Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tamil Film heroes of The New Age.


     Tamil film industry has moved fast and far from restrictive domination of a few heroes as during the days of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan Gemini Ganesan, Rajini and Kamala hasan. These actors established themselves as great stars to make their long time innings.There were only a few other contenders like Muthuraman, Jai Shankar, Ravichandran and Sivakumar during the days of MGR/Sivaji. Similarly,only Vijayakanth, Sathyaraj and Sarath kumar, Prabu and Karthik Muthuraman were there to compete with Rajini and Kamal. Afterwards the scene of competition began to expand with quite a lot of youngsters occupying the centre stage. Starting with Ajith, Vijay and  Soorya many began to claim a place for themselves.A five decade observation of the scenario of the Tamil Film industry thus shows that the occupancy of hero position has not been open to all, at least until the close of Nineteen Nineties. But the new millennium brought in a totally different picture. Like the markets opening up to many bidders in the name of globalization, hero positions come for the asking, to many new faces irrespective of the norms of eligibility previously created and adhered to.
     There are film directors and music directors, sons of film actors, directors and producers, and siblings and cousins of existing heroes, finding a berth in the vehicle of movie acting, as heroes in their own capacity, for making vital impressions with commitment and dedication. Most of them can not be called leading and charismatic stars in the line of MGR, Sivaji Rajini and Kamal. But they have all managed to establish a name for themselves and keep themselves considerably busy in a field that is facing a surplus of names and talents to the extent of new faces being introduced as heroes every other day.
     Among these new age heroes ,Prashanth,Prabu Deva,Madhavan Barath, Danush,Jeyam Ravi, Simbu, Srikanth, Jeeva,Vishal, Arya and Karthik Sivakumar are in the front line, being followed by others like Shyam, Prasanna,Jai, Aadhi, Shiva, Nithin Sathya, Vemal, Akil, Magesh, Nandha, Jeevan, Adharva, Shanthanu,Vishnu Vishal,Vikranth Siva Karthikeyan and Vijay Sethupathi. Besides these actors, there are directors like Sundar.C, Seran, Sasikumar and Samuthira kani making an impressive show as heroes of merit.Music director Vijay Antony and lyricist Pa.Vijay have also got into the hero’s garb. The spurt of new production units and the emergence of new directors most often precede the birth of new heroes. Talents to emote and capacity to display strength in histrionics count more than one's face and personality These new age heroes are in the grip of high level competition to withstand failures and sustain the grit to survive against odds.

    Prashanth,a close contemporary of Ajith and Vijay and son of last generation's hero-cum-villain actor Thiagarajan, started his career with a bang through his first hit Vaikaasi Porandhaachu. Soon, he became the hero of Mani Rathnam's  Thirudaa Thirudaa and Shankar's Jeans. This made his ratings very high and his other films like Aanazhagan, Mannava and the two films Winner and London directed by Sundar.C marked his growth trajectory to a great extent. Saran's Paarthein Rasithein and Ravichandran's Kannedhire Thoenrinaal also did well at the box office. Madhuravan's  Poomagal Oorvalam and Selva's Aasaiyil Oer Kaditham were equally worth watching .The other moderate films of Prashanth were,Jodi,Hello and Majnu.But a series of failures like Thamizh,Aayudham, Jaambavaan, Mambattiyaan and Ponnar Shankar from Kalaignar's creative brain have pulled down Prashanth's arduous journey towards firmer destinations. Prashanth is well known for his impressive underplay of emotions and his amazingly soft, voice modulation. One could not fault him as a romantic or action hero and he is capable of taking his comedy team mate for a clean sweep as witnessed in Winner and London. He is definitely a hero of independent merit and power. 

     Prabu Deva,son of a famous dance master and choreographer, began his film career as a charming and challenging choreographer for movies like Pratab, Agni Natchathram, Idhayam, Sooryan, Walter Vetrivel and Gentleman. Soon he transformed into an actor doing the role of a hero in Pavithran's Indhu which was followed by Shankar's Kadalan that became a mega hit and this was followed by several other films like VIP, Rajiv Menon's Minsarakanavu,P.Vasu's Love Birds and later by Romeo. Besides acting as main hero in about fifteen Tamil movies,he has also also done supporting hero roles in block busters like Vanathai Pola, Kadhalaa Kadhalaa and Enga Anna.His other successful movies include Sundar.C's comedy Naam ruvar Namakkiruvar and the pleasing romance Ullam Kollai Poguthe,Subash's Ninaivirukkumvarai and Ezhaiyin Sirippil and others like Manadhai Thirudivittai, Allithandha Vaanam,and Ezhil's Pennin Manadhaithottu. He has also acted with Prabu in Charlie Chaplin and with Parthiban in James Pandu. The fact that most of his films as main hero and as secondary hero were successful at the box office proves his mettle not only as a felicitous dancer but also as an actor capable of expressing diverse emotions such as love  joy,sorrow anger,humour and despair.Besides acting in about twenty Tamil movies, he has also directed the Vijay silver jubilee hit Pokkiri and the moderately received Kuruvi and Vedi. Agility and gusto in body language have always remained the positive traits of PrabuDeva .   

