Friday, December 21, 2018

The Immortal Screen Image of Avvaiyaar

   


    Tamil language can afford to be legitimately proud of its age old literary legacy.The chronological and voluminous content of Tamil literature is as great and vast as that of the literature of most other world languages. As far as poetry is concerned,the didactic nature and epic grandeur of Tamil Literature,are of a unique kind,with a galaxy of classics and life related precepts and maxims in single or double line order.Tamil literature has categorically and affirmatively laid down rules and directions of life,leading to ennobling goals for the creation of an exemplary society and illustrious race.
     Among those who have shown the pathway to glorious living,Avvaiyaar {a term which means esteemed/ respected woman} has gained an immortal place for enriching Tamil literature.The history of Tamil literature makes references to a Tamil Saintly poet called Avvaiyaar who is said to have lived during the 3rd century B.C.E playing a significant role as a poet of the Sangam literature period,besides being directly blessed by Lord Muruga,considered to be a special deity of the Tamil race.
   The History of Tamil literature also refers to another Avvaiyaar of the tenth century A.D who had contributed her high thinking maxims during the Chola Dynasty and shaped the Tamil society for enlightened destinations.Interestingly the term 'Avvaiyaar'in Tamil could even be interpreted to mean,"who is the old respectable woman?"{Avvai-elderly woman; yaar-who}.Tamil cinema has of course given us a combined image of both the Muruga devotee of the Sangam period and the instructive voice of the Chola Dynasty.But the actor who has squeezed out the essence of the venerable Avvai {old woman} has ever been K.B. Sundarambal, who alone has frequently donned the role of Avvaiyar and made us fix her profile with that of the ancient saintly poet.
    Kodumudi Balambal Sundarambal was both a stage artist and screen actor,in addition to being a wonderful singer with a clarion voice.She was a political activist during the Freedom Movement and became a member of the legislative council of Madras State in 1951 as a Congress Nominee.After a brief married life with her fellow actor S. G. Kittappa,who passed away six years after their marriage,she devoted the rest of her life to music and selective devotional roles in films.Her face with the sacred ash marks adorning her forehead,cleanly reflected sanctity and spiritual fervour. She was seen as Avvaiyaar at least in three films viz. Avvaiyar produced by Gemini Studios in 1953 and later in Vijayalakshmi Pictures' Thiruvilaiyadal and Kandan Karunai both directed by A.P.Nagarajan. Her earliest Tamil film entries were Nandanar,{1935}and Manimekalai {1940}.
    Some of the other notable films of K B S were Poompuhar {as Gavundhi Adikal} Maha Kavi Kalidas,Thunaivan,Karaikaal Ammaiyaar{ as Karaikaal Ammaiyaar,the distinguished devotee of Lord Shiva}and Thirumalai Dheivam{as a woman saint called Narayani}.The most extraordinary credentials of K B S were the spiritually enchanting looks and the magnificence of her voice.It is this voice which is still being heard and enjoyed despite her absence from this mundane world since 1980.The way she used to address Lord Muruga,carried the absolute essence of love,devotion and self-surrender to the deity whom she worshipped from the bottom of her heart.The same way,whenever she was seen addressing Lord Muruga as 'Muruga' her probing,poignant voice seemed to drive the audience into a spiritually melting process,creating an inexplicable quantum of ecstasy similar to a state of bliss,capable of evoking the communion of the human soul with the Brhaman.
    What a glorious moment it is listening to her stentorian voice,singing songs like"Mayilerum Vadivelane"{Avvaiyaar}"Gnanappazhathai Pizhindhu"and "Pazham Neeyappaa"{Thiruvilai yaadal}"Kaalathil Azhiyaadha Kaaviyam peravandha"{Maha Kavi Kaalidas}"Vaazhkai Enum Odam"{Poompuhar}and"Ezhumalaiyirukka Namakenna Manakkavalai"{Thiru Malai Dheivam}.Likewise, we would have enjoyed her songs like "Ayyane Anbarku Meyyane"and "Muthamizh Dheivame Vaa"{Avvaiyaar}Thappithu Vandhaanappaa"{Poompuhar}" Onraanavan Uruvil Irandaanavan"{Thiruvilaiyadal}"Senruvaa Magane"{Maha Kavi Kalidas} "Piravaadha Varam Vendum"{Kaaraikaal Ammaiyaar}"Ariyadhu Ketkin"{Kandan Karunai} "Gnaanamum Kalviyum"and "Koopitaa Kuralukku Yaar Vandhadhu"{Thunaivan} and ''Kelupaapaa''{Uyirmel Asai}. Besides film songs,she had also sung devotional songs of which I recall the classical number 'Thanithirundhu Vaazhum Thavamaniye"that I had heard during my early boyhood,from the the gramophone record player.
    K.B Sundarambal's songs are ringing in our ears as much as her divine looks are indelibly imprinted in our memory.She was one of those mighty musical voices of the Tamil soil,in the line of M.K.T Bhagavadhar,T.M.Soundarajan and Sirkazhi Kovindarajan,leading the lyrics by the force of voice clarity and perfection in accent.Tamil Cinema owes her a lot,both in terms of her inimitable vocal splendour and incomparable spiritual dignity,towards performing sacred roles.Above all,she will live for ever,not only as the screen image of the Tamil saintly poet Avvaiyaar,but will also be cherished in audience memory as the truest replica of that saintly poet,whose Aathichoodi and Kondrai Vendhan continue to govern the life of every individual, endowed with a fair knowledge of Tamil Literature.
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Monday, December 10, 2018

Vetrimaran's World of Violence,Vengeance and Vendetta.




     Crime is one of the pet subjects of film makers.As humanity has imbibed criminality from its genesis,narration of the crime zone has been popular ever since the inception of world cinema. Film makers resort to crime depiction either as a direct course of narration or as an indirect presentation with suggestive and intertwined layers of scenic coherence,focusing on flash back techniques or subtle link shots,calling for a close watch of the development of events,through an off the track mode of dialogue delivery.Crime portrayal on the screen can be in the form of a thriller,or a horror demonstration,or simply an action promotion.Tamil films have successfully touched upon these varied patterns of narration,depending upon the director's aptitude and imagination.
    Vetrimaran who began his dedicated thrust and focus on the inhuman side of humanity with his critically rated first film Pollaadhavan starring Dhanush,has successfully continued his directorial journey on this favoured path,giving us three more hits such as Aadukalam, Visaaranai and Vada Chennai*.{*Specific titles of this kind seem to disturb the psyche of those who are personally related to such titles.The Metro Plus Supplement of the Hindu dated 10th December 2018,has recorded the views of some people who feel that the pride of their identity is very much hurt by titles focused on localities,without an understanding of their present environment and life style} 
   Dhanush has remained as the steadfast partner of most of the films of Vetrimaran both by joining the production process and by acting as the protagonist in three of the four films excepting Visaranai.The same way G. V. Prakash Kumar has composed music for three of these four films leaving Vada Chennai in the hands of Santhosh Narayanan.The frequent inclusion of actors like Kishore,Daniel Balajee and Samuthrakani has also reinforced the film making base of Vetrimaran.
    Knives,Swords,pickaxes,blades,guns and even tiles have been the tools for Vetrimaran's gangster characters,to thrive as perpetrators of pain.Rivalry,beastly targeting of the prey,betrayal for personal aggrandizement and uncouth revenge are the four pillars on which the gruesome structure is raised.There is absolutely no sense of belonging,because nobody knows who will betray whom and there is ever a weapon dangling behind everybody,to raise a back stab.But the charm of Vetrimaran is rather insidious,driving the audience glued to the screen, to surprise destinations,all of a sudden. Vetrimaran is a born celebrator of the spirit of rivalry,romance and sportsmanship,blending them all as integral segments of his ghastly celluloid chart,so as to lend some charm to the chillness of brutality. 
    A bike or a cock or the carom will transmit a kind of enchantment either by travelling along with the criminal agenda or by even surpassing it if necessary.It is stark realism that determines the quality of a Vetrimaran film,through an underplay of roles by most characters including his heroes.Who else can fit into this natural garb of role play other than the most natural actor Dhanush,who eases himself through casual,breezy delivery of dialogues and fixes himself in the minds of the audience,like an unassuming next door guy.Hence,he becomes the most appropriate choice for Vetrimaran to deliver heroism without engineering any extra effort of a blow up or image cult.  
   Vetrimaran's dark world does not exclude the crime belt of a section of the cops that exercises its police belt,to serve itself at the expense of the criminals,or to transform innocent youths into criminals by a hook of its strategic police brain.This is what we sadly witnessed in Visaranai. Vetrimaran's narration has never been direct or transparent.It is as much hidden as the dark criminal nexus,so that the narration can flawlessly percolate into the interiors of crime designs and cull out characters in their original form.
    Though a place for women could be called redundant in a crime cast,Vetrimaran has made the presence of women justifiable,by adding delight to the dryness of many diabolic death plots besides squeezing out heavier emotions harbouring untold revenge programmes,as seen in the character of Andrea Jeremiah,neatly etched out in Vada Chennai.As far as delight formula is concerned,Divyaa Spandana,Tapsee Pannu and Aishwarya Raajesh have compactly created fascinating sparks,by their controlled display of glamour,in Polladhavan,Aadukalam and Vada Chennai respectively.  
   Where violence alone prevails there is no scope for waste of words.Hence crisp and cutting dialogues echo the mind frame of men who spill blood more,than spelling words.Brevity is not only the soul of wit,but  also the mark of violence.The concluding statement of a cop in Visaranai,will beautifully endorse this assessment,when the cop says"both are done"to mean that both the honest police officer and the innocent youth have been done to death.
   The goon space has no room for comedy or humour.But at times any character will generate humour through their spontaneous utterances like the ones made by some of the jail mates in Vada Chennai.When one of the prisoners on hearing the news of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi,calls him the C M of Tamil Nadu,it subtly brings out the fact that ignorance never matters for those who excel in crime.All things happen naturally in the negative world of Vetrimaran be it the alluring lungi dance of Dhanush in Aadukalam,or the stealthy kissing episodes of Dhanush and his lover Aiswarya Rajesh in Vada Chennai.
    Perhaps it is such relieving scenes that retrieve the audience imagination at least for a while,from the gripping sequences of heart rending heartlessness of the aggressive promoters of thuggery and criminality,reigning an arena of the underprivileged.The worst part of all this macabre violence is that they they kill for sport,money, power and above all  for the self.There is politics.There are cops both honest and corrupt.There are hardcore criminals and soft ones.All in one bundle.That is Vetrimaran's vision of the bleak side of life.Whenever I watch a Vetrimaran film the following famous maxim of William Shakespeare strikes my mind.
        "As flies to wanton boys are we to Gods.They kill us for sport"
  By the way,there is a particular  scene in Vada Chenna showing Rajan{ finely performed by Ameer} getting brutally stabbed and killed by his trusted lieutenants in a restaurant,which would instantly bring to one's memory,the gory death of Julus Caesar in the Roman Senate Hall, in the hands of his silent rivals and trusted friend Brutus,in Shakespeare's wonderful historical tragedy"Julius Caesar"  
   In Vetrimaran's crime world,thugs kill one another like flies and they kill with a hunter's instinct and killer's arrogance.That is why all characters plunge into a stream of blood, leaving a minuscule of good elements to survive.Even these good elements seem to be waiting for the right moment to wreak vengeance and vendetta.It is this nagging back force of revenge that makes Vetrimaran's film skit sustain,with distinct vigour and virulence.May be that is why all his films stand critically reviewed and his Aadukalam won several national awards, including the best director's award. for him.
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Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Four Finest Films of Gemini Ganesan.


















