Saturday, February 8, 2020

Two film makers with their three bests


     No film maker can say that all their films were hits.In fact even the most popular film makers like A.Bhimsingh,A.P.Nagarajan,K.S.Gopalakrishnan,K.Balachander and Mani Rathnam came out with dampeners like Paalaadai,Navarathinam,Malathi,Navagraham and Kadal respectively.During these days of a massive influx of film makers into the field,it is very difficult for any director to sustain their position with successive hits.In this respect,this article discusses the limited success story of R.V.Udhayakumar who stepped into film making with his debut film Urimai Geetham in 1988 and Dharani who launched his directorial vehicle in 1999 with his Mammootty and Napoleon starring film Edhirum Pudhirum.
    It can be categorically stated that both the film makers gained their solid ground with their initial entries.Both were action films,with double heroes Prabhu and Karthik in Urimai Geedham and Mammootty and Napoleon in Edhirum Pudhirum.While Urimai Geedham dealt with sensational political events,Edhirum Pudhirum discussed the power of bureaucracy in encountering terrorism. Both the films were fairly received while V.C.Ramani's{Dharani's original name}first film earned the third prize from the TN govt for best show.
   R.V Udhayakumar,senior to Dharani by a decade,has made a dozen films in Tamil.His other Tamil film Chinna Ramasamy Periya Ramasamy did not get its release for reasons not known. Of his dozen films almost ten films were received well. His Urimai Geedham,Pudhiya vaanam, Urudhimozhi,Singaravelan,Ponnumani and Nandhavantheru were all successful films. However, three of his makings were blockbusters making the silver jubilee mark.They were Kizhakku Vasal, Chinna Gounder and Ejaman.Though Udhayakumar dealt with a variety of themes in the action genre,all his best three were rural stories.His Rajakumaran which was Prabhu's one hundredth film and had a rural story back ground, did not go well with the audience.
    Similarly,though front line heroes like Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan,Vijayakanth and Sathyaraj have done one movie each with this successful director,Karthik and Prabhu seem to have been his favourite heroes,because of their frequent induction in his films.In the same way,it could be said that in spite of some of his films with urban background,he has been at his best,only when it comes to narration of events taking place in the rural soil.Perhaps it might be due to the fact that Udhayakumar himself hails from a village near Mettuppaalayam.
   R.V.Udhayakumar could take considerable pride for bridling an action hero like Vijayakanth to perform one of his best roles in his acting career,in a mood controlled,voice controlled and subdued mode.It was a classic performance of Vijayakanth in Chinna Gounder and the credit for this unforgettable role play,is due to both the actor and the director.In other words,until the release of Chinna Gounder no other film maker thought of driving the Captain into a mightily meek performance,in the role of  a veritable and laudable village chieftain.It was this single factor,that would have brought the State government award for best film{3rd place} for Chinna Gounder.I think the film also brought the best actress award for Suganya.Though this award cannot be either questioned or grudged it can be rightly said that Vijayakanth also deserved an award for his excellent portrayal as Chinna Gounder.
   Kizhakku Vaasal which hit the screens prior to Chinna Gounder could be called a rural epic with a clear depiction of the rustic grandeur in theme,scenic narration and demonstration of powerful characters. Karthik's tremendous perception of the inherent layers of the character of a socially down trodden youth and his dynamic portrayal of the same,through the ups and downs of his distinctly fluctuating voice mode,were the specially captivating features of this film. Revadhi as Thaayamma breezily lived through her enthralling characterization. Vijayakumar's silent and uncouth villainy,bearing  a different half bald look,paved the way for his prospective presentation of bodily buoyancy in films like Nadikan and Cheran Pandian. Janakaraj as the caretaker of Thayamma,looked totally different with his multi knotted cat o nine tails and became a commendable character actor,totally dismantling his comedy flair.
