Saturday, August 17, 2019

Tamil films of Malayalam Directors.

 
























   









    

 


     It is a common factor among the film industries of South Indian languages to supplement one another through their mutual contribution and enrichment of creative fundamentals.This includes mutual shuffling of story lines,besides the symbiotic role play of film directors, cinematographers,music directors and actors.Of the South Indian languages the participation of Malayalam film industry in Tamil cinema stands first followed by Telugu and Kannada. During the nascent decades of Indian cinema,Telugu played a key role in augmenting and supporting Tamil cinema to a great extent with its rich resources such as studios,funding, technical know how,music and acting.It could be even said that Tamil cinema was almost patronized by the Telugu stalwarts.
   However in the succeeding decades Tamil film industry grew by leaps and bounds thanks to the prominence of great studio houses owned by biggies like S.S.Vasan{Gemini Studios}, A.V.Meyyappa Chettiyar{AVM Studios} and T.R.Sundaram{Modern Theatres' Studio}.Then came highly creative film makers like A.P.Nagarajan, K.Balachander, K.S.Gopalakrishnan, A.Bhimsingh,P.Madhavan,Krishnan Panju and several others.
    Now every South Indian language can be proud of its position in the world of cinema and people happily share their creative process without language prejudices.Tamil cinema in particular,has always welcomed persons of creative and acting potentials from its South Indian counterparts especially from the Malayalam film base.This blog already carries an article entitled "Malayalam Heroes in Tamil Cinema".The present article throws light on the substantial contribution of Malayalam film directors to Tamil cinema.
   The earliest contributors were K.S.Sedhumadhavan and I.V.Sasi.K.S.Sethumadhavan's foremost Tamil release{1968} was Pall Manam starring Jaishankar,K.R.Vijaya,Sivakumar and Sheela.It was during the same Year Malayalam film director A.Vincent came out with his Tamil version of the national award winning film Thulaabaaram.This was followed by Madhavan's other film Kalyana Oorvalam with K.R.Vijaya,Nagesh and others.But it was the mega hit MGR film Naalai Namadhe that powerfully introduced K.S.Sedhumadhavan to the Tamil audience. The film which was a remake of the Hindi blockbuster ''Yahdon ki Baaraat"carried all the captivating elements witnessed in the Hindi version with the additional charm of MGR playing double roles.The other two Tamil films of this ace Malayalam director were Sivakumar's Marupakkam and Kamalahasan's Nammavar.Both these films were received well though Nammavar was critically rated as a special film.
   I.V.Sasi the famous maker of the illustrious Malayalam film Yee Naadu,made three popular films with Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan.While Allavuddenum Arpudha Vilakkum had both the heroes enjoying equal screen space,the other two films Kali and Guru had Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan playing the hero,respectively.Guru was a remake of the Dharmendra starring Hindi hit Jugnu and it retained all the action ingredients of the original.The other Tamil film of IV Sasi "Pakalil oer Iravu"was a breezy tale portraying Vijayakumar,Ravikumar and Sridevi in in a love triangle.This film will be eternally remembered for the beautiful SPB song Ilamaiyenum Poongaatru composed by the musical prophet Ilayaraja.Though I.V.Sasi is no more today,his great films will perpetually recall his precious contribution to the world of cinema.
   Tamil audience owe a lot to the Malayalam film maker Bharadhan who unfortunately died in his early fifties and whose solo Tamil venture Thevar Magan will remain ever,as a proud possession in the archives of Tamil cinema,on account of the fantastic action show of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan and the world class actor Kamalahasan as emotionally endearing father and son,dynamically supported by other veterans like Nasser,Revathi and Gowthami.Both Bharathan and Kamal took the film to its peerless heights with  gripping narration and role play,besides bringing back to the big screen the two forgotten actors Kallapart Natarajan and Kaakaa Radhakrishnan.This film in fact,gave a new lease to the unique acting credentials of the latter.
    The most popular Malayalam action movie makers Joshy and Shaji Kailas have also given us wonderful action films in Tamil. Joshy's Airport was one of the best films of Sathyaraj,showing him as a pilot in most beautiful dimensions.It was clearly a fast moving film,with actions taking off from the ground realities and flying high with emotions of love,sibling affection,family bonding and political master plans,taking the hero into unprecedented troubles and reaching a well carved climax.Soman,Naaser,Jaishankar,Sumitra and Gowtami all did their best to make it a worthy film of action,from a worthy director,well known for his stupendous credentials of speed and coherence in neat narration,of well set action events. Shaji Kailas,the other vastly popular director of action films in Malayalam, has given us greatly watchable films like Vaanchinathan starring Vijayakanth as a brilliant cop in amazing style,the Ajith starring action bonanza Janaa and Ellaam Avan Seyal which was a remake of his own popular Malayalam action thriller 'The Chinthamani Kola case'.The latest additions of this action film maker to Tamil cinema were,Envazhi Thani Vazhi and Vagai Express.
   Rafi Macartin's  single Tamil entry Thenkasi Pattanam was a great entertainer cum action film,on account of the unique comedy show of Vivek and Charlie and the action bonanza of Sharatkumar and Napoleon.The original Malayalam version also had the same title.Similarly the only film  Piriyadha Varam Vendum of Prashanth and Shalini directed by Kamal,was an exuberant romance with its inbuilt aesthetic ingredients.The Malayalam film industry has identified Kamal,as the true representative of classic creative credentials and unruffled narration.
  Like Kamal,A.K.Lohithadas who made his own Malayalam film Kasthuriman in Tamil, with the same title,has not so far come out with any other Tamil films. Lohithadas is yet another Malayalam film maker of merit and acclaim.His single Tamil film Kasthuriman starring Prasanna and Meera Jasmine,revolves around the trauma and tribulations experienced by the woman protagonist,living in a condition of personal and sexual insecurity,posed by her precarious and poor family environment.The film was beautifully made with an admirable support in acting, naturally rendered by Prasanna and Meera Jasmine. Though the film might not be a commercial hit,it brought out the elegance and fineness of Lohithadas as a remarkable film maker.Besides being a director Lohitadhas was a screen writer for his films and for quite a number of films of Sibi Malayil and Sathyan Anthikkad.It is a sad fact that such a film maker of very high creative spark,died at the age of 54,without spreading his wings further.
    Siddique whose Malayalam hits Friends,Chronic Bachelor and Body Guard were made into Tamil, as Friends,Enga Anna and Kavalan, has been one of the most entertaining film makers with a singular flair for generating spot humour as a spontaneous course of scenic event and inclusion of compact sentiment and action segment. This grand master of action,family drama and comedy in Malayalam cinema,did not fail to inspire the Tamil audience by his own remakes of his Malayalam victory shows.The other two Tamil films of Siddique are Arangetravelai {'Ramji Rao Speaking'in Malayalam} and Baskar Oru Rascal {Baskar the Rascal in Malayalam}.The magic wand of Siddique would create a wide range of comic situations,taking the audience to the zenith of laughter.
    Priyadharshan who gave several Malayalam hits with Mohanlal as hero,has directed about eight Tamil films like Chinna Manikuyile,Gopura Vaasalile{both Karthik Muthuraman films} Snehidhiye,{ a women centric film}Kaancheevaram,{starring Prkash Raj}Poisolla Porom[with Sivaji Ganesan}Lesa Lesa { based on the Malayalam film Summer in Bethlehem}Nimir {starring Udhayanidhi Stalin} and"Sometimes"{shortlisted for golden globe awards}.Most of the films of Priyadharshan are known for their natural humour,breezy romance and clean narration.Of the films cited Gopuravasalile was very popular with the Tamil audience,for its comedy segment and melodious songs tuned by Ilayaraja.Especially the song Thaalaattum Poongaatru Naanallavaa,from the mesmerizing voice of S.Janaki and the reverberating group song''Oru devadhaipoloru penninru vandhadhu ingu"can never leave the memory of  music lovers of Tamil Cinema. 
   Fazil an outstanding film maker of Malayalam films,has lent his Midas' touch to Tamil cinema on a frequent basis,giving us most memorable films like Poove Poochoodavaa,Poovizhi Vaasalile,En Bommukutti Ammavukku,Varusham Padhinaaru,Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai and Kannukkul Nilavu. Enchanting music,endearing family emotions,delicate touches of romance and feather touch comedies,have been the special traits of a Fazil film.Even his moderate shows like Karpoora Mullai,Kilipechu Ketkavaa and Oru Naal Oru Kanavu never touched the borders of boredom.Most of Fazil's Tamil films were remakes of his Malayalam originals.His contribution to Tamil cinema has been both prolific and productive,in terms of quality and commercial viability.
   Pratap K.Pothen who is first known as an actor of specially identifiable acting credentials, displayed with the extraordinary charm of his egg like eyes and enchanting role delivery in films like Moodu Pani,Azhiyaadha Kolangal,Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu,Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai,Kudumbam Oru Kadhambam,Nenjathai Killaadhe and several other Tamil films,has also cast his indelible impressions as a highly creative director of many popular Tamil films.Besides directing the felicitous romance Meendum Oru Kadhal Kadhai in which he and Raadhika played the lead roles,he has also come out with outstanding hits like Vetri Vizha,Jeeva,My Dear Maarthaandan,Seevalaperi Pandi,Makudam,Lucky Man and Atma.He has dealt with great heroes like Kamalahasan,Prabhu,Sathyaraj,Karthik and Napoleon.Tamil film industry owes him a lot for his great action films like Vetri Vizha and Jeeva and the comedy uproar he created in My Dear Maarthaandan and Lucky Man.His Seevalaperi Paandi is a uniquely melodramatic celebration of raw emotions and rugged villainy. Pothen is still an important name in Tamil Cinema by doing paternal and supportive roles.
   During the post independent era,there were quite a few Telugu film makers who devoutly enhanced the reach of Tamil films by their dedicated contribution.Telugu film directors like T.Prakash Rao,{Paadhaala Bhairavi,Amara Dheepam,Uthama Puthiran and Padahotti} L.V.Prasad {Manohara,Mangaiyar Thilakam,Missiamma,Iruvar Ullam and Thaayillaa Pillai} D.Yoganand {Kaveri,Madurai Veeran, Parisu,Thangaikkaaga,Thaai.Justice Gopinath, and a few other Sivaji Ganesan films} Singeetham Srinivasa Rao {Dhikkatra Paarvadhi,Raaja Paarvai,Abhoorva Sagodhararkal,Michael Madhana Kaamaraajan,Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa, Little John and Mumbai Express} Vedhaantam Raagavaiah{ Devadas,Prema Paasam,and Adutha Veetu Penn} significantly lifted the face of Tamil cinema,during the years that followed the dawn of Independent India and its post independence decades .Kannada movie stalwart B.R.Panthulu is a home name for the Tamil audience,on account of his Padmini Pictures'films like Sabash Meena,Thangamalai Ragasiyam,Veerapandia Kattabomman, Karnan,Kappalottiya Thamizhan,Aayirathil Oruvan and so on.
    However,comparatively,during the past two or three decades Malayalam cinema has sufficiently made Tamil big screen precious and proud,by its film makers of distinct genres of narration.We are not yet sure how much of patronage and support is available for Tamil film makers,from other South Indian languages.Even in terms of acting,the chances given to Tamil actors to play hero roles in other languages,might not be that much encouraging when compared to the opportunities given by Tamil film industry to Malayalam,Telugu and Kannada actors. Mutuality is always a deserving concept for triggering the ever needed impetus to the uniform growth of every film industry,through inter lingual participation and cooperation. 
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Gory Villain Turns a Great Character Actor

