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.
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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.
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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.}
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