   On the whole Kizhakku Vaasal was a stupendous audio visual treat,taking us through every nook and corner of a hamlet,where abuse of the underdog and gender assault against women were deplorably prevalent.As the predecessor of Chinna Gounder it laid the road for award winning credentials and was duly recognized with awards from the State Government for best script and screen play for R.V.Udhayakumar,best actor and actress awards for Karthik and Revathi and best cinematographer award for Abdul Rahaman. Ilayaraja's exquisite music, enriched the quality of the end product of both Kizhakku Vaasal and Chinna Gounder.
   It was Ejaman starring the Superstar that became the next block buster,though Kamal's Singaravelan was an exceptional romantic comedy,unleashing shots of humour almost in every other scene,thanks to the presence of Goundamani,Mano and Vadivelu. However,Ejaman brought forth the rural splendour once again in full form,with names of characters like Vaanavaraayar and Vallavaraayar and a villain's henchman bearing a strange name like Sembattai. Besides these factors,while Tamil Cinema is well known for its punch dialogues including those of the Superstar,in Ejaman there was a very catchy punch dialogue from the mouth of Napoleon, playing the villain.The most memorable dialogue was "If it is a marriage I should be the bridegroom and if it is a funeral,I should be the corpse".It was a stout projection of the ego,from the antagonist.
  Ejaman was the first film in which Meena was paired with Rajinikanth after acting as a child artist in the most known Rajini film Anbulla Rajinikanth.The death of Meena in the film while delivering her baby became a tragic note of the film.Over all,as a rural action film Ejaman was a crowd puller in the line of Kizhakku Vaasal and Chinna Gounder and Ilayaraja's music once again stood stuck to the rural soil,as naturally as possible.
     Unlike R.V. Udhayakumar,Dharanai made only half a dozen films of which Kuruvi and Osthe did not do well at the box office.But after his first successful venture Edhirum Pudhirum,he gave three consecutive hits between 2001 and 2004 with the three outstanding films Dhill,Dhool and Ghilli. Dharani was an exclusive action movie maker focusing on political and social crimes. Dharani's two repeated heroes were Vikram and Vijay.Both Dhill and Dhool of Vikram stamped the victory march.Whereas Vijay's Kuruvi failed to create the historic impact that Ghilli did. Dhill was a police story fiercely spotlighting the battle of a youth who aspired to become an honest cop,against a criminal police officer. Vikram with his passion for the police uniform,performed his role with stiff crease and his encounters with Ashish Vidyarthi,the corrupt cop,were powerfully pictured.
    Vikram's Dhool was once again a war against a political criminal {wonderfully played by Sayaji Shinde and his gang headed by Telangana Shakunthala as Sornakkaa and Pasupathy as her brother Aadhi}dealing with the most hazardous issue of water pollution,caused by industrial back waters,for which mostly the insensitive,industrial houses and pollution control bodies are responsible. Vikram as an illiterate and belligerent youth from a remote village in Southern Tamil Nadu,took up this public cause on his shoulders and in this process chanced to expose the most corrupt and murderous politician and his notorious gang.Both Dhill and Dhool were mass entertainers with the comedy segment creating amazing laughter moments for the audience. Vivek took the credit for displaying exuberant humour that caused instant laughter in both Dhil and Dhool.His teaming up with Mayilsamy in Dhool led to exceedingly rib tickling comedy scenes.
    Vijay's Ghilli was a sports bonanza,dipped in boundless romance,beaming through the sparkling eyes of Trisha,playing the role of a helpless village girl. Prakash Raj cast a unique niche for himself as a vociferous and raucous villain,doting on the girl whom he wanted to marry.It was a deviating travel on the track of villainy that Prakashraj made,with his mocking tongue uttering the word "Chellam"{my dearest} frequently.The multi dimensional actor recorded a fresh vibe in villainy,carrying his bullying stance to the urban crowd and the rural street corners, at one go.It was a monumental occasion for Vijay to spread his wings into the high sky of the celluloid space,transforming himself from a regular romantic hero,to a full fledged action star. Ghilli was certainly a proud milestone not only for Dharani but also for Vijay and Prakashraj.