    










    It is quite a common phenomenon in the cinema industry to shuffle roles of actors depending upon their popularity and performance potential.This is how yesterday's villains turn heroes and vice versa.This is how Rajinikanth, Sathyaraj, and Sarathkumar became dominant heroes after doing commendable villain roles.Vijayakumar who came as hero was later identified as an actor capable of donning villain and character roles effectively.In fact,M.N.Nambiyar,the most historic villain of Tamil cinema was also simultaneously taking up memorable character roles in films like Dhigambara Saamiyaar,Mandhiri kumari,Bhoologa Rambai,Makkalai Petra Magaraasi,Bhaga Pirivinai and Ninaithathai Mudippavan {as an honest cop}and several other films during his hey days of screen villainy.Ashokan also tried his hand as hero in a couple of films{especially Vallavanukku Vallavan and Idhu Sathiyam}and then began to shuttle between villain and character roles.In this regard the new millennium came upon a brutish villainous actor called Pasupathy who was identified with crudest form of villainy in films like Dhool, Sullaan, Mudhurey,Arul, Thiruppaachi and Virumaandi.
   Pasupathy Maasilaamani was first booked for the Kamal film Marudha nayagam which has not yet seen its release.Hailing from Chennai Koothuppattarai and being close to Nasser,though Pasupathy's dream of working with Kamalahasan in Marudhanayagam did not become a reality, he later on shared screen space with the outstanding hero, in films like Aalavandhaan and Virumandi.After acting in Housefull and Aalavandhaan, Pasupathy acted with Nasser in his Mayan.From villainy to comedy roles and character performance became an easy transition for Pasupathy.Initially Pasupathy appeared as a murderous villain,bearing names such as Aadhi{Dhool},Gajapadhi{Arul} Soori{Sullaan}KTR {Madhurey}Pattasu Balu {Thiruppachy} as Kothalathevar {Virumaandi} and as Nellai Mani { the film was titled E and Pasupathy got the best actor award from the government of Tamil Nadu}.It was quite interesting to see him  turn the table topsy turvy and perform wonderful comic roles in films like Majaa,Mumbai Express and Vedi Gundu Murugesan.His role in Idharku Thaan Aasai Pattaayaa Balakumara also needs a special mention.
    But more than the comedy characters it was the pathetic role that he played in the national award winning film Veyil that drew everybody's attention to this actor's poignant absorption of roles, requiring succinct voice modulation and sharp facial reflection of mood fluctuations. Pasupathy's character in Veyil spontaneously evoked audience sympathy on account of its tragic undertones and the way he naturally brought out the agony and anguish of paternal isolation despite the fraternal warmth he could enjoy with his younger brother{performed equally well by Bharath}.It was a character left alone and crying for love and family bonding and Pasupathy breathed the heart and soul of the character to make it a memorable film,purely on account of his unique performance.
   Then Pasupathy gave a convincing portrayal of a visually challenged person working as an RJ and sharing a lot of positive energy with the radio audience passing on hope to everybody despite his own personal predicament.This character {Nedumaran} he performed in Cheran's Raman Thedia Seethai,was a deliberate addition to deliver a clear message to the hero{Cheran himself} that life was worth living,despite so many setbacks that crowd one's life.That the hero came to surpass his inferiority complex caused by his speech impediment,on listening to the vibrating words of Pasupathy,was the crux of the thematic content of the film.It was a powerful role for Pasupathy and he performed it very powerfully.
    The next excellent character delineation of Pasupathy was for the Rajini starring Kuselan in which as a barber and one time schoolmate and chum of the superstar, Pasupathy naturally exhibited his inhibitions,hiding his love for his long time friend.It was this inhibition that prevented him from moving physically closer to his celebrity friend,in spite of opportune moments coming on the way.What makes Pasupathy a special actor of fascinating ability is his underplay of characters to make them all refreshingly breezy and endearing.The fact here is that he could perform such roles after a period of foul mouthed shouting as an uncouth villain of top most thuggery.
    His most recent,profoundly inspiring depiction of a character of indescribable fraternal bonding towards his younger sister in the film Karuppan made him cross another milestone in his involved performance of roles.As Maayi he showed enormous love and affection for his younger sister Anbuselvi{gracefully performed by Tanya}and would show controlled anger if any wrong information reached him about his brother in law{Vijay Sethupathi}not keeping his sister comfortable and happy.
  It was a rustic role stuffed with anger and love in uniform proportions and Pasupathy amazingly maintained the balance of mood,prioritized by the base of his character formation. With the wolfish younger brother of Pasupathy's wife{worthily performed by Bobby Simha} scheming the negative course of events,to build an animus between Pasupathy and Vijay Sethupathi,how differently Pasupathi handled each situation with his inimitable mood fluctuation was really beautiful to watch. Pasupathy's reactions would be on a pattern of instant anger ending up with delayed access to right thinking.'Karuppan' in fact,wonderfully presented a series of events involving a kind of vicious circle of suspicion and trust,created by the malicious manipulations of Bobby Simha,with his hidden agenda of marrying Tanya,whom he madly loved and whose marriage he wanted to break,so that he could marry her after the break up.
  Unlike other villain actors who became heroes and character actors,Pasupathy's transition from villainy to supporting roles was made up of firmness and grit in role play,neatly displayed with depth,poise and dignity. As a villain he roared like a hard core,detestable ruffian.But as an actor doing comic and character roles,he began to travel on a terrain of softness blended with a tinge of longing and suppressed sentiments,towards creating a niche for himself as a performance oriented actor.His opportunities were less.But within the given scope for talent exposition, he has been found never wanting to reach the peak of excellence in performance.He deserves more recognition by way of more opportunities and the fact that the Malayalam film industry has also sufficiently inducted him for performing challenging roles,is a fair revelation of this one time gory villain rising up to the distinct level of a great character actor.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Four Exemplary Imitations.











































   

  

