Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tamil Cinema's Timeless Villain.


    Villainy is as old as humanity.Creating concepts of villainy and a focus for its proper display are the greatest challenges facing the creator of any art form, that demonstrates evil or bad behaviour denoting the yardsticks of villainy.Fiction and drama, have specialized in the working of the human mind and its reflection as character and behaviour. Cinema has distinctly extended the dimensions of good and bad manners and ways of life, through a dedicated presentation of themes, stories, events and characters.Villainy in Tamil Cinema, is factually as old as Tamil Cinema itself.This Blog has already discussed fairly, the varied trends in villainy prevailing in Tamil Cinema, under another article entitled, 'The Archetypes of Villainy in Tamil Cinema'.The objective of this article is to make an exclusive tribute to a villain actor whose villainy on screen is closer to the inception of the Tamil film industry. It is M.N.Nambiyar,the marvelous villain actor,who deserves this special encomium for remaining as the timeless villain of Tamil Cinema.
    The composition of villainy involves two things.They are,a foul psyche and its fouler manifestation. One may be a scheming villain,a crude villain,a loud villain or a smiling villain. M.N.Nambiyar has proved many a time that he is the combination of all these tough and trendy traits of villainy.What always created a special impact in the case of Nambiyar was his singular modes of gesticulation and. unique voice modulation creating the most gripping shades of villainy.
     Two of the earliest films that showed him as the sweet quoted villain,were Nichaya Thamboolam and Thirudaadhe,the former a Sivaji Ganesan film,and the latter an MGR special.He also did a similar dubious role in Missiamma a Gemini Ganesan hit. Later he appeared once again in such a role in one of MGR's last leg films Neethikku Thalaivanangu. As a deceptive villain, Nambiyar was perfectly captivating because of his charming and graceful looks.As Nambiyar was one of those actors who moved to the screen from the stage,he knew at the deeper levels, the intrinsic parameters of timing in dialogue delivery and bodily coordination in acting,that made him a special asset to Tamil Cinema,leave alone his inborn flair for performing villainy with felicitous involvement.
     Nambiyar was one of those actors who was simultaneously performing character roles along with villain roles in early Tamil releases like Thigambara Saamiyaar, Makkalai Petra Magaraasi, Baagapirivinai, Naan Petra Selvam, Nallavan Vaazhvaan, Boologa Rambai and Paasamalar.He also convincingly portrayed the role of an honest police officer in movies like, Nallavan Vaazhvaan, Panthottam, Ragasiya Police and Ninaithathai Mudippavan, all MGR films.As a police officer, he was chic and stylish in all these films.What was extraordinary about this outstanding actor was his facial composition and body frame that could naturally fit into any kind of character be it of a royal mould or a social/ familial/tribal type. 
      Some of the earliest grand shows of Nambiyar's incomparable villainy were the MGR blockbusters Marmayogi, Mandhirikumari  Sarvaadhikaari and the moderate hits like Arasilankumari and Arasa Kattalai. He was either a Raajaguru or scheming royal lieutenant or a flirting guy in these immortal films.Similarly inspiring were the roles he performed, in the Sivaji Ganesan super hits like Vanagamudi, Uthamaputhiran and Thanga Padhumai. One great thing about M.N.Nambiyar was that he was a non controversial actor at all times and that is why he could get patronized both by the MGR and Sivaji Ganesan camps, without any degree of discrimination.