    This article is not aimed at making any note of comparison between Udhayakumar and Dharani as film makers.Nevertheless,there is an element of comparison to the effect that both these directors made success stories within a short period,but abruptly got stuck somewhere at some point of time,letting their creative spark half driven.On the other hand,there remain a host of differences between them. 
   Dharani is absolutely confined to the action genre with an intention to keep the audience glued to the big screen,with mega events denoting the might of the body and mind.His heroes are bent upon reaching their goal,through a display of macho nonchalance.This is certainly a calculated move to conquer the mood of the audience especially that of the youth.There is family sentiment,there is graceful romance and there are powerful stunts in all his films.Some of the scenes in his three blockbusters specified in this article were memorably mood capturing. {like the one showing Lyla travelling on a bike with Vikram with a back and back posture in Dhill,or the scene in Dhool wherein Jyothika is shown as being caught unwittingly with Vikram in a huge almyrah,or the endearing scene in Ghilli showing Trisha along with a galaxy of dolls and made to look as one among them}
   Unlike Dharani his senior film maker Udhayakumar keeps his action sequences and romance component under control,because he believes in evolution of characters into representative positions,in almost a true to life form. Karthik as Ponnurangam,Vijayakanth as Chinna Gounder Thavasi and Rajinikanth as Vaanavaraayar exist in their own capacity,as exemplary human beings of their respective rural domain.For Udhayakumar,action is sequential to character evolution.But for Dharani,action is the life breath of lively cinematic presentation of events.His heroes are powerful performers of their assigned roles and are not specially branded individuals like the ones in Udhayakumar's three major hits.
    As an entertainer Dharani definitely scores higher than his senior colleague.But as a story teller Udhayakumar pushes flesh and blood into his characters and makes them leave the screen to peep into the hearts of the audience,sharing their sweeter moments and agonizing strides. Dharani makes his film viewers  pointedly sit up and watch his films not letting the vigour of narration sag at any moment. Udhayakumar probes into the minds of the audience and forces them to brood over his narration.Even in choosing their musical partners,Dharani went in for the most vibrating tunes of Vidhyasagar,while Udhayakumar stuck to the mesmerizing rural melodies of the musical maestro Ilayaraja. 
    As cinema is not only watching big events on the screen but also thinking about themes, stories and characters,the audience can very well choose between these two reputed film makers. Eventually both Udhayakumar and Dharani deserve a distinct place in Tamil Cinema, however short their contribution would have been.No doubt Udhayakumar is highly credited for his other popular films Urudhi mozhi,Singaravelan,Ponnumani and Nandavana Theru.But he is specially esteemed for his highly qualitative Kizhakku Vaasal,Chinna Gounder and Ejamaan as Dharani is cherished in audience memory for his three best films Dhill,Dhool and Ghilli. Above all, it is not the number of films that keep a film maker remembered.Even if a single film leaves a lasting impact,the maker outlives his time.One cannot forget the  historic fact that it is the film Puthiya Paravai that perpetuates the memory of Dada Mirasi, as an exemplary film maker,though he would have made nearly a dozen interesting films.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

An actor with a mind for music


 {Homage to late T.S. Raghavendra}  

   Primarily a musician and partly an actor,T.S Raghavendra had his acting career spread over a period of two decades with his remarkable entry in 1984, in the role of a frustrated father acutely anguished over his young, widowed daughter vaidhehi {Revadhi} in the mega hit film Vaidhehi Kaathirundhaal, directed by R. Sundarajan. 
   In that magnificent film, Raghavendra did an amazing role play as an old man desperately taken to drinking,on account of his paternal plight. His vibrant vocal cords were found felicitously supporting the immortal song ''Azhagu Malaraada" sung by S.Janaki,the high pitch heart throb of Tamil film music.It is no wonder that the richly vibrating voice of Raghavendra travelled along with the vocal grandeur of Janaki,the dynamic dance movements of Revathi and the masterly musical strokes of Ilayaraja. It was a four in one fabulous event, in that musically enchanting film.