    Cinema in general is passing through a galaxy of phases such as technology boom,talent boom and exhaustive reach beyond the theatre bound screens.Titles,themes,story lines,musical medleys and several other features pinpoint to the possibility of creativity leaning on some other source or base which could also have derived its core from yet another base.Originality in creativity is a highly restrictive term in the sense that ultimately it is the totality of the end product and its consummate appeal that determine the term originality. After all no one can create new feelings and emotions,because they originated on the day when the first human was born.All that happened after that could be called a series of transformation and refinement that take every generation closer to their goals depending upon the aspiration and expectation of each generation.
   If we take the case of cinema in general and Tamil cinema in particular,there have been a successive repetition of film titles,addition of prequels and sequels,remakes,fusion of glorious tunes and songs from the past and above all an intrinsic reorganization of themes and story lines.Though repetition of a theme is inevitable in the creative process,an almost similar version in creativity to the extent of making a film,a xerox version of its predecessor,while at the same time receiving wide audience support,is nothing but a prestigious phenomenon.
  Tamil cinema could feel elated about a few immortal imitations of their previous blockbusters. This article focusses on four such xerox versions that made history in the line of their original versions.They are Chimbudheven's Imsai Arasan Irubadhumoonraam Pulikesi inspiring us with fascinating memories of the felicitous film UthamaPuthiran made by Venus Pictures,  Ulallathai Allithaa,reverberating the roars of laughter from B.R.Pantulu's Sabash Meenaa,  Karakaattakkaaran toeing the line of the grand epic Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal and finally Sakalakala Vallavan echoing the jubilation of its mother version Pattikaadaa Pattanama. 
   Uthamaputhiran  co-produced by Sridhar and directed by T.Prakash Rao was a 1958 release and there was another film of the same title released in 1940,starring P.U.Chinnappa.The title seems to have been so catchy that one more film bearing the same tile with a totally different theme and story,came as a breezy entertainer in 2010 with Dhanush and Genelia D'souza adorning the screen.The 1958 film was an awesome historical fiction delineating the conflict of interest between a pair of royal twins called Vikraman and Parthiban,one groomed as a wastrel by his maternal uncle aspiring to usurp the kingdom by keeping the heir apparent as a dummy and the other twin born,presumed to be dead by the foul machinations of the uncle Naganathan, wonderfully performed by M.N.Nambiyar. 
    Chimbudeven in his inimitable style,imitated the story of Uthamaputhiran and boldly made Vaigai Storm Vadivelu to play the dual roles as Pulikesi and Ukraputhan and Nasser as the maternal uncle Sangilimaayan,powerfully substituting M.N.Nambiyar.It was a movie in mock epic mode but earned rave reviews and audience applause thanks the the comedy segment permeating through out the film. Vadivelu was his best self,in taking himself to extraordinary levels of comedy and sobriety.However,Sabesh Murali's music was not at all a match for G. Ramanathan's musical grandeur in Uthama Puthiran.Songs like Kaathiruppaan Kamala Kannan,Mullai Malar Mele and Yaaradee Nee Mohini are still sweetly ringing in our ears as timeless musical treasures.Similarly the two heroines of Imsai Arasan could not come anywhere near the charm and grace of Padmini,both in looks and character portrayal.It was Vadivelu who solely surcharged the film. 
    Padmini Pictures' Sabash Meena {1958}and Sundar C's Ullathai Allithaa{1996} are the other two films identical in story line and treatment of theme and characterization.Both are hilarious comedies,farcical in nature surpassing the barriers of time,through situational outbreak of humour. Unusually,unlike the other three imitation formula films,Ullathai Allitha became a greater commercial success than its previous model.Both were tales of happy go lucky guys indulging in acts of impersonation without an iota of inhibition.While Sabash Meena began with a context of existing friendship between the hero and his jobless friend,Ullathai Allithaa showed the hero getting himself acquainted with the fraudulent Goundamani and then firming up friendship through intimidating tactics. Sivaji Ganesan very casually performed his role with an exceptional comedy fervour and Chandrababu,reputed for his raw comedy sense and brilliant profiles of gesticulation was a perfect foil for Sivaji Ganesan.
   In both the cases the heroes were relocated by their fathers {played by D.Balasubramanyam in Sabaash Meena and by Jai Ganesh in Ullathai Allithaa}to another place to get their worthless sons reformed by their trustworthy friends. S.V.Rengarao was the friend in the former and Manivannan,in the latter.While the heroine in Sabash Meena {Malini} was a poor woman,her close friend{B.Sarojadevi} was the daughter of  the rich S.V.Rengarao. Whereas in Ullathai Allithaa,the heroine {Ramba}was the daughter of Manivannan,a wealthy business magnate.The other notable change over,was the dual roles allotted to Manivannan instead of Goundamani unlike Banthulu's assignment of dual roles to Chandrababu.In fact in dual roles as the idle friend of the hero and as a rickshaw puller speaking the Chennai slang of Tamil,Chandrababu ruled to the roost creating robust scenes of laughter.
    Instead Sundar C who is known for creating scenes of rib tickling laughter through a ruckus,did a good job in juxtaposing complexities,by jumbling of characters on the run.There was greater clarity in Panthulu's narration but the laughter component was definitely higher in Sundar C's presentation. Aasai Kiliye Kobamaa,Chithiram Pesudhadi and Kaanaa Inbam Kanindhadheno are the mesmerizing numbers from the laudable music of T.G.Lingappa,who composed the sound track for Sabash Meenaa.Azhagiya Lyla,I love you love sonnaale and Adi Anaarkali are the soothing songs from Sirpi's music for Ullathai Allithaa.
     Vijayalaksmi Pictures' Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal released in 1968 was an epic show of the competitive spirit between a Naadhaswaram expert and an exquisite bharadhanaatyam dancer blended with the splendour of man woman passion for each other with its inherent elements of possessiveness and suspicion.It was really a classic in all respects,attaining the status of an eternal legacy.The film was altogether an audiovisual treat and is remembered scene by scene by movie buffs even after five decades.But Gangai Amaran's Karagaattakkaaran that hit the screens more than twenty years after Thillaanaa Moganaambaal,was in no way inferior in terms of its entertainment value.This film which ran for nearly a year in some theatres will ever linger in audience memory as a unique show of the traditionally rural and mind blowing form of art called Karagam.Here both the hero and the heroine were exuberant karagam dancers one vying with the other to win over the street audience in the film, followed by the theatre audience watching the film on the big screens.
   Though the role play of Ramarajan and Kanaga could not be equated with the acting potential of Sivaji and Padmini,it has to be assertively recorded that as karagam dancers  Ramarajan and Kanaga gave a great show of their commitment and devotion to rural glory with impeccable dynamism.The stomach curdling comedy scene of the two banana issue and the Soppana Sundari episode were the additional memoirs of this equally immortal film.These two scenes struck a similar note with the soda beeda dialogue between Sivaji Ganesan and T.S.Balaiah and the train scene in which T.S.Balaiah would been seen purposely leaning on C.K.Saraswathi, both unforgettable pleasure points of Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal.
   The music of K.V.Mahadevan in the former and that of Ilayaraja in the latter were invaluable pointers to the context,genre and zone of the theme and situation-related factors of both the films,making them both coexist as creatively,competitively and commercially popular movies, significantly relevant to their respective periods.There was of course a salient difference.There was no Vaidhi,the lean and cantankerous character of Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal{amazingly performed by Nagesh}in Karakaattakkaaran,though Gangai Amaran convincingly replaced the character of the greedy mother of Mohanaambaal with that of the avaricious brother in law of Kaamaatchi in Karakaatrakkaaran.
    Everybody who had watched the Nineteen Seventies' Silver Jubilee hit Pattikaadaa Pattanamaa would have longed to watch it again,on account of the never sagging gusto in narration maintained by the veteran film maker late P.Madhavan.Sivaji Ganesan as the captivating rustic,tuft bearing Mookaiyyan,Jeyalalithaa as the turbulent,urban girl and ebullient V.K.Ramasamy struggling to tame his shrewish wife Sukumari were the four pillars of this solidly monumental film.The vigorous conflicting elements of the film were village and town,self dignity and arrogance of wealth and the radiance of submission against the ruin of aggression.While Sivaji Ganesan and VKR represented the nobler elements,Jeyalalitha and her mother Sukumari remained as the characteristic symbols of the negative side.The film boisterously showcased the victory of the former against the latter.Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa was released in 1972 and ran crowd packed,for twenty five weeks.
   A decade latter AVM studious came out with an imitated version of P.Madhavan's mighty show.The film Sakalakalaa Vallavan starring Kamalahasan{as village Velu}V.K.Ramasamy  Ambika and Pushpalatha repeating the characters of Sivaji Ganesan,V.K.R,Jeyalalitha and Sukumari also became a blockbuster. This film directed by S.P.Muthuraman recapitulated the whole gamut of Pattikaadaa Pattanamaa,portraying the positive versus negative factors with a slight shift in entertainment focus and an addition of sibling characters to join the hero and heroine{a sister for the hero and a brother for the heroine}.
  Music of both the films spread through the streets of Tamil Nadu with songs like Adi Ennadi Raakkammaa and Kettukodi Urumimelam from Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa and Kattavandi Kattavandi besides Nethu Raathiri from Sakalakalaa Vallavan passing on the musical excellence of M.S.Viswanathan and Ilayaraja.All other aspects of both these films travelled towards the destination of taming the termagant wife.Interestingly,Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa itself bore its lenience to Shakespeare's play Taming of the Shrew.We do not know how and from where the world famous English Playwright got his inspiration to draw the base for his play.
   The eight films brought under a single scanner for identical appropriation of story line, narration of scenic course of events and characterization norms,would categorically affirm the power of imitation of creative norms.T.S.Eliot the America born English poet once said "imitation is the tribute mediocrity pays to greatness''.The four successive films thriving on their power of imitation,have vindicated the validity of the poet's statement not merely by succeeding their earlier versions,but by stamping their own mark of successful manifestation of cinema as a creative pathway for exemplary imitations.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Great woman with a grumpy profile on screen

