Thursday, September 1, 2016

Four Super Heroes of Tamil Cinema.



    Every hero of the world of cinema, carries a distinctly identifiable tag.It is language that confines them to a region.But some of them surpass the barriers of language too.Tamil cinema in particular has never been caught in the midst of language prejudices.When it comes to performance, it is the individual and his attitude and capacity for performance that matter.There are so many high profile talents in the field of cinema in general and Tamil Cinema in particular.
   Many heroes have made an indelible mark here, by their looks and luminous layers of performance. But some have stuck to the soil, like every one's heart beat and pulse rate without which life is impossible.It is not a question of heroes doing more than one hundred films in their life time and staying stable.Many heroes like Gemini Ganesan,Muthuraman, Jai Shankar,Ravichandran, Sivakumar,Prabu, Karthik, Sathyaraj,Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar have all done this magic.But there is something more than this, that lifts the hero's career to the peak and keeps him there,meant for admiration and adoration.Very few heroes can adorn the temples of the medium of cinema and attain a kind of immortality.
    Can any one contest the fact that in the midst of a galaxy of heroes, two illustrious men ruled Tamil Cinema from the Nineteen Fifties to late Nineteen Seventies,as invincible idols, during their lifetime and after?.Can any one among the Tamil audience of the last century, recall any name other than MGR, the three lettered mass model and Sivaji, the Six lettered film fiesta?Both these stalwarts, grew up to historic heights,from a very humble base.Both arduously moved inch by inch, from the streets to the big screen.It was a glorious growth from a Lilliput land to the Great Heavens,or a gorgeous journey from poverty to the fountain plaza.All this happened through the years, by their consolidating opportunities into achievements.But providence too served their interests, as a mascot on hand.It looked as though Sivaji Ganesan lived only to perform and MGR performed, only to move closer to the masses.
   Both made history, Sivaji as the encyclopedic version of acting and MGR as the endearing image of the overall big screen.MGR and Sivaji were poles apart, in their understanding and assimilation of the fundamentals and yardsticks of cinema.Nor did they share screen space more than once in their entire career.For MGR, cinema was a medium to take him closer to the people, in the best order of things, that he preferred and popularized.When I say this, I do not mean to underrate his acting credentials. He had mastered the best formula of acting and his style of acting would ever be with in that MGR formula, with its rich aesthetic components, that necessitated a felicitous mood, for celebrating the process of watching cinema,with its significant entertainment ingredients.Whereas for Sivaji Ganesan,each film warranted a self declared period of conception, gestation and delivery.Yes. each of his film was born as a fresh beautiful baby, with its independent looks and character.
    MGR's objective of screen performance was to establish and promote an ideal model of manhood through characters, that symbolized the overall virtues of a good human being.In this respect,he could be called a typecast hero.But he went on refining this typecast hero, film after film, so as to make the theaters become the homes of men and women, with their accepting and including him, as some one closer to their dreams and life realities.That is why years after his departure, even this day, his spirit rules the emotions of people, through his energizing, hope building,songs of eternal value.He was an astute analyzer of the pulse of the people,
    Sivaji Ganesan was an ardent observer of the inner strings of humanity at large.In other words, if MGR was getting into the heart and soul of the masses, Sivaji Ganesan was digging out individuals from the masses, as characters that he portrayed.For MGR the hero was always someone specially good.But for Sivaji the hero was just a character, either good or bad.The immortality of these lifetime heroes is the result of the goodness in character that MGR stood for and the characters good and bad that speak of the performance- hungry hero called Sivaji Ganesan, who was more concerned about the veracity of the roles he played, than about himself and the audience.
    People remember characters like Gunasekran,[Parasakthi],Parandhaaman,[Thirumbi Paar], Manohara,[Manohara],Raju[Paasamalar],Va Vu Chi.{Kappalottiya Thamizhan}Kattabomman,[Veerapaandiya Kattabomman] Karnan[film of the same title],Rengan,[Padikkaadha Medhai]Gopal [Pudhiya Paravai]Prestige Padmanaban [Vietnam Veedu],Saapaattu Raman,{Raman Ethanai Ramanadi}Barrister Rajinikanth [Gowravam], Chinnadorai{Vasantha Maaligai] Rengadhurai [Rajapart Rengadurai],Justice Gopinath[film of the same title] and many others, which form a tip of the iceberg of  characters, that celebrate the grandeur and memory of the actor in Sivaji Ganesan. He did not hesitate to do three different characters in Dheiva Magan and nine variety of  characters in Navarathiri each one providing a different depth and thrust in character delineation, Sivaji Ganesan was always far from  projecting the image of a single hero, as MGR did.
   Each film of Sivaji Ganesan seemed to have carved the body and spirit of the protagonist, with immense scope for emotional display and elegance in performance, purely with a view to fulfill the thespian urge in the hero.Every one would have thought that Tenali Raman, Ambikapathi, Kattabomman Va.Vu.Chi,and Maha Kavi Kalidas,would have looked and conducted themselves like him.Similarly all the mythological figures like Karnan,Lord Shiva,MahaVishnu and Naaradhar would have been visualized through the body language of this brilliant hero.The image of spiritual saints like Appar and Sundarar have been imprinted in the minds of the audience, through the looks and demeanor of Sivaji Ganesan. He could be shortly called the epitome of the cherished values of history,society and spiritualism.A Chevalier award is not the end of acknowledging his theatrical and cinematic grandeur.