   Music and role play hardly go together these days.But Raghavendra's musical acumen and thespian talent made a symbiotic combo impact on the big screen, to an awesome extent.Today  Tamil film world has lost one of its lofty links.The exalting vocal cords have fallen with the last breath of T.S.Raghavendra. But their eternal gusto dominating  his musically embedded voice, will be cherished as an audio treasure.
   This great artist has to his credit, other popular films like Sindhu Bhairavi,Vetri Vizha,  Karpoora Mullai and its Malayalam original,Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi, Anna Nagar Mudhal Theru,Solla Thudikkudhu Manasu,Harichandra {Karthik Muthuraman film}and a few others.
   As far as Tamil cinema is concerned,so long 'Azhagu Malarada' song keeps echoing in the ears and memories of music lovers,his voice will be heard with the ecstasy of carnatic music and the agony of human emotions.The Muse and musical notes will ever bemoan his passing away, in perpetual melancholy mould.Let his musical soul rest in peace.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Changing trends in Malayalam Cinema.

   The general perception is that Malayalam and Bengali films evolve from an exemplary aesthetic base, totally different from the films of other Indian languages.I have not seen any Bengali films for want of knowledge of the language.But with my parental moorings to the Kerala soil,I could draw myself naturally to the Malayalam big screen.From the days of Chemmeen,Punar Jenmam,Thulaabaaram,and Chattakkaari to these times of Ittymaani made in China and Mamangam,I would have seen not less than three hundred Malayalam films in addition to my habitual viewing of Tamil films.Conceptually,each language film gets rooted to the changing dreams and aspirations of different generations at different times of its soil.Dreams and aspirations keep on changing not only from time to time,but also from one social culture to the other.One could also notice the inter lingual influence between films of different languages,bringing in a distinct perception of values involved in the conception and creation of films.
     If nascent Tamil films had focused on myths,historical events,,social milieus and family fabrics,pertaining to their respective periods,Whereas Malayalam films during the early decades of the post independent era,dealt deeply with occult powers,psychological complexities and social ills,affecting the lives of individuals,both in their individual frame and in terms of their association with family and society.The bare minimum Malayalam films that I watched between the late Nineteen sixties and Seventies,appeared to have portrayed women as victims of familial and social exploitation,rising from perversions of the mind.In other words,women were shown as puppets in the hands of men bent upon furthering their own physical and materialistic aggrandizement.
   There were also men victims shown as cuckolds or henpecked husbands.Some of these films showed more of the psychological anarchy,upsetting the individual's peace of mind and that of others,holding on to pointed and suggestive narrations,with more things to be inferred rather than heard.Metaphors,visual intricacies and suggestive techniques were the abundant inner layers of narration,followed by the early makers of Malayalam films,with absolute commitment to their themes and ways of story telling.The tragic undercurrents and psychic turbulence, permeating  through out the narration,made watching of Malayalam films,an agonizing experience,besides getting the viewers  inextricably struck to the hallucinating narrations. Adaminte Vaariellu, Irakal, Kanyaakumari,Ashwamedham,Avaloda Raavukal,Elipathayam and Mattoral were a few notable films of this kind,besides Chemmeen,Punar Jenmam, Thulaabaaram and Chattakkaari.
     From the mid Nineteen Eighties,things kept changing to make Malayalam films fit for a larger audience,by imbibing newer vibrations and varieties of film making.Breezy narrations of comedies and family dramas and speedy action movies blended with political and social crimes,began to occupy the centre stage.Film makers like I V Sasi, Badran Mattel,Barathan, Priyadarshan,Joshiy,Shaaji Kailas,Siddique,Fazil, K.Madhu,Kamal,Sibi Malayil,Ranjth Balakrishnan,Lal Jose,Jeethu Joseph and several others have passed on the transition dynamism,in each one's way of creative urge and convincing mode of creativity,such as  freshness in thematic content and story line and speed in narration.These changing  trends could not be  misconstrued as attempts to undermine the invaluable contribution of their predecessors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan,Ramu Kariyat,G.Aravindan,Thikkurisi Sukumaran Nair, K.S.Sethumadhavan, M.T.Vasudevan Nair,K.G.George A.Vincent, and other eminent film makers,who took Malayalam cinema to its glorious heights.
