Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Antiheroes of Tamil Cinema.


Courtesy,The Hindu.



     A hero is one who occupies the central position and plays a pivotal role.A villain represents the   negative force against norms of goodness and works against the interest of the hero.But at times, there are central characters playing the main role with negative inspirations.We call such characters ant-heroes.Starting from the days of street shows and stage plays, we have come across such negative protagonists attracting the attention of creativity.This is how plays and films centralizing negative characters like Raavanan,Dhakshan,Dhuriyodhana from Hindu mythologies became impressive shows drawing the attention and appreciation of a vast section of the audience.To some extent the epic hero Kovalan could also be called an anti hero because of his disloyalty to his devoted wife Kannagi. One could find many other instances of negative heroes being popularized through dramatization and filming.Films in general and Tamil Cinema in particular, could be seen as being instrumental to the aesthetics of making anti heroes.
     An anti hero as presented on the stage and screen is usually a pest to one's family,society and country.He could be a womanizer,a rogue husband,a street rowdy,a drunken lout,an anti social or even a terrorist.No one could forget the worst kind of negative role that the veteran M.R.Radha magnificently performed in Rathak Kanneer that was one of the grandest shows both on stage and screen.As a virulently mischievous youth and as a crudely humiliating husband with little qualms, Radha made his role in that classic movie,inimitable and invincible.Ratha Kanneer was truly a celebration of the anti hero both in character formation and delivery and the entire credit for its massive victory naturally went to M.R.Radha.I think Tamil Cinema has hardly ever come across an inspiring prototype of the negative hero after that.
    No great Tamil heroes have shunned the temptation for starring as an anti hero.Perhaps,MGR could be an exception.For that matter, even MGR had played a negative character in one of his earliest movies 'Saalivaahanan',in which Ranjan was the main hero,Later when M.G.R.played dual roles in films like 'Neerum Neruppum' and 'Ninaithadhai Mudippavan' one of the two characters carried  negative implications.A similar example in dual roles was that of Sivaji Ganesan in the most famous film 'Uthama Puthiran'.MGR's  negative role was that of a sibling hater in 'Neerum Neruppum',and later he performed as a gangster head with pep and perfection, in 'Ninaithadhai Mudippavan'.In fact, between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,the latter had no obsession for always playing as the incarnation of virtue as MGR was fond of.This was wonderfully reflected by the powerful negative role performed by Sivaji Ganesan in Koondukkili,the one and only film wherein the two top heroes shared screen space with equal importance.
   Sivaji Ganesan did not mind playing the negative hero in films like 'Thirumbi Paar' and 'Pennin Peumai',at the beginning period of his career, after making his very first film 'Parasakthi' a blockbuster,in an amazingly positive role.The Chevalier as Parandhaaman, created indelible impressions as an anti hero,in Thirumbipaar. Sivaji Ganesan was a womanizer in 'Thirumbi Paar',a sibling beater in 'Pennin Perumai' and a venomous twin brother in 'Uthama Puthiran'.He had also performed as a drunken or irresponsible husband in movies like 'Punar Genmam' and 'Thanga Padhumai'.
    Gemini Ganesan who always played soft and romantic roles,performed brilliantly as the Casanova under the exemplary direction of K.Balachander in 'Naan Avanillai'. Previously Gemini was seen as a gangster head in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan'. In both the films, Gemini Ganesan vibrantly proved that he could do an anti hero role, with a flair for killing with fake kindness.The popularity and fascinating grip of Naan Avanillai got so stuck to the mind of film makers that decades later it was remade in two parts  with the same title and Jevan donned the role of Gemini Ganesan with equal charm and negative thrust.
    R.Muthuraman  who was a close associate and contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan spontaneously played an anti hero, both in soft and rebellious frames, in single and double hero  films like 'Avalukkenru Oer Manam','Namma Veettu Dheivam' and 'Maanavan'.Among the next generation heroes,Jai Shankar and Ravichandran appeared only as positive heroes except that Jaishankar played a negative role in the twin hero based film  Panjavarnakkili from K.Shankar's Saravana Films. Sivakumar effectively donned the role of a deceitful protagonist in films like Saaindhaadammaa Saindhaadu and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri ,with Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth, respectively.
