Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Theme of Friendship in Tamil Films.

      Friendship is the serenest and most sensitive human relationship because,as the maxim goes,''God gives us relatives;but thank God,we choose our friends''.In this chosen form of human chain,the links are supposed to be stronger than any other factor.One of my friends used to say that the death of friendship is deadlier than,the death of an intimate friend. Intimacy is the inseparable attribute of friendship.Movies, besides being the outcome of team work, do not fail to celebrate friendship.Tamil films in this regard, have also vitally contributed to this sustaining thread of life.
     A tribute to friendship has been made through a song that appeared in a Tamil movie and the song goes as follows.''Mustafa Mustafa don't worry Mustafa;the never sinking ship is friendship''. Normally, films portray the foundation of friendship at the school or college stage.Childhood friends full of pranks and deeper roots of mischief, have been beautifully focused in the most recent 'Pasanga' with a fresh feel of the salad days, by the growing director Pandiraj. Thangar Pachan has also zealously dealt with this interesting subject in his film 'Pallikkoodam'.Long ago, Balu Mahendra the veteran director,approached this subject in 'Azhiyadha Kolangal',depicting differently,the  teenage friendship of a group of boys,with all their combined vagaries and undying patterns of memories associated with their class teacher Indu and this fascinating plot became a talking point those days.
      College friendship has always remained the top priority among many film makers because campus stories on friendship have remained as a subject of perennial interest  not only for the younger generation but also for the seniors who want to revert to their college days for a nostalgic reverie.Starting from the days of Gemini Ganesan,such stories were popular.Films like 'Bagyalachumi'  and 'Punnagai' have briefly struck the note of cordiality and joyous banter among close friends. C.V.Sridhar  glorified friendship in his 'Nenjirukkumvarai' that describes the ideal intimacy among four young men portrayed by Sivaji Ganesan, Muthuraman, V.Gopalakrishnan and Nagesh. Sridhar being a votary of nobility and humanism,makes his hero Raguraman [Sivaji] sacrifice his love as well as his life for the sake of his friend.[Muthuraman].
    The most vigorous kind of friendship with its intimacy and rivalry, related very much to the campus activities ,was truly pictured in 'Ninaithaale Inikkum' a Tamil remake of the Malayalam 'Classmates'.It was more of a student story than a poignant delineation of friendship that we witnessed in the film.However,the climax of the story with a coming together of all the alumni provided ample scope for mending fences between rivals, besides revealing the truth behind the unprecedented developments, causing the death of a close friend of all the classmates. Sankar's 'Nanban' is another Campus story vividly portraying the heart warming friendship of three friends played by Vijay,Jeeva and Srikanth. But the plot like that of 'Vasool Raja MBBS', seems to centre  mainly around the loopholes of the educational system characterized by the dumping of knowledge and information rather than tracing and developing individual talent.This main thrust of the film pushes friendship to a secondary focus, though the title of the film is 'Nanban.' The title of the Hindi original 'Three Idiots'appears to have suggestively justified the theme of the film.
     Beyond the school and college,and above all the institutional intimacies,true friendship has been effectively dramatized in films in various forms.A wonderful friendship between a man called Soosai,  a murderer on provocation [played by Sivaji Ganesan] and his crony Lawrence  a police officer [Major Sundarajan] was witnessed in 'Gnana Oli'.In the midst of the hide and seek games they played,we came upon the bond of friendship cherished from childhood and recalled by them both .A similar bond of friendship could be noticed in 'Uyarndha Manithan' between the rich hero [Sivaji] and his doctor friend [S.A.Asokan].The doctor who sacrificed his love for the sake of his friend, remained as the alter ego of the hero [ie :-the voice of conscience of the hero] till the end. Sivaji once again played the role of a true friend in 'Paarthaal Pasi Theerum' gulping painful moments of misunderstanding and insult meted out to him by his army friend. {played by Gemini Ganesan}.    
     Among the other popular pictures of friendship ,parental interference causing rift between two childhood friends was the central point of 'Annaamali' the Rajini -Sarath Babu  film from the Kavithalaya banner directed by Suresh Krishna. Similarly, the arrival of a girl in between two best friends led to their temporary separation because both of them were drawn to the girl in love and this ticklish issue was emotionally presented in the movie 'Sattam' from the Sujatha Cine Arts Production house.But the spirit of sacrifice, evinced by the heroes in both the films, filled the gap and reinforced the base of friendship. 
       Dharani's  'Dil' also impressively presented a kind of soul making friendship between the hero Vikram and his police training mate who gave his life while fighting with a brutal gangster in order to save Vikram's pregnant sister. His other film Gilli also showed friendship as a sheltering tree bringing all the friends of the hero to the unified task for motivating the hero in the KABADI match and helping him at the right moment to save a girl from a notorious thug. The unquestionable faith that a true friend will ever come to one's  rescue was well said, ways back in 'Thookku Thookki' a Sivaj Ganesan movie of the early fifties.
   To cap it all came the two films, one in the Seventies and the other at the start of the new millennium.One of the two movies that speak of the crowning glory of friendship, is 'Unakkaga Naan' a Sivaji+Gemini combined show of immortal friendship released as a Tamil remake of the Hindi block buster 'Namak Haraam' starring Amitab Bachan and Rajesh Kanna.'Unakkaga Naan' is the story of two die hard friends Raja and Ramu who would do anything for each other.Raja's father was an industrialist;but Ramu hailed from a poor family and he lived mostly at the expense of his dear Raja. Both were leading a happy-go-lucky life, until a major trade union problem arose in the industry of Raja's father.Then the friends decided to set things right in the factory with Ramu entering as a worker with a view to capturing the union leadership and nullifying the union movement.But afterwards, things turned upside down.Ramu soon realized that the greed of Raja's father had led to the problems and that the demands of the workers were genuine.When Ramu got dedicated to the trade union movement Raja's father plotted for the murder of Ramu. Soon Raja came to know that his father was behind the murder of his life long friend and so he owned the blame of murder on behalf of his father and courted life imprisonment. Though this film did not repeat the success of its original version,it definitely created a deep emotional impact on the audience by the stunning performance of both the Ganesans.