    I.V Sasi set the momentum by his most popular films like Eetta,Ee Naadu Inspector Balram and many other action films. Badran sustained the vigour in scenic  presentation  through his memorable entries like Spadikam,Uncle Bun and Aiyyer the Great.Whereas, Bharadan continued to retain the aesthetic niceties of Malayalam cinema, along with action ingredients of a distinct creative style,that made his films like Rathi Nirvedham, Prayanam,Vaisali,Kaattathe Kilikkoodu,Marmaram and Thakara,sustain the glory of his predecessors,besides competing with the momentum of his contemporaries.
    Priyadarshan did a scintillating show on the Malayalam big screen,most often joining hands with Mohanlal for a fine flow of felicitous comedies and fabulous romances.Some of his immortal films in this special category are Chitram,Kilukkam,Mithunam,Thenmavin Kombath, Minnaaram, Kaakkakuyil,Akkare Akkare Akkare,Kilichundam Mambazham, Oppam and Dileep's Vettam. Impersonation and its complex implications and consequences formed one of the most engaging formulas of Priyadarshan's film making.
   Joshiy and Shaji Kailas came out with a galaxy of high voltage films,full of fiery dialogues, exposing the corrupt political system and sensitive social,and family issues.In addition to thriller elements,their films included  perfect criminal investigation modules and impressive role plays of heroes like Mammootty,Mohanlal,Suresh Gopi,Dileep and Prithviraj.Films like New Delhi, Druvam, Lelam,Praja,Pathram,Christian Brothers,Twenty Twenty,Run Baby Run,Runway and July4 of Joshiy,made their memorable impact on the audience.Among these films, dialogue was the governing factor of Lelam,Pathram and Praja,while speed and action core determined the popularity of the rest. 
   Similarly,some of the luminous detective crime stories and action thrillers from the hands of Shaji Kailas were,F.I.R Commissioner, Chintamani Kola Case,The Truth,The King, Valliettan, August 15,Aaraam Thamburaan,Thaandavam,Baba Kalyani,The Don,Red Chillies and Simmhasanam. Most of these films were singularly known for their fast phase in narration and the suspense element involved in the acts of crime and their detection.
     Unlike the two directors mentioned above,Siddique set his narration mode to travel on a two lane track,with family sentiments on one lane and abundant humour on the other.His grasp and delivery of humour were mostly on the farcical side,with rattling physical movements of characters.Films like Ramji Rao Speaking,Vietnam Colony,Hitler, Friends,Chronic Bachelor and Body Guard were really a treat to watch on account of the copious segment of rib tickling comedy,robustly running through out the narration.The other unique trait of Siddique is the spread of English fragrance in the titles of most of his films. 
     Director Fazil who blends natural humour to his narration  does it with breezy touches of romantic fervour and family sentiments depicting a deep sense of longing for being together and coming together.Starting from his Manjil Virinja Pookal, he has been doing a kind of miracle with human emotions creating ecstatic rhythms.Films like Ente Mamatti Kuttiy 
ammaakku, Nokkethaa Dhoorathu Kannun Nattu,Poovinu Puthiya Poothennal, Ennennum Kanettaante, Manichitrathaazhu,Life is Beautiful,Hari Krishnans and Aniyathi Praavu will speak volumes of unsaid things about human emotions in a varied,contextual lineage.
    Lal Jose is another heart warming film maker whose films like Chandran Udhikkunna Dikkil,Randaam Bhaavam,Meesa Madhavan,Pattaalam,Classmates,Elsamma Enna Aankutti and Vikramadhityan were passed on to the audience as celebrations of human relationship at various levels,with humour and pain as spontaneous reflections of life's realities. Lal Jose really excels in relating events and emotions with contextual relevance.
