Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Father of Tamil Film Comedy.

       














      This blog has paid tributes to quite a few comedians, who were and have been, making active contribution to the humor segment of Tamil cinema.There was in fact, a separate article in this blog, carrying the tile "The Changing phases of comedy in Tamil Cinema"making special mention about changing trends in humor transmission and the actors who were involved in changing the trends. Whatever be the benchmarks  in assessing the comedy element of Tamil cinema, the starting point becomes as much important as the process of evolution.In this regard, the origins of healthy and memorable comedy component of Tamil cinema,  could be traced along with the genesis of Tamil cinema itself.The effective fundamentals of Tamil cinema, could be said to have been formed during the early forties which saw a drastic transition from the silent movie days to films with  the sound track.As this blog writer was born at the fag end of that decade, he missed the opportunity of watching the early period Tamil films as and when they were released.But he came to know later that the basement for the comedy structure of Tamil cinema was beautifully and strongly laid by the immortal comedian of Tamil cinema called Nagar Koil Sudalaimuthu Krishnan affectionately remembered by the three English letters N S K.or by the pseudonym Kalaivanar .
    A majority of this fabulous comedian's films were released before this blog writer was born.But still thanks to the repeated screening of some of the hits in theaters during the Nineteen fifties and sixties and the telecast of films such as Nalla Thambi, after the introduction of television, this writer could see at least a dozen great films in which this immortal comedian received an indispensable role assignment and audience acclaim.The writer considers it  good fortune to have been able to watch films like Aariyamaalaa, Manonmani,Jegdhalapradhaaban {all P.U.Chinnappa hits},MGR's Madhurai Veeran,Chakravarthi Thirumagal, and Arasilankumari,Sivaji Ganesan's films like Raja Rani, Ambikapadhi and Thanga Padhumai,Gemini Picures' epic film Chandralekha and Gemini Ganesan's Yaar Paiyyan. The other film that was brought home through the small screen was the astounding Nalla Thambi. It could be said here that N.S.K was associated with the two major Dravidian leaders Arignar Anna and Kalaignar Karunanidhi. While Nalla Thambi in which N.S.K acted as hero,was directed by the former,films like Manamagal,Panam and Raja Rani carried the script of the latter and N.S.K not only played the beloved comedian in these films but also directed the first two films in the list.
    All the MKT-NSK hits like Ambikapadhi, Haridas,Siva Kavi,Amara Kavi and Thiruneelakandar remain in the wish list of the writer.During his early years in Tamil Cinema the two most popular heroes of N.S.Krishnan were M.K.T.Bhagavadhar and P.U.Chinnappa who were then replaced by the two epoch making heroes M.G.Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. Some of the films of these two heroes such as Ambikapathi,and Raja Dhesingu  in which N.S.K performed the role of a comedian were released only after his death.Besides these two heroes, the other Dravidian hero who frequently got himself associated with N.S.Krishnan,was S.S.Rajendran.
    What has always remained as an extraordinary value of this comedian was a galaxy of exemplary personal traits such as geniality,generosity and genuine humanitarian concern, reflected in his most frequent philanthropic contribution to the needy and the under privileged.There are quite a lot of accounts about the charitable  mindset and the give-away attitude, of this great comedian.Some in the film circles have compared him to Charlie Chaplin with regard to the deprived childhood of both the actors.But to me N.S.K appears much more sanguine in mood than the world famous English comedian.In Charlie Chaplin, despite his gorgeous comedy dimensions seamlessly merged with his body language one could always notice a certain amount of melancholy that could rarely be seen in Kalaivanar. However, N.S.Krishnan's personal life was equally laid up with unforeseen misfortunes such as imprisonment in a less proved murder case and the consequential setbacks of penury and privation.
   It was a gentle humor, dipped in soothing satire, that N.S.K always perpetuated.He would not under estimate or insult his fellow comedians or side kicks.Some of the popular fellow comedians of N.S.Krishnan were T.S.Dorairaj,Pulimoottai Ramasamy,Kottapuli Jeyaraman and Kali.N.Rethinam. Kalaivanar's social concern ever formed a vital part of his spontaneous comedy generation.His was a perfect combination of both verbal and physical comedy.But his physical comedy was confined to changing facial expressions of joy,love,contempt,adoration and taunt. In this respect he would definitely have provided the right model for his next generation comedians like K.A.Thangavelu who excelled in verbal comedy and J.P.Chandrababu who reveled in physical gesticulations.But both these comedians could not be said to have imbibed the dual side of N.S.K's comedy fervor.It was Nagesh who later on succeeded in transmitting a balanced mix of  word and deed.
     Something special about N.S.K is the fact that he acted in the two versions of Ambikapadhi,one starring M.K.T.Bhagavadhar and the other in which Sivaji Ganesan played the lead role.Similarly this primary comedian acted in films like Alibabavum Naarpadhu Thirudarkalum{in which N.S.K played the hero}and Uthamaputhiran {starring P.U.Chinnappa}which were later remade with M.G.R as Alibaba and Sivaji Ganesan as Uthama Puthiran.
    N.S.K was a casual singer and he spiritedly passed on the essence of comedy through his vocal celebration of music.Some of his most memorable numbers are "Thedhi Onnula Irundhu"{Mudhal Thedhi}"Enge Theduven Panathai Enge Theduven"Dheena Moona Khaana{Panam},Seermevum Gurupaadham{Chakravarthi Thirumagal}Naattukku Sevaiseiyya Naagareeg Komaali vandhaan Aiyyaa {Nalla Thambi} and 'Sirippu"{Raja Rani}The musical notes might be missing in his rendering of songs.It might also look as if he was speaking through songs.But his soothing voice compensated the missing links. Comedian Chandrababu who in his hey days sang at least one song in each of his films would perhaps have drawn inspiration from this extraordinary actor.
    N.S.K's comedy skit was always a treasure of verbal decency and innocent humor.In most of the films the comedy skit originated from his creative brain and it was his wife T.A.Madhuram who joined him almost as his lifetime comedienne pair. His sense of humor was that of a seeming simpleton with a granary of precious thoughts of social concern and human harmony.Those were decades when the evil side of humanity was less emphatic than it is today.That is why films of those years were free from vulgarity and viciousness that have grown rampant now.
    Responsible film making was the over all general order of the last century.Hence it became the collective responsibility of everyone including those of the leading comedy team, to refrain from hurting individuals as well as the social fabric, while at the same time taking care of the process of social reform,by gently satirizing social taboos and practices, that went against the principles of personal freedom and the quality enhancement of both individuals and society. N.S.Krishnan scrupulously followed all these yardsticks and sensibly paved the way for healthy humor through the celluloid form.It was in this particular respect, he would ever be celebrated in memory as the King or Father of Tamil film Comedy
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2 comments:

  1. Excellent description of NSK. Your write up of the comedian king is excellent, Sir. Please keep writing. I enjoyed reading your blog.
    - Raajkumarr ( RSK)

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