Initially I thought, that I could write an article on Kamal,the actor.But my imagination failed.My mind began to shudder at the very thought of putting points coherently on some one, who is more than a combination of Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan,and an unconscious mix of a Balachander, Balu Mahendra and Barathiraja, a fine product of the divine dance school,a spec of the music maestro Ilayaraja and a miniature voice of many laudable singers. Kamal is in short a great creator with an aggressive cry from within to get noticed and recognized.One could have traced this aggressive thrust for performance in getting himself more prominently noticed than Gemini Ganesan,in Kalathur Kannamma, than Sivaji Ganesan, in Paarthaal Pasitheerum and than MGR, in Ananda Jothi. This was when Kamal was just a boy of six or seven years of age. It looked as though this clear and loud voice had an incessant hunger to rule the screen.The level of confidence and the competitive force, were incomparable assets that have taken forward the child artist of the last millennium to a ruling star with a variety of glows and colours.
How could a single star carry the magnificence of a galaxy?This star did.The multifarious manifestations in an individual, of a constant urge to do the impossible,by changing tracks and vehicles every now and then, have kept film lovers glued to his stunning surge of creativity.An ardent film lover that I am, I could hardly extricate myself from this creative bond that Kamal has established with his zeal and perseverance.To be on the safer side,I decided to write on some of the special films of Kamal, that inspired and kindled my imagination and curiosity. Even here, the choice became very difficult. First I wanted to restrict the number to a dozen.But I could not.The number began to increase aggressively like the aggressive Kamal.
Let us see the directors with whom Kamal happened to work. Of course, Kamal did take up conventional action hero roles with Devar Films,Sujatha Cine Arts films,and the biggest AVM banner that introduced him as a child artist. But there were people, who made him grow under challenging situations, asking for compliance to critical and qualitative performance of roles of rare kinds. Barathiraja offered him the rustic role of Sappani, with just a loin cloth to wear, during the major portion of the film 16 Vayadhinile. With disheveled hair and crude looks, it was a character that reached the masses as a village lad next door.It was a role with a lot of complexities to deliver and Kamal the aggressive actor, did more than what was expected of him.Then came the veteran director's Sigappu Rojaakkal and Oru Kaidhiyin Diary,one making Kamal perform as a man with a misogynistic frame of mind and the other narrating the tale of a gullible innocent party loyalist whose wife was molested by the very same political bigwigs he trusted.The second film was more powerful because of its arresting story line with abundant acting scope for the hero, playing dual roles as father and son.These were the early specials of Kamal.
K.Balachander who first rediscovered Kamal as a teenager for his Arangetram, fed Kamal's hunger for action with meaty roles in more than ten films, half of which went to the combined show of Kamal and Rajini. But K.B threw meaty roles for Kamal in his films like Enakkul Oruvan,Nizhal Nijamaagirathu,Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu and the most popular Punnagai Mannan, in which Kamal also appeared in a character imitating Charlie Chaplin. Though all the films mentioned here, were Kamal's specials under his mentor KB, Punnagai Mannan topped the list as a dynamic story of love. The other eminent director who made Kamal eligible for another national award was Balu Mahendra and it was his Moonraam Pirai, which became an extraordinary Kamal film.The riveting climax of the movie, was a sample of how an anguished soul could vent its emotional longing.
K.Viswanath's Telugu movie Saagara Sangamam dubbed in Tamil as Salanga Oli exhibited Kamal's ability for classical dance, besides the poignant narration of a personal tragedy suppressed by intoxication.The theme of adoration of the art form and idealization of romance transformed Salangai Oli into an exalting experience.Later K.Viswanath's Telugu 'Swati Muthyam' became Tamil 'Sippikkul Muthu', narrating an autistic innocent Kamal's sudden marriage of a widow with a five year old son.The movie was received well for sublimating man woman relationship. Another Telugu movie of Kamal dubbed into Tamil was Suresh Krishna's Indran Chandran,a political comedy with power manipulations with an even blend of humour and seriousness.Incidentally, Suresh Krisna's first directorial venture was also with Kamal as hero, for his most critically reviewed Sathya,a crime story powerfully narrated, showing Kamal as a fiery and belligerent youth fighting for truth and justice.The difference in narration made the film a trend setter.
