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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