Sunday, September 8, 2013

Two Sterling Stage Artists –Cum-Character Actors, on Screen.

      Drama has always remained as the source of inspiration for world Cinema.The stage has steadily laid the foundation for the screen. In Tamil Nadu, there were street shows and organized stage plays happening as daily events and entertaining the people as the most relaxing weekend experience.There were amazing stage artists like Nawab Rajamanickam Pillai whose Play on Sabari Malai Ayappan was the most talked about stage play. There were men like R.S.Manohar known for the play Lankeswaran. The TKS brothers called T.K.Shanmugam and T.K.Bagavathi were dedicated stage actors. Great comedian N.S.Krishnan was an expert in stage acting too. The other great stage actor was S.V.Sahasranamam. All these men listed here became very popular as film stars at a later stage in their career. Only Nawab Rajamanickam did not make it properly to the tinsel world. While R.S.Manohar established himself more as a villain actor, T.K.Shanmugam acted  in less number of films than his sibling.His role as Subramanyam Siva in Kappaloettiya Thamizhan is the most remembered one. But the other two stage artists T.K.Bagavathi and S.V.Sahasranaamam, stuck to the film world for  longer period, doing a successful round as character actors. This article aims at recording my personal  admiration for these two most talented actors.
    Both these actors carry certain similarities between themselves.Both of them were commendably compact in the role of an elder brother or father. Though both of them by their looks and mode of acting may appear to be unfit for taking up villain roles both have acted as villains. S.V.Sahasra- namam’s  hidden force of villainy was vitally felt in the good old film Nalla Theerpu starring Gemini Ganesan. Similarly T.K.S.Bagavathi performed fiendish villainy in Sabathan, starring Ravichandran and K.R.Vijaya. Of course in that film, Bagavathi performed dual roles  as twin brothers, the elder of the two, an honest man and the younger a wastrel and scheming criminal. The film was greatly entertaining, because of the challenging situations prevailing between the criminal Bagavathi and the heroine K.R.Vijaya struggling to expose him.
    Both Bagavathi and Sahasranamam  acted as M.G.R’s elder brothers,the former in Nam Naadu and the latter in Urimaikural. But one of the earliest roles of Sahasranamam was as the younger brother of M.G.Ramachandran in Jupiter Pictures' Marmayogi that portrayed S.V.S as the army captain full of conviction in his service and dedication to his country.S.V.S also takes the credit for donning the role of the elder brother of Sivaji Ganesan, in the latter’s very first movie Parasakthi.   S.V.Sahasranamam has acted  in quite a few movies of Sivaji Ganesan, of which  Padithaal Mattum Poedhuma,and Sivagamiyin Selvan deserve a special place.Similarly Bagavathi has done another film Sange Muzhangu with MGR and his role in Sivaji Ganesan’s Rajapart Rengadurai is also worth remembering.
   The most striking role for T.K.Bagavathi was that of Raavanaa in Sampoorana Raamaayanam. In appearance, characterization and role performance one could genuinely think that Raavanaa would be like Bagavathi, just as many of N.T.Ramarao’s fans identified him with Lord Rama.
For Sahasranamam, one of his most powerful roles would be that of a cop and sad father of a betrayed daughter in Sridhar’s historic film Policekaaran Magal which was previously staged as a play and then formed into a film. It was a grand show of pride and pathos and grandly did this veteran actor display his inherent histrionic skill.Similarly as a conservative father of the hero {Gemini Ganesan} in K.Balachander's Punnagai,he would not approve of his son's marriage with a rape victim.His son who was named Sathyamoorthy {Lord of Truth} would die of Kidney failure and after that Sahasranaamam would be stunned to hear that his son had told the little boy born of rape that he was not the boy's father.The heart of SVS would melt on hearing that his [late] son had never deviated from the line of truth. It was another powerful character that SVS played and his excellent performance added more merit to that character.If in Policekaaran Magal, Sahasranamam took the whip to  lash his daughter who had gone astray, Bagavathi took that chance to tame his shrew- like wife{played by S.Varalakshmi} in Panamaa Paasamaa. SVS also appeared as a cop in Sathya Movies' mega movie Dheivathaai starring MGR and Sarojadevi.It was the only film of MGR directed by P.Madhavan and it has the other unique aspect of K.Balachander writing dialogues for the film.
   The greatness of these two actors is their dignified flair for  performing character roles with all the relevant attributes that would make the role get solidly fixed in the mind of the audience. There was always a conscious effort on their part, to perceive the gravity of the role on hand and do it with infallible precision. Both of them could necessarily influence their voice frame to bring out the core of emotion in the dialogue, be it anger or happiness or sorrow. Both of them truly belonged to the traditional or conservative school of acting meant for grooming the patterns of acting through a programmed course of pragmatic participation.The amount of the air of discipline that they inhaled, they successfully and effectively breathed out on the stage as well as on the screen.
    To put  it in a nutshell, these two men always looked like the two governing patriarchs of a system that could be called the field of acting. I would not have seen many of their worthy films. But What I saw and have recorded here, are certainly the worthiest samples of what these two sterling character actors are capable of. From these samples ,they  could be named as the indisputable yardsticks for the measurement of exemplary thespian skills.

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