Sunday, November 5, 2017

Impersonation of Characters in Tamil Cinema.


      Themes of Cinema are mostly based on what happens to man and society or what is made to happen by them.Human imagination grasps a particular theme,depending upon the film maker's interest and evolves it into a process of narration,with events and characters.In making up a story,some times there may be more themes being put together by the narrator,either for the sake of necessity or convenience.For instance,a theme like impersonation,may become the core of a story that warrants it,or an intermingling layer to support another main theme,either as an indispensable factor,or an additional feature of entertainment.Impersonation has been handled as an effective theme in Tamil Cinema,from its inception.
      Impersonation can happen in cinema as it happens in real life,for fun,or for furtherance of one's motives.Though impersonation and disguise are two different things, impersonation also at times seeks the help of disguise,if the dramatic situation makes it mandatory.If characters have to hide their original identity as a precondition,then they have to get into the identity that they have to represent.On the other hand, if the identity of the character that is impersonated,is not known to anybody and if it has to be established through  some identity marks such as a tattoo or a mole, disguise becomes an unnecessary exercise.
     For instance, an action thriller like the film Naan directed by T.R.Ramanna and released in the mid Nineteen Sixties was a great hit,because of the theme of impersonation necessitated by its story line,focusing on the return of the son of a rich man, lost as a kid years ago whose identity could be established only by the presence of a big mole on his back. Knowing this fact, three youths attempt to impersonate as the lost son, by creating an artificial mole on their backs.While one of them comes with pecuniary motives  the other two, come just for fun or for the purpose of detecting  the whereabouts of the original son.The interesting twist of the story is that the real son is hidden somewhere by one of the three impersonators and his gang.It was a movie with sense and suspense and was received very well for its tempo and the way the theme of impersonation was handled, besides its rich quantum of entertainment.The film also had a huge cast of energetic actors like Ravichandran, Jeyalalitha, R.Muthuraman, Nagesh, S.A.Asokan,R.S.Manohar and Manorama.
     A newer movie of this millennium with the same title Naan showed music director Vijay Antony, impersonating one of his co-passengers on a bus,who is killed among many others in a major  road accident that the bus undergoes.As Vijay Antony luckily escapes with minor bruises, he uses the ID card of the dead fellow passenger and  fixes his photo there,in order to settle down in life, through his false identity.The remaining course of events of the film illustrates the inevitable curse of impersonation that the hero has to suffer, by way of compunction and humiliation.. 
      A similar story line of the earlier Naan,was found in one of Rajinikanth's early hits Adutha Varisu produced by Dwarakish and directed by S.P.Muthuraman.In this film it was the legal heiress to a rich Zameen lost in her childhood,who had to be impersonated, by the greedy relatives of the queen of the Zameen and in this process, the hero [played by Rajinikanth} unwittingly helps the gang by bringing a nomad girl {Sridevi}to impersonate as the legal heiress.As usual here too, it was a tattoo mark that was relied upon to establish the identity of the Zameendar's lost daughter.However as a twist in the story, it is later known that the person who impersonates is the true heiress to the Zameen.The hero then gives up his bounty hunting habit and decides to safeguard the interests of the heiress as well as her zameen.
    Twins impersonating each other either for the sake of rivalry or concern for the other twin,has been witnessed as one of the regular features in several films.The rivalry might be due to an itch for snatching power and position from one's twin brother or sister.It might also be due to the fact that both the twins would have fallen in love with the same person.The first category was beautifully pictured in Venus Pictures' Uthama Puthiran' wherein,the twin princes of a kingdom fight for the throne,one with a bad character brought up by the maternal uncle and the other struggling to gain control over governance, to restore the kingdom and its people from ruin.
    Sivaji Ganesan in dual roles, brilliantly performed as twins with their distinctly contradictory characteristics of wickedness and nobility. M.N.Nambiyar as the notorious maternal uncle,did a neat job for his role.The story line had a perpetual appeal so as to revisit it in a humorous perspective,through another film.This humorous version of the same story was filmed by Simbudevan, with Vadivelu playing the lead and it also carried an amusing title called Imsai Arasan Irubathi Moonraam Pulikesi,In both the films, impersonation was resorted to by both the twins, raising the tempo of narration to exciting levels.