   









   It is a general belief that women settle their scores with men by their power of words and the way they use them.Though some women take a recourse to silence for clinching their issues the best and easiest way for them is to argue endlessly and achieve their argued goal in their favour. Hence cinema as a powerful medium has effectively showcased the power of women's silence and their surgical strikes through words,cutting across the hurdles against their end game.Tamil films as well as Tamil television serials are never found lacking in projecting the two extremes of the fairly empowered women.
   The second category of women would have found a wider space and prominence in the big and small screens,on account of the dramatic need to maintain the tempo in narration throughout the screenplay.This is how actors of the last century like P.S. Gnanam  C.T. Raja kantham ,C.K. Saraswathi and M.S Sundaribhai conquered the mood of the audience through their vociferous portrayal of characters whether they were playing positive or antagonistic roles.These women were the best bet for playing the role of vindictive mothers-in- law and vituperative step mothers.These exemplary actors made the power of their eyes and tongue so hurting and formidable that they could easily carry on their negative roles as child's play.
   In this regard there came a woman in the Nineteen eighties to rule the Tamil celluloid arena ever unsurpassed,by her sheer energy of words packed as if in a devil's laboratory. Vadivukkarasi she is called.Her name if translated into English would mean the queen of appearance/form.Being the niece of veteran film maker A.P.Nagarajan,acting must have come to her as naturally as leaves to a tree or feathers to a bird.She first appeared in Bharatiraja's Sigappu Rojakkal in which she was shown as one of the victims of the hero's{Kamalahasan} misogyny.Then came films of considerable acclaim such as Kanni Paruvathile,Dheiveeka Raagangal and Kannil Theriyum Kadhaikal.Of these Kanni Paruvathile was one of the most memorable films of Vadivukkarasi because of its neat story line depicting the dreaded routine of a woman struggling to escape from the womanizing ventures of a relative{Bhagyaraj} who somehow came to know of the privations of her being married to an impotent man. Vadivukkarasi poignantly portrayed the personal anguish of a psychologically disturbed woman.It should have been one of the best films in her career.
    However, perhaps due to her facial profile or want of heroine opportunities,Vadivukkarasi was soon pushed to the edge of playing elderly roles as an elder sister or mother of heroes and heroines.But this seems to have become a blessing in disguise for her.Who can ever forget the Ponnaatha of Mudhal Mariyaadhai,the virago kind of rural woman,never trying to speak a good word in her routine. That too,imagine her playing the role of the Chevalier's wife,being never bothered about hurting the  venerable village chieftain,who chanced to marry her in spite of her unwed pregnancy,purely for the sake of preserving the family dignity of his maternal uncle.Caught in between the shame of secrecy and a nagging domestic routine,it was a pathetic role that Sivaji Ganesan played, gulping every moment,the insult hurled at him by his unworthy wife.
   But how naturally and dynamically Vadivukkarasi essayed this negative role with precision and perfection.Her casual absorption of the Madhurai slang bearing the stamp of a specific community of that region,literally took her to new heights as a natural actor fitting herself exuberantly to the region and its language.This single portrayal would speak volumes of her thespian excellence to make herself as the most desired supporting actor of Tamil cinema. 
   Bharati Raja the Tamil soil's proud film maker,should really have felt elated about offering this meaty role to an actor whom he himself introduced in Sgappu Rojakkal.From then on the vociferous voice of Vadivukkarasi gained currency and antagonistic roles came to her one after the other and her well carved profile made it a cake walk for her to exhibit herself as the most formidable elder woman of Tamil cinema.Vadivukkarasi again appeared almost during the same year of release of Muthal Mariyaadhai {1985}as the bad mouthed wife of Sivaji Ganesan in Rajinikanth's Padikkadhavan.Some of the other films of the Superstar in which Vadiuk karasi found a place are Mr.Bharat,Arunachalam,Padayappa and Sivaji{as Rajinikanth's mother}.
    Of these, in Arunachalam she came as a hunch backed old woman ever suspecting and denigrating the hero.Similar to this was her cynical role in Samastaanam as the mother of Suresh Gopi,always trying to create a wedge between him and his friend Sarathkumar by casting aspersions and prejudices on the latter.With Prabu her great role was in Periya Thambi.With Vijayakanth,her roles in Thavasi and Enga Annaa,need a special mention.In Thavasi too,she played a negative character attributing motives to the hero and his father.{both played by Vijayakanth}
  Whether Vadivukkarasi donned a negative role or a woman of positive vibes,her role play always imbibed the power of argumentation placing her opinion heard at the right level,at the time and right place.She would have acted in about 200 films including those in Telugu and Malayalam. Besides she keeps on stepping into each and every home through the small screen.From Alaigal to the ongoing Roja and Chinna Thambi her serial significance determines her sustained popularity as the most wanted woman to play powerful elderly roles not only in films but also in the television serials.Though she would have contributed her might in all the serials,the best in my opinion is Thirumathi Selvam in which she played the desperate role of the mother of three daughters including the heroine of the serial.
    Vadivukkarasi could be rated along with Aachi Manorama.But unlike Manorama and the other existing reputed artist Saranya Ponvannan,Vadivukkarasi is definitely a different brand of actor who has come to fill the gap of actors like C.K.Saraswathi and M.S.Sundarbhai.Setting aside the temptation to look for comparable yardsticks and examples,it should be categorically stated that Vadivukkarasi is a powerful woman in her own capacity,with talents filling up all loopholes lying hidden in character delineation,by the power of interaction through valid words never failing to hit the intended goal.Her voice may shuffle between vociferous and meek extremities.But the validity of her words and the power of their access never fail to reach the audience both at home and in the theatres. 
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Crazy but Creative too.{Homage to Crazy Mohan}