     Gemini Ganesan was a born lover.He was born to be a romantic.He had a honey tongued voice that would travel through the ears of not only the women he loved,but also those of the audience,who watched him perform the role of a lover.Gemini made everybody munch his sweet words heard,like chewing gum,so as to make the sweetness linger for a longer duration. No other hero of Tamil cinema has ever passed on such a rhythm of language linked to the embryo of love,like the umbilical cord linking a baby to its mother.Almost all his films were dipped in nothing but sweet love,which was found to be sustaining in his veins even in his early seventies,when he acted in Kamalahasan's fabulous comedy Avvai Shanmugi in which he was found flooded with streams of love that he cherished for Kamal, in disguise as a woman called Shanmugi,
  Though he was not a tall hero to the stature of MGR or Sivaji Ganesan,he was an actor of classic standards and norms,set to establish the truth of what genuine love and romance mean. Starting from the days of his films likePathini Dheivam,Gunasundari,Sadhaaram,Aasai Karpukkarasi,Sowbakyavadhi,Mallika,Kairasi,Meenda Sorgam and Bhoologa Rambai it was an endless love journey for him on the Tamil big screen.
   Some of the movies of this less celebrated but fascinating hero,quite often surpassed the love zone and created history.Vanjikkottai Vaaliban,Paarthiban Kanavu and Konjum Salangai are some of his films ever cherished in audience memory for their being grand shows.His other immortal films are Missiamma,Kalathur Kannamma,Kaathirundha Kangal,Bhagyalakshmi, Kaalam Maari Pochu, Paadha Kaanikkai,Vaazhkai Padagu,Karpagam,Shanthi Nilayam,Ezhai Pangalan,Panamaa Paasamaa,Poovaa Thaliyaa,Kaaviya Thalaivi,Thaamarai Nenjam and Velli Vizha.He had breezy comedies to his credit such as Maaman Makal,Halo Mr.Zameendhaar, Thenilavu and Manidhan Maaravillai.I have excluded all the films he acted with Sivaji Ganesan because they were all double hero stories,with a greater thrust on the roles of the Chevalier. The list of his filmography would be very vast that includes the negative roles he played in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan and K.Balachander's Naan Avanillai. But there are four finest films of this wonderful actor that would stand up in singular pride and talk about the unsaid but silently enjoyed cinematic glory of life's lofty edge.
    Interestingly,two of the four movies were directed by Sridhar the refined,romantic film maker and the other two by K.Balachander the elegant narrator of real life situations,causing subtle entanglements for the protagonist.Yes. Kalyana Parisu,Sumaithaangi,Iru Kodukal and Punnagai are for me, the finest films of Gemini Ganesan,the sweetest hero.To me,what brings the four films into a single bundle is the theme of human predicament,denoting an inextricable web of life's complexities.It is like gold being put into flames for its purification.In all the four films,the hero is thrown into a boiling cauldron of emotions,arising out of helplessness and extraneous pulls spoiling the life of an individual.
   Both Kalayana Parisu and Iru Kodugal narrated the plight of a man caught in between two women but both were totally different in their genesis and development of events.In Kalayana Parisu the two women were sisters,both loving the same man and one of them who is actually loved by the hero gives up her love,for the sake of her sister and the hero is compelled to fall into the pyre of sacrifice .As the sister who marries the hero comes to know her sibling's sacrifice of love,she turns guilty and urges her sibling to marry some one.The unpalatable climax is the marriage of the sibling to another guy{played with dignity by A.Nageshwara Rao} and the death of the elder sister a few months after giving birth to a son.The elder sister's death and the younger one's marriage happen,one preceding the other,letting the hero leave his son as his marriage gift to the woman whom he ardently loved.Gemini Ganesan came out as pure gold from the excruciating course of events.Vijayakumari and Sarojadevi were the affectionate sisters with a mutually sacrificing mindset.
    Iru Kodukal was also the story of a man entangled in a two women web.But in this film the two women were not sisters.The plight of the hero was that of a middle class man whose genuine love with a woman was pulled down by unforeseen circumstances and parental manipulations.The hero's marriage with another woman and the return of the original lover as his superior officer{district collector} took the further course of events to the extent of making the hero's routine move between a flooded river and its fiery bank.It was like sailing between the two mythological rocks called Scylla and Charybdis.
    For Gemini Ganesan a two women story became an enchanting enterprise and he impressively underwent the struggles with his neat emotions,rising over the tides and crossing them as naturally as he could.In fact,Vellivizha was also a film showing Gemini Ganesan shuttling between two women destinations but the narration in Iru Kodukal was so natural and dynamic that it made the audience spell bound, by a life like routine moving on the silver screen. Sowcar Janaki reigned supreme as the forlorn lover and I A S officer while Jeyanthi the wife of the hero passively and naturally went on with her whining domestic core.How grand Tamil Cinema was those days and how nostalgic we turn when we think of those days.
    When compared to these two films,Sumaithangi and Punnagai were poignantly hero oriented movies celebrating the grandeur of noble character formation.While Sridhar's Sumaithangi was both a romantic tale and a family drama,with the latter element surpassing the former, Punnagai was out and out Balachander's resolute idealization of an individual, in a multi coloured society.If Sumaithangi's hero was the embodiment of selfless sacrifice,the hero of Punnagai was the incarnation of truth i.e symbolizing an individual's unflinching dedication to truth. Punnagai which means 'smile' in English,reflected the committed smile of the Mahatma born of innate,immaculate truth. Sumaithangi which would mean a person born to bear others' burden showcased Gemini Ganesan as a person born to bear the cross for others.
    Both these films were the meekest revelations of the ennobling attributes of humanity.Gemini Ganesan's modesty and underplay of emotions made him a colossal hero with his soft voice stamping the transmission of nobility without any murmur.The spirit of stoic resignation and the pious acceptance of the happenings in life were brilliantly focused by factors like characterization and narration.I have not said anything about the other characters of the two films because everyone was made to draw inspiration from the hero,whose display and demonstration of the deeper layers of his character were dramatically gripping.
   Many would have thought that Gemini Ganesan was a mediocre hero, running after the trees to catch the heroine on a stereotyped road of romance.But his acting stuff was far beyond the perceptions of the audience.Most of his films would undoubtedly exhibit his inveterate warmth and ecstatic spirit of acting,without undue promotion of body language or overdoing of scenic requirements,but with adequate display of emotions as soothingly as possible.His sonorous voice modulation stapled him to the character he played,with remarkable ease and felicity.All his films threw an endearing experience to the purview of the audience.The above four films in particular,belonged to the finest category of Gemini Ganesan films.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Woman with a face fit for Thrillers.