   K.Madhu's films remained unsurpassed by their highly motivating layers of investigative vigour and inspiring display of the detective mode. Madhu's flair for investigative narration which began with the Mohanlal starring Irupadhaam Noottaandu,gathered substantial weight through his other films like Oru CBI Diary Kurippu,Nerariyaan CBI,Nariman,Crime File Orukkam,Adhipan and Oru Abhibhashakante Case Diary.Most of these movies were specially received  for their commitment to the thriller mode,chic style of screen play and neat portrayal of the protagonist,by stars like Mammootty,Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi.
   The two distinctly identified Malayalam film makers of the transition times are Kamal and Sibi Malayil. Kamaludhin Mohammed Majeeth,shortly known as Kamal has combined in himself,a little bit of Priyadharshan,Fazil and Joshiy by blending humour,refined human  sentiments and action in equal degree and given us great films like Mazhayethum Munbe, Ayaalu Kadhyezhudhugayaanu,Azhagiya Raavanan,Perumazhakaalam,Niram,Aagathan and Celluloid. 
  Sibi Malayil reaches out to the film viewers,with a fascinating feather touch of cinematic narration of human emotions.In spite of carrying  the exceptional traces of K. Madhu in August 1,Sibi Malayil has carved a characteristic niche for himself as a soothing creator of movies like Kireedom,Dasharadham,His Highness Abdullah,Parampara,Bharadham,Saagaram Saakshi, Summer in Bethlehem,Ishtam,Ustaad and Alice in Wonderland.It is almost on a similar pattern of track,that Ranjith Balakrishnan travelled to display a splendid portrayal of characters and events,through his remarkable film entries like Raavana Prabu, Mizhirendum,Nandanam, Pranachiyettan&the Saint,Indian Rupee and Spirit.
     If B.Unnikrishnan has reflected the action zeal of Joshiy in his films Madambi,Pramani and Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel,Jeethu Joseph's narrative mode gets closer to the combined stuff of Joshiy and Shaji Kailas in speed,suspense and thriller feel.Subtle intelligence injected to the protagonists' manner of handling their entanglements,is the singular trademark of Jeethu Joseph.His films like Detective,Memories,Drishyam and Oozham are most powerful narrations of the escapologist,in the perfect form.
   There are quite a few new faces of film makers trying to lift the face of Malyalam cinema to infallible newer dimensions.Directors like Rajesh Pillai {Traffic and Mili }Alphone Puthren {Premam} G.Prajith{Oru Vadakkan Selfie} M.Padmakumar {Mamangam} Vineedh Srinivasan {Thattathin Marayathu} and several others are in queue,to contribute their individual creative potential,for the enrichment of Malayalam cinema.
    Among the notable early heroes of Malayalam cinema,actors like Bharat Gopi,Sathyan, M.G.Soman and Madhu were genuinely tuned to a natural pattern of character display rooted to the soil. Whereas,Prem Nazir,Satyan,Jeyan and Sukumaran shuttled between natural role play and a significant dramatic thrust,on delivery of assigned roles.The same spirit of transient  exposition of character portrayals could be noticed among their successors like Jeyaram, Mukesh, Suresh Gopi,Dileep and Prithviraj.
   However,Mammootty and Mohanlal transcended the age old,core formula of underplay and transformed the hero image to mega star levels,in order to achieve a cult status,as a compulsive trend,corollary to the prevailing concept of film making,found in other regional languages.To some extent,this also became a necessity,for selling the film as an acceptable product to the audience.In fact,worship and glorification of most heroes were the regular phenomena in Bollywood long ago.Soon this practice spread as a contagion to Tamil, Telugu and Kannada regions with star worship of heroes like MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,N.T.R, and Rajkumar.Even today,mass heroes and their crazy fans,become the compulsory tentacles of the entertainment Octopus. 