Singeetham Seenivsa Rao, who had a significant creative association with Kamal, came out with a film of epic grandeur in Aboorva Sagotharargal that presented Kamal in three roles of which one was as a dwarf.This became an amazing experience for viewers on the big screen and made every one feel that Kamal alone could think of doing something different and unique in every film. The movie was a block buster and retained its undying impressions on the audience of all age groups. The other hits in their combination were Raja Paarvai, in which Kamal was shown as a blind youth, Michael Madhanakamarajan a full length comedy that showed Kamal in four remarkably different roles, Kadala Kadala a farcical show of Kamal, in which along with Prabu Deva and M.S.Viswanathan Kamal took the audience to the edge of laughter,and Pesum Padam,the first Tamil movie and a black comedy, without any dialogue. All these films proved to be the most popular entertainers, with Rajapaarai ever retaining the memory of the song, 'Andhimazhai Pozhigirathu' .
The other two creative geniuses who effectively utilized Kamal's acting stuff were, Manirathnam,the votary of aesthetics and Shankar the technical wizard and maker of mega films. The former, created the epoch making film Nayagan that penetrated deeply into the histrionic intricacies, inherently bound to the soul of the world class hero. The theme, story line and delineation of events and characters were all heavy in nature and it was a lasting emotional appeal the film left on the minds of the viewers. Shankar's Indian marked a stupendous show of the undying will of an old,patriotic Indian to fight corruption prevalent in a country, for whose independence he too had relentlessly fought. The pity of it was, his own son was an agent of corruption and he had to eliminate his son as he did it in the case of others. It was another film of Kamal in dual roles, but, it represented conflicting characters unlike the previous ones. It proved to be yet another award winning demonstration of Kamal's acting calibre and Shankar's splendid support of directorial dynamics made Indian, a historic victory.
Raj Kamal Pictures Thevar Mahan directed by Bharathan brought Kamal and Sivaji Ganesan together in a compact frame as father and son.The movie was closer to the Tamil soil and it truly reflected the fundamental emotions causing family feuds and internecine rivalries of people belonging to the same community.This film like Nayagan and Virumandi carried strong emotional vibrations dramatized effectively as living realities, that weighed heavily with the viewers for a pretty long time.
K.S.Ravikumar the other name known for giving periodical hits seems to enjoy great levels of cordiality and comfort with Kamal as he does with his other favourite hero Sarathkumar. This commercially successful director has come out with unforgettable comedy projects with Kamal, like the rip tickling Avvai Shanmugi,in which Kamal impersonated as a middle aged woman Thenali that ruled the audience imagination, with Kamal as a Lankan Tamil afflicted with a variety of phobias, Pancha Thandhiram another hilarious show of Kamal with four of his close, but mischievous friends and Manmadhan Ambu,a romantic comedy. K.S.Ravikumar and Kamal also stunned the film goers with their massive show Dhasavadaram with Kamal donning ten roles with a great effort of make up sense, making one character look totally different from the other. The movie became a colossal attempt at doing something that no body else had attempted so far.
In addition to all these films, Sundar C's Anbe Sivam, was unique in spearheading the noble theme of love superseding all other human emotions. The other, out -of- the routine films of Kamal were, his pet projects like Guna,Kuruthippunal,Hey Ram and Nammavar.
Apart from K.S.Ravikumar's notable comedies Kamal has done a few other roaring comedy
films like R.V.Udhayakumar's Singara Velan,Balu Mahendra's Sathi Leelavathi,Moulee's Pammal K.Sampandam and Saran's most positive entertainer,Vasool Raja MBBS.The list will vindicate that almost every other movie has been Kamal's special in terms of presentation of story line and character.
However,two films have cast an indelible impression on my mind with their profound tragic impact and brutal sense of reality.Interestingly,in both the films, Kamal was shown as an innocent,gullible man being taken for a ride in the name of blind trust.One is Mahanathi, which I would rate as the most monumental movie of Kamal. This film was least cinematic, in theme and narration, showing how the peaceful and happy life of a fairly rich man in a village was transformed into an infernal course, by the Machiavellian machinations of unworthy associates.The other movie Virumandi painfully reflected the crude schemes of rural cousins spoiling the life of an outspoken, happy- go -lucky youth. Both were heaviest personal tragedies not earned or deserved by the protagonist.The helplessness of the affected person in the midst of tragic happenings, made the developments, too horrid to watch.
While Mahanadhi portrayed a loving father's pathetic plight in finding his lost daughter in a Calcutta red light zone,Virumandi brought out powerfully an uxorious husband's anguish and grief over the gruesome murder of his wife by the hands of the people whom he trusted. Though Virumandi contained certain aspects of the family vendetta noticed in Thevar Mahan,the intensity and focus of the tragedy were more prominently felt in the former. Mahanadhi and Virumandi are obviously the most striking, spectacular Kamal movies that find the foremost place in the memory records of my movie minutes.
