Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Last Century's Sparkling Child Artistes of Tamil Cinema.




     Child artists of cinema, generally bring cheers to the audience, because of their fine flashes of innocence and their beautifully formed performance skills.Tamil cinema has always been beaming with child talents taking the audience by surprise.In the current scenario exposure to theatrical experience is easier for children thanks to the availability of television channels. Today,children make wonders as singers,dancers, speakers and actors.But in the last century things were not easy, because stage and cinema were the only options available.Under these restrictive circumstances, there grew young performers bringing remarkable credit and name to Tamil Cinema.Among boys,there were Kamalahasan,Master Rajkumar,Master Sekar,Master Sridhar and Master Prabhakar. The notable child artists among girls were,Kutti Padmini,Roja Ramani, Baby Sridhevi Baby Shakhila,Baby Rani and Baby Indhira. Of these,excepting Kamalahasan and Sridevi,others are remembered only for their childhood performance.
    Kamalahasan's childhood cinema days, were evenly divided among the top stars of those days.As a child artiste, he acted one movie each with Sivaji Ganesan{Paarthaal Pasitheerum} M.G.R {Ananda Jodhi} and S.S.Rajendran{Vaanambadi}.He did his first film Kalathoor Kannama and later Padhakanikkai with Gemini Ganesan. His passion for thespian excellence was firmly rooted to these films with clarity and force in dialogue delivery.There were also noticeable symptoms of independence and aggressiveness,towards taking him inseparably closer to the celluloid mode, as an uncompromising actor.His creative voice was deeply imprinted for future promises.
    Master Rajkumar gave a stunning performance as the dumb and deaf son of Gemini Ganesan in A.V.M Pictures' mega hit family drama Ramu. So natural was his plight as the speech and hearing impaired, that it reflected the ripeness of a radiant performer.Master Sekar who was introduced in M G R's block buster film Kudiyirundha Koil, later acted in MGR's Annamitta Kai and Idhaya Veenai.He had also done a role in Sivaji Ganesan's Vani Rani. Master Sekar showed extraordinary dynamism in acting and made a couple of films like Anadadhai Anandan and Manippayal  live in the memories of film goers on account of his impeccable  performance.The first one was an AVM release and was based on Charles Dickens' famous novel Oliver Twist. Sekar played the title role of the orphan boy Oliver in that film.The  second film was a Sathya Movies' release and ran successfully because of its thematic content and story value. Sekar rightly fitted into the main role and received accolades for his sprightly show. Besides these, his role performance in the film Kattila Thotila was also noteworthy. 
   Master Sridhar was the most graceful child artiste and so he became the frequently preferred actor, for roles in mythological and spiritual films such as Karnan {as Meghanadhan}Kandan Karunai {as child Muruga}Dasaavadhaaram{as Prince Laksmanan}Nambinaar Keduvadhillai, Mupperum Dheviyar and Vetri Vinayagar{as Naradhar}.Introduced in the Veenai Balachandar film Avana Ivan, he continued to act in films like Marakka Mudiyuma, Kurathi Magan, Panathukkaaga and Krodham. Sridhavar was known for elegant acting with soft and controlled delivery of dialogues  contrary to Master Sekar, whose force of dialogue delivery was ever a clean sweep.
   Master Prabhakar was of a mischievous brand, who cast lasting impressions by his chuckle and cheeky delivery of dialogues.He created a special place for himself through his meritorious performance in the two A.P.Nagarajan films Thirumalai Thenkumari and Va Raja Va.He was an endearing child artiste and it was his lovely looks and demonstration of pranks that took him closer to the audience.He joined Master Sekar in Anadhai Anandan and Master Sridhar in Marakka Mudiyuma. His other important entry is for the film Engalukkum Kalam Varum. 
  There was another male child artiste called Pakoda Kadher who generated roars of laughter as the thumb sucking  son of a Bramin couple, [played by the most talented comedy script writer and actor A.Veerappan and Achi Manorama},frequently demanding the snack Pakoda, in the great road comedy film Madras to Pondicherry. His fatness and sluggish way of talking fetched him a unique place, as an extraordinary child comedian.It was my personal opinion that his looks and acting mode were similar to those of the burly comedian T.S.Dorairaj.