     Humour is the fuel for the laughter engine.In other words,if laughter is the exterior,humour is its interior.To counter a well known maxim we could say humour and not brevity that is the soul of wit.Comedians are celebrated with gusto and applause for their delightful delivery of humour for which it is the soul of the skit that matters.Tamil cinema owes a significant portion of its comedy perfection to the vigour sustaining dialogues and script contributed by the veteran humour wizard Crazy Mohan.
  Born as Mohan Rengachari,this Mechanical Engineer of the early Nineteen Seventies turned into stage play promotion and comedy skit promotion for quite a number of Tamil films.The success that he tasted by his stage play enacted in Guindy Engineering College perhaps changed his fate line from an Engineering career to that of a playwright and dialogue writer. Launching his "Crazy Creations" and making his brother Maadhu Balaji {prefix Maadhu lifted from Nagesh's role in Edhir Neechal} as the hero of most of his dramas,Mohan has substantially enriched Tamil stage plays and films by his massive contribution of plays,scripts and dialogues.
  Unlike late Cho Ramasamy whose sharp dialogues were aimed at political foibles and failures, Crazy Mohan's laughter vehicle drove on tracks of well timed spot humour generating instant laughter.Mohan believed in the power of words to generate laughter without letting the impact of words go waste and with the forceful pull of drawing the attention of the audience to the humour-pregnant contexts and the words that guaranteed those contexts.Consequently none of the audience would fail to burst into a stream of laughter.
  Tamil Cinema has breathed humour through Crazy Mohan's lungs,in a number of films. Mohan started his film journey as story writer for veteran director K.Balachander's Poikal Kudhirai {which was based on Mohan's drama 'Marriage Made in Saloon'}.However it was his close association with Kamalahasan that made him an astounding harbinger of comedy sense and spot humour. Teaming up with Kamal for the epic level film Aboorva Sagodharargal, Mohan ran on the race course of comedy,taking the audience to the zenith of humour,solely by his intoxicating power of humour in films like Sathi Leelavadhi,Tenaly,Michael Madhana Kamarajan,Avvai Shanmugi, Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa,Pammal K.Sambandam,Makalir Mattum, Panja Thandhiram and Vasool Raja MBBS. Almost all these films became mega hits purely on account of the rib tickling dialogues of Mohan who had an extraordinary flair for punning upon words blending English with Tamil and vice versa.The only film that Mohan worked with Rajinikanth was Arunachalam.
    The other notable films for which Mohan wrote the script or subscribed his comedy skit were Chinna Maapillai,Vietnaam Colony and Chinna Vaadhiyaar{all Prabu's films}Vijay's Enrenrum Kaadhal,Soorya's Poovellaam Kettupaar and K.T.Kunjimon's Ratchagan.Besides his invisible offering of humour,Crazy Mohan has also made a brief appearance in quite a few films.Of these,the most notable show was in Vasool Raja MBBS as Dr. Markabandhu,the most intelligent and father doting  son of Kaka Radhakrishnan. 
   How he succumbed to the intimidating tactics of Kamalahasan,Prabu and others and how innocently he reflected his gullibility,nervousness and devotion to his father,constituted one of the most memorable scenes of comedy in Tamil cinema,showcasing the whole event through a carom  board game,played by the fun loving gang along with the carom enthusiast Kaka Radha krshnan.The other briefly noticeable roles that Mohan played were those of a car customer {Aboorva Sagothararkal} a grocer{Michael Madhana Kamarajan}a doctor{Chinna Vaadhiyaar} an astrologer{Enrenrum Kaadhal}an ENT Specialist {Pammal K.Sambandham} and a hearing impaired Judge {Kola Kolaya Mundhirikaa}.All these small time characters will stay remembered, in spite of their short focus.The last film in which he appeared was Kalyana Samayal Saadham and his last film bearing his dialogues was Naan Ee.
   Many have ruled Tamil cinema and theatre in their own unique ways.Crazy Mohan has crazily ruled them both,as well as the Tamil small screen{through his serials of which Metti Oli was very popular}by his intelligent wordplay capable of creating a comedy wonderland with all its genuine ingredients.The essence of his comedy skit has always been at the exclusion of vulgarity and even in writing double meaning dialogues,intelligence has surpassed temptations for inferior abuse of words. Even while creating awkward situations as humour incentives, Mohan has always taken care to close his comedy doors against meanness in gesticulation and articulation.
   Crazy Mohan would definitely join the line of well meaning decent comedians empowered to amuse the crowd,through thought, word and deed,all governed by rules of genuine and spontaneous humour. His credibility for humour has always been looking up for laughter as a blessing and never been looking down for humour as a curse.Perhaps it was his absolute adherence to decent comedy that fetched him the Kalaimaamani award from the government of Tamil Nadu.It is really unfortunate that two great film celebrities passed away today. Mohan's death has followed that of Girish Karnad another great playwright and actor,who also died of heart attack this morning. Mohan's loss will surely throw a pall of gloom but in the long run,the memorable scenes of his comedy shows will lend him a stamp  of immortality and wipe away the gloom as light liquidates darkness.
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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Homage to Girish Karnad





    A passionate writer,a probing playwright,a dedicated theatrical celebrity and a poignant actor that Girish Raghunath Karnad was,it is very painful to accept his death,though death comes to all with or without giving notice.I still cherish my happy moments,teaching one of his wonderful creations 'Hayavadana' to a couple of batches of Arts and Science students in the college where I worked and retired from.I would rate him as an actor of awesome academic mould with a very high and critically challenging creative potential.I have watched almost all the Tamil films he acted and I am sure they would all celebrate his memory in the decades to come.
  What was special about this cutely urbanized actor,was his aristocratic demeanour that would naturally fix him in any elite role such as the Black dog Security Service Officer {Kadhal Mannan} and a haughty,scheming,status conscious,greedy,tax evading industrialist cum business magnate {Naan Adimai Illai,Kadhalan,Minsaara Kanavu,Ratchagan,and Chellame}. Mysskin's Mugamoodi was the last Tamil film that Karnad acted,as the grandfather of the hero. {played by Jeeva}He also worked with Kamalahasan in Hey Ram.
  The way Karnad would churn out the intricacies of his character delineation was a special treat to watch.His eyes would deliberate his manipulations more than his tongue.The arrogance of wealth was the most notable trait that he would felicitously portray through his body language and his distinct style of acting.On the Tamil screen,he was ever a self conscious promoter of foul accumulation and proud display of wealth,through characters evolved with an extraordinary care for the Machiavellian touch.It would perhaps look that in his death,the world of cinema stands impoverished,because it has lost one of its fabulous faces of the guilt and grandeur of wealth.
  So suave and refined were his looks that only actors like {late}S.V.Renga Rao and Pran of the last millennium could be equated with him in exhibiting the value and vile of the highest rung of the aristocratic ladder.Late Raghuvaran was a perfect match to his negative role play and perhaps that was why they both were brought together,in sharing the venom of villainy in films like Kaadalan and Ratchagan.The winning streak of these two actors,was based on their innate grasp of playing crude villainy with a mask of refinement,that would enable them to ruin their rivals through their soft dozes of devilishness.
   Karnad's main focus was on Kannada cinema followed by his contribution to Hindi and Tamil films.He has also acted in a couple of Malayalam films{Neela Kurinji Poothapol and The Prince}.Beyond his enrichment of Indian cinema was his exhaustive contribution to Kannada literature and no doubt it was his creative versatility that earned him the most coveted  Jnanpith Award from the government of India,for his significant literary achievements.Today Tamil cinema is as much deprived of one of its most dynamic actors as the Kannada region has every reason to mourn the death of one of its most illustrious sons.The Tamil soil is certainly indebted to this great Indian,for adding pep and flavour to its celluloid glory.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The most remembered Court scenes in Tamil films.

 