   Madhavan another coeval of Vijay and Ajith, carries the singular pride of being a young talent spotted and supported by the golden hands of Manirathnam of the Madras Talkies. His first movie Alai Payudhe introduced him as a charming romantic hero with a chocolate boy image increasing the heart  beat of young girls. Director Lingusamy transformed him overnight into a dynamic hardcore romantic hero by his most exciting 'Run'.Manirathanam continued to rope him in for his great hits like Ayutha Ezhuthu and Kannathil Muthamittaal  the latter earning him an award for best performance from the Govt of Tamil Nadu. Madhavan was again crowned with an award for his remarkable performance in Anbe Sivam, a wonderful movie directed by Sundar.C in which he shared screen space with the legendary star Kamalahasan. Madhavan was lucky to act with Kamalahasan again in Manmadhan Ambu directed by the most successful K.S.Ravikumar who inducted him as hero for his Ethiri. Similarly Sundar.C utilized Madhavan's talent again for his Rendu a comedy entertainer that came after his amazingly directed movie Anbe Sivam. Seeman's Thambi saw him transforming from a naturally timid and soft tempered guy into a ferocious fighter against injustice without losing his inherent social concern and love for fellow human beings.It was one of the most qualitative films that he did.Besides these famous directors, Madhavan was  lucky to work with the most eminent director Balachander in Parthaale Paravasam and the young director of creativity Gautham Menon for his Minnale. Madhavan has in his kitty other good movies like Jay Jay of Saran, Ennavale, Dum Dum Dum,Arya and Evano Oruvan. His latest hit has been Vettai by the director who gave him the run of his career. Madhavan is a beautiful combination of grace and charm and most often he seems to fill the void created by enchanting heroes like Gemini Ganesan and Muthuraman.  

      If Madhavan's talent was picked up by Manirathnam, Shankar selected Barath as one of the heroes for his film Boys. Barath was chic and sweet as a teenager and then he moved on to play a negative role as a psychologically obsessed pervert in Chellame. He did romantic characters in Kadhal, Chennaikadhal and Kandein Kadhalai. Of the three films the first one showcased his histrionic fervour and ability to a tremendous height. The tragic end of the film added to the sharp focus on his characterization and he did not betray the expectations and standards of a Shankar product .He proved his mettle once again in the role of a young husband in Nepali, taking revenge against those who were responsible for the outrage of modesty and death of his wife. The habitual cycle of  romantic heroes turning to the action genre did not spare Barath  too .He did a few action films like Pattial [in which he appeared as dumb and deaf] Pazhani, Seval and Thiruthani. He did his best in family stories like Em Magan and Veyil and excelled in performing as a son with utmost filial devotion in the former and as a younger sibling with lot of love and concern for his elder brother in the latter. His spontaneous comedy sense has helped him act with great comfort levels with Santhanam, in films  like Kandein Kadhalai and Thambikku Intha Ooru. His recent Aindhu Aindhu Aindhu has done fairly well. He has a high degree of clarity in dialogue delivery like Vijay and his dancing credentials are well known. If he makes a right choice of roles, he will move to greater heights as a hero of exceptional standard.

