Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fineness of Family Dramas.





















      Family dramas on the big screen,if presented neatly and with conviction,create a mind blowing impact much more than other genres.This is because,an individual's life, gains greater significance only in relation to one's association with others, in the form of one's family or society.Of the two, it is the family that generates,supports and fulfills an individual's dreams and aspirations and supplements one's character formation, for one's own benefit as well as that of humanity at large. That is why fiction and films dealing with family formulations,patterns and emotional intricacies, win over readers and audience preference, more overwhelmingly than other forms of creative excellence. The Tamil soil with its deep rooted emotional moorings,has embraced family dramas with great enthusiasm and involvement.Tamil films released from the Nineteen Fifties  to the Seventies, simply excelled in family dramas, through brilliant narration and spirit of authenticity, because those were decades of sentimental celebration of family love and unity.The perfect bond of well founded joint family institutions,existed purely on the solid fundamentals of respect for  elders, inherent attitudes of mutual love,tolerance at all levels and readiness to sacrifice anything,anytime. Invariably, only these themes formed the base of a vast number of films, dealing with family drama during that period.
     There were primarily,films discussing only the family factors without incorporating any other element such as romance,friendship,crime and social concepts.There were also others, relating the above said external aspects to the family environment,thereby focusing on how conflicts were caused in the family routine,by characters and events not directly linked to the family foundation. Directors like A.Bhimsingh and the duo Krishnan Panju, cleanly excelled in the narration of pure family themes,characters and events.There were also Telugu directors doing a remarkable job in the depiction of family themes and stories.My childhood memories of family oriented films,take me to the days of watching films like Kudumba Gowravam and Devar Film's Vazha Vaitha Dheivam both starring Gemini Ganesan,Sivaji Ganesan's Makkalai Petra Magarasi,MGR's Thaikkuppin Thaaram {another movie from Devar Films},Kuladeivam, directed by Krishnan Panju, Engaveettu Mahalakshmi of A.Nageswara Rao, and the two long titled films 'Thaayai Poela Pillai Noolaippoela Selai' and 'Maamiyaarum Oru Veettu Marumagale'.
     All these films released during the Fifties,beautifully and firmly projected precious family sentiments and values that constituted the quality of life those days.Most of these films also at times, went out of the family fold, to meet events and characters that were mandatory for socializing and strengthening interactions with the world.But there was one movie of this particular decade, that became a standing model of the family edifice, with an underlying vital thrust on the stronghold of the joint family system and that was the movie Baagappirivinai,directed by A.Bhimsingh.This film had all necessary ingredients to evolve into a fine demonstration of family experience,and struck everybody's imagination by its richness of narration and magnificence of characterization.Amazing actors like Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan,Sarojadevi,M.N.Nambiyar, T.S.Baliah, S.V.Subbiah, C.K.Saraswathy and above all the exuberant actor M.R.Radha, made the film a monumental revelation of the joint family stronghold, cherished intensively by a value bound generation.
    Sivaji Ganesan was of course, the natural choice to play the protagonist of the family drama because he truly fitted himself into characters carrying the load of emotions and sentimental layers, reinforcing the base of such films.It was the element of grandeur in his acting,that helped Sivaji Ganesan to make a serial success show,as the one and only hero of Family drama.The other fact is the omnipresence of A.Bhimsingh, as the most acceptable narrator of family drama, on account of his creative potential to present precisely  scenic sequences that could create a lasting impact.This is how, he made exemplary films worthy of family watch.As the trend continued during the Sixties, there were many of his hits like Paava Mannippu, Padithaal Mattum Poethuma,Bantha Paasam, Pazhani,Paar Magale Paar and so on.Gemini Studios'Motor Sundarampillai would also rightly belong to the category of  fine family dramas.The later releases of Sivaji Ganesan's films like Baratha Vilas,Thanga Padhakkam andThirisoolam also contained a lot of family emotions though these films had other vital aspects of life to deal with.
   Interestingly,like Baagapirivinai, during the Sixties,there was another blockbuster that carried the family sense, heart and soul into the mind of the audience and this movie Padikkaadha Medhai, starring Sivaji Ganesan and directed by A.Bhimsingh, became an instant success because of the natural role performance of Sivaji Ganesan, S.V.Rengarao and P.Kannaambaa.It was an eventful film in the career of Sivaji Ganesan and a timeless reflection of the greatness of Tamil Cinema.Each and every scene of this film, would remain as an unforgettable life experience for the great lovers of family drama.
   Two other outstanding films of Sivaji Ganesan on family emotions are, Vietnaam Veedu and Vaazhkai,released during different decades.Both these films discussed poignantly the fall out of family unity, arising out of filial selfishness and ingratitude.The first one was the story of a very prestigious man called Padmanaban, who cherished the longstanding values of the family bond and was a model of dignity,discipline and dedication to exemplary family norms.With his much devoted wife Savithri,{played by the fabulous actress Padmini}Padmanaban simply extolled into the height of glory as the vital pillar of the family, but finally fell dead, not being able to withstand the load of privation and disappointment.The latter film Vaazhkai bordered on a similar story line, pictured the amazing growth of a man from scraps to success, with the strength and support of his wife {played by Ambika}but was finally left alone by his sons, whose selfishness finally took away the life of his noble wife.