    As far as Malayalam character/supporting actors are concerned,Innocent has emphatically refilled the void created by Adoor Bhasi aka Bhaskaran Nair and Sankaradi aka Chandrasekara Menon. He could evoke spontaneous laughter in his posture,utterances of dialogues and observation of silence. He is ever a winning actor. Jagathy Sreekumar has ever been seen and received with gusto as an invincible comedian with absolute physical force and verbal velocity.While most character actors in Malayalam cinema are an even mix up of humour and supporting strength to the main plot,actors like {late}Thilakan and Nedumudi Venu have hardly ever failed to impress by their sobriety,though Thilakan proved to be also a villain of remarkable devilry.
    Actors like Siddique,Vijayaraghavan and Lalu Alex have breezily shuttled between commendable character roles and astute villainy.They were also seen as impressive cops. Saaikumar has mostly remained as a special category of villain,while Lal{M.P.Michael} has never failed to make a distinct impact by his gripping voice mould. All these men are the richest assets to Malayalam cinema with no exception of actors like Janardhan {identified by his unique tone delivery} [late} Oduvil Unnikrishnan,T.G.Ravi,{late}Cochin Haneefa,{late} Kalabhavan Mani,Jagadish,Srinivasan, Mamukkoya,Saleem Kumar,the ever sweet Renji Panicker and several others. 
   Among heroines Sheela has lastingly occupied the centre stage with poignancy in perception of her role parameters, followed by many talented women like Jayabharathi,Shardha,Seema, Lissy, Shobhana,Oorvashi,Kavya Madhavan,Mamta Mohandas,Shamyuktha Verma,Meera Jasmine,Asha Sharat, Navya Nair Gopika,Bhavana and a few others, as the most popular feminine faces of Malayalam cinema.This has been followed by a huge list of new comers and actresses from several other South Indian languages.Among mother artists Sukumari,Kavyoor Ponnamma and K.P.A.C Lalitha have stamped the purest spirit of  motherhood,combining compassion and control in their role delivery.But as said earlier, Malayalam cinema has  not come out of its traditionally set stage,for the restricted role play of women,infused with submission and docility.
   The new age of  Malayalam film industry is beautifully reviving its old glory,as well as fresh vibes on account of young film makers and actors.The younger generation of actors is a fascinating galaxy of men like Kunjacko Boban,Jaya Surya,Nivin Pauly,Fahad Fazil,Asif Ali,Unni Mukuntan,Tovino Thomas,Vineedh Srinivasan and Dulquer Salman who are all racing for recognition as natural performers,without the extra baggage of sound and fury in their role delivery.
   There has been a consistent enrichment of Malayalam cinema,on the choreography side. Malayalam film music has ever remained as an audio appetizer,though a greater amount of animation and vigour seem to travel through the tunes,now a days.As far as cinematography is concerned,Malayalam film industry has set inflexible yardsticks of moderation,not exceeding the limits of natural acceptance of visual shows.Even in films like Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, Urumi and Mamangam,the visual appeal,has remained under control not moving to the extent of an extravaganza.
  As no soil can withstand the upheaval of changing dynamism of the human psyche,in tune with the global transformation taking place,Malayalam big screen is under the immense influence of innovative ideas and creative impetus, resulting in a worthy revelation of technology boom,human consolidation and cultural integration.Being part of the changing course of events,not only marks the evolution of history,but also implies the participatory process of humanity.This is what we have witnessed in Malayalam cinema between the Nineteen fifties and eighties and between then and the new millennium.Accepting the changing dynamics of film making and supporting the new springs of creativity,will go a long way,in making Malayalam cinema truly relevant to its time,soil and its generational urge for freshness and  originality.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Rajini's Darbar overtakes Murugadoss.

    A.R.Murugados is known for his sleek and succulent narration of cinematic events.He could resort to the direct narration mode as he did in Ramana and Kathi or could also narrate scenes with pep and precision that  he beautifully did in Gajini,Thuppakki and Sircar. But Darbar does not fit into either of his modes.The first fifteen minutes were an erratic visual furore with gun shots making one doubt whether it is a Murugadoss film. But soon Rajini and his daughter occupy the centre stage,with the highly energetic superstar dancing with his daughter and passing on the glorious spirit of father daughter relationship.