    Danush an agile and active hero, has to his highest honour a national award that he won for his outstanding performance in Vetrimaran's Aadukalam. He had already proved his mettle in films like Thulluvatho Ilamai and Kadal Kondein. Beyond the facts of being a popular director's son and a successful director's younger brother, Danush has a stuff of his own to register a stable growth in his career as a hero of individual value. His films like Thiruvilaiyadal Arambam, Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Uthamaputhiran have impressed the audience as positive entertainers with a lot of juvenile energy and fun. Polladhavan another movie directed by Vetrimaran showed his deep sense of involvement in doing a poignant role. Balu Mahendra's Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam brought out the inherent acting potential of Danush in a role as victim of negative circumstances. The physical shortcomings [if his lean and short frame could be called so] have never obstructed the vigorous performance of Danush. He has duly compensated his negatives with a lot of positive input in body language ,dialogue delivery, subtle display of emotions, sprightly dance movements and singing ability. Danush's status as a hero of great standing is his self- earned asset through his sincere and steadfast contribution to Tamil Cinema. He has quite often symbolized the recalcitrant youths looking forward to moral guidance and  rightlychannelized direction from well meaning elders. The lungi dance he performed in Aadugalam belongs to a uniquely fascinating category. He has successfully carved a niche for himself in a challenging style and he is bound to weather the storm of competition from other eligible heroes. The other popular movies of Danush are Dhevathaiyai Kandein, Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan, Thirudaa Thirudi,Sullaan,Padikkadhavan,Mappilaai, Seedan and Mayakkam Enna,the last one with abundant scope for subtle performance, that he delivered with consummate level of maturity. His latest film Mariyaan establishes his ever growing quest for new dimensions in acting through a visibly gripping display of facial formulations.   

 Jeyam Ravi, the son of a reputed editor and younger brother of a talented director has steadily moved upwards on the acting ladder with ability and conviction .Starting from his first film Jeyam ,his career growth has been commendable. His stout physique has been a supplementary strength and the impediment in his voice pattern has been fruitfully compensated by his energy levels in exhibiting emotions with relevance and charm. He has been blessed with hits like M.Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi,Unakkum Enakkum and Santhosh Subramanyam. Ravi has been a convincing hero of family dramas effectively told in an endearing and entertaining manner. The other hits of Ravi include Peraanmai ,Ezhil's Deepavali and Sun Pictures'Thillalangadi .His latest release Aadhibagavan has been rated as a moderate success.
     Simbu the son of a popular film director and actor of the last millennium and a successful child artist,turned into competitive hero with a flair for dance, music and direction like his dad .The two films Manmadhan for which he also wrote the screen play and Vallavan that he acted and directed, were received with rave reviews and admiration. His other film Saravanan directed by the commercially successful K.S.Ravikumar raised his image as a promising hero. His hero image was substantially boosted by his impressive performance in Gautham Menon's Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Unfortunately,  the subsequent releases Osthi and Poda Podi  flopped at the box office causing a negative impact to his steady growth.Kovil,Silambaattaam,Kaalai andVaanam were his moderate successes. Simbu remains one of the most vigorous performers waiting for right opportunities to prove his stuff. 

   Srikanth like Madhavan is not the son of any film director or actor. Like Madhavan he too belongs to the category of staunch romantic heroes. Starting from his first movie Roja Koottam, he found himself in  very comfortable positions doing a successful round or romantic roles in films like April Madhathil, Parthiban Kanavu, Bambarakkannaale and Mercurypookal. K.V.Anand's Kana Kandein was another decent movie in Srikanth's kitty. But like the other heroes of his age he has also been pulled to the action genre of films like Joot, Bose,Varna Jaalam and Kutrapirivu. He has been lucky to act in Shankar's Nanban along with Vijay and Jeeva. Like Prashanth ,Srikanth is also capable of underplaying emotional scenes and he seems to fit into romantic roles and family dramas with a natural acceptability and convincing ability.

      Jeeva the younger son of a victorious film producer has the potential for award winning performance and he proved it once by an amazing show of his talent in Ram. However, it was Thithikkuthe from his father's production house that first introduced him as a hero prior to his unique acting in Ram. Siva Manasula Sakthi directed by Rajesh, brought out his high energy levels of acting. His other releases Yee, Thenavettu,Rowthram and Rameswaram projected him as an action hero .But it was Ko that presented him as a suave, handsome youth in a neat role and this was followed by Shankar's Nanban wherein he shared screen space with Vijay and Srikanth. Mysskin's Mugamoodi that carried a hype and a lot of expectations before its release failed at the box office .Unlike his brother Ramesh who has not been rewarded by fortune for his skills, Jeeva has been lucky to fall into the hands of worthy film makers and he has never failed to project his latent ability and commitment, to retain his hero position in the midst of stiff competitions. 