 


      This blog carries several articles on big and small actresses of the Tamil big screen.A special tribute has been made to the sterling celluloid women like T.R.Rajakumari,Padmini, Savitri, Sarojadevi, K.R.Vijaya and J.Jeyalalitha besides acknowledging the extraordinary acting credentials of Radhika, an actress of the new generation.Tamil cinema carries in its historical pages,a charming,graceful and very pleasing actress called Kanchana,who was introduced by none other than Sridhar, one of the most illustrious directors of the Tamil film industry.The film Kadhalaikka Neramillai in which Kanchana made her debut,was a full length comedy and she was paired with R. Muthuraman in that run away hit,released in 1963.
  Born as Vasundharadevi in a fairly wealthy family,Kanchana became her screen name.Her next film was Veera Abimanyu, in which she appeared as the most enchanting Uttara, starring with A.V.M Rajan as Abhimanyu.It was a fantastic mythological film in which Gemini Ganesan played the role of Lord Krishna. Kanchana has always remained as the cutest and highly unassuming woman of Tamil cinema.She could fix herself in roles of comedy{Bhama Vijayam and Utharavinri Ulleva,besides Kadhalikka Neramillai} and lovelorn characters {Parakkum Paavai,Naan Yen Pirandhein and Vilayattu Pillai} and that of a trust worthy friend {Thulaabaaram and Avalukkenru Oer Manam}.But the best roles that came in her way were those of a fear struck woman with jittery nerves and horror borne eyes.She proved to be a perfect fiddle for playing characters of timid, unnerved women lacking in courage.
    It was the A V M's mega hit thriller Adhe Kangal that first brought out the natural nervousness and timidity in Kanchana, in most of the scenes when sudden stunning events occurred.This thriller was in fact a revenge film depicting a youth in disguise of an old man working as the chef and servant of a rich family purely to indulge in murders of the members of the family,in order to avenge the death of his mother, who was actually set on fire by one of the elders of the family{Kanchana's father}.The movie was rated as one of the best thrillers those days and Kanchana's role play as the most fear ridden girl,deserved a special acknowledge ment for natural role play.She was paired with Ravichandran in this most enjoyed film of the last century .
    Following this there came another film Ponnu Maappillai produced by P. S. Veerappa which was also a murder mystery,creating tremulous moments for Kanchana,who played the heroine against Jaishankar. But the most memorable thriller was Shanthi Nilayam in which Kanchana portrayed the role of an orphan  girl put to untold suffering at every stage in her life.Fear and forlorn feelings framed her character with an expression of awe and misery stamped on her face.This film had an indirect lenience to the famous English novel Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte.Gemini Ganesan was the protagonist of the film who was also a victim of desperate circumstances, generating the thriller events of the story.
    The film was a great success with the audience,besides fetching a national award for best cinematography.Incidentally,it is quite interesting a fact that this great actress who reliably portrayed the role of the victim of horror also played the agent of horror in the R.R.Pictures' MGR film Parakkum Paavai.The negative role she played as an agent of crime attempting to undo the life of another woman {B.Sarojadevi} just because the man whom she loved was in love with the other woman, dramatically carried the thriller effect of the film until its climax.But still it was difficult to believe that  Kanchana who could only reflect herself as an embodiment of fear, could also secretly work out thrilling moments for others.
    Kanchana was both a heroine and a supporting actress.She did not do too many Tamil films.But the movies she did,still stay memorable purely on account of her meekly,beautiful and subdued performance.She has been Director Sridhar's favourite heroine doing about four films including the fabulous film Sivandha Mann which was largely shot abroad and in which she was paired with Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan,after acting as one of his daughters in Gemini Pictures' Motor Sundaram Pillai. Kanchana has appeared in the films of almost all leading heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan,Jai Shankar,Ravichandran,R.Muthuraman and A.V.M Rajan.Two of her significant last roles were that of Rajinikanth's mother in Johnny and that of a lawyer in Mani Rathnam's Mouna Ragam. Beyond all these details, the fact remains that Kanchana was one of the rarest and naturally beautiful actresses with a face ever ready to display nervousness and fear as child's play.It is this aspect that made her an actor fit for thrillers.
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Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Proud Sarkar

 



      Notwithstanding the plagiarist controversies involved in the story line of Sarkar that had to be resolved after judicial intervention, it has to be emphatically credited that A.R Murugadoss  mostly adheres to a systematic course of narration of events relating to the story,in a perfect and commendable way.Dialogues,choreography,stunts and Vijay's dedicated performance could be called the four pillars of the aesthetic structure of the film into which Rehman's music and the directorial finesse of Murugadoss percolate adequately to make a lengthy film watchable without getting exhausted.
    However, this Vijay entertainer seems to carry on its course of display,the style charisma of Thuppaakki,the political uproar of Thalaiva and the tempo of Mersel,which were all the earlier films of this crowd pulling hero.The other enduring fact is that whenever Vijay acts in a Murugadoss film he becomes more a director's actor controlling his passion for a formulaic depiction of character,with punchlines and hero projections. Keerthy Suresh found more scope for performance in Bhairava than here.Though she is seen in most scenes with Vijay her presence speaks of a kind of absence of a pair for Vijay. It is a V versus V film.Though Varalakshmi appears only in less number of scenes she becomes a potential foil for Vijay.The scenes leading to the culmination of this political drama are meaningfully contrived and executed adding quality to the climax.  
   Comedy interludes might have been irrelevant to a serious film sharply focused on contemporary political events and failures of the electoral system.But still Yogi Babu could have been given a little more  scope for darting his humour shots.It is out and out  a Vijay/ Murugadoss film with even A.R.Reheman not giving the richness of his music that he contributed to Mersel. Radha Ravi's casual performance is always a point of delight.With a slight change in make up this veteran makes his stalwart dad, late M.R.Radha proud. Pazha Karuppiah's villainy would bring to one's mind the role play of Umanath in Mani Ratnam's Agni Natchatram. Before I conclude,I personally felt that if the title of the film Sarkar  had been spelt in Tamil as சர்க்கார் instead of சர்கார்,it would have made us prouder.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Strong Screen Pairs of Sivaji Ganesan.












