Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Comedian with a Gusto in His Voice.




       Tamil Cinema has been dominated by one comedian or the other during different periods of time. The success and continued acceptability of a comedian depend upon the dimensions of comedy sense he possesses and the intensity of impact he creates with the audience. Audience preference may be for physical comedy involving ridiculous facial expressions and body movements; it may also include physical victimization of others and personal infliction.There is an equal reception of verbal comedy reflecting sense and satire,either for the sake of generating humour,or for influencing a kind of social awareness about critical issues. Some have moved to the slapstick track and others to contextual comedy.A few among them have taken to dark comedy encouraging specific scatological  lenience, under the mistaken notion of audience patronage.The fact is, starting from Kalaivanar NSK, there has been a successful line of comedians trying one track of comedy after the other, taking into account the prevailing scenario of popular mood.
      Notwithstanding the facts pertaining to audience sentiment, it is the comedy actor’s individual capacity to generate humour and his constituent physical and histrionic attributes that have governed the victory of the comedy track of a film. While J.B.Chandrababu and A.Karunanithi relied more on physical comedy, NSK,T.S.Dorairaj and Thangavelu chose to excel in verbal comedy.Whereas, Nagesh successfully shuttled between the two extremes. Goundamani resorted to a new genre of verbal comedy culminating at times, in the physical victimization of his stooges. Vivek and Vadivelu with their verbal acumen indulged in self humiliating comedy. Santhanam the new brand master of comedy seems to excel in verbal comedy,here and there, taking the audience to toilet humour.
   But in the nineteen eighties and nineties there came a comedian with a facial singularity of  a uniquely shaped pair of eyes [like those of K.K.Radhakrishnan, the veteran comedian of the nineteen forties and fifties] and a distinctly identifiable voice modulation, doing a round of decent comedy, besides taking to catchy character roles with freshness in appeal. Janagaraj, the great actor I am referring to, has somehow escaped the limelight because his prolific talent has not been reasonably utilized.
     The extraordinary thing about Janagaraj is the consummate gusto in his voice and the amount of vibration it creates. He made his first impact in Paalavanacholai but his performance became more memorable in Paalaivana Rojakkal because of the tragic impact created by his death in that movie. The song sequence ‘Kaadhalenbathu Podhuvudama’ assigned to him, still lingers in every one’s memory. That he remained a frequent addition in the films of Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth in equal proportion and that he was periodically inducted in the popular films of distinguished directors like K.Balachander { Puthu Puthu Arthangal, Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi and Sindhu Bhairavi }, Manirathnam { Rojai,Agni Natchatram ,Nayagan, Anjali and Ayudha Ezhuthu }and Barathiraja { Kizhakke Poegum Rayil,Kadalora  Kavidhaigal, Vedham Pudhithu and Mudhal Mariyadhai } became a solid proof of his great standing as an ingenious comedian and character actor.
    Janagaraj has happily joined Kamal’s company for films like Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi, Vetrivizha,Soora Samhaaram, Vikram, Guna, Aboorva Sagotharargal and Nayagan, the last one with the most celebrated song sequence ‘Nilaa Adhu Vaanukku Mele'.Similarly, it has been a robust inclusion that Janagaraj was, in many films of Rajinikanth such as Siva, Annamalai [from Balachander’s Kavithalaya production house] Baasha, Veera, Raajaathi Rajaa, Panakkaaran, Uzhaippali,Arunachalam and Padikkadhavan ,the last in the list is remembered for the popular dialogue'En Thangachiya nai kadichiduchuppaa’[a dog has bitten my younger sister] repeated by Janagaraj in a drunken mood. The amazing gusto of Janagaraj particularly in Annamalai, Raajaathi Raajaa, Uzhaippaali and Arunachalam contributed meaningfully to the ever fascinating base of a superstar movie. In all these movies, it is the special voice effect of Janagaraj that overtook his performing zeal.
    Janagaraj has also made his contribution significant in films of other heroes like, Karthik Muthuraman [ Kizhakku Vaasal,Gopura Vaasalile, and Harischandra] Prabu {Arangetravelai   Agninatchatram and Nalaiya Manithan] Sathyaraj [Anna Nagar Mudhal Theru and Paalaivana Rojakkal ] and Pandiarajan {Aanpaavam and Gopala Gopala].One can hardly forget the robust sensual comedy parade he made with veteran V.K.R in Agni Natchatram and the scene that showed him shouting hilariously at the  top of his voice,that his wife had gone to her native town  {Empondaatti Oorukku Poittaa}.Lakshmipathi [Husband of Goddess Lakshmi] the name of his character in that film lives in our memory, not only because of his vigorous performance, but also because of the vociferous manner in which VKR addressed him every time.It was a solid show the duo made in Agninatchatram. But totally in contrast to this role, was the heavily emotional character he played in Kizhakku Vasal that portrayed him as the committed custodian of the orphan girl Thaayammaa. Both  these movies stand clear testimony to his versatile talent and vibrant delivery as an actor of timeless merit .
    Most of the characters that Janagaraj performed, were meaty in frame and form and Janagaraj never failed to perceive the distinct nature of each role and came out with his best. His vein of acting and the kind of roles offered to him, were mostly a combination of sobriety and levity.This is because Janagaraj could easily and seamlessly mix up his humour sense and seriousness and could smoothly switch over from one end to the other through a gliding process.His comfort levels in the acting zone have been effortlessly maintained by his  exceptionally gifted voice, that would always reach the audience even before he delivered his role. It is really a pity, that such a worthy actor has not been creditably accommodated in the ever growing Tamil film industry.

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