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. 
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