Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Invincible Verbal Comedian of Tamil Cinema.



       Unlike farce,slapstick comedy and other types of physical comedy,the power of words captures the context, with intelligence and presence of mind.Timing and contextual understanding to fix humour, with relevance and rightness of focus, make verbal comedy an outstanding creative experience.Verbal comedy generates not only spontaneous humour but also comic situations, promoting the well being of a vast section of the audience.We can not of course, undermine the imaginative scope and dimension behind conceptualizing a proper context, calling for exposition of physically clumsy, ridiculous and rib tickling proportions of humour.However, it is an accepted fact that verbal comedy involves a vital contribution of commonsense in flashing instant humour. Appropriate word play, be it a one liner retort, or an exclusive dialogue formula within a skit, reflects originality and freshness in laughter promotion.It is as much difficult to devise a comedy subplot as it is to frame the main plot.If the film maker decides to go in for a full length comedy entertainer,the focus will naturally be completely be on the humour side.
      On the other hand, if it happens to be a comedy sub plot,one has to decide whether the sub plot should travel along with the main story narration or can take its own independent route, with the sole aim of providing comic relief without forming any link to the main story.For making a captivating comedy sub plot, it is not only the skit that matters, but also the committed contribution of the players on the screen, at the delivery point.It in this respect,verbal comedians like N.S.Krishnan,T.S.Dorairaj K.A.Thangavelu and the successive actors like Nagesh,Thengai Srinivasan, Surulirajan, Goundamani, Vadivelu,Vivek and Santhanam have taken the lead position at various times with their distinctly vibrant style and focus on verbal comedy.I have excluded J.B.Chandrababu because he ruled as an exclusive physical comedian, with the additionally extraordinary skills of dancing and singing, that took the audience to the zenith of enjoyment.
     Of  all the verbal comedians mentioned above, it was K.A.Thangavelu, who maintained a track record of clean and sweeping verbal thrust, in kindling laughter moments.The fact that he had been a performer with unshakable faith in the quality of his skit and in his capacity for taking the skit,heart and soul to the audience,installed his position firmly as a competent verbal comedian. K.A. Thangavelu was one, who was truly wedded to the skit, with no itch for deviation at any point. In fact, it was the quality and variety of his skit development,that affixed an ISI mark of presentation on most of his skits.That is why quite a number of his comedy scenes, were made into gramophone records, to reach many homes,for a repeat of the happier moments that they spent at the theatre.A few treasured samples in this regard are from the films Kalyana Parisu,Adutha Veetuppen,Arivaali,Kaidhi Kannayiram and Dheivapiravi.
     K.A.Thangavelu  started his verbal comedy fair, from the days of M.G.Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. Though  he would have made more worthy entries with the Chevalier,his association with MGR also carried a significant impact in films like Chakravarthi Thirumagal,Alibaabaavum Naarpadhu Thirudargalum,Gulebakavali,Thirudaadhe,Arasilankumari, Enga Veettupillai,Nam Naadu and Uzhaikkum Karangal. It would be surprising that he played negative roles in the last two of the movies cited.With Sivaji Ganesan  he was effectively enrolled in several films that were great hits like Panam,Anbu, Ambikapathi,Amaradeepam,Vanangamudi,Mangaiyar Thilagam, Dheivapiravi Uthamaputhiran, Padikkadha Medhai,Irumbuthirai, Arivaali,Paasamalar,Thillaana Mohanaambaal and Galaattaa Kalyaanam.
     Of these,the comedy scenes from Amara Deepam,[remembered for his outstanding comedy show] Dheivapiravi [celebrated more for the Kadhaa kaalatchebam} Irumbuthirai,{as an underpaid mill worker} Arivaali{as a helpless husband trying to mould  his wife} and Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal {as Nattuvanaar}will refuse to leave the audience memory.As  bogus writer Bhairavan in Kalyana Parisu,as a private detective in Kaidhi Kannayiram and as a lover in the guise of an old man to win his love in Adutha Veettuppenn,the pranks and comedy manoeuvres of Thangavelu  conveyed a stamp of maturity in grasping the concept of humour.
     The other popular films of Thangavelu's comedy drive include Pathini Ddheivam, Karpukkarasi, Sowbagyavadhi,Sadhaaram,Missiamma,Vanjikkottai Vaaliban Maayaa Bazzar,Thein Nilavu, Meenda Sorgam, Manidhan Maravillai {all Gemini Ganesan films} Manjal Magimai and Enga Veettu Mahalakshmi starring A.Nageswara Rao. What  is unique about Thangavelu's comedy is his context awareness,word precision and timing of jokes without violating the yardsticks of decency in promoting laughter.It was always very interesting to watch him getting caught in a helpless situation and the frequent misfiring of his manipulative, escape mechanism.
    There was an effortless and impressive voice modulation in his dialogue delivery, with his clear bold tone embracing a shrill pattern, to indicate the final moment of defeat, confirming the failure of all his planned efforts to escape from a ticklish situation.It was this interesting journey through the vocal cords that made his humour  delivery, win strength and acceptance.Unlike Kalaivanar and Chandrababu, who sang at least one song in their own voice, in every film that they acted, Thangavelu was offered a song sequence in a number of films,though he could not himself, sing a song.Films like Rambayin Kaadhal,Naan Kanda Sorgam{in which he acted as hero}Kaidhi Kannaayiram,Irumbu Thirai,Maayaa Bazaar,Alibaabaavum Naarpdhu Thirudargalum, Vanangamudi Dheivapiravi,Manjal Magimai, Manidhan Maaravillai and Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi showed him singing either in the voice of Sirkazhi S.Govindarajan or S.C.Krishnan.The first two films in the list were noted for his centralized role performance with both humour and sobriety.
     During the later years of his acting career,Thangavelu performed compact and convincing characters as the father of girls, trying to outwit guys running after his daughters.Even in villain roles, he could effectively play second fiddle to the main villain.As a sidekick,he could make himself naturally ludicrous. Nevertheless, for all the roles Thangavelu played,it was his right and timely focus on words, that quickly drove him to the winning territory.Whether it was the main course of narration as in Adutha Veettuppenn, or a sub plot as in Kalyana Parisu and Arivaali, he always excelled with his commonsense  and competence for promoting humor.
    Thangavelu's  comedy track never failed to display an inbuilt force and vigour, amounting to the impact of bursting of crackers and this was always executed with a confident and convincing throw of words.There was ever a breezy touch in his comedy demonstration, as if humour  could emanate with the feather touch of a tennis ball with its speed,thrust and thud towards winning the game of laughter play, without unwanted hue and cry.It was a tender game of comedy that Thangavelu  played with words, that never hurt, but sent the audience to the peels of laughter.Certainly this splendid mark of  neat verbal comedy made him an invincible comedian.


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