   Tamil cinema is as much unique for its crime thrillers as it is for the huge archives of social and family narrations.Most of the crime stories have projected the punch of the police force with the stiffest crease of the police uniform.There has been an enormous display of the sense of dynamism and commitment of the cops in chasing the actual criminals,with a perfect grasp of the event and the scenario of crime,without of course failing to underline the existence of the intrinsic darker patches of prosecution of crime due to men of criminal frame of mind,getting into the vitals of the police department.
    Owing to the growing demand for the action component of movies of this kind,narration of this genre was mostly confined to the chase and run course of events,culminating in the nabbing of the actual criminals.Hence crime thrillers generally have not reflected  the need for matters going to the court of law for a suitable award of justice.Nevertheless,there have been films which have successfully focussed on the process of litigation and pronouncement of verdicts pertaining to mysterious cases of murder,sexual crimes,infidelity and divorce.Some of the Tamil films have beautifully highlighted the intricacies of criminal cases and the shrewdness of the legal wing in meticulously disentangling the complexities of crime and punishment.This article intends to reflect upon the dynamic depiction of court scenes in a few memorable films.
    The earliest court scenes that the Tamil audience would have briskly witnessed were from the climax of Parasakthi,the very first film of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan.The tremendous impact that the court scenes of the film created was of paramount significance,because of the chaste and fiery dialogues,penned by Kalingnar M.Karunanidhi and the flawless delivery of those dialogues by the robust and stentorian voice of Sivaji Ganesan.This was almost a trend setter for prospective Tamil films and will remain as an immortal treasure in the archives of Tamil Cinema. 
   Then came the Gemini Ganesan starring film Nalla Theerpu produced by Sundarlal Nahata and directed by T.Prakash Rao.While Murasoli Maran wrote the screenplay,cinematography of the film was enriched by Kamal Ghosh.The film beautifully narrated the reopening of a case of murder of a reputed dancer,that had its verdict,convicting an innocent man who was the father of the hero.It was a very decent film depicting powerful court scenes with Gemini Ganesan as a lawyer,struggling to get into the facts to arrest the actual murderer {S.V.Sahasranaamam} and get his father{V.Nagaiah} falsely implicated in the case,released from life imprisonment.Those days it was really a new experience to keep excitedly waiting to see who the real criminal was.In fact,nobody would have ever thought that the suave Sahasranaamam would have so crudely committed a murder and thrust the load of crime on an innocent man.Till the end he would make clever attempts to escape,but finally get caught by the cleverer probe and presentation of the case, by the hero.
    The next interesting court scene that the Tamil audience would have vigorously watched was from the two climax scenes of the two outstanding Sivaji Ganesan films,Iruvar Ullam and Padithaal Mattum Pothuma.Though both the climaxes were about acts of murder,the first one was a clear case of planned murder and the latter was an unintentional emotional encounter between two cousins causing the death of the elder one.Unfortunately,the wife of the victim would come  in between them and the killing would take place in the midst of the melee.
   In Iruvar Ullam the murder of a woman dancer {Padmini Priyadharshani}would be committed by a scheming playboy{T.R.Ramachandran} who would create a planned web for entangling the hero in the murder and cleverly escape from the scene .The hero who had his own notorious past as a playboy,would be in an unebviable situation,because his father {S.V.Renga Rao}who was a senior criminal lawyer would strongly believe that it was his son who had committed the murder.On the other hand the hero's elder brother {M.R.Radha} who was a lacklustre  lawyer and a confirmed failure in his profession,would not endorse his father's view.So he would take up his brother's case,effectively argue in favour of his brother and win the case by carefully probing into the subtleties and nuances of the mystery behind the act of murder.Besides freeing his brother from the case,his arguments would also lift his image as a worthy lawyer.The film directed by L.V. Prasad was a run away hit,because of its emotional base, catchy narration of the veteran director,the beautiful dialogues of Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi and the amazing role play of Sivaji Ganesan teaming up with B. Sarojadevi and joined by inimitable actors like S.V. Renga Rao and M.R. Radha. 
    The climax court scene of Padithaal Mattum Podhuma was totally different.The film made by the winning,creative brilliance of A.Bhimsingh was an excellent family drama throwing Sivaji Ganesan into an emotional cauldron due to an act of betrayal by his cousin{K.Balajee} resulting in a wrong marriage of the hero with an educated ultra modern woman{Raja Sulochana}.When truth came to light,the turbulent,uneducated Sivaji Ganesan would take his hunting rifle with a rage to threaten his cousin who by his well  contrived scheme had married the uneducated,sweet mannered Savitri,actually proposed for the hero to marry.The chaotic climax would show Sivaji Ganesan holding the rifle against Balajee and the latter and his wife trying to prevent the hero from triggering the rifle.
  In this process the rifle would trigger the bullet and hit Balajee,killing him on the spot. Consequently, the hero would be arrested and only the words of Savitri who was a witness to the tragic event could say whether the hero triggered the rifle or not.To everyone's surprise the widowed woman would say that as all the three of them had their hands on the rifle she was not sure whose fingers triggered the rifle releasing the bullet.So the hero would be discharged from the case,on the benefit of doubt section of the IPC.
   Two of MGR's films are still remembered for their effective use of the court scenes.The first one was Devar Film's Needhikku Pin Paasam.It was a film beautifully stuffed with plentiful court scenes relating to the murder of M.R. Radha,the father of B. Sarojadevi. The film revolved around an elite family of a dutiful police officer {S.V. Renga Rao} as dad,S.A. Ashokan as the elder son cum public prosecutor and younger son M.G.R as defence lawyer.The mother was the accused in the case.Each one was committed to their duties as cop,public prosecutor and defence lawyer with their innate conviction that justice should always surpass family affection and justice should be rightly rendered.
  The hero as the younger son with devotion to his mother and dedication to his profession, ultimately succeeded in establishing the truth of innocence of his mother,by closing down the case upon the actual murderer{M.N.Nambiyar} who was a notorious wrong doer dismissed from the army,for committing crimes as a way of life.The film carried all the dynamics of an MGR story line and was specially complimented for the court scenes.The other MGR film Kavalkaran was a Silver Jubilee hit but it was mostly a suspense crime thriller culminating in a court scene to establish legal grounds for the prosecution and conviction of the antagonist, effectively played by M. N. Nambiyar as a wealthy criminal and father in law of the hero.
   Veteran film maker K.Balachander who was a specialist in portraying family and  social values with  psychological intricacies and subtleties in narration,once tried his hand in dealing with a crime action thriller without deviating from his family roots as base for his story line. The film was Ethiroli released in 1968 and this was the only film of Sivaji Ganesan that K. Balachander directed. Sivaji Ganesan [named as Shankar} was an honest lawyer who laid down and displayed seven ethical conditions as the ways of one's life.Unfortunately, circumstances forced him to violate his own ethical yardsticks,one after the other and finally he would get entangled in a case of murder and the person who was killed was a taxi driver {Major Sundarajan}who used to blackmail the hero for a financial misappropriation that the lawyer was constrained to commit.Interestingly,the seventh condition stipulated by the lawyer was "Do not indulge in acts of murder"and it was the irony of fate that got him wrongly accused in a murder case.
   The lawyer's daughter would once witness the taxi driver blackmailing her father.So she would attempt to kill the taxi driver with her father's revolver.However,she would soon be overpowered by him.At this juncture the taxi driver's lover would come in between them and save the girl.The woman who had high regards for the lawyer would kill the taxi driver because she did not want him to blackmail her venerable lawyer anymore.On seeing the murder,the lawyer's daughter would become dumbfounded and literally lose her power of speech. Meanwhile,the killer woman would be house arrested by another gangster.As the revolver belonged to the lawyer,he would be arrested and his younger brother {S.S. Rajenran} would be the Public Prosecutor arguing the case towards getting him convicted,based on a tape recorded conversation in which the lawyer was heard threatening the blackmailer that he would kill him one day.
    It was an interesting and energetic narration of court scene procedures,with the public Prosecutor initially fumbling for relevant sections in the IPC and his elder brother {the accused in the case} duly prompting him,the hero's wife{K.R.Vijaya} cleverly tackling the questions of the Public Prosecutor and the Judge {V.S.Raghavan} interestingly watching the whole proceedings. Ultimately,the accused hero by using a clever ploy would restore speech to his daughter who would bring the truth of the murder to light.  
     Sivaji Ganesan's other greatly successful film Gowravam was an exhaustive tale of the pride of a barrister{Barrister Rajinikanth}who bothered only about the victory of his arguments irrespective of the fact whether he argued and won the case for the perpetrator or victim of crimes.The Chevalier played dual roles as barrister Rajinikanth and as his adopted son working as a junior advocate under the barrister.The film was abounded in court scenes and the dialogue segment written by Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram added pep and power to the court scenes. Gowravam which was also directed by Sundaram narrated the course of events in the life of a murderer {Major Sundarajan once again} who killed his first lover in order to marry another woman.Though he was saved by barrister Rajinikanth in that case,he got framed for the death of his second woman whom he earnestly wanted to marry.
   A heavy insurance policy taken in the name of the second woman and her subsequent death on account of epilepsy while taking bath in a shower tub would land him in trouble.The nexus between the insurance amount and the death of the woman that followed,would make it a case of premeditated murder and get him death sentence.The barrister who defended the case could not tolerate defeat in the hands of his adopted son and junior lawyer who appeared for the case on behalf of the prosecution.The film will always be remembered as much for the court scenes as for the stunning performance of Sivaji Ganesan as barrister Rajinikanth.
   Later Sivaji Ganesan apeared as the elder brother of Rajinikanth and as a lawyer and judge in the film Padikadhavan.The climax of the film would show the judge stepping into the shoes of a defence lawyer in order to save the Superstar from a case of murder cleverly thrust upon him by the evil minded Jaishankar who would kill his elder brother Poornam Viswanathan for gaining control over his brother's property.
   The other interesting film that had climax court scenes was Modern Theatres' Kumutham starring S.S.Rajendran,Vijayakumari,Sowcar Janaki,M.R.Radha and S.V.Renga Rao.Here the hero would be entangled in a case of murder committed by M.R.Radha and the case would be handled by S.V.Rengarao as the Public Prosecutor and his daughter Vijayakumari as the defence lawyer.The Public Prosecutor would be bent upon getting the hero declared as the murderer because of his anger against him for marrying the visually challenged Sowcar Janaki, instead of Vijayakumari whom he originally loved.The straightforward daughter would intelligently argue the case and bring to book the real murderer and thereby get her former lover saved from an unjust punishment.
   During the Nineteen Eighties Sujatha Cine Arts production house came out with a block buster film called Vidhi involving a plethora of court scenes to establish the veracity of a womanizer{casually played by Mohan}who had spoilt the lives of several women including that of the heroine{Poornima Jeyaram}.The pregnant heroine would take the issue to the court of law and prove the legitimacy of her pregnancy caused by the womanizer besides getting him suitable punishment.Jaishankar {a lawyer with a shady past} played the role of a dishonest lawyer and Sujatha donned the role of another lawyer struggling to defend the case of the heroine regarding her pregnancy caused by the hero.As an activist of women'd rights,Sujatha gave a galvanizing performance.This film ran with crowd packed theatres chiefly for the dynamism and dramatic efficacy of the court scenes.
   There were memorable climax court scenes in Thulaabaaram in which Oorvasi Sharadha would be arrested for killing her child on account of her trade unionist husband's death in the hands of killers arranged by the mill owner and the consequent threats of poverty and attack on her modesty.Her close friend{Kanchana} and daughter of the mill owner would take up the case and argue in her favour.The other notable film Aval{remake of Hindi Dhoraha} would end up with a court scene taking up the case of murder committed by the heroine {Vennira Aadai Nirmala} who had been forced to kill her husband's fake friend {Srikanth} for repeatedly raping her.
   Some of the recent films that had relevant court scenes were Thamizhan,Priyanka and Devan. In Thamizhan the hero{Vijay} himself was a lawyer and he would take up the case of the ill treated estate workers for whose sake his sister's husband{Naaser} fought and got killed by the capitalist lobby.Yet another interesting feature of the film was the importance the hero would give,in educating the common man about the legal recourse available to individuals for several day to day issues.His argument at the consumer court and later in dealing with the murder case of his brother in law were mostly on the track of reality.
   Priyanka was a thought provoking film depicting the ordeal of a woman{Revathi} married to a wealthy man{Jeyaram} in taking up the rape case of their servant maid who got raped my her husband's younger brother and his ruthless friends,It was Prabu who would argue the case on behalf of the affected girl and bring justice to her.The most ticklish aspects of the court scenes would be the highly indecent questions put forward to the raped girl by the lawyer{Nasser} arguing on behalf of the accused rogues. 
   Devan was mostly a cop story with Vijayakanth playing the role of an honest police officer who would be struggling to nab the criminal{Sai Kumar} for the wrongs done to the witnesses{Arun Pandian and his sister Kausalya}of his shady rice business.There were lively court interactions centering around an eminent lawyer{stylishly performed by Karthik Muthuraman}who would take up the case on behalf of the wronged man and the honest police officer. 
   I would have listed here a line of films that crossed my memory lanes with impressive portrayals of court scenes in Tamil films.I would have missed quite a lot.However the purpose of the article is to throw light on this important segment of scenic narration of court events by Tamil film makers.While films like Thanga Padhakkam,Walter Vetrivel,Manakara Kaaval, Kamala hasan's Kaaki sattai,Suriya's Singam and many other impressive police stories would have concentrated mainly on the hide and seek &chase and run concepts,there were also films like Nalla Theerpu,Needhikku Pin Paasam,Gowravam and Vidhi that had the legal and judiciary zones as their specific areas of interest for captivating cinematic.Such movies definitely took the audience on a different track of film journey and substantially impressed them with powerful dialogues and resourceful handling of cases by a team of intelligent lawyers,whose roles were delightfully performed by the popular heroes and heroines of the periods concerned.
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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Late Light on Lucifer