    To be a female pair of a hero is always an easy task if the hero is an average actor and if the role of the heroine is not that challenging.But to be the pair of a hero of the Himalayan stature like that of Sivaji Ganesan, it would have been an uphill and formidable task,for any conscious woman climbing up the steps to stardom. Sivaji Ganesan would have acted with a score of women starting from G.Varalakshmi,Anjalidevi and Bhanumathi to Sripriya,Ambika,Radha and finally with Radhika. 
   During the huge spell of his acting career it would have been an interesting experience for the hero to work with so many actresses.Moreover, unlike MGR in whose films the heroines had less space for meaty roles,Sivaji Ganesan is said to have treated his fellow actors and pairs always on a par, because he himself was a talent hungry hero.However,even in his films, actresses like Manjula,Usha Nandini,Bharathi and Sripriya would have passed on,like glamour pieces not making a mark to be remembered by the audience.
   Among the so many women who came to be paired with the Chevalier,at least half a dozen women gained a solid ground to stay remembered with a colossal status.Actresses like Padmini, Sarojadevi,Sowcar Janaki, K.R,Vijaya,Vanisri and J.Jeyalalitha proved to be the commendable pairs of Sivaji Ganesan.I have deliberately left out Savitri,the most commanding woman voice of Tamil cinema, purely on account of the fact that after acting as the enviable younger sister of an intensely affectionate elder brother,in the stupendous film Pasamalar,Savitri could not be considered as a possible pair of Sivaji Ganesan.
   It is true that before and after this epoch making film,the two had acted together in films like Vanagamudi,Annaiyin Aanai,Vadivukku Valaikaappu,Navarathiri,Thiruvilaiyadal,Kai Kodutha Dheivam and Praptam.But these are mere numbers as far as man woman relationship is concerned.It is Sivaji and Savitrhri as brother and sister of Pasamalar who continue to remain as the mind blowing siblings of Tamil cinema and hence,Savitri could never be considered as a matching pair of Sivaji Ganesan.I have also excluded Devika from the list because she could not be called a challenging pair of Sivaji Ganesan due to her meek and modest presence,{excepting Andavan Kattalai wherein she excelled like the mythical Menaka thwarting the meditation of sage Viswamitra}in films like Annai Illam,Shanthi,Pava Mannippu, Neelavaanam,Bale Pandiya,Karnan,Pazhani,Anbukarangal and Muradan Muthu.But I am sure she needs a separate write up for her powerful role play in films like Nenji Oer Aalayam, Nenjam Marappadhillai,Sumaithaangi,Vaazkkai Padaku,Vaanampadi,and Marakka Mudiyuma.
      On the contrary,what an invincible romantic and conjugal core,the other six women established with Sivaji Ganesan,in terms of mutuality and man -woman vibration,to adorn the  Tamil big screen and to be transferred as audiovisual glory to each and every home.It was a kind of symphony of compatible rhythms,creating a feel of excellence,even while being recalled with a passion for Tamil cinema.These six women created a wonderland, passing like blood into our veins.
    Padmini who began her association with Sivaji Ganesan for the film Panam{which was made almost at the same time of the hero's debut film Parasakthi}continued her happy thespian journey with him,for great films like Anbu,Kaveri,Raja Rani,Illara Jothi,Amara Dheepam, Maragatham,Uthama Puthiran,Pudhaiyal,Senthamarai,Punar Jenmam,Dheiva Piravi,Thanga Padhumai,Iru Malarkal,Vietnaam Veedu,Thillana Mohanambal,Pesum Dheivam,Kulama Gulnama,Thenum Paalum,Iru Dhuruvam and Vilayaattu Pillai.In the famous film Mangaiyar Thilakam directed by L.V.Prasad Padmini came as Sivaji Ganesan's elder brother's wife.
    Most of the films mentioned here,made history and films like Vietnaam Veedu,Iru Malarkal, Thillaanaa Mohanambaal,Kulama Gunama and Pesum Dheivam would be preserved as celluloid treasures for their exemplary revelation of conjugal harmony and gender equality. Padmini knew where to claim her place and she would firmly do it with her bold voice and validity of her arguments,that made her voice bold.With Sivaji Ganesan,she never lost her hold in acting.It was this singular fact that made her one of the longstanding pairs of that monumental hero. 
     Sowcar Janaki came into the fold of Sivaji Ganesan for films like Padikkaadha Medhai, Paalum Pazhamum,Paar Magale Paar,Motor Sundaram Pillai,Pudhiya Paravai and the most talked about Uyarndha Manidhan.Janaki could be seen as shedding tears every now and then in Padikkadha Medhai and Paar Magale Paar.But she reflected a kind of splendid supremacy of mind and spirit,in Motor Sundaram Pillai and Uyarndha Manidhan.In Pudhiya Paravai she would fight for equality owing to misconceptions of modernity and new wave behaviour resulting in her getting killed,just after being slapped by her loving husband,Sivaji Ganesan. What was special in her acting mode was her distinct fluctuation in mood,between courage and despair, between intelligent argumentation and final submission,between shouting in anger and shedding tears at the end.There was a complex mix of sentiments and realism in her role portrayals,that made her an outstanding pair of Sivaji Ganesan,though the number of films she did with him were much less when compared to those of Padmini.
   Sarojadevi who acted more films with MGR as his once preferred pair,did great roles in Sivaji Ganesan films like Paalum Pazhamum,Bhagapirivinai,Vidi Velli,Kulamagal Raadhai,Aalaya mani,Iruvar Ullam,En Thambi,Kalyaniyin Kanavan and Thenum Paalum.Of these Paalum Pazhamum,Aalayamani,Baagapirivinai and Iruvar Ullam would claim an extraordinary place not only in the archives of Tamil Cinema but also in the total acting career of Sivaji Ganesan. Unlike in MGR films wherein she was treated more as a dream girl,Sarojadevi had substantial scope for proving her acting caliber in the films mentioned above.All these films were of high quality, vouchsafing the presence of a strong woman beside a strong hero.She also appeared as a glamour stuff in Paarthaal Pasitheerum.
    K.R.Vijaya became the insuperably fascinating pair of Sivaji Ganesan starting from the film Selvam.She played a variety of temperamental tunes in acting,at times taking the Chevalier to a sense of awe and admiration.The notable films that they acted together include Thangaikkaaga, Iru Malarkal,Ootivarai Uravu,Thirudan,Thangai,Bharadha Vilas, Sorgam,Thava Pudhalvan, Thanga Padhakkam,Mridhanga Chakravarthi,Rishimoolam,Thirisoolam,Needhipathi, Padikkadha Pannaiyaar and Kalthoon.
   The other two most popular films like Nenjirukkum varai and Raman Ethanai Ramanadi were significant narrations of one side love of the hero.Sivaji Ganesan and K.R.Vijaya as husband and wife,represented the grandeur of family foundation with its deeper layers authentically supporting as mutual benefactors of an illustrious conjugal life.The so called concept of chemistry,propagated by the present generation,worked very much in favour of both Sivaji Ganesan and K.R.Vijaya in a symbiotic mood of acting.In submission and feminine grace K.R.Vijaya certainly surpassed the others. Like the Sivaji /Padmini combination the Sivaji / K.R.Vijaya team yielded myriad dimensions of love and geniality. Iru Malargal,Bharatha Vilas,Sorgam,Thanga Padakkam and Thirisoolam were felicitous films in this regard.
    Vanisri who worked with Sivaji Ganesan as his pair for a brief time,brought a sense of sublime joy in the minds of the viewers,who happened to watch the two,as lovers of warmth and winning streak,in fabulous films like Uyarndha Manidhan and Vasantha Maaligai.These two films were tales of consummate romance,taking the spirit of the audience to higher realms of imagination.This pair also teamed up for other great films like Sivakamiyin Selvan,Nirai Kudam,Nalladhoru Kudumbam,Vani Rani and Rojavin Raja.The emotional vibration radiated by this pair was of a fantasy kind with brilliance in its transmission. Vanisri's delivery of dialogues would most often carry a note of genuine innocence and a deeper sense of longing,that brought her closer to the hero,in perfect sync.
    J. Jeyalalitha was a combination of high level energy and spontaneous submission.She was a mighty mix of Padmini and Sowcar Janaki with  feminine charm and feminist force making her role performance a potential challenge to Sivaji Ganesan in films like Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa Engirundho Vandhaal and Savaale Samaali,that were highly rated for their story value and dynamism in role play.Apart from these three films which were exclusive masterpieces,there were quite a number of Sivaji Ganesan films in which she was his perfectly matching pair.Films like Enga Oor Raja,Raja,Dheiva Magan,Enga Mama,Galaattaa Kalyaanam,Sumathi En Sundari,Anbai Thedi,Chitra Pournami,Dharmam Enge and Paattum Bharadhamum were remarkably entertaining films.What was great about Jeyalalitha was her equanimity in sharing screen space effectively,with both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,which was less frequent in the case of other pairs of the two contemporary heroes.
    Most of the other actresses like Lakshmi,Sujatha,Ambika,Radha and Radhika became the next generation female pairs of Sivaji Ganesan for a short while. Lakshmi was compact in role performance in films like Thiagam and Unakkaaga Naan.Sujadha's role play in  Deepam, Annan Oru Koil,Andhamaan Kadhali,Sandhippu and Theerpu reflected memorable dimensions of softness, dignity and mutual dynamism.The other three actresses had one solid film each to do with Sivaji Ganesan and the films were  respectively,Vaazhkai,Mudhal Mariyaadhai and En Aasai Raasave.Whatever be the nature of contribution of these women in a Sivaji film,the one and only truth remains that,half a dozen women rightfully dominated in the films of the Chevalier of Tamil cinema and the last but not the least in the list,was 
J.Jeyalalitha. 
                                      ======================================

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Paternal Stamp of Prakash Raj.

    




      