If Rajini teamed up with Malayalam megastar Mammootty for a gripping show in Manirathnam's Thalapathi,Kamal joined the magnificent Mohanlal for Chakri Toleti's Unnai Pol Oruvan,a film dealing with the commonest subject of terrorism in the most uncommon way, suited to Kamal's creative norms.The movie told how the intelligent agencies were inadequate and the administrative machinery lukewarm, in dealing with the danger's of terrorism, besides subtly presenting the common man's ire for terrorism and his concern for its victims.It looked as though the film was offering a few effective modules on how the menace of terrorism could be tackled if only the defence mechanism was equipped with greater will power and technical adeptness.This movie was definitely dynamic in approach and portrayal of issues rather than projecting the heroism of individuals and both Kamal and Mohanlal deserve praise for their realistic performance.
Viswaroopam from Kamal's own production house and directed by Kamal himself, became the outcome of commitment, dedication and maturity of Kamal, the all rounder. It was a classic piece of technical excellence and astounding cinematography with the all inclusive contribution from Kamal and those he relied upon.As a seeming effeminate, as a Kathak dancer and as an intelligent and ferocious RAW officer,it was out and out Kamal's one man show of his proven versatility.Speed in narration was the most positive aspect of the movie, besides the lighter side provided here and there with subtle satirical dialogues of a fleeting nature, on convenient adoption of food habits by a particular community, and the humorous reference to Hindu Gods.[eg, ''Who is your god? Our god has four hands.Do you crucify him?No.We douse him in water''].Thank God no objections were raised by these sections concerned too.It was really unfortunate that access to this extraordinary cinema experience was withheld to the film viewers in Tamil Nadu, following unforeseen protests that caused a tentative ban.
We have seen Kamal as a Casanova [Sollathaan Ninaikiren, Manmatha Leelai and Pattaam Poochi] as a willing or circumstantial prey of temptations [ Sattam En Kaiyil, Ilamai Oonjal Aadugirathu and Thoongathe Thambi Thoongathe] as an emotionally affected father [Nayagan and Mahanadhi] and as a police officer [several films,notably Kaaki Chattai,Vetri Vizha, Soora Samhaaram,Kurudhipunal and Vettaiyaadu Vilayadu].As a romantic hero his distinct moves have always been trend setting for others.He has trodden on various new pathways of acting with a devil- may- care attitude, of consummate faith in his own ability, as a self confident and competent achiever, not bothering about the end result.
Kamal's most earnest and impressive dialogue delivery would naturally reveal his flair for many Tamil dialects like the Chennai Tamil [Savaal,Aboorva Sagotharargal, Pammal K.Sampantham and Vasool Raja MBBS],Madurai Tamil [Devar Mahan and Virumandi] Kovai Tamil [Sati Leelavathi] Palakkad Tamil [Michael Madhanakamarajan] and Lankan Tamil [Tenali]. Besides,Kamal's felicitous use of other languages like Malayalam Telugu Hindi and English,offer him the status of a polyglot. It is Kamal's versatility and his untiring efforts on the creative side that have put him far ahead of his predecessors and contemporaries.He is for sure,going to be a creative model and a source of inspiration for successive generations of talent hungry artists and actors of the film field.
The only zone he has not so far traveled to, is strong sibling sentiment. Nor has he come out with a touching tale of friendship other than the modest film Sattam of Sujatha Cine Arts. But Kamal's creative steps have always been guided and governed by sharpness in perception and intelligence in presentation He is one of those rare kind of actors who is not comfortable with sentimental melodrama;hence, all his emotional outbursts in his films, were necessitated as a corollary to the natural developments, incorporated adequately for audience acceptance as normal course of events in real life.There has hardly been any instance of over acting in Kamal's entire acting career.
Kamal specials could thus bestow upon the vast section of movie lovers, a renewed sense of film viewing experience every time, without resorting to repetitions of any kind either in theme or in scenic display. All that they keep doing is to perpetuate an undercurrent of newness in their comprehensive content and quality of making. It is a kind of infinite variety that Shakespeare spoke of, with special reference to Cleopatra, the Egyptian beauty, that makes the Kamal Specials, eternally fascinating.Above all, Kamal is one among the creamy creative artists, for whom art and its processes are the only goals, for which he will sacrifice anything including money, to any extent.