 Vishal is once again, the promising son of an esteemed producer and with a tall physical frame and rugged manliness, he seems to be well made for the action genre with suitable gusto and smartness. Even in his first appearance as an income tax official in Chellame he delivered a compact performance required for an action movie .Lingusamy's Sandakozhi presented him as a very impressive action hero with a fascinating and powerful story line. It was continued in his next movie Thimiru which proved to be a commercial entertainer though not to the extent of Lingusamy show. Then came Sivapathikaram and  Hari's Thamirabarani to prove Vishal's capacity to emote in aggressive characters fighting for Justice,family unity and social welfare.Theeratha Vilayaattuppillai went on the lighter side without much scope for displaying talent. Two of the hyped movies Sathyam and Bala's Avan Ivan became dampeners and films like Mlaikottai and Thoeranai and the latest Samar have just maintained the survival level.His recent Pattathu Yaanai though a failure at the box office, projects him in the similar style of Sandakozhi and Thimiru.

Arya is another vibrant hero with immense capacity to deliver different types of roles in genres like romance,action, comedy sentiment and sobre attitudes of life. From KalabaKadhalan he has journeyed through different roads in films like Pattial, Arindhum Ariyaamalum, Orambo, director Vijay's Madarasupattanam, Rajesh's Bas Engira Baskaran, Vettai, Chikku Bukku and Bala's the most extraordinary Naan Kadavul, in which he performed the role of an Aghori. He is handsome, physically well built and significantly nimble in delivery of roles and he can entertain effectively, in any role assigned to him. More positive support from production houses, will definitely take him to unusual heights of performance as a hero of great quality and vital throw of histrionic ability.His latest 'Settai' has also received positive reviews  .

   Karthik Sivakumar,the younger son of Sivakumar has to his new born glory,seven films released with in a fairly short period and all of them have projected him as the main hero and the first film Paruthiveeran itself,  has fetched him the Tamil Nadu State award for best actor.He has been lucky to start his career under the able stewardship of a capable director like Ameer and then to work with creative and successful directors like Selvaraghavan, Lingusamy, Suseendran, and Siva.Of the seven movies Lingusamy's Payaa was a run away hit and Naan Mahan Alla was also rated highly for its refreshing presentation. The other three films, Siruthai,Saguni and Alex Pandian were similar in style and narration to the extent of endangering the talented actor's growing career in stereotyped characterization, though the Karthik--Santhaanam team provided the redeeming factor, through an enjoyable comedy show.Unlike his father Sivakumar and elder sibling Soorya,Karthik has reflected a kind of casual gusto and rugged manliness that made him compact in the roles of a village thug in Paruthiveeran and a rough and tough underdog in Ayirathil Oruvan. His style in romantic roles with a sort of naive naughtiness makes him different as a performer of romance.In most respects, he could be called a disciple of Sathyaraj in exhibiting a satirical approach to the events and characters that form part of his films.But Sathyaraj the tall actor  both in height and calibre stamped his image as an outstanding actor in amazing elderly roles, in films like Pagal Nilavu,Mudhal Vasantham, Vedham Pudhithu and Mr.Barath. Hope Karthik  becomes careful in shunning characters that make him repeat his track and force him perform without much difference between roles.This caution will certainly auger well for his future growth.

   Shaam is a highly talented actor whose subtle and soft delivery of roles has always remained his plus point. Be it a romantic theme like 12B,Lesa Lesa, Iyarkai, Anbe Anbe and Ullam Ketkume or an action story like Bala, Shaam's capacity for diversified acting has been an evident factor. He also gave a neat performance as police officer in Thillaalangadi. The other actor whose inherent acting zeal has not been properly tapped is Arun Vijay the son of veteran actor Vijayakumar. This great actor has to his credit, highly rated films like Thullitirindha kaalam from K.Balachander's production house and Cheran's Pandavar Bhoomi. He has also come out with exemplary performance in Iyarkai and Thavam.He is not lacking in action genre as it has been proved in Malai Malai and Maanjaa Velu. But still he remains a talent not rightly exposed.   

