Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Agents of Change in Tamil Cinema.


      No medium of art can remain static.Change is the determiner of dynamism in any field and the success of all art forms depends solely on the refreshing changes taking place, every other day. The agents of change may be human beings or their inventions.These agents keep the goings- on under their close watch and active control.Cinema being the most popular form of art,has to tap new directions for its enhanced creative dimensions and come out with an appeal that indicates and justifies the change factor.Tamil cinema has also necessarily come under the scanner of dramatic change- makers in every interlinked parameter of film making. 
     Until at least the early fifties,Tamil cinema could not be said to represent the Tamil language and its literary spirit,because of the fact, that Tamil Nadu was still under the larger Madras Composite State.To put it simply,Tamil vocabulary was still under the influence of the Devanagari languages, especially Sanskrit.One could easily understand this pivotal aspect in the  use of Tamil, in movies released during the forties and early fifties.The All India Radio's news bulletin in Tamil,was also using words that were not Tamil in its original sense.
     Thanks to the fast emerging Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu, prompt awareness of this anomaly began to spread to the Tamil speaking mind and spirit, and necessary steps to infuse nativity into the Tamil language, became a gradual reality. This refurbishing upheaval, was not confined to language alone.It triggered a kind of impetus, to install a social awakening launch pad, to extricate people from their age old superstitions and make them fly into new creative zones with modernity in thought and imagination. The film medium came in handy to initiate this process.
     It was at this stage, stalwart political leaders like Thandhai Periyar, Thiru.C.N Annadurai and Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi. took up the onerous task of evolving revolutionary ideals in order to rejuvenate the Tamil society. Of the three,Periyar did not directly get into the movie world.But his iconoclastic views reached the people, through the films for which, story line and dialogues were written by the other two creative experts. Both these leading voices, became the foremost agents of an unforeseen transformation, in Tamil cinema. The changes envisaged, were to liberate people's thought and behaviour from the erstwhile forces that had enslaved their Tamil identities in terms of cultural and linguistic propositions. While both their writings and force of elocution carried the ignition to kick- start the restoration and reorganization of Tamil identity,it was Kalaignar M.Karunanithi who sanctified the Tamil language with its native moorings. We can say Tamil was reborn with its dynamism and dramatic vibrations, with fire and speed, to drive a great following towards attaining the true fundamentals of the language for its functional use.
      Kalaignar revolutionized Tamil cinema with his fiery literary Tamil in the form of immortal dialogues that reached the Tamil speaking world through more than a dozen films of which 'Panam' 'Parasakthi', 'Mandirikumari','Manohara','Devaki',and 'Poompuhar' deserve a special mention.The rich and ranting dialogues delivered by the captivating voices of MGR Sivaji Ganesan and SSR, gained historic significance in Tamil cinema.The actors themselves were the epitome of  change factors transforming their roles into image building and talent exposure. The use of literary Tamil from the script writer's pen and from the voices of the respective heroes, should have goaded other Tamil scholars to establish the original version of Tamil vocabulary, at all levels.A veteran comedian like N.S.Krishnan can also be rightly included as one bringing a new face to Tamil Cinema by his responsible  addition of comedy with purpose and meaning, aimed at effecting much needed social transformation. He infused social values like equality and egalitarianism through his dialogues and songs. 
       Following the emergence of pure Tamil in script,Tamil films began to accommodate changes in other significant areas such as, lyrics, music, direction and screen play presentation,and other technical aspects, like photography, editing and so on.Next to the script, the most vital segment that requires periodical change is the song sequences which have always remained as an invaluable addition to aesthetics of film making.The lyric component got enriched by the meaningful evolution of ideas and imaginative use of appropriate Tamil words.Lyricists like Pattukkottai kalyana Sundaram, Udumalai Narayana Kavi, Kaviarasu Kannadasan and Vaali took the lead as the grand agents of change in lyrical composition. Kannadasan had the extraordinary poetic wings to take human emotions to unseen dimensions and newer peaks of imagination.The richness of his lyrics was a result of the felicity of the Muse that he was endowed with. Like John Keats,the renowned English poet,Kannadasan also had an 'indescribable gusto' in his thought process and a fascinating flow of words that made it easier for the music composers to set tunes for his songs.