 



   Lucifer is Satan.Lucifer could also be Venus that rises in the morning.Here it is a combination of both.I was struggling to watch this much talked about movie Lucifer,made by one of my most favourite Malayalam heroes,Prithviraj Sukumaran. Unfortunately this box office hit came into my access much late.I know I really missed the bus.But as the maxim goes "better late than never". Prithviraj is a special hero for me not only on account of his bold role play as a gay cop in Mumbai Police but also because of his impressive shows in several other films from his debut movie Nandanam. His Classmates, Sathyam, Celluloid,Indian Rupee,Arjunan Saakshi and Memories are in my wish list of Malayalam films.But why Lucifer is special?Is it because the film is made by him or because of its wide, positive reception?
  I am sure Prithiviraj scores high on his distinct style of narration with a few scenes matching any English film that would deal with drug lords and gangsters.But in this film Politics too gets blended to these underworld realities, because,today's politics happens more in the underworld than on a transparent stage,as events with in the purview of one and all.The presence of media seems to hide more than it could reveal.Even if it reveals the darker side,it strikes a note of smear campaign for a huge reward.
   Lucifer could be juxtaposed with Mani Rathnam's Chekka Civantha Vaanam in terms of its thematic content.Though both the films focused on the gangster world,in Mani's film it was a case of gangster rivalry among siblings and there was not much of political stint in its narration.But Prithviraj has seamlessly merged politics with it, besides bringing a stark contrast in narration.The contrast is in the form of a benign cancer formulated through the saving grace of a half brother,who saves his late{ done to death}father's daughter and another son,by his Lucifer touch of stemming the rot,that was silently eating into the vitals of family and society as a malign cancer.May be we can take this as Venus destroying Satan.That is,one Lucifer is destroying its evil other.
   In addition to Prithviraj's catchy narration,Deepak Dev's background score{let us forget the Tamil and Hindi numbers}and Sujith Vaassudev's cinematography deserve a special applause for their neat contribution to this chic show.Let us also ignore Mohanlal's facial module that reminds us of his Tamil film Jilla with Vijay.All have done their part very well. However, Mohanlal as the power packed lovable Lucifer and Vivek Oberoy{Bobby} as the fiendish and smartly tucked in, loathsome Lucifer,would both linger longer,in audience memory.Beyond all these positive notes,the most inevitable interjections are 1}What a gripping movie Mohanlal's Drishyam was from the start to the finish ! 2}How buoyantly Joshy began his media might in Run Baby Run and kept the audience grooved to their seats from the beginning till the end!.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Sober Women of Tamil Cinema



     









     

















       
    