   It is a well known fact that Prakash Raj is one among the most distinguished actors of Indian Cinema.He has been an active player of roles in Tamil,Telugu,Kannada,Malayalam and Hindi films.His contribution to Tamil Cinema has been very unique and indisputably versatile.As a villain and character actor,he has made indelible impressions to the extent of creating the most wanted position for him,in Tamil Cinema.This article being specially confined to the father roles played by him,any reference to his other types of roles will be irrelevant and redundant.
    I think Sivaji Ganesan did most dynamic father roles much early in his career,{may be in his late thirties} in films like Paar Magale Paar and Motor Sundaram Pillai.This trend was followed by actors like Kamalahasan in Oru Kaidhiyin Diary and Nayakan,Satyaraj in Pakal Nilavu and Vedham Pudhidhu,and Napoleon in films like Puthu Nellu Puthu Naathu and Nadodi Thenral. This article singularly focuses on the father characters that Prakash Raj started playing from his thirty seventh year of age.It was the film Kaadhal Sadugudu directed by V.Z. Durai in which Prakash Raj first appeared as the father of a beloved daughter,played by Priyanka Trivedi.It was a rural based character that carried dignity and respect.This character was strangely prone to a kind of psychological fixation,underpinning the belief that the first impression formed about a person could be the final impression.
   It so happened that the first meeting between him and Vikram,the hero,marked a bad beginning leading to a firm misconception that the hero was a bad person.The successive meetings between the duo,were all undesirable happenings that made Prakash Raj confirm his negative opinion about the hero.Naturally,when he came to know that Vikram and his daughter were in love he could not digest it.Though the film was a simple family drama,the emotional intricacies of the character of Prakash Raj, formed the centre stage and his father role deserved a special acclaim on account of the ruggedness and naive layers of a plain father figure. 
    Prakash Raj made his performance impressively memorable,by his clear and categorical dialogue delivery,which ever remains as his amazing asset.The climax of the film pictured a delicate change in perceptions and emotions,driving to a happy coming together of Prakash Raj and Vikram almost as father and son,rather than as father in law and son in law.The film will be remembered more for Prakash Raj than for anybody else,despite the fact that the sub plot relying on Vivek's comedy was a great treat.
    The next father role that Prakash Raj performed was as the boxer dad of Jeyam Ravi,in M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi directed by M.Raja. Here,Prakash Raj was a wayward father with a weak mind in a strong body.As the husband of two wives and as an aggressive guy dedicated to boxing,with a mind never ready to accept defeat,Prakash Raj understood the complexities of the character and played it with force and fascination.The climax of the film showed him as a reformed guy,with his deeper love for family values,revealing the niceties of the father role that he portrayed.
     Thirdly,Prakash Raj was seen as a rowdy father with an impeccable love for his timid son.It was the film Arindhum Ariyamalum directed by Vishnuvardhan.Prakash Raj came as Adhi Narayanan,father of Sathya Narayanan {Navdeep} and the film was a breezy entertainer because of the all pervading,subtle intrusion of comedy element,thanks to the vigorous role play of Arya as the henchman of Prakash Raj.The interesting element of the father role was that,the father did not want to be seen as a rowdy in the eyes of his son,because of the love and concern he had for his son.In a similar vein Prakash Raj performed as the petty thieving father of a petty thieving son {Kreshna} in Alibhabha directed by Neela Shekar,spending anxious moments with fears of his son falling into a wider criminal net thrown by unknown elements.The nagging fears ultimately led him into the hands of cruel thugs and getting killed by them.Both these films carried the elements  of a Saran film,in the sense that they presented a huge quantum of craving for adventure and aggressive encounters . 
    The fourth father role that he did was Veerappu a remake of the famous Malayalam movie Spadikam starring Thilakan and Mohanlal as father and son.This film directed by Badri showcased Prakash Raj  as a school teacher whose wrong perceptions of discipline ended up in transforming his intelligent and self motivated son{Sundar. C},into a thug and virulent fighter against all evils.In addition to this, the teacher himself had a shady past clouded in an extramarital affair, by which he had a daughter.As it was more an action movie than a family drama,it was the son who took into his grip his father's fragile situation after the murder of his father's illegitimate daughter, for which his father was sent to prison.Slowly, the father realizes how he has spoilt the life of his only son by his teacherly norms of rigidity and rightness of behaviour. Ultimately, his son gets him released from prison by proving his innocence.Though it was not an extraordinary father character,PrakashRaj made the character live up to the expectation of the director, as well as the audience,by his invincible portrayal.
     Following this came 'Abhiyum Naanum' a film of Radha Mohan,the pet director of Prakash Raj.It was a breezy narration of a father /daughter relationship dipped in the surging anxiety of a father,about losing his daughter's love,after her marriage.It could be one of the most unforgettable father roles of Prakash Raj.Trisha as his daughter was a right mix of reasoning and filial devotion. The role of the father in Abhiyum Naanum {the very title is an emphatic pronouncement of the subjective element,controlling the bond of paternal love}plainly brought out the plight of obsessive fathers,of lovable daughters.
   Vasool Raja MBBS {based on Hindi Munna Bhai MBBS}directed by Saran was a roaring comedy of Kamal and his aggressively humorous tribe and the fact that Prakash Raj was the doctor father of a doctor daughter {Sneha} who would laugh out vigorously, to create comic relief in moments of tension, made the  character add spice to a leading laughter parade. Prakash Raj simply laughed away the role,with robust energy.As the theme of the film relied more on the intricacies of the medical profession,with varying interpretations of its ethical count,the father role of Prakash Raj got dissipated in the mainstream narration.However, beyond the roots of humour, the film definitely showed the concern of a father in not getting his daughter married to a 420.
    Then came the best father role for Prakash Raj in the most beautiful romantic tale and family drama, Santhosh Subramanyam starring Jeyam Ravi and Genelia D'Souza.This special film made by M.Raja was the quintessence of paternal love,concern and dedication.It showed how much a father could foresee the well being of his children and take care of their routine in all respects, including selection of dress materials and academic advancement of one's children.The psychological implications involved in evolving the father son relationship was so deep that the father could not approve of his son's choice of his life partner. This is a many time watchable film because the narration is profoundly natural and that the father son relationship is so pure that there is an irrefutable element of goodness in the intentions of both the father and son.The  emotional outburst of the son in the climax scene,finally shook the father in Praksh Raj,pulling him down to the changed scenario,looking for a change in perceptions of paternal responsibilities and expectations.
    In the recently released Manirathnam's film Chekka Chivandha Vaanam,Prakash Raj has donned the role of a gangster father of three sons,one of whom plans to dispense with him through his hired hooligans.Though Prakash Raj and his wife recover from the attack after rigorous hospitalization,the emotionally disturbed father unfolds the secret to his wife that they were attacked not by outsiders,but by the manipulation of one of their sons.The next morning he dies of cardiac arrest.The role of the father that goes on till the intermission of the film,is full of grace warmth and sentiments of a gangster head,who loves his wife and sons without any pretension.It is a character born of poise and perfect maturity and Prakash Raj has adorned that role,with his innate flair for fantasy and fascinating ease,in portraying negative characters with positive vibration.It will remain as another milestone in the vast galaxy of roles that this energetic actor has performed.
    To me Prakash Raj as a multi dimensional actor,who is basically capable of displaying dynamic and diabolic villainy.On the contrary, he is also an incomparable character actor with the fatherly punch dominating in his histrionics.Of the father roles of Prakash Raj mentioned here,I would personally rate with very high appreciation,his being the passionate father of a devoted daughter in Kaadhal Sadukudu and his elegantly performed father figure in Santhosh Subramanyam.I would also categorically state that the paternal stamp of Prakash Raj,offers a perennial treat.
                                        ============================

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Two Similar scenes from Two different films.




     One film was in black and white and a Pongal release in 1956.The other was an Eastman colour film released in July 1965.The interchanged last two digits in their release years,also seem to throw another aspect of similarity,in their four numbers.While the first film was directed by K.Somu,the second one was made by A.P.Nagarajan,the veteran director of grand mythological movies.In both the films the ever sterling actor Sivaji Ganesan was the hero.The first film was a family drama and the hero was capable of doing great roles,as a stage artist.The second was a mythological film and a beautiful mix of several episodes,denoting the efficacy of Lord Shiva in playing with the emotions of the members of the celestial and mundane zones. These two unforgettable films drawn together,through a convincing connecting link are 'Naan Petra Selvam' and 'Thiruvilaiyaadal'.
    The scene that becomes the centre of attraction is a stage drama of the earlier,black and white film and a vital scene in the latter mythological colour film,portraying a potential point of contention,over the fragrance of the hair of women.The doubt as to whether the fragrance naturally exists in the hair of women or is an artificial addition,due to the aroma of flowers and cosmetics,is raised by a Pandiya king and a competition with a hefty prize is announced in this regard,for the poets,to clarify the doubt of the king.
    Dharumi,a poor poet and a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva,aspires to participate in the proposed contest and win the prize but  unfortunately,he is not able to compose a verse and establish the truth of the matter,to the extent of satisfying the expectation of the king.He helplessly prays to Lord Shiva,who decides to save his devotee,and appears before him with a suitable verse that would win the heart of the King.
     Dharumi is exhilarated and rushes to the court of the king with a greater anxiety to win the prize,than with the competence and confidence to prove his poetic worth.As he reads out the borrowed lines of the verse,the king is extremely impressed by the poem and its interpretation. The prize is announced and Dharumi is rejoiced over the impending culmination of all his woes of poverty.But just at the nick of the moment,the most gifted poet Nakkeerar interferes with an objection,that the song is defective in meaning.He firmly points out that the fragrance in the hair of women is only due to flowers and perfumes and it is impossible for any woman to have a natural fragrance of hair.The king is confused and defers the grant of gift to Dharumi. 
    On hearing this,an infuriated Lord Shiva appears before the court,demanding an explanation for the denial of the prize rightly due to Dharumi.It is here the scene in the stage play in 'Naan Petra Selvam' and in the film 'Thiruvilaiyaadal',draws the attention of the audience with an enchanting focus on the dispute over the contentious issue,between the human and divine poets.
   The contextual fiery arguments,the tone and tenor of the contenders,the dialogue pattern used as the soul of their arguments pulling the course of events into a precise punch,are almost similar in the two films released within a gap of nine years.There appear to be only a few changes in A.P.Nagarajan's Thiruvilaiyadal,in terms of greater tempo in dialogue delivery,the spontaneous sparks of humour in the character of the Dharumi character in Thiruvilaiyadal, brilliantly performed by Nagesh and the conclusion of the episode showing Nakkeerar being burnt by the third eye of Lord Shiva and thrown into the golden lotus pond,after that. The latter version also included Lord Shiva's profuse admiration for the conviction and poetic grandeur of Nakkeerar,who is also said to be an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva.
    Beyond these  discussions there stands the mighty fact that it was Sivaji Ganesan who appeared both as poet Nakkeerar and Lord Shiva,in the stage play memorably added to'Naan Petra Selvam'.If one is forced to differentiate the quality of presentation between the two similar scenes of these two different movies,the first thing that would hit the mind of an observer is the modesty in tone,maintained by Sivaji Ganesan,in doing both the roles in the stage play.In Thiruvilayadan Sivaji Ganesan was seen to be roaring against poet Nakkeerar with anger and with a gripping intonation in raising his anger. A.P.Nagarajan who played as Nakkeerar did not appear to be giving in to the unacceptable angry arguments of any one,even if it happened to be the God whom he worshiped everyday.
    Both the scenes contained almost equal language stuff.But its delivery became impressively dramatic and dynamic in Thiruvilaiyaadal.The body language and the tone and tenor of dialogue delivery of Sivaji Ganesan carried a stunning impact in the latter film.Similarly,it could never be said that A.P.Nagarajan lost his hold of his role play as Nakkeerar,in his verbal competition with the verbally unconquerable Sivaji Ganesan.All said and done,the final verdict is, how difficult it would have been for the same actor,to perform the roles representing two diagonally opposite standpoints and how casually Sivaji Ganesan walked away playing these two roles,at the starting spell of his career!.Could any other actor have succeeded in this process and made a mark? Certainly not.
                               =============================================

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Curse of being a Cuckold.