      Today's world class actor Kamalahasan came as a flirt and womanizer in a couple of films like 'Sollathaan Ninaikirein' and 'Pattaam Poochi'. Subsequently, as a misogynist Kamal gave an awesome performance in BarathiRaja's 'Sigappu Rojaakkal'.The other two heroes who impressed in the role of a psychic misogynist, were Pratap Pothan {Moodu Pani} and Mohan {Nooravadhu Naal}Mohan had also come as a happy go lucky youth flirting with many girls in Sujatha Cine Arts Silver Jubilee hit Vidhi.  How he dodged the heroine and ditched her was beautifully pictured in that film.Here the heroine was not cowed down, but took up the legal fight with the help of a woman advocate and exposed the hero's negative side with clear evidence.
     The only hero who boldly and confidently took up negative roles frequently,was the Superstar. Moonru Muduchu,Gayathri,Thappu Thaalangal, Avargal, Billa and Polladhavan,were milestones in Rajinikanth's career and in all the six films [three by K.Balachander] his character formation saw different dimensions of the negative profile.As a ruffian,as a male chauvinist and sadistic husband,as a rowdy element,as a gangster and as a money lorn thug, it was a hateful list of roles offered to him and he performed all the roles,as the personification of evil, not bothering about his image.In fact, his image got a boost after his veritable and distinct performance as a baddie. In a double role as father and son,the voluptuous elder out beat the meek youngster in Balachander's Netrikkan.
     Recently,in a robotic role in Shankar's Endhiran, Rajinikanth rebuilt his lost empire of the anti hero. His villainy in Barathi Raja's Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,made him more of an anti hero than a proclaimed villain. Rajinikanth in short, could be called the best anti hero of Tamil Cinema.The other bold anti hero of Tamil Cinema is Sathya Raj who is equally undeterred by the compulsions of a positive hero image.His commendable role performance as an elderly hero with negative fundamentals in movies like Mudhal Vasantham,Pagal Nilavu and Amaidhippadai, will stay as imperishable assets of  Tamil Cinema.
     While Vijayakanth exuberantly performed negative roles such as a self obsessed,vindictive male, in films like Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri and Amman Koil Kizhakkaale, Prabu  conveniently escaped the itch for doing the antihero,though some of his earlier roles belonged to the uncouth category. Kartik Muthuraman the ever sparkling actor,performed a power packed vengeful role in Kan Simittum Neram. Baghyaraj also did a hatefully negative role in Kanniparuvathile.
     Among the new generation actors,Vijay was seen in 'Priyamudan' as a self bound romantic, to the extent of claiming by hook or crook, the girl he loved.Later Vijay was seen as a powerful negative element, in one of the two characters he played in Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. Ajith simply enjoyed his roles as a gambler and gangster head in Billa 1 and ll,and Mangaathaa. Besides these, Ajith had wonderfully performed earlier, as a wolfish twin brother in S.J.Surya's Vaali. Both Vijay and Ajith have powerfully carried on their negative shows, with energy and style. Barath was seen in a negative role in Chellame,as a psychologically pervert youth. Jeeva played brilliantly the character of a crooked,insensitive,guy with a lust for money in the film Yee .Nitin Satya and Nanda came as self centred and sadistic husbands in Satham Podadhe and Eeram,respectively.The chief characters played by Vijay Antony in Naan and Sudeep in Naan Yee were full of negative vibrations.
       The charm of  negativity is a unique product of creative imagination.This is how Satan is pictured as charmingly ensnaring Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.In fact it is Satan's character that affords a splendid dimension to Milton's Paradise Lost. Salman Rushdie's ''The Satanic Verses'', carried a mesmerizing effect, as much by its title, as by its content.As we all know, the positive side of life is a straight course,like the Gandhian path.But the negative exit with its zig zag ramifications, offers a vital scope for variety and complexity, like an integrated circuit with its opening and end points, not being perceptible to the common man's eye.The negatives of life, encompass an abnormal and extraordinary punch and it is this punch in the character development of anti heroes, that drives home an extraordinary appeal.This peculiar aspect keeps the audience, frequently enamoured of the darker side of what life is about and how one  lives it.The anti heroes of Tamil Cinema, are thus made up of sterner stuff,  as men capable of hurting with a gusto and getting admired for their way and style of hurting.

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