      Ultimatey what happened was, MGR the hero of the masses,became a political heart throb,on account  of his time tested screen image of being a positively inspiring human being,with all right attributes meant for leadership.He could form a political outfit of his own and lead the state of Tamil Nadu as its chief minister from 1977 to 1987 with a brief break for a couple of years.Whereas Sivaji Ganesan, a born actor who also founded a political party, suffered a pathetic defeat at the hustings. This was because the people were prepared to recognize him only as a screen hero of immense value, who would be remembered as the rarest phenomenon in the sphere of cinema,a star in the firmament to be watched with awe, for its myriad colors, symbolic of the infinite variety of mankind.The posthumous reality of both these life time heroes is that,both have reached a state of eternal fame not to be washed away by the passage of time.They are more than heroes.They continue to outlive their times,one as a former dynamic chief minister and the other as the grand master of the Tamil big screen .
     It was during the lifetime of these monumental heroes,a pair of the next generation stars began to glow and glitter with the brilliance of a similar stature.One of the two stars had already established himself as a child artist acting with MGR and Sivaji Ganesan in films like Aananda Jodhi and Paarthaal Pasi Theerum. The other star shot up to fame like a meteor to remain as the undisputed superstar of Tamil Cinema.Both these heroes remain in their own individual capacities, as proud treasures of the tinsel world,to retain their legacy longer,in the line of their predecessors.
     Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth were the two heroes, who were groomed by the profound film making intricacies of a trendsetting and epoch making director, called K. Balachander.The acronym KB, was known to all Tamil film viewers as the pinnacle of film direction with his singular stamp of authority in film making.Soon the two heroes of KB, began to grow to newer heights, with their own inimitable quest for originality, dynamism and depth in acting.Unlike MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, who acted together in just one movie,Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth have acted in more than a dozen films, either as two heroes on the same screen or Kamal as hero and Rajini as villain, sharing equal screen space and importance in characterization .Later they parted ways to set up their own yardsticks and footprints in acting.
    In Kamal,one can see a combination of Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan, with regard to the extensive stimulus  for climbing up the rungs of the acting ladder and the gusto for exhibiting infinite shades of romantic charm,respectively.But his inventive uniqueness, in making each of his films into an over all creative experience and his aesthetic breathing in and breathing out, the air of cinematic freshness, are his hard earned assets, never to be equated with the achievements of any other hero.He can mastermind the whole process of making a film with a total surrender of his body and mind, to that process.In this respect, his acting capital is an invaluable investment notwithstanding the consequences of risks involved in his filming ventures.He will go a long way into the interiors of world cinema, to stay there permanently, for case studies and their research implications, so as to become a point of reference for any meticulous actor in future.It is no wonder that such an incarnation of histrionics, has been honored to become the second Chevalier of Tamil Cinema.
    The Superstar is made of sterner stuff.Unlike Kamal he was not a child artist but he came like a shadow in Aboorva Raagangal and then carved his image on the minds of the audience with a bang, in his next film Moonru Mudichu, reflecting an attitude of storming, through his rugged style and charm.The leonine wield of his acting, has not yet reached its full capacity.He is not only a tornado and a ferocious stream in Tamil Cinema but is also a ripple free river and a gentle breeze. He is both a flower and its thorn.That is why he can excel both as a hero and villain.From Moonru Mudichu to Kabali he has fallen repeatedly into the hands of both creative and commercial giants in film making and come out as the incarnation of excitement and exuberance, in celebrating the joy of a field experience.
    In my longstanding assessment of the films of Rajinikanth,I would compare his mass appeal  to that of  MGR, without the latter's political agenda and his energetic role play, to the passionate histrionics of Sivaji Ganesan. The vibration in his voice,the radiation in his smile and the energy levels of his body language, take him closer to one and all.Not all heroes can become the superstar. If Rajini has moved that high in his career, it is all because of his being Rajini and it is the will of God that the star material in Rajini should glitter more than that of other heroes.Envy can not be an answer to anybody's position in their career.If MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Kamal and Rajini are more than mere heroes, it is purely due to the fact, that they have traveled far ahead of others in showing the world what is special in them, as the iconic interpretation of the soul and spirit of being a hero and it is this distinct characteristic that has made them the super heroes of different times.

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