      Nambiyar was seen as the crudest and most violent villain both in looks and demeanour in some of the notable MGR films like Naan Aanaiyittaal,Padahotti, Kudiyirundha Koil,Pudhiya Bhoomi,Kaavalkaaran,Naalai Namadhe, Sirithu Vaazhavendum and Pallaandu Vaazhga.Of these Kavalkaaran was a totally different type of film in which he played the role of an irredeemable rich criminal-cum-father-in law of MGR.In Engaveettu Pillai he was the greedy and ruthless brother-in-law of the hero MGR, but finally got mellowed through a process of reformation, as in the film Aayirathil Oruvan, which showed him as a bad provincial ruler unethically attempting to marry the heroine.In Sridhar's Urimaikural,he was the scheming son of a greedy mother who finally got beaten and reformed by the hero {MGR}.The other detestable villain characters in which he appeared were for the Sivaji Ganesan starring Thirisoolam and Rajini Kanth's Naan Mahaan Alla. A few other films that exhibited the brutal side of his villainy were, MGR's Dheivathai,En Kadamai, Parisu, Nododi,Madapura, Vivasaayi, Thozhilaali and Aasaimugam.
      Some of the rarest and most memorable roles that Nambiyar performed brilliantly, were as a rich zamindar bent upon destroying the love of his son even during the rebirth of his son and his lover, in the film Nenjam Marappadhillai and as a rich man displaying the arrogance of wealth or  not allowing his sister or daughter to marry a poor, beneath- his status man, in films like Raman Ethanai Ramanadi Enga Oor Raaja and Rajapart Rengadhurai. He compactly and buoyantly fixed himself, in performing  roles such as poet Ottakoothan in Ambikapathi  as an aristocratic zameendhar in Thilaanaa Mohanaambaal and as Balathevar in Raja Raja Cholan. 
    Unlike P.S.Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar did not have bold eyes to make a physical thrust of villainy.But his eyes could at times speak more than his tongue because his eyebrows could rise and shrink to suit the emotions required for the scene .The effectively calculated rise and fall of intonation in his delivery of dialogues and the corresponding gesticulations he would make, were the invincible trademarks of his villainy would inspire many mimicry artists and comedians like Vivek to imitate him, not for the sake of mockery but for the pleasure of doing it.If P.S.Veerappa was good mostly at fencing, M.N.Nambiyar was equally adept in fencing, boxing and wrestling.This comparison should not be misunderstood,because P.S.Veerappa who was an inimitable and contemporary villain actor of Nambiyar,had shown his tremendous skill for fisticuffs in films like Kaidhi Kannayiram and Ananda Jothi.The point here is, unlike P.S.Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar had acted in more number of films on social themes and so the need for practising and performing other genres of stunt activities, was more for M.N.Nambiyar than for Veerappa. 
    M.N.Nambiyar lived longer than P.S.Veerappa and he could share screen space with a long list of actors starting from MGR and Sivaji Ganesan down to the youngest actors like Vijay, Prashanth and so on.Similarly both as a villain and character actor he would have acted with comedians like N.S.Krishnan, K.A.Thangavelu,J.P.Chandrababu,Nagesh and Vadivelu quite often sharing their comic spirit with him.Incidentally,the very first film of M.N.Nambiar 'Vidyabadhi' showed him as a comedian and many years later,it was K.Bagyaraj who restored the comic mantle to Nambiyar in his film Thooral Ninnupochu. In the film Winner, one can see Vadivelu teasing M.N.Nambiyar with a funny remark that the death of MGR has made his  mischief rather uncontrollable. Surprisingly,Nambiyar would not make any reaction to this remark. Perhaps he would have silently enjoyed and endorsed Vadivelu's cheeky remark.
     No one can ignore his elderly character roles,mostly as a lovable grand dad in the films of heroes like Rajinikanth [Ejaman}Vijayakanth[Ezhai Jaadhi}Vijay{Poove Unakkaaga} and Prasanth{Winner}.It is known to the Tamil audience that this ardent villain of Tamil Cinema was a staunch Ayyappa Devotee and a teetotaler.His journey from villainy to valued character roles on the stage and on the screen, was ever a spontaneous course, because of the magic in his voice and the volume of his vision, that could easily travel from the destination of villainy to that of virtue.It was his inbuilt capacity to undergo this by polar journey that keeps him in the most reputed and prestigious position as the timeless villain of Tamil Cinema.


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