Friday, April 26, 2013

The Traditional Face of Tamil Cinema.




{Rededicated to the renowned Tamil film director KSG,on his passing away,as a tribute to his  immortality.}

     Tamil film making during the Sixties and Seventies of the last century, remained firmly rooted to the cultural moorings and traditional fundamentals of the Tamils to a large extent.As the electronic revolution was not still anticipated,its beneficiaries and victims were not yet born. Moreover,Tamil Nadu continued to celebrate its rural grandeur thanks to the vast expanse of arable lands not going into the hands of ambitious Real Estate mafias.Agriculture and its added values of life were the proud realities making the State a huge cluster of big villages or small towns.The concept of metropolis and corporation was confined to Madras [now Chennai] called Pattanam, with awe and fear of a deceptive lifestyle.Interestingly, Madras itself those days, had not expanded beyond Mylopore,Triplicane, Adayar,T.Nagar and Kodambakkam besides areas near Egmore and Central stations. One could always see films showing Egmore and Central Railway stations in addition to the fourteen storeyed L.I.C building and Marina beach as the main landmarks of Madras.
    These were the existing conditions till the late Seventies and films truly reflected the environment and prevalent ways of life that consisted of the longstanding joint family system looking upon the family patriarch for the daily routine.Most of the film directors either willingly or contextually represented themes and stories based on family values, predominating the huge rural block, riveted to age-old traditions and noble norms of life. But there was one staunch believer in native glory, who remained as an enlightened torchbearer of the nobler side of life, displaying vividly the traditional face of Tamil Cinema and he was the most venerable film director K.S.Gopalakrishnan.
     K.S.Gopalakrishnan has directed about fifty Tamil movies.His themes and story line were ever down to earth.Nothing artificial;nothing exaggerated.He did not stop with mere delineation of deep rooted family values.He ventured to focus on social taboos like puberty,man -woman marital intimacy, male impotence either congenital or accidental, the stigma attached to incapacity for motherhood suffered by a section of the women folk and the ordeals and issues relating to step motherhood.But he dealt with these restricted zones without crossing the sacred line drawn for decent description and interpretation. It was this rule abiding and partially revolutionary approach to  issues considered to be sensitive those days,made him a film maker with a new direction drawing  positive, popular response to his movies one after the other.Initially,he was a screen play writer or dialogue writer for films like 'Dheivapiravi' Kairaasi' and 'Padikkadha Medhai',[the historic movie of Sivaji Ganesan] after which he became a full fledged director.
   When his film 'Saratha' was released it was viewed as a major breakthrough in Tamil Cinema because of the controversial theme of remarriage of a wife, recommended by her own husband on account of himself becoming impotent following an accident. However, it was once again the traditional concept that won over the revolutionary direction as the wife not only rejected the proposal but also gave up her life as a mark of wifely nobility and meek womanhood.This movie won the State award for the poignant portrayal of a different theme.
       While his film 'Selvam' dwelt on the aspects of taboo attached to puberty and physical intimacy between husband and wife through a refined and subtle presentation of dialogues and events,the other movie 'Kulama Gunama' projected the plight of a woman incapable of attaining motherhood and the stigma related to that predicament. 'Karpagam' another memorable movie from the director's steadfast traditional mold of creativity, was an exalting experience in terms of family and cultural values coupled with the supreme significance of agriculture in promoting social virtues like mutual tolerance and a sacrificing mind frame.The same experience was repeated with different contexts and characterization in his successive ventures like 'Kankanda Dheivam' and 'Sinnanjiru Ulagam.'Panamaa Paasamaa' was one more grand show of K.S.G in immortalizing  love and humility as winning forces over the arrogance and snobbery of wealth.In thematic content and characterization it was similar to the film 'Poova Thalaiyaa' directed by K.Balachander a valued contemporary of K.S.G.In both the films, the hero was Gemini Ganesan and the negative character was performed by the same veteran actor S.Varalakshmi and the comedy support with challenging sequence of events was provided by the same comedian Nagesh. Both the films were received with great enthusiasm by the film goers of those days.