    Though social revolution was the chosen field of MGR,he too became a substantial part of many family films such as Kudumbathalaivan,Periya Idathu Penn,Neethikkuppin Paasam, Panakkaara Kudumbam, Panam Padaithavan, Naan Yei Pirandhein and a few more films like OruThai Makkal and Thaikkuthalaimagan,However, as far as MGR was concerned,the spirit of justice was of paramount importance for him and he could not let it down for the sake of family emotions.It was true that MGR also played here and there, the role of an affected and sacrificing member of a large family;but it was Sivaji Ganesan who created a tremendous impact, as a character falling a prey to  the schemes and strategies of other characters in the family fold and finally turning into an embodiment of sacrifice.There was certainly a cathartic sense in the role performance of Sivaji Ganesan and he never failed to create a heart rending effect of family drama, causing tears to flow naturally from the eyes of the viewers.
   What made the family dramas capture the sensitivity of the audience was the all pervading spirit of goodness, imbibing tendencies of tolerance and sacrifice,as something essential for promoting the well being of the family cluster.The good elements in a family, will always act as a catalytic force strengthening and protecting each layer with concern and care.Quite often, the good elements would be subjected to exploitation and humiliation and it was at this juncture,the mood of tolerance would set in, to carefully avoid any kind of eventuality, leading to the disintegration of the unified segments of the larger family dispensation.
    The greatness of a family drama, relies mainly on its structure of nobility and goodness kept in compact form, by emotions of love and affection.The fifties and sixties were a golden era, honouring the highness of family unity, as part and parcel of healthy and happy living.The sacrifice note was poignant in films like Paava Mannippu,Bandha Paasam, Pazhani and Padikkadha Medhai. Apart from A Bhimsingh,veteran directors like K.Balachander {His films such as Arangetram,Aval Oru Thodarkadhai and Bama Vijayam} and K.S.Gopala krishnan{Movies like Vaazhayadi Vaazhai,Kan Kanda Dheivam,Kulavilakku}truly brought home the value of family unity and the spirit of sacrifice both seriously and humorously.Even a renowned director like B.R.Pantulu,who tried his hand on a variety of subjects like mythology and history,also dealt with a family theme in his film Namma Veettu Lakshmi.Later a credible and valued director like Visu successfully handled many family stories ,of which AVM's Samsaaram Adhu Minsaaram tops the list.
    During the Seventies as well as Eighties, there were wonderful family dramas like Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai,Padikkaadhavan and Dharmadhurai all starring the Superstar in the role of a sacrificing elder brother. Rajini's performance in these films was as much convincing as that of Sivaji Ganesan clearly transmitting the changing trends in emotional vibrations of the new generation.It is strange that Rajini's close contemporary and versatile actor Kamal did not evince much interest and involvement in family drama, though a couple of films like AVM's Per Sollum Pillai and K.Balachander's Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi projected him as the central force of family stories.Perhaps an actor like Kamalahasan with a rationalistic mindset, does not believe in sentimental exhibitions in role performance.
    Even during the new millennium, we came upon an extraordinary film like Lingusamy's Anandam that fascinatingly narrated a joint family story, with all its intricacies and nuances, laying considerable emphasis on the longstanding family values like tolerance,flexibility and unrelenting faith in the trusted family member, be it an elder brother, or a younger one.Mutuality prevailed as the most significant aspect of this catchy story with clean perspectives. Ananadam was definitely the new millennium gift of  the Tamil  Film industry, to those who continue to cherish family norms.Besides this Lingusamy treat, there were two delightful family films each, from the hands of M.Raja and Mithran Jawahar.The former's Unakkum Enakkum and Santhosh Subramanyan and the latter' Yaradi Nee Mohinand and Uthama Puthiran took us to a new family environment,with members of larger families, enjoying each and every moment of living together.However,romance was the core of these family dramas.The other emotional family film, with a rural background was, Mayaandi Kudumbathaar.
    Old or new,family dramas hardly fail to reach the audience favour, with an exceptional quality of fineness and perfection.The story background may carry great joyous moments like Baamaa Vijayam,Santhosh Subramanyan and Uthamaputhiran, or sad and sorrowful sequence of events as seen in Bagapirivinai,Padikkadha Medhai,Kulavilakku and Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai. Some will shuttle between lighter and heavier emotions as we witnessed in Aval Oru Thodar kadhai  and Anandham. Whatever be the mode of presentation,family oriented films without deviating from the mainframe, with a bird's eye view of romance or social events, have struck a solid note on our memory lane with sensitive,aesthetic,exalting and realistic creative dimensions, to last for a lifetime. Family dramas on the whole offer us, the finest moments of film watch.
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