 






     The word cuckold in English means the husband of an adulteress and an object of contempt and derision. A cuckold is a victim of infidelity and has to gulp deep frustrations and despair,with a psychic turbulence tormenting the conscious and subconscious levels of his mind.A situation of this kind,either leads to worst humiliation and disgrace,or drives the victim to retaliation and revenge.The unearned plight of a cuckold,can not be compared to the unreasonable emotional depressions of suspicious husbands.Tamil Cinema which has been conventionally devoted to dignifying womanhood,has not failed to visit the rare zone of wives betraying husbands.If an adulteress is the wife of a villain,it is mostly ignored.Whereas,if the hero has to play the role of a cuckold,it becomes a ticklish theme,driving the narration to the extent of becoming a taboo.
   MGR who was an adorer of womanhood and motherhood,would rarely agree to play the role of a cuckold,not because of the insult that the character would bring to the hero,but because of the fact,that such a theme would project women in very poor frame.But,Sivaji Ganesan who was ever an all rounder in acting,would not hesitate to go in for the depiction of such an anathema.He would have done at least two such roles,one at the starting spell of his career and the other almost at the penultimate period of his acting schedule.The first film was Thookku Thooki,released in 1954 and the other film Kavarimaan hit the screens twenty five years later, in 1979.
    Directed by R.M. Krishnaswami,Thookku Thookki was an exceptional film with a didactic bearing on the realities of life.The hero {Sivaji Ganesan} was a prince who chanced to listen to a debate held by a group of highly learned elders.The group proclaimed five prominent statements as the absolute facts of life,that could not be disproved.The five statements were 1}A father would always look for what material benefits his son brings in life 2}A mother is always a mother,whether her son brings any material benefits or not.3}A sister will treat her brother well, only if he brings her,valued gifts 4}A wife believed to be chaste,will not hesitate to kill her husband and 5}It is a true friend who would prove to be the final saviour. 
    On hearing these pronouncements the hero laughs at the elders and asserts that he will disprove them and expose their emptiness,through his own experiences,in his life time. Unfortunately,the Prince encounters events,that illustrate the veracity of all the five  maxims in his own life.The bitter part of this experience is the betrayal of his wife {played by Lalitha,the elder sister of actress Padmini}who is found to be an adulteress sharing bed with another man {T.S. Balaiah}.A brutal shock destabilizes the morale of the prince,but how he overcomes it with the help of his close friend {played by Valaiyapathi Muthukrishnan} and another noble woman,{Padmini} formed the rest of this immortal film. 
    Sivaji Ganesan was just two years old as a screen hero then,when he did this queer role in Thookku Thookki.However for an actor of his calibre who proved his excellence in acting,in his debut film Parasakthi itself,the role in Thookku Thookki was a cakewalk.As there were five vital sayings of life,the debauchery of a wife became just one among them and hence the impact of the husband becoming a cuckold was not seriously felt.Besides,the comedy element in the character formation of the villain and other lighter aspects in the narration of the film,made it a vibrantly watchable movie,rightly blended with ingredients of entertainment and ethics.
    The other film Kavarimaan directed by eminent film maker S.P Muthuraman,was totally different and down to earth,in narration.It is the story of a straight forward I A S officer,whose wife goes astray getting infatuated to another man.Stalwart Sivaji Ganesan played the role of the I A S officer and Pramila was his adulterous wife,having an extra marital affair with Ravichandran.The hero who catches both of them red handed,kills his wife in a fit of rage,on the spur of the moment and  hides the incident from his daughter {Sridevi} for reasons of her own future and the family's reputation.'Kavarimaan'the title of the film implies the magnificence of self dignity.It is believed in creative imagination that a particular species of deer will die the moment it loses its hair.The same way those who cherish self dignity as the ultimate objective of their life,will not survive if there is a slur on their name and a disgrace to their fame. Thiruvalluvar the famous Tamil saintly poet writes as follows.
                              மயிர்நீப்பின் வாழாக் கவரிமா அன்னார் 
                              உயிர்நீப்பர் மானம் வரின் 
If translated into English,this verse would mean that just as the special variety of deer will not live if it loses its hair,those who cherish their self dignity,will die the moment it is lost.Whereas, in the film,the hero does not die,but spontaneously kills his wife.In a way,this sudden act helps him to attribute some other reason for the murder,so that his family's name and his daughter's future will not be spoilt. As truth cannot be hidden for long,it gets unfolded in the climax of the film.
     Sivaji Ganesan's reaction on realizing the fact that he was made a cuckold was more poignantly felt in the second film,because the story line was truer to life than the theme of Thooku Thooki that resembled a fable.Notwithstanding the difference in narration,these two films are indicators of the excruciating agony,tearing the soul of a cuckold into pieces,unlike the psychic disorders of a suspicious husband,which prove to be self destructive.
     In fact,both Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan have also appeared in a couple of movies, as miserably suspecting husbands,spoiling the peace of mind of their wives,besides inflicting anguish upon themselves. Sivaji Ganesan's role play in Punar Jenmam and Dheiva Piravi and that of Gemini Ganesan in Kalathur Kannamma and Vaazhkai Padaku,created a telling impact of suspicious husbands destroying their family's peaceful routine.But the bitter fact remains that being a betrayed husband,literally ruins one's image,character and purpose of living.The curse of being a cuckold is"the unkindest cut of all"

{PS:- Incidentally,consequent upon the recent Supreme court verdict removing section 497 of I P C,which attracted punishment for men alone for committing adultery,this unholy act is not punishable anymore -unless it leads to other crimes- and can not be cited as a reason for seeking divorce.}
                                       ================0=================

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Red Sky with Stars Ruling High


   Romance and wickedness/violence are the pet themes of Manirathnam. He handled them exuberantly even  at the beginning of his directorial career,in his two simultaneous films Mouna Ragam and Pagal Nilavu. His films like Naayagan, Thalapadhi, Roja and Bombay dealt with underworld crimes,terrorism and communal violence,with a remarkable stamp of originality. Now comes Chekka Chivandha Vaanam dipped in gory violence,born of sibling gangster rivalry,running in the veins of three brothers,after the death of their 'esteemed' gangster father, Prakash Raj,who came to be brutally attacked along with his wife, by hooligans employed by one of his sons. 
   Unlike in the films of K.Balachander,the women in Manirathnam films are considerably docile,though they talk bold and  and behave in a mood of aberration like attempting to smoke a cigarette as Amala did in Agni Natchatram and Simbu's fiancee does in Chekkachivandha Vaanam. Ultimately they reconcile to the traditional mould of womanhood.That is what happens in CCV too, with firm and down to the earth actors like Jayasudha and Jyothika being made to be puppets in the hands of men so as to accept the myth of fatalism, in a mood of stoic resignation.Whereas, the men rule the red sky with their redder spirit of wrath and vengeance. Each of them displays their invincible pep and style, holding their roles responsibly, with absolute consciousness and commitment.The graceful gangster in Prakashraj is a special attraction, followed by the aggressiveness of Arvindswamy,the disarming charm of Arun Vijay and the ruggedness and spontaneity of Simbu. Beyond all of them is Vijay Sethupathi cutting a higher edge in the climax and making his role more remembered than that of others.
   Manirathnam seems to have been very scrupulous in considering the seniority of actors even in their titular introduction.Dialogues are a special asset to the film. Santosh Sivan's cinematography is commendable. A.Srihar Prasad's editing makes the fusion of scenes a felicitous treat. A.R. Rehaman could have reduced the volume of his background score especially, in a scene taking place in the police station, where Thiagarajan and the three sons of Prakash Raj meet, over a disagreeable interaction.Songs do not play a significant role in the vast red sky, filled with blood thirsty brotherhood.The theme of bloody superiority and manipulative rivalry perhaps makes the other factors irrelevant
   The film is a beautiful comeback for actor Thiagarajan and an ensured commercial hit for Manirathnam's Madras Talkies and the LICA production unit.The element of sweetness in narration is the special ingredient of a Manirathnam film and it does not fail to appeal to the audience, despite the fact that violence rules to the roost, surpassing family values due to the vagaries in character evolution.However in Manirathnam's magic world,violence also becomes a kind of poetic stuff, on account of the fascinating deliberations, involved in choreographing the violent events.Finally,it could be assertively said that Chekka Chivandha Vaanam makes the audience sit up erect and watch the two hour twenty three minutes action drama, with awe and admiration. Manirathnam has won again,after a few failures.
                                            ==================================

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Rajesh:-The Rdiance Behind His Roles.

