Friday, October 11, 2013

The Sustained Brilliance of S.V.Subbiah.

    Tamil Cinema once held the proudest position of holding a galaxy of character actors. This blog has already acknowledged with gratitude the contribution of remarkable character actors like S.V.Rengarao, T.S.Balaiah, V.K.Ramasamy  the T.K.S brothers and S.V.Sahasranaamam. The other distinguished character actor whose participation in Tamil Cinema dates back to the early Nineteen Thirties is S.V.Subbiah who started his career from Nandanar starring  M.M.Dandabani Desigar.S.V.Subbiah’s notable early innings include films like A.V.M’s Vaazhkai, the most known Sivaji movie Mangaiyar Thilakam and director A.P.Nagarajan’s  nascent film Vadivukku Valaikaappu.
    Subbiah is another traditional mould of actor like S.V.Rengarao and S.V.Sahasranaamam. Like the latter, Subbiah would always look a little conservative in appearance and character performance representing the dignified, classic breed. One could categorically say, that like Sahasranaamam he was also unfit to don villain roles. But again like Sahasranaamam, he did a villain role in M.G.Ramachandran’s Panathoettam. His other films with MGR were Thaayin Madiyil and Idhayakkani. The latter was a Sathya Movies' film and Subbiah has played another solid role in Selvi Movies'Manippayal. Subbiah's facial expressions for the contextual and reflective song sequence 'Sirithaalum Azhudhaalum nilai onrudhaan' in Kalathoor Kannamma would effectively demonstrate his acting potential without delivering dialogues . 
   Going by the number of pictures he had acted with Sivaji Ganesan, he  seemed to have been the all time favourite actor of the Chevalier hero. Apart from the two films of Sivaji Ganesan mentioned in the first paragraph, it was a long list of movies that Subbiah did with that grand hero. Films like Paavamannippu, Baagapirivinai, Paalum Pazhamum, Irumbuthirai, Ponnoonjal, Needhi, Deepam,Moonru Dheivangal  and the historic [as well as historical] movie Kappaloettia Thamizhan in which Subbiah lived as  the most illustrious poet and freedom fighter Subramanya Bharathi. A simultaneous look at the portrait of the real Bharathi and the actor who played as Bharathi would only result in an instant confusion of identity between the original and the imitation. Not only in looks but also in deliberation, Subbiah literally squeezed out the poetic pride and patriotic fervor of Subramanya Bharathi. Veteran directors like A.Bhimsingh,K.Shankar and S.S.Vasan  had the privilege of directing his roles besides others like C.V.Rajendran, and K.Vijayan.
    Two  contemporary  directors reputed for following diagonally opposite directorial attitudes  spotted the talent in Subbiah and successfully utilized him in their films. They were the traditional K.S.Gopalakrishnan{ Kankanda Dheivam,Nathaikkul Muthu and Adhi Paraasakthi}and the modern and revolutionary K.Balachander {Arangetram and Sollathaan Ninaikirein].The song sequence in Aadhiparasakthi showing him singing the song 'Solladi Abiraami' in the powerful voice of TMS, will ever remain as a memorable scene.With a face firmly representing the rustic block and with an inborn stiffness in role performance Subbiah was a true symbol of the rural soil of Tamil Nadu fitting himself naturally into thetype of roles that K.S.G idealized.
      But  the creative inspiration of K.Balachander extracted the creamy layer of acting in Subbiah by a flow of melting performance both in Arangetram and Sollathaan Ninaikirein. As an incapable and helpless father  of daughters he exhibited the inherent layers in characterization through utmost precision and perfection in performance. In Sollathaan Ninaikirein each time when men came to his house on a bride seeing mission and put forward demands of different kinds he would seek the permission of his daughters to say a few words.To one proposer's family he would say, ''வெளியே போங்கடா முண்டங்களா.'’[out you go, idiots] and he will cry out ''பொண்ணா  பொறக்கக்கூடாது''{one should not be born as a woman}.Just through voice modulation and tone delivery he will bring out the relevant emotion.
     As a loyal citizen of a country and as a member of the revolting class against injustice perpetrated by  autocratic and despotic rulers,Subbiah would show his sheen with unrelenting vigour and rage. This was sharply visible by his way of acting in films like Vanjikkoettai Vaaliban and Parthiban Kanavu,both starring Gemini Ganesan.The first was a Gemini Pictures’film and the second was a historical narration from the golden hands of Kalki. In both the films Subbiah had a meaty role and he gave a neat performance.
     There was always a kind of poise and dignity in the acting pattern of Subbiah .Unlike S.V.Rengarao, Subbiah ‘s face was not meant for myths and mythological films nor would he be comfortable with flowery literary dialogues. He was basically a son of the soil and his language was also rooted to the native stuff. Colloquial Tamil was his highly comfortable and  considered field show. His dialogue modulation would be natural and felicitous revealing a variety of intricacies towards reaching the naive, naughty and noble dimensions of language use and thereby find instant acceptability in the required context.There did not seem to exist any special difference between how he lived as an individual and how he represented a character on the screen. It was this aspect of an inseparable link between real life and the celluloid world, that made Subbiah  a living reality on screen and conferred upon him a neatly carved status as a character actor.

1 comment:

  1. S VSubbiah also did villain role in Sivaji starrer Naane Raja.