Monday, March 9, 2015

Four Different Films of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan.



       Mudhal Mariyaadhai

      It is a known fact that every actor has a distinct style of acting.Between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan the former was an outstanding action hero and the latter was an all rounder.But both had their trademarks in acting, with regard to their body language,dialogue delivery and style of emoting. Even in song sequences one could perceive the uniqueness in lip synchronization,movement of limbs and manner of  gait that would clearly differentiate a Sivaj film from  an MGR film because the former was known for perfect matching of his lip movements for the delivery of songs.
     However,at times as a matter of rarity,there would come one or two films that would focus popular heroes in a totally different frame and vibration, that would completely take away the familiarity and formula of acting of the actors and present them as some one fresh from the oven, or as new born.There are specifically a couple of films of the two heroes, that made the audience taken aback, by the presence of an unusual MGR or an unseen Sivaji Ganesan in their characterization, portrayal and performance.The films for discussion in this category are MGR's 'Paasam' and 'Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa' and Sivaji Ganesan's 'Deepam' and 'Mudhal Mariyaadhai'.
      'Paasam' was an R.R pictures' film, released in the early Nineteen Sixties. R.R.Pictures T.R.Ramanna would have produced more than half a dozen films, with MGR as hero.Besides these,this ace director takes the credit for directing MGR and Sivaji Ganesan together in the one and only movie, 'Koondukkili'. R.R.Pictures' films like 'Gulebagaavali','Periya Idathu Penn' 'Pankkaara Kudumbam' 'Parakkum Paavai' and 'Panam Padaithavan' were mega hit MGR films, well known for their action component and music quotient. But 'Paasam' was a totally different type of film, with an unusual story line, picturing MGR, as a disappointed lover for the first time.
     Though the action segment and musical richness of an MGR film were not missing in 'Paasam' too,MGR's hairstyle, make up and mode of acting, were distinctly memorable. There was a tragic undercurrent passing on, through out the narration, culminating in the death of the hero, on seeing the dead body of his mother.Except the song 'Ulagam Pirandhadhu Enakkaaga' celebrating the spirit of self-actualization,the MGR formula of stimulating the audience with optimism and the gusto of hope was absent in Paasam. While M.G.R was emotionally drawn towards Sheela,she would be in love with K.Balaji and Saroja Devi would be seen devoutly in love with MGR.
     The play back voice of P.B.Srinivas  for MGR, for the love duet ''Paal Vannam Paruvam Kandu''  in a dream sequence cherished by Sarojadevi,was also a different experience.{The other MGR song sung by P.B.Srinivas was ''Ennaruge Nee irundhaal'',another duet  for the film Thirudaadhe}T.R.Raja kumari an earlier pair of MGR, acted as his mother and M.R.Radha as his brutal,unseen father.The all pervading tragic intensity, made the film reach only a selected section of the audience.Though it was considered a failure movie, Paasam has perfectly left indelible impressions of the subtle shades of acting that MGR was capable of. As the ardent fans of MGR always wanted him to be a winner and a transmitter of positive energy they could not accept him in a tragic skit. But to me, this is an unusual childhood treasure of an MGR movie.
       Krishnan Panju's ''Petraaldhaan Pillaiya'' was a beautifully carved film with delicate touches, reflecting the hero's longing for a kid.MGR wonderfully displayed an invisible vibration as a paternally anguished soul, with an easy flow of innocence, that he had effectively portrayed earlier in 'Enga Veettu Pillai'.Songs like 'Nalla Nalla Pillaigalai Nambi'and 'Sellakkiliye Mella Pesu' are eternally enchanting numbers from the masterly musical composition of M.S.Viswanathan.For the first time, MGR demonstrated his power for playing a character dipped in the pangs of grief. He truly brought out a man's profound love for a child.
     The difference in narration was achieved by reducing the action element and romantic segment that were considered to be the regular features of an MGR film.The other notable aspect was the role of M.R.Radha, as a benevolent brother of the heroine, played by Saroja Devi.However, unfortunately, after the release of the film, there came the news of Radha shooting down MGR and the latter surviving the attack. After a substantial period of hospitalization, with a marginal setback to his vocal cords, MGR returned as a robust hero and came out with many blockbusters like Kaavalkaaran, Adimaipenn,Namnaadu, Urimaikkural, Rickshakaaran and Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban, However, Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa will ever be remembered for projecting MGR in new form and for its qualitative narration of a different story line that made history both on screen and off screen. 'Paasam' and Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa' in my perception, would ever remain as two extraordinary MGR films.