       It is said mankind is made up of four humours called sanguine melancholy  choler and phlegm.The mixing of four humours in a person is not usually even.Each one seems to have one or two of the humours exceeding the others.It is this potential factor that determines the character of a person.That is why people who have an excess of sanguine are always cheerful, the predominance of melancholy makes people reflect a load of sorrow all the time, that of of choler makes people prone to irritation,and people with too much of phlegm,tend to be sluggish and laid back.However,when it comes to acting one has to demonstrate the power of all the four humours as and when necessary.That is how we have seen comedians like Charlie Chaplin with a galaxy of woes in their personal life,cheering the audience with immense humour,ruling the screen shot after shot.We know pretty well that a majority of actors can easily emote with a significant presence of all the four humours or any one of the humours depending upon the contextual requirement in acting.
    Among silver screen women in the Tamil tinsel world,sanguine and melancholy humours have been found to dominate followed by choler in exceptional cases where challenges are many and the need for winning the challenge becomes a driving force like fire.However there are a few women who have been singularly meant for projecting the sorrowful side of life.These women could never fit into cheerful roles because of their inherent cry for tears.In this respect this blog would like to recall from the pages of memory,actresses like P.Kannaambaa, M.V.Rajamma,Sriranjani Jr, Pandaribai,Sowcar Janaki, S.N.Lakshmi,Oorvasi Sharadha,  R.Vijayakumari and Sujatha.
   P.Kannaambaa was one of the most powerful mothers on the Tamil screen with her highly commanding voice keeping the audience spell bound by her sober and fiery dialogue deliveries, be it a family drama or a film based on royal themes and events.She was invincible in showing anger and sorrow with her tongue and tears competing with each other.She was the most passionate mother of MGR{Thaaikupin Thaaram,Thai Sollai Thattadhe and Needhikku pin Paasam}Sivaji Ganesan{Manohara,Vanagamudi,Nichaya Thamboolam,Uthama Puthiran,  Marudha Naattu Veeran,Padikkaadha Medhai as the hero's adopting mother and Padithaal Mattum Podhumaa} and as Gemini Ganesan's mother in Nalla Theerpu,Vaazha Vaitha Dheivam and Vanjikottai Vaaliban}.After acting in the roles of Kannagi and Gnaana Soundari {both sober characters} Kannaambaa portrayed her mother roles with impressive levels of sobriety.Tamil audience associated with the touring talkieses and theatres those days,would have cried along with Kannaamba when she poured out her emotions with utmost sobriety. Humour and comedy were hardly her forte and she simply excelled in demonstrating her strength as a sober woman.
   M.V. Rajamma was a close contemporary of P.Kannaamba but unlike the latter she was known for her meekness and ever mourning voice with a shivering tone never failing to govern the role she played and the scene that she was part of.She was a multi lingual actor.If Kannamba had acted in Sivaji ganesan's Uthama  Puthiran,M.V.Rajamma had acted in its earlier version starring P.U. Chinnappa. Besides she had also acted in Citadel Films' Gnanasoundari with T.R. Maha lingam in 1948 during which year the other Gnana Soundhari was released by Gemini Pictures with P. Kannaamba playing the titular role with M.K.Radha as hero.The former was directed by F. Nagoor and the latter by Murugadasa. Both these films were released a year before I was born.It is said that the first Gnanasoundhari was based on a street play and ran successfully. Whereas Vasan's film based on history became a flop and was withdrawn from the circuit.  
   Some of the distinctly notable films of M.V.Rajamma were Thangamalai Ragasiyam,Paava Mannippu Bhaaga Pirivinai,Karnan and Bhandhapaasam, all with Sivaji Ganesan as his mother.Of these the role of Kundhidevi that she played in Karnan made the epic Maha bharatha and the film proud,on account of her powerful performance.As MGR's mother she was a sober material in films like Kudumba Thalaivan and Thedivandha Maapillai.She had also made her roles effective in Gemini Ganesan's films like Vaazhkai Padaku and Aadiperukku.Her other most notable film was Thaayilla Pillai reflecting passionate mother sentiments with Kalyaan Kumar as hero. 
   Sriranjani Jr who played pathetic roles in Parasakthi,Ratha Kanneer,Ore Vazhi,Raji En Kanmani and Thilakam was a replica of grief.Melancholy seemed to be a part of her blood and brain.Her tears were spontaneous and she could be rightly called the ever weeping woman with a passion for glycerin while acting.Her facial fitness for pathos drove her to deliver pathetic roles both in Tamil and Telugu movies.She will be ever remembered as the most sober woman of Tamil cinema.
    However,Sowcar Janaki who had sharp eyes for profuse tears which she capitalized for her role play in films like Bhagyalakshmi, Kumudham, Iru Kodukal,Kaaviya Thalaivi,Padikkadha Medhai, Paar Magale Paar and Oli Vilakku was equally fit for doing ebullient humorous roles in films like Edhir Neechal, Bhama Vijayam and Thillu Mullu. Incidentally, all the three comedies were from the Midas touch of K. Balachander who significantly used the talent of this wonderful actor both for tears and comic banter.But truly speaking.the sober mindset of Janaki dominated her character in most of the movies and she will penetrate into the hearts of the viewers,more through her sobs and tears than with her sense of humour.
     Like Sowcar Janaki,S.N.Lakshmi who was a natural actor,travelled between subtle humour and profound sorrow.With her sharp but composed delivery of dialogues she could create a tremendous impact of her role play in films like Server Sundaram,Anubhavi Raja Anubhavi, Thamarai Nenjam { as the mother of Nagesh in all the three films} Raman Ethanai Ramanadi{as the mother of Sivaji Ganesan}Thaaiku Thalai Magan,Vivasayee,Maattukaara Velan,Annamitta Kai and Pattikkaattu Ponnaiah{as MGR's mother}.In all these films she was an adorable mother of her sons with a unique combination of love,concern and rigidity in her views.She brought out the sober side of motherhood with dignity,poise and pragmatism in many other films as the mother of other prominent heroes too.
    Most often down playing her character S.N.Lakshmi created a kind of reverence for her and this reverence was nothing but an acceptance of the seriousness she imbibed and reflected through her dynamic demonstration of assertive motherhood.But one would be surprised to find that the same sober woman,easily walked away with one or two assignments meant for robust delivery of comedy in Kamalahasan's rib tickling comedies like Michael Madhana Kaama Raajan and Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa as a nonstop kleptomaniac in the former and as the Muslim Landlady Noorjahan in the latter.The most celebrating factor about this less celebrated actor was her excellence in blending subtle humour with surging sorrow in character delineation.Beyond all this,the fact remains that she was the truest sober face of Tamil Cinema. One could always witness stork realism in the performance of this great actor who successfully brought down the theatre screens and stepped into the homes of the audience as a member of each and every family.  
     Pandari Bhai was one of the earliest actresses to delve into the depth of grief at the turn of the switch.Though initially she was paired with Sivaji Ganesan,soon she was pushed to play mother roles for the same hero.Parasakthi,Thirumbi Paar and Andha Naal were some of the Sivaji Ganesan films in which she was the pair or co star of the hero.But the mother roles she played in the earliest film Annaiyin Aanai, and later in Raja,Irumbuthirai,Iru dhuruvam  Thavapudhalvan,Gowravam {as Sivaji Ganesan's wife and adopting mother},Uthaman and Avan Oru Sarithiram brought a poignant mother son equation between her and Sivaji Ganesan besides letting her travel through the zone of tears.The same way,she brought the essence of sorrow in MGR films like Dheivathaai,Thaayin Madiyil,Kaavalkaaran,Kudiyirundha Koil, Adimai Penn ,Oru Thaai Makkal and Pallaandu Vaazhka, as MGR's most adored mother.She also appeared as the brooding elder sister of MGR in the blockbuster film Enga Veettu Pillai. and as his elder brother's wife in Nam Nadu.Later she was seen as the partially paralyzed mother of Rajinikanth, in Sivaji Productions' Mannan. Misery and Pandaribai were both inseparable on the screen and this pious actor like the venerable V. Nagaiah  brilliantly demonstrated the intensity of pathos and grief. Pandaribai was a thoroughly sober actor who came from Karnataka to bring tears in the eyes of the Tamil audience,while she sobbed and wept in subdued grace.
    Oorvasi Sharadha who hailed from the Telugu region was the most wanted woman of Malayalam and Tamil Cinema to do sorrow laden roles because her profile and pattern of acting naturally embraced tragic roles with a stamp of originality and agonizing display of the character's predicament.Who can forget her amazing performance in Thulaabaaram made in Malayalam and Tamil,with the same title.This immortal portrayal of a grief struck woman fittingly fetched her the Oorvasi award for her efficacy in presenting the gloomy side of life without any exaggeration in acting.Her characterization in films like Kungumam,Gnana Oli {as the younger sister of Sivaji Ganesan,in the sorrowful role of an unwed mother}Ninaithathai Mudippavan{ as the physically challenged younger sister of M.G.R}and finally in A.V.M's Mr.Bharat as a hapless construction worker betrayed by the site engineer{played by Satyaraj}, was a clear testimony to the fact that she was a special actor meant for playing any kind of tragic role with absolute sobriety.Her other films include Thulasi Maadam,Vaazhkai Vaazhvadharke,Sarithira Nayagan and Ennaipol Oruvan.Sharadha emphatically cast her indelible sober face, on the big screen.
     C.R. Vijayakumari who stood as the rare Tamil face of Tamil cinema,in her love for the Tamil language and the way she uttered Tamil dialogues,was both a symbol of courage and despair.As the successful pair and life partner of the famous Dravidian actor S.S.Rajendran,she could cry and shout simultaneously.Perhaps that is why Mekala pictures booked her for portraying the role of Kannagi in Poompuhar.She had reflected feminine courage and anger against injustice in several films.Besides Poompuhar films such as Kumudham,Kaakkum Karangal,Kaanchi Thalaivan,Saradha and Raja Raja Cholan exhibited her intrinsic flair for courage to fight for justice.However,she was primarily a sober actress fixing herself easily into tear shedding moments on the screen.Kalyana Parisu,Naanum Oru Penn,Policekaran Makal,Paadha Kaanikkai,Dheivathin Dheivam and Avan Pithana were some of her noteworthy films representing the untold sufferings of women,through her impressive performance. Vijayakumari's shivering voice was an added strength towards playing pitiable roles.She was certainly a sober face of Tamil cinema,despite the fact that she never failed to raise her voice for establishing truth.
      Sujatha who joined the Tamil film industry much later than all the aforesaid actors,began her career with her first appearance in K.Balachander's Aval Oru Thodarkadhai bearing the burden and brunt of a big family,suppressing all her personal desires and expectations in life.The character was loaded with pains and the great director very well understood that Sujatha was the fittest person to don such a wretched role,with a routine of anguish slapping her psyche.Following this,most of her characters in widely complimented films like Avarkal, Kadal Meengal,Oru Oothaappoo Kan Simittukiradhu,Mayangukiraal Oru Maadhu,Annakili, Unnai Naan Sandhithein,Dheepam,Andhamaan Kaadhali,Amaithi Padai,Vaazhndhu Kaattukirein, and Vidhi established her credibility for exhibiting gripping levels of performance.
    Sujatha was one of the softest actors but her softness was bound to firmness with an unflinching frame of mind never yielding to unethical pressures and oppressive control of her voice for reasoning and rightness of behaviour. Even in mother characters she was always seen with a kind of stiffness blended in pathos as seen in Vaathiyaar,Kodi Parakkuthu, Mangamma Sabadham,Theerpu,Uzhaippaali,Aval Varuvaalaa, Uyire Unakkaaga and several others.There was a hidden feminist voice never willing to be silenced my male chauvinism and the sober dimension of her character portrayal was a clear indication of feminine dignity bent upon fighting any trace of insult thrown upon womanhood. 
    To conclude,Tamil cinema has a galaxy of talented women capable of performing a variety of characters.But the women mentioned here are known for their grasp of the power of womanhood as wives and mothers.Their solemnity is a stamp of their commitment to the dignity of womanhood in a society mired in tendencies of gender discrimination and suppression of the rights of women towards independence and privacy.The sober stuff of the actors listed here would speak volumes of the grandeur of womanhood.
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