From the beginning of Nineteen Nineties,the high tech invasion of the globe,began to penetrate deeply into all systems of activities.The Tamil film making process instantly came under its productive control and influence.This facilitated a substantial reduction in wastage of time and human energy and enriched the quality of the final output.The increased levels of speed in narration and the stunning realization of audio visual effects were a corollary to the all pervading high tech grasp.As a sequel to these growing trends of dynamism,the film makers' direction shifted more to the beneficial use of technology,making human endeavour and talent in fields like acting a subsidiary requirement. The reason being, the capacity of technology can lessen,at times even hide, the imbalance and deficiency in human output.Photographic manipulations and magnifications, came to the vital support of film making. Consequently,the shortcomings in acting could also be set right, through the high tech facilities available.
Above all, in an age of feminism, it is strangely anomalous, that women are made just glamour pieces to appease the sensual anticipation of a large section of the audience. Accordingly, the hero can be handsome or not; but the heroine should always be shown as a product of the beauty manufacturing sector.She is needed mostly for a couple of duet sequences and to be seen in a few scenes with the hero,delivering her dubbed voice now and then.This has been perhaps the plight of the heroines being driven to a state of redundancy in acting.
Previously,only South Indian female artists would occupy the Tamil acting stage due to their proximity to the Tamil soil and its language.Except one or two, all the others gave their own voice in delivering their dialogues.When it is their own voice,the quality of intonation and emotion would be more natural and truer to the spirit of acting. But with an exodus of women talents from every where,the easy way has been to make them deliver dialogues through their proxy voices.There are dubbing artists professionally dynamic, to make voice recording not only easier but also perfectly in sync with the lip movement of the linguistically alien actors.The omission side is normally set right through long shots and other photographic loopholes so that heroines have their say,without saying anything from their larynx, to be recorded and to be heard.
The heroines of the fag end of the last millennium, and those who started the new age are a mixed lot, from the South and from Mumbai and Calcutta. A few women escaped the onslaught of new age norms, by gaining more acting space besides fitting themselves effectively for the glamour parade.Of these, Roja, Meena, Meera Jasmine,Kausalya, Rambha and Sneha were from the South. Kushbu Nagma,Simran ,Devayani, Suvalaksmi and Jothika were either from Mumbai or from other regions.
Starting with R.K.Selvamani's 'Chembaruthi',an elegant story of romance in the manner of the Nineteen Seventies' Hindi blockbuster 'Bobby', Roja was more popular as a glamour girl because she continued this trend in movies like 'Athiradipadai' 'Sooriyan',Indhu,'Veera' and 'Uzhaipaali'.She has acted with Rajini, Sarath kumar,Prabu,Prabudeva, Prashanth,Karthik and Vijayakanth. She also costarred with Mammooty in R.K.Selvamani's Makkal Aatchi' [in which she played a memorable role].Roja's brief appearance in 'Vallal' with Sathyaraj, and her telling role performance in 'Unnidathil Ennai Koduthein',deserve a special mention. However,Tamil audience will remember her only as a glamour girl.
Meena who appeared on the big screen as a child artist in a few films including Rajini's 'Engeyo Kettakural' and 'Anbulla Rajinikanth', later became a heroine in Raj Kiran's En Raasaavin Manasile'.Interestingly after her impressive show as a child artist with Rajinikanth,she also acted with the Superstar as his lover and wife in 'Ejaman','Veera' and 'Muthu'. She was also attractively paired with Kamal in 'Avvai Shanmugi', with Sarath Kumar in 'Coolie' Nadodi mannan and Naattaamai,with Prabu in 'Rajakumaran',with Sathyaraj in'Thai Maaman' and 'Maaman Magal' with Vijayakanth in 'Sethupathi IPS' and Vaanathai Pola, with Prabu Deva in 'Naan Iruvar and Namakkitiruvar' and with Karthik in 'Harischandra'. She too was endowed with the glamour wings to dance with alluring costumes and steal the imagination of the youth. However,her performance in films like 'Barathi Kannamma' 'Aanandha Poongatre' 'Unnaruge Naan Irundhal' 'Porkaalam' and 'Oru Oorla Oru Rajakumari' [of Bagyaraj]was gracefully effective.