      K.Balaji was one of the prominent makers of Sivaj films and they both enjoyed longstanding rapport and comfort levels in working together.It was more than a quarter century association between Sivaji Ganesan and K.Balaji and they would have done more than a dozen films together. Among all their joint ventures,Deepam a remake of the Malayalam  film Theekanal [starring Madhu] was like an unruffled stream, speaking of initial vagaries of the hero superseded by serene love and noble layers of character formation.
       It was a film with a great story base with pangs of despised love and devotion to sibling attachment with profound tragic undercurrents culminating in the death of the hero.The clean role performance of Sujatha,Vijayakumar,S.V Subbiah,Major Sundarajan and Nagesh added strength and quality to dignified display of characterization.What was different here, was the soothing course of acting by Sivaji Ganesan, without trying to be melodramatic, as he would normally do when it came to emotion packed characters There was the usual fascinating style of Sivaji's acting, but it was differently fascinating, with the charm of poise and dignity. Ilayaraja's  music with its overflowing richness in songs like 'Poovizhi Vaasalil Yaaradi Vandhadhu' and 'Andhapurathiloru Maharaani', delivered unique numbers of a totally different Sivaji Ganesan film.The phenomenal force of acting and leonine delivery of any role, that were familiar to the audience as the innate assets of Sivaji Ganesan, were not unnecessarily  blown up, in this aesthetically well made movie.In other words,it was the modest portrayal of events that conquered the imagination of everybody.This distinct film released in 1977,was directed by K.Vijayan, who had worked both with Sivaji Ganesan and K.Balaji for many films.
       Eight years later,there came P.Barathi Raja's Mudhal Mariyaadhai with the proclamation ''Imayathudan Inaigirom''{We are joining the Himalayas}with a straight reference to the zenith of histrionics that Sivaji Ganesan stood for.However, ironically, the Himalayas was presented not in its usual colossal profile but in its height of modesty,poise,self dignity and child like frame of mind with a consummate touch of nobility.There were certainly serene love stories experienced on screen earlier, in films like Devadas,Nenjrukkumvarai,Avalukkenru Oer Manam and Annakkili.But here,it was the tale of love of a man in his mid fifties and it was not just love, but more than that.It was an all inclusive compass of friendship,love and companionship surpassing the physical and sexual boundaries.It was out and out a realistic narration, with the characters sublimating the concept of love and the actors realizing the sublimity of love in all earnestness and exalting attitude. Barathi Raja would have made many successful love stories, but Mudhal Mariyadhai was the most captivating of them all.
      Simplicity and realism were the hallmarks of this film and Sivaji Ganesan who always excelled in exploring new dimensions in acting,was visibly curtailed by the director's whip to walk and talk as the director wanted him to do.The Himalayas yielded to this artistic necessity or perhaps he thought it was yet another chance for him, to explore a fresh field for acting and took up the challenge as usual. The result was, watching a completely different Sivaji Ganesan, as a middle aged man harassed by his wife, with his suppressed breath easing out, in the presence of another woman, who was the epitome of dignity,warmth,compassion and a clean frame of mind.
      Even small scenes that would have passed off insignificantly,arrested the attention of the audience.This is how,the two women {the hero's wife and his companion}were shown as serving food in two different ways, the wife, as squeezing her nose out and then serving food without washing her hands and the other woman, as washing her hands first and then serving food.The other wondrous scenes are those of the hero's companion collecting beads on a grey hair of the hero and the hero trying to lift a huge stone and finally succeeding in that mission, in order to defeat the challenge thrown by his companion.
   Above  everything, it was one of the most decently told love stories not crossing ever, the thumb rules of such a narration.The climax scene showing the hero in his death bed, with his body making a sudden jerk,at the moment of his cherished woman companion on parole, setting her foot on his soil, formed the core of delicate presentation.On the whole, it was a special love story totally different from all other love stories of Barathi Raja himself and it made its special effect due to each and every refreshing aspect, especially that of a subdued, and meek Sivaji Gaesan winning the show, at the behest of a vibrant director, breathing in the air of Tamil Cinema, in order to breathe out the grandeur of nativity.

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