 



    Some actors are not always the front line marchers.But they do a lot of magic from behind. They might have been one time heroes.But they maintain a demonstrative link with the big screen and make their presence felt through their voice vibe and verve.Tamil screen's one time hero Rajesh has never withheld his feet however relevant or noticeable his roles are.It is this accommodating spirit which quite a lot of heroes sitting without opportunities should seriously give thought to.
    Rajesh was offered an insignificant role by veteran film maker Balachander in his critically acclaimed film Aval Oru Thodarkadhai in 1974.Then Rajesh went unnoticed nearly for five years until his first film as hero,Kanniparuvathile was released.It was the most ticklish role of an impotent male that Rajesh performed in that film.But he played that role with an absolute understanding of the intricacies and complexities of a difficult role that was offered to him.He played the role with decency dignity and dedication with a compact reflection of depression and despair that the character required.
    His first performance was one of his best performances.Paired with Vadivukkarasi who also performed the role with in depth feminine frustration and commitment to cherished womanhood,Rajesh revealed the right dimensions of an understanding husband with unfailing respect for the emotions of the most vital,unfulfilled aspect of a woman's conjugal life. K. Baghyaraj played a one time hateful role, as a vulture waiting for its prey,towards an act of sexual aberration and wifely infidelity from a vulnerable married woman.
   The movie produced by S.A.Rajkannu {who gave great films like Padhinaaru Vayadhinile and Kizhakke Pogum Rayil}was greatly received for its very delicate thematic content and the respectful treatment it needed.The song Pattuvanna Rojavaam in the voice of late Malaysia Vasudhevan and S.Janaki is an eternal treat to the ears and is rightfully remembered for its profound lyrical vale.
   Rajesh went unrecognized once again.But he did not bother,nor did he think that he should play only the hero.He began to play different kinds of roles, occupying the second or third position.His next great entry was as second hero with Baghyaraj, in the blockbuster film Andha Ezhu Naatkal in which he appeared as the husband of the main hero's lover. Yes. Ambika who madly loved the main hero Bhagyaraj{Palakkad Madhavan Nair}continued to love him even after marriage.The wifely disloyalty was ultimately corrected by Bhagyaraj who proclaims the value and glory of true conjugal life and the importance of wifely dedication as the traditional goal of a woman.It was a meek and vulnerable role for Rajesh and he did his best to bring quality to his role performance.
     Soon Rajesh became the hero of K.Balachander's critically reviewed film Achamillai Achamillai. With negative shades, inseparable to the routine of many a budding politician, Rajesh transformed into a baddie from a fickle minded guy,with fading qualms.It was a character subtly carved by the ace director and Rajesh performed it to the utmost satisfaction of his mentor.His craving for opportunistic growth ultimately got him stabbed by his own wife {commendably played by Saritha}whose path of life was straight and bold.The movie however became the gateway for Rajesh to play quite a few negative roles in the future.He played a similar negative role as a greedy politician in K.Balaji's Makkal En Pakkam,sharing the screen space with Satyaraj.Both these films brought out the hidden solid acting credentials of Rajesh, whose assertive dialogue delivery with a little bit of nasal thrust remains as his singular asset.
    Some of his other notable films as hero were Komal Swaminathan's Anal Kaatru,Sridhar's Aalaya Deepam  R.C.Shakthi's Sirai and Motherland Pictures'Payanangal Mudivadhillai in which he appeared as second hero. Of the three,the third film in the list was based on Anuradha Ramanan's short story.The film Sirai  showed Rajesh as Anthony,a thug and ruffian spoiling the life of a married woman {excellently played by Oorvasi Lakshmi} in a drunken condition. The woman Baghiradhi  chose to live with him, after being forlorn by her orthodox Brahmin, priestly  husband {Prasanna}.When Anthony died, the woman would choose to live as his widow instead of being the wife of a living, cowardly husband. It was a great movie in R.C. Shakthi's gripping narration.
     In the midst of these worthy innings, Rajesh did all kinds of roles with Rajinikanth {Thanikattu Raja &Thai Veedu}Kamalahasan {Mahanadhi &Virumandi}Vijayakanth {Santhosha Kanavukal,Manakkanakku &Dharmapuri}Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan {Simma Soppanam Ezhudhaadha Sattangal and Mannukkul Vairam}Vijay{Sivakasi}Vikram
{Saamy}Ajit {Aanjaneya&Varalaru}Arjun{Marudha Malai} and with several other heroes. Rajesh has been a sterling performer of father roles and other character roles.
   The most significant trait of his acting is his capacity to shine from behind.The highly realistic pattern of his acting with an innate feel of modesty in role delivery has eventually made him mostly as a low profile actor, in the sense that he has never bothered to project himself closer to the audience.But there shines a never dimming radiance in his performance of roles that places him in the category of a charming actor like Sharath Babu.It is this distinct mark that puts him on an independent track,with a silent stamp of originality.
                                  ==================================

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Presentation of Song Sequences in Tamil Films.