    'Kai Kodutha Dheivam' was a different narration demonstrating the ruin of feminine innocence in the hands of manipulative evil minded forces.Whereas, 'Pesum Dheivam' pictured creditably how man's sheer faith in God would guide him through the times of trials and setbacks. 'Chithi', which hit the screens a little later became one of his most successful releases because of prioritizing the complexities involved in becoming a stepmother of grown up children and facing unexpected psychological problems on account of that. 'Padmini',the most dynamic actor during those days, was emotionally compact and adorable in that role,as the second wife of an ill mannered widower played by M.R.Radha. There were other popular films like 'Kurathi Mahan' that truly brought out the dreams and aspirations of a deprived tribe to derive the benefits of education and 'Vaazhaiyadi Vaazhai' which came to reinforce the cultural base cherished from generation to generation. 'Dheivathin Dheivam', 'Thabaalkaaran Thangai' 'Kulavilakku','Nathaiyil Muthu','Uyiraa Maanamaa 'Malathi', 'Padikkadha Pannaiyaar', 'Paalabishegam' 'Vaayilla Poochi', 'Rowdy Raakkamma' and 'Vandhaale Maharaasi' were subsequent meaningful additions to the movie archives of this exemplary film maker.
   K.S.Gopalakrishnan had amazing contenders in the field of film direction, like the earlier mentioned K.Balachander, and others like A.Bhimsingh, A.P.Nagarajan  P.Madhavan and the duo Krishnan Panju who were all identified as fine film makers of commendable standard and quality.Of these A.Bhimsingh, P.Madhavan and Krishnan Panju were also experts in dealing with cherished themes and rural subjects. In spite of this stiff competition,,KSG continued to produce successive hits with village- based stories.However, after some time, the attention of this winning creator turned to spiritual themes that formed the ever favourite zone of A.P.Nagarajan. It would have been completely a different subject for K.S.G. Nevertheless,even here, he could do his best in giving appealing movies like 'Dasaavadhaaram', 'Aadhi Parasakthi','Kanji Kaamaatchi' and 'Dheviyin Thiruvilaiyaadal'.
    K.S.G is one among the very few film makers who had never worked with MGR.His all time favourite hero was Gemini Ganesan followed by Sivaji Ganesan,Jaishankar and Muthuraman. Among heroines he most often went in preference for K.R.Vijaya  Padmini and Savithri,  with selective inclusion of female talents like Sarojadevi, Vaanisri,Pramila Sujatha and Jeyachithra. Like MGR the only movie of KSG, in which Jeyalalitha had acted was Vandhaale Maharaasi. Nagesh became the regular comedy source .The one character actor who periodically and powerfully provided the refreshing support base was S.V.Rengarao, whose spontaneous and brilliant performance became a clear winning factor for most of the films of K.S.G.No one can forget this veteran actor's magnificently energetic performance in films like Saratha, Karpagam,Kai Kodutha Dheivam and Kan Kanda Dheivam. Then there was the excellent acting stuff of M.R.Radha, whose combined show of villainy and comedy always enlivened the presentation of the action sequence.The equally merited talents were, actors like V.K.Ramasamy and V.Nagaiah whose acting substantially validated the quality stuff of  a KSG. film.
    K.S.G was a very thoughtful director because he always maintained his base very strong and his story line was true to life.Unlike  K.Balachander, who used to travel between zones of tradition and modernity,K.S.G firmly clung to his traditional moorings.The actors playing the main and supporting roles in his films, were proven men and women, whose dedicated participation ensured the victory of the project.Those were days of simple needs and genuine wants.Human behaviour in general, was unadulterated because goodness was more felt and experienced than seemed to exist.Socializing meant not just exchanging courtesies but sharing of emotions and facts of living.All that was shown in the films of K.S.G was the reality of human experience found in every nook and corner of the vast Tamil soil ,known for love and hospitality. Lucky  he was to be a film director for a quality bound generation.Luckier we were, to live and watch his movies that showed how we lived.It is this feeling of nostalgia that stays  as the sweetest legacy of K.S.G,the traditional face of Tamil Cinema.
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