     During the late nineties,K.S.Ravikumar released his most memorable movie on friendship entitled 'Natpukkaga' [For the sake of friendship].This film monumentally portrayed the intimacy between two friends one belonging to the so called upper caste and the other notified as socially downtrodden. The noble frame of friendship between these two men cherished from childhood, surpassed all  family impediments and social taboos looking down upon the continuance of a socially paradoxical human relationship.The bond was so strong that that the 'lower' caste friend would do anything for the sake of  his venerable 'upper' caste chum and the latter would not give up his friend for the sake of anything.The deep rooted friendship made them both inseparable even in their death. K.S.Ravikumar deserves kudos for this memoir of true friendship and Vijayakumar and Sarathkumar should be lauded for making the two friends live beyond their screen images.While Vijayakumar's love for his friend was a roaring reality,Sarathkumar's meek submission to the words of his friend, made him reflect beautifully the softer dimensions of an immortal tale of intimacy.The choice of a noble theme, a dramatically poignant story line and the penetrating levels of characterization made the movie one of the most splendid outcomes from the creative brain of K.S.Ravikumar.
      The other new millennium friendship- fame film is 'Friends' a  Tamil remake of the Malayalam film with the same title. It celebrated the profound spirit of  friendship gloried by three childhood friends  Aravind,Chandru and Krishnamoorthy. The friendship between Aravind and Chandru got deepened on account of a mistake unwittingly committed by Aravind leading to the death of Chandru's physically disabled brother, by suffocation. Aravind carried the sense of guilt throughout his life and felt deeply committed and indebted to Chandru for the emotional loss caused to him because of his negligence.Though the story was narrated with abundant throw of humour  the quality of emotion demonstrated by Aravind [played by Vijay]  Chandru [Soorya] and Krishnamoorthy[Ramesh Kanna] raised the scope of the film's reach to a popular mandate as a great movie worthy of repeated watch. The movie directed by Siddique,a Malayalam director of repute,justified not only the title but also the strengthening family forces adding meaning to the principle of friendship.
     'Thenkasipattinam' another Tamil remake of a Malayalam film with the same title directed by Rafi Mecartin,beautifully illustrated the intricacies of a rugged,rough and tough friendship, rooted to the core of conviction and mutuality.Both the friends Kannan and Das pulled to rowdyism from childhood,found it nearly impossible to retrieve themselves from their show of physical might to achieve their ends. But their softness was in their devotion to each other that would drive them to sacrifice anything for the happiness of the other. This film was also a great entertainer with an amazing comedy base effectively played by Vivek and Charlie. But the movie should be equally credited for the powerful emotional demonstration of friendship by the protagonists Kannan [Sarath Kumar]and Das[Nepoleon] in association with the sister of Das, who was treated with equal affection by the duo as their common sister.In addition to such mega movies on friendship,there have been a lot of films validating the strength of friendship in helping lovers to get united in their life as we saw in M.Raja's 'Jeyam'.
   However,like all other human relations, friendship in films has its black spots too.Quite a few movies have moved to this negative genre, to project the betraying element in friendship.The betrayal side of friendship had been there from the days of Kattabomman,the freedom fighter, who was exposed to the British General and his troops by some of his own friends. It is like Brutus stabbing Caesar at last, that became 'the unkindest cut of all'.Two Tamil movies stand apart as potential danger- indicators of friendship.They are 'Dosth' directed by S.A.Chandrasekher and 'Honest Raj' by K.S.Ravi both released almost during the same period.
   'Dosth' comes out with a story line of a bosom friend ditching the hero through a fabricated murder plan implicating the hero in his own purported murder that never takes place.The friend masterminds this plan in order to realize the insurance amount on a policy taken in his name by the hero.As shrewdly planned by the friend,the hero gets implicated in the bogus murder case and what happens after that, is the rest of the story.Thus the friend here, is of a totally different character, unworthy of the term friend. It was Raguvaran, who did the Machiavellian type of friend and Sarath was the victimized hero.
   The story base of 'Honest Raj' is still more disturbing. Raj an IPS trainee redeems his closest friend Varadhan in his native village from the debts incurred by the latter's father that forced him to try suicide.But Varadhan who works in a printing press, comes to know that counterfeit currency is being printed there and takes control of the press and continues the dishonest activities on a larger scale.He reaches the position of a don with in a short spell. Raj, who comes to know of this illegal network of his friend,asks him to stop all that and surrender;but his so called friend shows his other face, by arranging to kill Raj and his family.Ironically, the friend leaves everything in the hands of his goons, not being able to watch the killing of a family, that he too loved once.In the melee, only Raj [who is shot and turns into coma] and his son, are alive. How Raj avenges the murder of his mother and wife forms the remaining story of the film.
    The depth of betrayal and the bloody violence it causes, were filmed with a show of brutality in the recent films of M.Sasikumar/Samuthrakani  that came in a series:- 'Subramanyapuram', 'Naadodigal', and the latest 'Sundarapandian'.As Sasikumar says in 'Sundarapandian' 'true friendship is that which does not disclose even the identity of a friend who stabs you' .A comprehensive view of Tamil films will thus show, how it has gone into the layers of friendship worthy of its name and those that press the panic button to imply, that all is not well at all times, in matters of friendship. 


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