.   Prasanna who began his acting career with Susi Ganesan's Five Star has come under the direction of able hands like Radha Mohan [Azhagiya Theeye] Siddique [Sadhu Miranda] Lohitha Das[Kasthuriman] and Myskin [Anjathe],the last one in a negative role. He is a realistic actor not fit for melodrama or high end action packed roles. He needs the type of roles that would bring out the best in him .He has also exhibited his flair for comedy in films like Seena Thaana His last release Chennaiyil Oru Naal did not do much to upgrade his progress chart. 
 Actor Jai is shaping well compensating the hitch in his voice pattern like that of Jeyam Ravi. He has evinced his capacity for romance and action and made a very impressive show of his strong acting side in films like Chennai 600008 Subramanya puram, Vamanan, Engeyum Eppothum Goa,Aval Peyar Thamizharasi and Adhe Neram Adhe Idam. From his first movie Baghavathi, in a supporting role as the younger brother of Vijay, Jai has continued to establish himself as an ever ready hero to compete in the race for a special place in the Tamil film industry.  Adhi is yet another hero with a high physical stature who has substantially proved his acting ability in Eeram from Shankar's production unit and in other action movies like Ayyanaar, Aadupuli  and Aravaan. He will do much more in the action genre besides  fitting himself  adequately in refreshing romantic roles. Nanda demonstrated his skills through a negative role in Eeram and he was also convincing as a police officer in Vellore Mavattam. Nithin Sathya proved his stuff in a negative role in Satham Podaathe. Vinay another tall and stout guy like Vishal and Adhi got an elite introduction in Unnaale Unnaale and made an impressive performance in Jeyam Kondan. His Modhi Vilayaadu directed by Saran did not make an impressive show. Santhanu son of veteran director-cum-actor and Adharva son of [late] actor Murali have made a good beginning, the latter with a solid role in Bala’s Paradesi, after making a mark in Baanaa Kaathaadi. Magesh and Akhil who reached the Tamil audience as heroes in Angaditheru and Kalloori have not disappointed the Shankar production base.
      Jeevan who became famous by doing a villain role in Gautham Menon's Kaakka Kaakka and an anti hero role in Naan Avanillai[in two parts],a remake of the Gemini Ganesan starring block buster with the same title from K.Balachander's direction, had done a couple of films like  Thiruttupayale and Machakkaran but got stuck up in his journey. Nakul who did a couple of movies after Shankar's Boys, such as Kadhalil Vizhundhein and Maasilaamani and Kandakottai is yet to find a solid footing as longstanding hero.Shiva is a light minded actor who has got into the hero mantle with a compact humour sense and has entertained interestingly in films like Chennai 600028 Thamizh Padam and Kalagalappu Thillumullu and Sonnaa Puriyaadhu. Vemal of Kalavani fame did a great role as a school teacher of a primary school in Vaagai Soodavaa and he has the capacity to do both light and serious roles.His performance in Kalagalappu  and Kedi Billa Killaadi Ranga, convincingly presented his comedy sense. 
    Vishnu Vishal who made a good beginning with his convincing show in Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu,has continued his smooth and successful journey through a decent performance in films like Kullanari koottam and Neerparavai. Vijay Sethupathi of Then Merku Paruva Katru has been contributing his might to the big screen by his catchy performance in films like Sundara Pandian, Pizza and Naduvila Konjam Pakkatha Kanoem and Soodhu Kavvum Sivakarthikeyan who moved to the big screen from the small,is another talented guy whose capacity for performance as an actor has been rightly acknowledged and utilized by directors of repute such as Pandiaraj in his films'Marina' and 'Kedi Billa Killaadi Renga' and  Ezhil in his Manam Kothi Paravai. His most recent Edhir Neechal has done a good round and his latest Varuthappadaadha Vaalibar Sangam is making agood round. Vikranth, the cousin of actor Vijay has acted in about half a dozen films of which Karka Kasadara, Goripalayam and Engal Asaan need a special mention. Vikram Prabu has not belied the expectations of the Sivaji Ganesan dynasty as well as those of the audience in his debut role as the hero of Prabu Solomon's Kumki.
   The list of new age heroes is felicitously expanding every day.In a monstrously competitive environment, each one is struggling to enter the field, make a mark and retain one's position to get stamped as sterling heroes of continued acceptability.For instance, despite his charming looks, handsome appearance and graceful acting, seen in films like VIP, Minnale, Malabar Police, Anandam, Pammal K.Sambadam,Hey Ram [both with Kamal] and Padayappa [with Rajini] Abbas has mostly been used as a supporting actor and not been focused as a single hero. Seean Vikram has been left out in this article, because he deserves a separate space for himself in my blog on account of his tremendous acting potential and challenging dimensions of the roles he has delivered so far. 
   Not all can become stars like MGR, Sivaji,Rajinikanth and Kamal to become lifetime actors and establish a powerful fan base.But everyone will try and strive to reach that historic position. So long passions govern and dedication prevails, every individual has the right to find his legitimate place in their chosen field. Time and audience preference will decide the fate of  stars of the future.The screen of sustained star popularity is always hanging down to be lifted at the appropriate time.Till then the arduous journey goes on.

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