    Impersonation for the sake of one's love interest became an interesting factor of films like Kaathirundha Kangal, and Vaali. While in the first  film it was the heroine as one of the twin sisters who impersonates, in Vaali it is the hero,who as the elder twin with his evil mind, attempts to molest his younger brother's wife.Whereas in Kaathirundha Kangal  one of the twin sisters makes use of the situation favorable to her and marries her twin sister's lover,whom she too loves.But she undergoes the trauma of guilt to a great extent and is forced to face the consequences of the suppression of the fact of her impersonation.
    A sense of barbarity prevailed in films like M.K.Radha's Aboorva Sagodhararkal and its later version of M.G.R's Neerum Neruppum,taking one of the two brothers on a devilish track,with temptations for impersonation.Whereas in films like Enga Veettu Pillai,Vaani Rani, Kudiyirundha Koil ,Irulum Oliyum and Thoongadhe Thambi Thoongaadhe, it was the good intention of one of the twins to save the other from their sufferings and unfavorable environment that formed the crux of impersonation.In these cases, impersonation became an inevitable solution to the problems faced by one of the twins,by helping them to restore their rights of identity,as well as the dignity in their position that they deserved.In Kudiyirundha Koil, it vitally helped one of the twins to redeem the other from the gangster world.
   Similarly,persons looking alike happen to get into the position of the other,in order to save them from an unjust imprisonment or unexpected sudden death.Films like Maattukkaara Velan, and Rajadhi Raja showed one of the two persons looking exactly alike, helping the other to come out of a critical position in their life.Whereas in Sandhitha Velai,of two guys looking alike,one of them has to replace the other,as per the other's request at death time,and carry on the latter's business and look after his family, living everyday on tenterhooks.
    There are cases of impersonation caused by the vagaries of individuals refusing to adhere to the parental yardsticks of discipline.Such a treatment of impersonation, was handled both deftly and hilariously, in films like Sabash Meena and Ullathai Allithaa.Both the films were super hits of comedy shows with Sivaji Ganesan joining hands with Chandrababu and Karthik Muthuraman with Goundamani, opening the gates to  incessant bouts of laughter.At times,men and women have to impersonate in each other's gender either for necessity or for the sake of humor.In films based on royal stories either the heroine or her female aid would go in the guise of men depending upon exigencies that warranted such an impersonation.This has regularly happened in Tamil cinema,during its formative years, as an effective dramatic necessity.
    Whereas,men have stepped into the profiles of women to fulfill their objectives of romantic celebration, or family reunion.Impersonation for this purpose was focused in films like Aanazhagan,Maaman Magal  and Avvai Shanmugi.In the first two films Prashanth and Satyaraj resorted to impersonation to get closer to their women, whom they loved. While in the first Prashant got into the guise of a young woman in Maman Magal Sathyaraj had to impersonate as the mother of the hero {himself} to move closer to his woman. However, in Avvai Shanmugi, Kamalahasan disguises himself as an elderly female aid and goes to the house of his wife, who is seeking a divorce from him.The movie fascinatingly showcased Kamal's pranks and earnest efforts in getting reunited with his wife and daughter.Both Maman Mahal and Avvai Shanmugi took the audience to the height of laughter with Avvai Shanmugi surpassing the other.
   Satyaraj impersonates in another movie as an old man for the purpose of getting a job in an estate.This was beautifully pictured with a lot of humor creating instant laughter.The film Nadikan robustly created hilarious moments, with Satyaraj and Goundamani teaming up as the most competitive deceptive guys. Kamalahasan's Kadhala Kadhala,was almost a hilarious ride of rib tickling impersonation.There was also a solid case for serial impersonation,in the film 'London'directed by Sundar.C. In this film with immense scope for comedy, impersonation contributed to frequent bouts of laughter,while at the same time taking an old, visually challenged couple for a ride.
   From my memory,I could recall some notable instances of the deft handling of impersonation in Tamil Cinema, reflecting a variety of creative perceptions. From what I have recalled, one could understand that the concept of impersonation, has widely attracted the creative imagination of Tamil film makers.It is also an indisputable phenomenon, that this specific theme has equally inspired the audience to a great extent, as an enchanting dimension of their film watching experience.

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