       Film making is an arduous task consisting of various, equally important layers of the creative process.The most important of these are story line,characterization,role play of actors, dialogues,choreography, sound recording and the addition of music, followed by a course of comprehensive editing, that would make the end product a perfect piece of entertainment for enjoyment.As far as music is concerned, the background musical score takes a movie to its next level of acceptance and admiration.An Indian film can hardly be without songs and no film is complete without the background music score.Similarly,a film as per Indian norms,is also remembered by the quality of its songs and the way the songs are pictured.
     During the initial decades of Tamil Cinema, music played a wholesome place with songs at times, overtaking dialogues.This was because, most of the actors themselves were great singers. Actors like M.K.Thiagaraja Bhagavadhar, P.U.Chinnappa, T.R.Mahalingam and K.B.Sundaraambaal excelled in their acting by singing, as songs became an inseparable part of their roles and the audience those days went to the theaters, mostly to listen to the songs.
   When the next generation actors who could not sing took over the scene,there came into the picture a line of playback singers. With the induction of playback singing lip synchronization became necessary for the actors to be seen as singing the song. Moreover an enlivening presentation of song sequences,became necessary to create an ecstatic ambiance for film music. Hence, presentation of song sequences became a prominent part of the film making process, towards adding an extra edge to the audiovisual scope of the movie.If the song and its picturing are not worthwhile, it will only drive a section of the audience to the restrooms and snack bars for a popcorn hunt.
     Usually, the presentation of a song sequence varies from one type of song to the other. A film maker should know how to present a solo song,a duet number,a group song and one that needs adept choreography.To begin with, the solo songs were shown with heroes on horse back or driving a horse cart or a bullock cart.This was how songs like 'Sathiyame Latchiyamaai Kolladaa'{Neelamalai Thirudan}'Acham Enbadhu Madamai yada'{Mannadhi Mannan}'Ohoho Manidharkale Oduvadhenge koorungal'{Padithaal Mattum Podhuma}'Manushana Manushan Saapiduranda'{Thaikupin Thaaram}and'Nenjam Undu Nermai Undu'{En Annan} were pictured.Some times the hero would let the heroine sit on horse back and pull the horse as a mark of serenading.This is what MGR did in Malaikallan for the song sequence of 'Ethanai Kaalndhaan Emaatruvaar' Most of the solo songs of MGR that voiced social justice and social equality, showed him with active limb movements, challenging the evil forces.
     Whereas,quite a lot of Sivaji Ganesan's philosophical songs portrayed him,walking in a desperate mood, pouring forth his disturbed emotions.Songs like'Satti Suttadhadaa'{Aalayamani} 'Ponaal Pogattum Podaa'{Paalum Pazhamum}'Aaru Maname Aaru'{Aandavan Kattalai}'Ullam Enbadhu Aamai'{Paarthaal Pasitheerum} are a few samples that would belong to this category.
     Some times the hero or heroine would sing a song riding a cycle as Sivaji Ganesan did for the song'Vandha Naal Mudhal indha Naal varai'{Paava Mannippu} or as Gemini Ganesan and Sarojadevi performed for the song 'Vaadikkai Marandha dhum Eno'in Kalyana Parisu.Songs lulling a baby in a cradle also formed one of the highly desirable song sequences and the most remembered songs in this category are'Poomalai Puzhudhi mun Mele'{Parasakthi} 'Malarndhum Malaradha'{Pasamalar} and 'Chinna Arumbu Malarum' from Pangaalikal.
   There would be solo or group songs on running trains.Some of the songs in this category were'Sitthirai Maadham Pournami Neram'{Raman Ethanai Ramanadi}'Ethanai Manidhargal Ulagathile'{Needhikku Thalai Vanangu}'Maratha Vachavan Thanni Oothuvaan' {Panakkaaran}'May Maadham Thonnu thettil Major Aanene'{J J} and the memorable group songs 'Koodayila Karuvaadu' {Oruthalai Raagam}and 'Vellerikka Pinju Velerikka'{Kaadhal Kottai}.Similarly, the most popular boat/ ship songs were 'Ulavum Thenral Kaatrinile' {Mandhiri kumari}'Oho Endhan Babi'{Thenilavu}'Mullai Malar Mele' {Uthama Puthiran}'Amaidhiyaana Nadhiyinile Odam' {Andavan Kattalai} and the fabulous 'Adho Andha Paravaipoa Vaazhavendum'{Aayirathil Oruvan}.
     A vast number of duet songs those days would show the hero and heroine going round a tree,the heroine moving first and the hero running after her.Gemini Ganesan and Savithri would perfectly fit into this duet mode.MGR would do this with more physical force, gripping the the shoulder of the heroine and at times biting his lips. Sivaji Ganesan would hardly miss a passionate embrace of the heroines.
    Most of the group songs were also shown in a stereotyped mode.A few exceptional songs that have outlived their times are 'Vaarai En Thozhi Vaaraayo' {Paasamalar}'Maamaa Maamaa Maamaa'{Kumudham} 'Sithaada Kattikittu'{Vannakkili} and 'Nallavan Enakku Naane Nallavan'{Padithaal Mattum Podhumaa} not because of any novelty in presentation,but because of their enchanting musical richness.
     Later there came a few fascinating group songs such 'Paasamullaa Paandiyaru''Aataamaa Therottamaa'{both from Captain Prbhaakaran} and 'Adi Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu' {Thalapathi} the first two remembered for the lively dance steps of Ramya Krshnan and the other one for Rajini's nimble and stylish body movements, but both for Ilayaraja's musical richness .The  latter was also beautifully choreographed and pictured.
    However surpassing these normal depiction of song sequences, there are a few highly imaginative and uniquely creative portrayals of song scenes in many films, that would make us realize that depiction of a song is not that easy and if it is done differently it will stay in our memories as effectively as a good film does.From my movie watch I am recording some such song sequences that have lastingly settled in my memory. 
   The earliest in this category was the most vibrant dance number with the captivating song 'Thedinen Vandhadhu' in P.Suseela's superb voice,from Sridhar's film Oottyvarai Uravu. K.R.Vijaya's hey day energy, was vigorously reflected through out the song sequence.A similar sprightly dance portrayal was noticed in the song 'Thattattum Kai Thazhuvattum' in the film En Thambi. Here it was B.Sarojadevi who scored high in presenting the song, the fabulous way it came out. 
     Another unforgettable song sequence was found in'Mella Nada Mella Nada' from Pudhiya Paravai wherein Sivaji Ganesan would be seen following Sarojadevi, with a casual stylish gait, wearing a glazing slack shirt,tucked into his shining pants.In addition to Viswanathan Ramamurthy's musical mesmerism, it was the hero's pep and spark that made the song memorable.Similarly, it was a pleasure to watch MGR dancing with the professionally skilled L.V.Vijayalakshmi for the song 'Aadaludan Paadalai Serthu'{Kudiyirundha Koil}for which the energy levels of the actors perfectly matched the tempo of the song composition.The beauty of this particular song portrayal lay in the flow of vigor throughout the song, without any drop in energy, at any point.
   Most of the dance numbers of actors like Vijay,Prabudeva and a few other heroes, are beautifully choreographed with vigorous songs and agile body movements leading to a beautiful display of song sequences.Songs such as 'Aal Thoetta Boopathi Naanada' and 'Pokkiri Pongal' are remembered mainly for their exuberant presentation. 
     These days computers help a lot in creating wonderful fusion of shots to synchronize with the song by adding tantalizing touches, shot after shot.Mixing visuals in agreeable proportions without spoiling the significance of a song well written and music well composed,requires a lot of aesthetic sense. Otherwise,film music as one of the most salient aspects of film making, will go dry, making the whole exercise futile.I still remember the duet song in Kamal's Sathya showing the hero and heroine travelling on a bus and singing the song'Valayosai' In one of the shots of the song Amala the heroine,will show the biceps on her hand and Kamal will gently touch it.It still stays stuck in my memory.
    How beautifully the visuals for the song'Vennilave Vennilave Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaayaa'{Minsaara Kanavu}were shot and how elegantly the shots were made to travel with the song. Prabhu Deva and Kajole would be seen getting closer and then would escape from their bodily entanglement, only to get closer at the culmination of the song.So poetic the narration was and no doubt the song and its presentation have become immortal. 'The song Ennavale adi Ennavale'from Shankar's Kadhalan is yet another exquisite portrayal of song sequence,with a series of seamless mixing of shots watched with a marvelous feel of aesthetic splendor.
     Some innovative attempts were made in showing the hero and heroine passing through the different compartments of the refrigerator cutting the size of the human to fit into the fridge and this fresh attempt was made to present a duet song, in the AVM film Mr.Bharath. Later the hero and heroine were shown as minute and second hands of a wall clock for the film Panakkaran produced by Sathya Movies.
     Both these big movie makers have specialized in the art of erecting massive studio settings for duet songs particularly those related to the dreams of the heroine about the hero.Those who had watched Sathya Movies' Kaavalkaaran would not have forgotten the dream sequence song 'Ninaithen Vandhaai Nooru Vayadhu'celebrated for its gorgeous visuals.If the film had come out in color it would certainly have created a greater impact.There was an exotic feel in the presentation of the song "Azhagu, Nee Nadandhaal Nadaiyazhagu"in Baashaa, another film from the Sathya Studios.
     There were also some stage-prone songs signifying competitive spirit between individuals.Films like Vaanam baadi,and Pattanathil Bhoodham had such song sequences.But the best in this category were'Sinnanjiriya Vanna Paravai Ennathai Solludhammaa"from Kungumam and'Neeye Unakku Enrum Nigaraanavan' from Bale Pandia.
     In the recent days song sequences were excitingly presented in a few movies of Vijay. The presentation of the songs'Molachu Moonu Ilaya Vidala'{Velayudham}"Antartica" {Thuppaaki} and"Nillaayo"{Bhairava}could be called visual fresheners dipped in exalting imagination and creativity.As said earlier, picturing a song to the audio visual satisfaction of the audience needs a special grasp of inspiring and ingenious credentials of creativity, without which freshness and fine fusion can never get into the presentation.
    These days of electronically creative computer graphics, such fine mixed visuals are easy to blend and we know how director Shankar professionally proved it in his presentation of songs like 'Maayaa Machendra'{Indian} 'Mudhalvane' {Mudhalvan} and 'Kannodu Kaanbadhellaam'{Jeans}To conclude, beautiful song sequence is not the only thing for the success of any film.But it does contribute a special effect, adding up to the quality of the final product by making it visually more rewarding as a fulsome piece of entertainment. The examples given here are purely a subjective collection of song sequences from the films I watched.There could be more poignant song displays that have inspired other movie watchers.I give all those song sequences a big salute.
                   ============================


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Movie Dedicated to Teachers{Recalled on the Teachers' Day -2018}

   




    Tamil cinema has frequently dealt with cop stories and occasionally focused on other professions like Medicine {Dr.Shiva was a special film on a medico's commitment to healing the trauma of lepers}and Law{ Gowravam was an extraordinary film about the pride of being a barrister}.Teaching which is called a very noble profession also drew the attention of directors during the last century and films like Teecharamma,K.Balachander's Nootrukku Nooru and Balu Mahendra's Azhiyaadha Kolangal had something different to say about the personal predicament of teachers and the vagaries of students of the school and college routine.But it was in 2012 a distinguished film on the validity and virtue of the teaching profession came out as a brilliant tribute to all true teachers.It was the film Saattai{The Whip}produced by John Max and directed by M.Anbazhagan.
  What was special about the film was the never deviating tone of narration, worthily confined to the course of events centering around a rural government school.So natural and true to life was the narration that the film almost became a treatise on the nobility of the teaching profession. Dhayalan the protagonist who chooses to work in a government rural school, takes up the onerous task of teaching with many a positive strategy, evolved in his mind,that carries well entrenched objectives such as, student equality both in terms of caste and gender,academic freedom both for the teacher and the taught and an unflinching belief that the allotted material and mind blowing benefits of education should positively reach all the students.
    Dhayalan hates corporal punishment in any form unscrupulously meted out to errant students.He stoutly fights against  pilferage of material benefits,meant for the students through the nutritious noon meal scheme.He questions the unethical practices followed by several teachers of the school including those of the Assistant Headmaster, who atrociously flouts all norms and abuses physical amenities attached to the school to promote his personal interest . Besides, he also carries on  usury, as his private business and utilizes class hours for updating his business records. 
   Dhayalan has to strain his brain and brawn to set things right and restore the lost image of the school while at the same time struggling to establish the legitimacy and dignity of the true teacher not only in himself, but also in his teacher colleagues.It is an ideological war waged by a single individual,to clean the system and call the shots for a total campus transformation.That he succeeds only by surpassing the risks to his own life and personal esteem is of course an inevitable dramatic necessity.
   At the outset, these things might appear cinematic.But at a deeper level the film poignantly showcases the ills that prevail in several such rural and urban schools.The film beautifully pinpoints that amiability,able delivery of information and knowledge,genuineness in upholding the cherished values are the fundamentals of a most crucial profession called teaching.The film also illustrates the importance of the teacher being a role model to budding generations,by maintaining punctuality and personal ethics, besides being modest in passing on to the younger generation a kind of value based, fine tuned, instructional process, that calls for active student participation at various levels, through verbal interaction and talent orientation.
   Samuthrakani's effective underplay as Dayalan,stamped a mark of absolute reliability to the role of an inspiring, exemplary teacher. Thambi Ramaiah as the vituperative Assistant Head Master made his role play amazingly realistic.There was no exaggeration of emotions.The audience would ever remember more,the live school campus,than their audio visual experience of watching a film.This is the most successful point of the film. Vijay TV can be proud of telecasting this film once a way.As a former college teacher and blog writer, I thought it is another way of paying a tribute to the teachers on the Teachers'day, by recalling the nuances of teacherly glory celebrated in the film Saattai. Hence this brief article on the film.  

Prof.P.Chandrasekaran
{Retd}