dancer of merit] introduced by T.R Rajendar continued the race  for nearly a decade.Nalini's roles in Uyirullavarai Uasha' 'Raanuva Veeran','Thangaikor Geetham',  'Palaivana Rojakkal' Nooravathu Naal' and '24 Mani Neram' deserve special mention. Amala who fascinated every one in 'Maidhili Ennai Kadali' and 'Mella Thirandhadhu kadhavu' joined Prabu{Uthama Purushan and Agni Natchathiram},Kamal{Sathya and Vetri Vizha} and Rajini { Velaikkaran and Mappilaai} as their finely matching co-star and her performance gracefully combined charm with an underplay of emotion.
       These actors and the other heroines introduced by the enlightened Barathi Raja [To be seen in another article] have proved that the transition wind did not take away the deep rooted quality ingredient of the Tamil Film industry. 
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