Kausalya who appeared first with Murali in 'Kaalamellaam Kaadal Vaazhga' is glamour- free actor who has the capacity to deliver deeper emotions in a subtle and subdued manner.Her character delineation in films like 'Aasayil Oer Kaditham','Sandhitha Velai' 'Pooveli' [which got her the Filmfare award] and 'Devan' was remarkable. Among the younger heroes ,she has costarred with Vijay, Prashanth, and Prabudeva. Presently,she is acting in smaller,character roles.
Rambha,a glamour prototype and a fascinating dancer, though introduced early,became a sudden glamour attraction through Sundar. C's 'Ullathai Allitha'. This film put her predominantly on the glamour side.But she did come out with the best of her emotional side, in films like 'Raasi','Anandam' and 'Kungumapottu Gounder'.She has acted with prominent heroes like Vijay,Ajith, Karthik,Arjun, and Sathyaraj besides acting in one movie each, of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan .It is her glamour, that had its sustaining impact on the audience.
Meera Jasmin is another young talent with acting potential and her performance in films like 'Sandakkozhi','Kasturimaan', 'Nepali' and 'Mercuripookal' needs special mention.She too has acted with Vijay, Ajith, Vishal, Barath, Prasanna and Srikanth. If given the right opportunity and direction she will do pretty much, to prove her worth as an actor, in the line of SriVidya and Ambika.
Sneha's acting skill became indisputable through her striking performance in 'Virumbugiren' 'Ennavale' 'Pathiban Knavu', 'Unnai Ninaithu' 'Autograph' and 'Pallikudam'.She is another refined actress with a sense of control on her glamour sequence and has always added grace to her performance with clarity in compre- hending her role requirements and meeting them convincingly, without strain.Her performance has always been true to life,starting from 'Ennavale'. Her other notable films are, 'Vaseegara' with Vijay,'Vasool Raja MBBS' and 'Pammal K.Sambandam' with Kamal and 'April Madhathil' with Srkanth.
Kushboo came as the Hindi speaking girl from Mumbai, to create a wave in her favour by her chubby cheeks and sanguine looks. She was especially fortunate to see many of her movies become success stories and big money spinners at the box office.Her victory march was through movies like 'Varusham16','Kizhakkuvasal', the everlasting 'Chinna Thambi' and other remarkable films like 'Bramma', 'Nadigan', 'Singara Velan', 'Annamalai' Pandian, Vedan and 'Naattaamai'.She had her acting spell equally divided between graceful glamour and creditable acting. Though her voice was dubbed,she must be complimented for learning to speak Tamil as the natives would do and settle down here with a love for the soil and its people.
Jyothika from Mumbai, is another value addition to the Tamil film Industry. Like most South Indian stars and like Kushboo from her home state,she too attained the status of a great actor and her borrowed voice did not become a stumbling block to her process of emoting relevantly to the scene required. Her focus was not on glamour parading.She had challenging roles in 'Chandramugi' and 'Mozhi' and she performed wonderfully as the psychologically possessed woman in the former and a speech and hearing impaired person in the latter.She also joined Kamal for a humour session in 'Thenaali'. Her characterization in films like 'Kushi','Poovellaam Un Vaasam' 'Thirumalai' and 'Dum Dum Dum' did her a lot of good. She was a perfect pair with Soorya in 'Kaakka Kaakka' Poovellam Kettuppar' 'Uyirile Kalandhadhu'' 'Perazhagan' J'illenru Oru Kadhal' and finally she became his life partner too.She is one actress who has successfully displayed an intelligent perception of her characters and her elegance in emotional scenes, has been her other salient feature.Unlike her sister Nagma, who had a brief stint in Tamil Cinema, Jothika stuck to the ground,established her position as an able performer and like Kushboo,got herself rooted to the Tamil soil.
