Monday, November 4, 2013

The Namesakes of Tamil Cinema.

     Tamil Cinema has witnessed the strange phenomenon of namesakes occupying distinct positions as actors directors and music directors.These names have been distinguished either by their initials or some sort of prefixes and suffixes for gaining an independent identity.I do not think any other Indian film circle would have witnessed such a phenomenon to this enormous proportion.
    Though MGR,the three letters, became the heart throb of Tamil film fans and the Tamils in general, the name M.G.Ramachandran of the mass hero, had to be distinguished from T.R.Ramachandran, the hero -cum comedian and T.K.Ramachandran, the bold eyed villain, of the same  period. V.C Ganesan and R.Ganesh became  Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan with their prefixes adding a state of grandeur to their similar names.While K.R.Ramasamy was an actor-singer carrying a singular voice frame,V.K.Ramasamy established himself as a stable actor meant for a longer, louder and larger space in Tamil Cinema.Besides these two,there was another Ramasamy who had acted as comedian and villain's henchman and was popularly known as Friend Ramasamy,with that positive prefix.The other interesting fact about namesakes is about the two noted film personalities T.K.Baghavathi and T.S.Baghavathi, of whom the former was a powerful male actor and the latter a dynamic woman playback singer. 
    P.U.Chinnappa was known as a powerful hero with a great throw of his singing voice and acting vigour. His films Aariyamaala,Manonmani and Jagadhalapradhaaban are still fresh in my memory as my childhood treasures. M.M.A. Chinnappa Devar with his community suffix added to his name, had a greater role to play in Tamil Cinema as a famous producer, director and stunt master. M.K.Radha was a vibrant hero, making himself memorable through his clean performance, in films like Aboorva Sagodharargal, Samsaaram and Chandralekha. But M.R.Radha’s wings as an actor of versatility, flew high for more than a quarter century, stealing the hearts of Tamil film fans.
    Veteran director K.Balachander and actor-cum film maker S.Balachandar were contemporaries in Tamil Cinema. However, the former was to become the powerful voice of Tamil Cinema, for several decades.The latter who had acted in about ten films that include popular ones like Devaki,Penn,Dr.Savithri and Maragatham, was rated with esteem for making four critically reviewed films such as Andha Naal, Avana Ivan,Nadu Iravil and Bommai. Besides, he was a highly talented musician with an extraordinary flair for playing the Veena and he came to be known as Veena Balachandar. Similarly,between K.S.Gopala- krishnan and V.Gopalakrishnan,one retained his success formula as a valued director and the other held his estimable position, as a high quality actor. S.P.Muthuraman the renowned director of many Rajini films has also directed a couple of films of his namesake, actor R.Muthuraman. 
   D.Balasubramaniam and R.Balasubramaniam were notable actors, playing villain roles in the Nineteen forties and fifties.In the Nineteen Seventies, there appeared the stupendous singer S.P.Balasubramaiyam, who with his rolling tongue and charming  clarity of voice, enslaved the music lovers. His  histrionic ability has also been proved effectively, by his endearing performance in films like Kadhalan, Keladi Kanmani,Ullaasam and so on.
     This trend of same-name-personalities, seems to continue even now, with the mass hero Vijay being differentiated from Thalaivaasal Vijay with the prefix of a film title,Pa.Vijay the lyricist-cum actor,Arun Vijay the actor son of the illustrious character actor Vijayakumar and A.L.Vijay the promising film director. Besides, we have Nizhalgal Ravi and Jeyam Ravi with their first,film titles preceding their names.To avoid confusion between the two Karthiks,the senior is called Karthik Muthuraman. Similarly, the music maestro's son and music director, is called Karthik Raja. While Suriya,the elder son of Sivakumar has established his position as an enchanting hero,S.J.Soorya,the noted film director of Ajithkumar's Vaali and Vijay's Kushi has also apeared as hero in a few films.We also have two Srikanths, one introduced by C.V.Sridhar and the other, a soft romantic hero, who made his debut, in Rojaakkoottam. It would be an unfair thing for the new generation film watchers, to forget the contribution of the former Srikanth, who created waves as hero, villain and character actor, through his brilliant performance in films like Aval, Thanga Padhakkam, Sila nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal.
    Mohan,Poovilangu Mohan [named after the film Poovilangu in which he acted]and Mohan Sarma are the other namesakes, of whom the first in the list remained as a very popular and busy actor  for a decade or so,winning the hearts of his fans, as an unrelenting romantic hero.While the noted comedian Senthil is almost a home name,a hero with the same name is to appear on the big screen, after establishing his position as a TV serial hero in Vijay T.V's one of the most popular serials,Saravanan Meenakshi.    
     Among women, there were P.Banumathi, the dauntless heroine of the last millennium  and M.Banumathi who played first as heroine and later as second level actress. Padmini the dynamic heroine and ebullient dancer saw her name sake Kutti Padmini, who rocked as a child artist but failed to sustain her position later, as a heroine. There was another Kumari Padmini, who played as hero’s sister in a few movies and disappeared. M.S.Subbulakshmi the noted Carnatic singer, who is known for her fabulous voice,had her less popular namesake, S,D.Subbulakshmi an actress of the last millennium. While B.S.Saroja was paired with MGR in his earlier movies, M.Saroja who played as comedienne, later married K.A.Thangavel and settled down into family life. The other E.V.Saroja with her great dancing credentials had acted with MGR, Sivaji and Gemini. With her grace and acting ability she also became the most chosen actress for the films of T.R.Ramanna. 
    G.Varalakshmi and S.Varalakshmi were contemporary actresses who adorned Tamil big screen initially as heroines and later in powerful mother roles. G.Varalaksmi's performance in films like Aaravalli and Gulebahavali was known for charm and grace. However, in the role of a mother, S.Varalakshmi wielded great power and energy, in films like Panamaa Paasama Poovaa Thalaiya and Needhikku Thalaivanangu. G.Varalakshmi of course, gave a convincing performance as a wealthy and arrogant mother, in A.V.M's Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum. Both P.K.Saraswathi C.K.Saraswathi were old timers in the Tamil Tinsel world. Of the two C.K Saraswathi will ever stay remembered as the most cruel stepmother and mother-in law on screen. Whereas, Bagyaraj with his bonhomie,gave prominence to C.R.Saraswathi who played a memorable role as the hero's stepmother in Enga Sinna Raasaa..
    I do not think the name sake syndrome is so prevalent in Indian Cinema of other languages. However, beyond the similarity in names, it is the individual’s personal attributes and merits that bring them closer to the audience as MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan, M.R.Radha, VKR,Vijay, Banumathi and Padmini.

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