     Melody Kings G.Ramanathan, Vedha,Viswanathanand Ramamurthy, the classic music doyen K.V.Mahadevan, and the emphatic rural music Maestro Ilayaraja were all agents of the changing phase of music celebrations in Tamil Cinema. Ilayaraja in particular, evolved the soul of music in its original form, incorporating a galaxy of  nativity notes that promptly filled the urban- rural gap. Starting from 'Annakkili' he almost carried on a musical revolution, for bringing into focus, the neglected tunes closer to the soil and dearer to our hearts.Behind the silence of this felicitous king of music, is the hand of God, playing every instrument and singing every song, that can claim another Oscar for a Tamil music composer.There is an unspoken grandeur resting as an eternal crown on his head and it is the Maker's mystery.
   While the new lyricists like Vairamuthu Pa.Vijay and many others are busy with fresh similes and metaphors,the Oscar winner A.R.Rehman's invigorating new notes have crossed the regional barriers to make Tamil music a world rhythm so as to reach the global ears.
    When it comes to direction, there were many who made Tamil films reach higher levels of growth through successive changes in perspective. Among those, there was A.P.Nagarajan whose ornamental use of  literary Tamil in his mythological movies, was not only appropriate but was of an inspiring order. Malliam Rajagopal became the true voice of the underdog and the down trodden sections of Tamil society,making his voice heard and his purpose known to everybody. K.Balchander, an unflinching new wave brain became the proudest directorial profile of Tamil Cinema.He knew where to be traditional and where unconventional.Starting as a script writer, he became a major source of change in presenting social issues, with a newer thrust on individuality and feminism through the vision of a responsible director.
    Like Balachander,his new find Rajinikanth created a cellular storm by his completely fresh style of acting, that incorporated new vibrations in body language and dialogue delivery.Whereas, Kamalahasan crossed all the directorial boundaries,became an innovative actor rediscovering himself in every new venture with a new avatar and thereby breaking all world records.This ceaseless inventive urge is something rare among actors and speaks of universal excellence.
    The other directors like A.Bhimsigh ,A.C.Thirulogchandar P.Madavan,Krishnan Panju  dwelt elaborately on family emotions ,sentiments and the psychological entanglements and bondage of human relationship. Sridar  focused on exalted themes of sacrifice sprouting from selfless love.
K.S.Gopalakrishnan believed in the power of argument to establish long standing values of life with special lenience to the rural model. Later, Barathiraja electrified the spirit of the audience, by a dramatic shift in location and characters wedded to the rural milieu.
      Themes forming the base of story line in movies, can cause dynamic changes in one's thinking and behaviour particularly if they are reformative or generative of positive energy. Films like 'Anbe Sivam', and 'Vasool Raja MBBS' of Kamalahasan and Shankar's 'Nanban' were capable of revising an individual's attitude and outlook in terms of one's personal and social objectives.
     The recent and current developments happening in the Tamil Film zone would make one awe- struck by the astonishing changes in every layer of the released product.The gigantic expanse of technical intelligence, facilitates aesthetic wings in graphics.The Tamil language that got rid of its Devanagari pressures,is now in the grip of English,the language of the people from whose rule, the country got liberated .Technology has made it imperative for the Tamil film industry to tie up with this language of a major chunk of the world. Starting from the titles down to the use of dialogues, English necessitates its inclusion, wherever possible,in Tamil movies.
    The key board has become a quality addition to the play of musical instruments.The electronic imagination can make catchy film locations move into one's pre-fixed spot. Cameras are now being endowed with exotic control systems to mix,edit and delete thousands of vision programmes at the click of the mouse.The new wave theories of film making can make and unmake things like a child's play. All of a sudden,the globe seems to have shrunk. Along with this shrinking process is the truth, that Tamil cinema is a vital part of global cinema, as Tamil race is a limb of humanity at large.   


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