Devayani from Mumbai and Suvalakshmi from West Bengal, were both known as homely figures and considered fit for characters representing traditional womanhood. Both Devayani and Suvalakshmi had a chance to do memorable roles in Director Agathiyan's films 'Kadalkottai' and 'Gokulathil Seethai' respectively. But Suvalakshmi became known to Tamil audience even before that through her catchy performance in her first Tamil film 'Aasai' with Ajith and then her other Tamil movie 'Love Today' with Vijay. Her other creditable roles were with Murali in 'Dhinandorum' and with Prabu in 'Ponmanam'. For Devayani, it was an enduring big spell in Tamil Film industry,though she too,like Simran, was not paired with Rajini. Nor did she get a chance to be the co star of Kamal despite acting with him in 'Thenali' and 'Panchathandhiram'. For Devayani, besides 'Kaadal Kottai',there were other hits like 'Marumalarchi' 'Soorya Vamsam' 'Vallarasu' 'Friends' 'Barathi',[for which she got the best actor award] 'Azahgi' 'Aanandam' and 'Thenkasipattinam'.She is another Mumbai star to settle down in Tamil Nadu.
In addition to these female film faces,there was Sangavi who acted one movie with Ajith and about four with Vijay during their early years of acting and did not continue here for long.
Trisha who has paired with Vijay as his fascinating pair in four movies,has also been beautifully paired with other heroes like Ajith,Vikram,Soorya,Jeyam Ravi,Srikanth and Simbu .Her performance in Radha Mohan's 'Abhiyum Naanum' and Gautham Menon's 'Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya' has been adjudged the best,for which she has received awards too. She needs opportunities to move beyond her ratings of grace and glamour, to heavier roles, to emote end express new dimensions in acting.
Nayantara who appeared as a modest girl in 'Chandramugi' and then in 'Yaaradi Nee Mohini' has more been on the glamour track in films like 'Yee' 'Vallavan' and 'Villu'.She has not yet got an opportunity to prove her real acting stuff. There were a line of new faces, from Aiswarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra who won the Miss World title in different years, to Sushmita Sen and Laura Dutta who became eligible for the Miss Universe title at different times.While Aiswarya acted two times each in the films of Manirathnam and S.Shankar besides doing one movie for Rajeev Menon,the other three have acted in one Tamil film each. Abirami who acted with Arjun in 'Vanavil',with Kamal in 'Virumandi' and with Sarathkumar in 'Dost' is not to be seen in Tamil films now.Similarly,Sandya who acted with Barath in 'Kadal' has not been offered solid roles here.
Among the new entrants Amala Paul did a very good job in 'Myna',but she too has been pulled to the glamour side . Anjali whose performance was rated well in 'Angaditheru', is becoming a glamour piece, Priyamani who did her best in 'Paruthiveeran' seems not to be bothered about choice of characters and her scope for acting.Others like Malavika,Reema Sen, Nameetha,Hansika, Tamana, and Sreya have all filled the bill as mere glamour additions,with Anushka being a little more serious about the scope for displaying their histrionic skill.
In the name of looking for fresh talents, the Tamil Film field is becoming alarmingly competitive, for a greater show of glamour and a higher score for the acting skill. On the whole, an impartial assessment of the films of the last decade of the last millennium, and those belonging to the first decade of the new age, would provide the spreadsheet of facts, on reduced allocation of screen space, for the participation of women as actors and the growing photographic width, to project them as physically ravishing additions, either to compensate loopholes, or enrich the existing quality of their creative exhibits.The other spreadsheet revelation is that, barring a few movie makers, the majority of the celluloid world is increasingly becoming male-oriented and male dominant. More over, some of the actresses themselves find it convenient, to walk through the fast track glamour gates and make easy money, rather than undergoing the acid test of acting for a name.