   Among the girl child artistes Sridhevi who established fame as an award winning actress of grace and charm, could reach Bollywood status, glorifying the throne of stardom.Her performance with Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth created records of kind.But the two boy roles that she donned as a child artiste in Thunaivan{as Child Muruga} and Nam Naadu {as the cute younger brother of Kutti Padmini }will be specially remembered for the charm and glory of innocence.
   The other five child artist girls are celebrated more for their roles as amazing performers of  childhood grandeur.Of these, Kutti Padmini who started acting as a three year old kid in Abalai Anjugam went on to act nearly fifty films until her mid thirties.Her most remembered  films as child artiste are Dheiva Piravi,Nenjil Oer Aalayam,Kaathirundha Kangal {as young Savithri in dual roles} Avana Ivan,Pasamalar,Navarathiri,Asai Alaigal,Namnadu,Motor Sundaram Pillai,Sadhu Mirandaal and the ever outstanding Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum. 
    With her bold eyes and devil -may- care dialogue delivery,Kutti Padmini always cast a spell of her roles with consummate energy and fascinating perfection.Several grown up actors were found wanting in courage, to tackle her invincible grasp of role delivery.If as a pathetic girl laid up with a fatal illness, she brought tears in Nenjil Oer Aalayam,as an ebullient character in Nam Nadu,Sadhu Mirandal  and Kuzhadhaiyum Dheivamum,her boldness created a sense of awe and surprise. No one can forget the way she bullied her grandmother G.Varalakshmi in Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum.In dual roles, she clearly marked a note of difference in performing the role of twins.She could rightly be called the most invincible child artiste of Tamil Cinema.
     Unlike Kutti Padmini her close contemporary Roja Ramani was an incarnation of docile and subdued feminine passivity.Though she performed as a grown up actress in films like Vayasu Ponnu and M.G.R's Neethikku Thalai Vanangu [both were great films}it was her role performance as a child artiste in films like Iru Malarkal,En Magan,Edhiroli and Enga Mama that would stand to her credit.Incidentally,all the four were Sivaji Ganesan films.Besides these, Roja Ramani stole our hearts by performing the role of the boy,Praghaladha son of Hiranya Kasibu in the A.V.M film Baktha Pragaladha, dubbed into Tamil from Telugu.Very cute and nonchalant she was,saying 'narayanamantram' purposely to irritate Hiranya who was a proclaimed hater of Lord Vishnu.When anyone thinks of Prkaladha it would be the profile of Roja Ramani that would stand before them.
     The other child artiste Baby Shakeela with her beaming eyes and brilliant dialogue delivery was a treat to watch, in films like Iru Vallavarkal Enga Veetu Pillai,Kannithai, and Kuzhandhai Ullam. Her prattling Tamil  was an added attraction to her cute looks.As Nambiyar's kid and MGR's niece, the way she showed fear for her father and love for her maternal uncle, was an inimitable sample of toddlers performing roles, with ease and spontaneity.But the same kid reflected exemplary courage and vigor in a boy role as R.S.Manohar's son in Modern Theaters' Iru Kodugal.It was the same way Baby Rani essayed her roles in the films Kuzhandhaikkaaga and Kanne Papa.Following them,there came Baby Indira whose acting dynamism was equal to that of Kutti Padmini in terms of sharp looks and sharper utterances, performed brilliantly in films like Kadavul Mama,Doctoramma,Pinju Manam,Thaliya Salangaiya,Unakkaaga Naan, Unmaiye Un Vilai Enna and Idho Endhan Dheivam, to mention a few.Later as a grown up actor she was seen in the films of Bhakiyaraj and Rajinikanth. She is another child artiste to find a lasting place in the archives of Tamil Cinema.
     As I said earlier, in the contemporary world  we have a large line of child artistes doing excellent rounds in various fields of talent exposition.Today the openings are many and the contenders for excellence are also many. I have purposely left out today's prominent actors Meena and Simbu, who were also once commanding child artists.This is because, they belong to the succeeding generation and  my focus is only on the child artists of the Nineteen Sixties and  Seventies. I would have left out a few names here, due to lapse of memory.I would have referred only to a few films of the proud children of Tamil Cinema.I think my forgetfulness has to be apologetic for these omissions.Barring Kamal and Sridhevi, who have established an immortal place for themselves in the broad spectrum of Indian cinema, all the others mentioned in this article, remain today a forgotten lot.Hence,I make this article  a singular tribute from my side, to those less remembered but greatly talented child artistes of Tamil cinema, of the last century and I record  my tribute as a special memento to them,on this year's children's day. 

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