Heroines are there in plenty to adorn the tinsel world.Some act.Some add to the glamour quotient of the films they form part of. Things were different during the last century especially between Nineteen fifties and eighties,when there were great women who were more to acting than to being heroines of films.Those were days when the bills were filled by glamour segment separately,augmented by women artists, exclusively meant for exhibiting the glamour portion.Whereas, there were sterling women like P.Banumadhi,Anjalidevi, Padmini,Savitri,Devika,Sowcar Janaki,Vanisri,B.Sarojadevi, K.R.Vijaya,Jeyalalitha and Lakshmi who stuck to the ground realities and took the characters beyond their identities and were esteemed purely for the roles they played.
Here my memory will not forgive me, if I leave out actors known for subdued performance, such as Jeyanthi, Saritha,Sri Vidya, Sri Devi,Sujatha,Sumitra and the agressive Jeyachitra and Sripriya,among whom Sri Devi casually contributed her classic levels of performance in films like Moonram Pirai, Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu,Jaani and Naan Adimaiyillai with Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth, until she moved to Bollywood. The other actresses were busily occupying the Tamil big screen solidly,for nearly a decade or more and then turned to do mother roles.
However,prior to the entry of these actresses there were two women who were doing more glamour rounds than heavy character roles.They were Manjula and Latha. Even here, Latha did her best in a couple of films like,Aayiram Jenmangal Urimai Kural and Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkirein.
From the early Nineteen Eighties, Director Bharathiraja began to introduce his R series heroines, of whom Raadhika, Radha and Revadhi topped the list.While Radha like her elder sister Ambika,did not leave out the glamour side from her schedule of acting, her role in Mudhal Mariyaadhai was commendable as that of Ambika in films like Engeyo Ketta Kural,Naan Paadum Paadal,Andha Ezhu Naatkal and Vaazhkai.
Radha's performance was equally radiating in films like Amman Koil Kizhakkaale and Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu. Some of Revadhi's best roles were in films like Man Vaasanai, Puthumai Penn,Mouna Raagam,Kizhakku Vaasal, Punnagai Mannan,Kai Kodukkum Kai, Anjali, Vaidhegi Kaathirundhaal, Priyanka, and Marubadiyum.
But the first name from the school of Bharathi Raja has ruled the Tamil film Industry in the manner of her three outstanding predecessors Savithri,K.R.Vijaya and J.Jeyalalitha.Her peculiar way of delivering Tamil dialogues was closer to the unusual Tamil accent put forth by Bhanumathi and Saroja devi,whose mother tongue was not Tamil.The alien charm in Radhika's dialogue delivery was a special attraction in her first film Kizhakke Pogum Rayil and the subsequent films like Niram Maaradha Pookal, Inru Poi Naalai Vaa,Poi Saatchi, Pokkiri Raja,Moonru Mugam and Thaavani Kanavugal.
Surprisingly, in a few years,this proud actor daughter of a colossal actor called M.R.Radha,began to grow by leaps and bounds in honing her histrionic skills in distinct dimensions with an inherent cry for attaining maturity in acting,with spontaneity, ease and ecstasy in the manner of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan and Savithri. Her earliest sample of impressive acting was visible in her transition from vigour to warmth and dignity, at one stroke,in the AVM's beautiful family drama and action movie Nallavanukku Nallavan. She was a perfect foil for the superstar in that film.Her great grasp of the psychological intricacies of the role on hand,got dynamically reflected in her performance thereby taking the image of the character to the height it demanded.
Raadhika's other remarkable entries were Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri,Dharma Dhevadhai, Oorkaavalan,Needhikku Thandanai,Poondhotta Kaavalkaaran, Ninaivu Chinnam and Rettai Vaal Kuruvi.The other fact is films like Needhikku Thandanai,Dharma Dhevadhai,Ninaivu Chinnam and Poondhotta Kaavalkaaran fetched her the best actress award or the special award for best actress,from the government of Tamil Nadu.It is very difficult to forget the role of a virago she played, as the wife of Nasser in Shankar's Jeans. So crude and crooked were the dimensions of the character and so realistically she performed it,with utmost fire and felicity
Raadhika continued to create indelible impressions through her underplay,as well as emotion-packed role performance, in films like like Sippikul Muthu,Keladi Kanmani and Kizhakku Cheemaiyile.Then slowly she began to take up mother roles.The earliest hit in this line was Pasum Pon,another great show of Bharathi Raja.Then there were amazing mother roles in her kitty as shown in memorable films like Amarkalam,Uyirile Kalandhadhu,Rojaa Koottam,Thanga Magan of Danush, Naanum Rowdithaan, Dharmadhurai of Vijay Sethpadhi and Ippadai Vellum of Udhayanidhi Stalin.Among these Dharma Dhurai,reflected her peak of perfection, in role delivery.What has been special about Raadhika's maternal roles is her mature grasp of the deeper layers of motherhood, which she seems to infuse into her character, with absolute genuineness and flawless perception.
To be a heroine is not a challenge,so long the role is of a decorative piece adding mere glamour segment of the film.But to be brought under scanner for a meaty participation and to form a vital part of the film, to the extent of making the character one plays as an indispensable part of the film, is the real challenge for an actor.This is how most of the female actor participants of the last century made themselves greatly relevant and significant for the successful and memorable reach of the films with the audience.Here is another woman who could relate herself to the grand levels of aptitude and performance of those famous names referred to, at the start of this article.
Beyond all this, the other notable point is Raadhika is the only woman of the Tamil film industry, who can doubtlessly be given the top slot position of an actor, beyond the position of the heroine because like Savithri, she could reasonably and effectively compete with Sivaji Ganesan,the ever greatest actor of Tamil Cinema.She has proved it time and again, that she could take up a feminist role in the manner of P.Bhanumathi and J.Jeyalalitha,the fascinating position of graceful and submissive womanhood in the line of Savithri,Devika,Vanisri and K.R.Vijaya and proudly stand up to the dynamism of Sivaji Ganesan in films like Pasumpon and Veera Thaalaattu.
Besides her contemporaries Revathi and Radha,her successors like Meena, Kushbu,Simran and Jyothika have also substantially reached high levels in acting.But it is Raadhika who has surpassed the others,by her consistency in performance and captivating vigour in demonstration through a concerted identification of the actor with the character, in which the actor disappears, so as to make the character live long. Raadhika has been a wonderful stuff in this regard,both on the big and small screens.Some of her highly credited television serials are Chithi,Selvi,Arasi,Chellame and Vani Rani.To put it in a nutshell,as far as Raadhika is concerned,the heroine fades into the actor and the actor dissipates into the character, thereby making the actor move far ahead of the heroine.