   The first half of the film is a Rajini bonanza to his ardent fans invigorating them with his Baasha days of sparkling style and punch and his inimitable flair for humour. Nivedha Thomas does a beautiful role as Rajini's daughter,creating the very genuine camaraderie of a pampering daughter of a devoted father. Nayantara with her brief,in- between appearances, adds grace to the breezy romance bound interactions between Rajini and herself.One can not imagine the superstar as a stalker.Perhaps that is why he fumbles at his every move.
   I am one of those who would have longed for the presence of Vadivelu in the presence of Yogi Babu to raise really hilarious moments so as to make the first half more rib tickling,because Yogi helplessly lets Rajini take the lead in generating humour and remains most often,at the receiving end.One could really envy the almost immortal youth of Rajinikanth. However effective the cosmetic touches are in restoring one's youth,it is the individual's mindset to retain the gusto of youth,that matters.In this particular regard Rajini is always on the winning side.His bodily movements and the nimble effects they create, are his special assets.Long live his celluloid youth.
  Though Murugadoss attempts to raise his head here and there in the second half,it is once again Rajini whose mad encountering spree, that lifts the second half, with power packed action.When the first half comes to a close Rajini pulls us to the screen for greater expectations. There is a special scene in the second half where Rajini vows to prove his physical and mental fitness within four days to remain as a cop,after an almost fatal attack on his life and the killing of his daughter,which made him psychologically deranged for a while.It is truly one of the super scenes of the film.The dampening climax is an undeserving end of an otherwise fast moving film.
    There is a stench of dubbing through out the delivery of dialogues by most actors  excepting Rajini, Nayantharan, Nivedha Thomas and Yogi Babu. Anirudh did a better job for Petta.The initial formulaic Rajini song, is of Annamalai/Arunachalam type.It is an overall all Rajini film and his fans would all be doubly delighted and thank Murugadoss for not coming in between them and their most adored superstar.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


    'Sivakumar&sons' is an exhilarating three in one formula of Tamil Cinema.Even in the case of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan,his elder son Ramkumar halted as soon as he started the journey of acting and it is Prabu who has sustained the gusto and legacy of Sivaj Ganesan,as luminous as possible.The Sivaji hierarchy seems to be an enlivening continuity with the emergence of its third generation actor in Vikram  Prabu.The same is the case with the R.Muthuraman hierarchy through the succession of heroes from its family tree,in the form of Karthik Muthuraman and Gowtham Karthik.Interestingly,while Prabhu has been earnestly struggling to retain the Chevalier glory,Karthik in a way outshone his father by his fabulous performance in films like Varusham 16,Kizhakku Vasal,Gokulathil Seethai,Mouna Ragam and quite a few other films.Karthik certainly added felicity and profound nuances to acting when compared to the direct,down right way of acting of his father,R.Muthuraman. M.R.Radha and his children belong to another galaxy of acting,with sons and daughters,creating a starry cluster of dynamism and variety.
   As the Superstar said in the Kaappaan song release event,Sivakumar is really a blessed man and a bonny hero,carrying the deserving pride of having groomed two distinct actors,from his own genes.Throughout his acting career,Sivakumar has remained as the incarnation of sweetness and grace,combining in himself the fascinating charm of Gemini Ganesan and the captivating voice vibration of Sivaji Ganesan,without of course incorporating the open thrust in the voice mould of the latter.I have been a constant admirer of the modestly mesmerizing elements in the acting style of Sivakumar,who never let these elements fade through out his acting career.Looks and manners are both inherited and inculcated. Sivakumar has beautifully retained the positive factors that he inherited and has also successfully added his own cherished norms of life,before transforming into an ideal actor.He has mostly played soft roles.Even a couple of characters with negative shades that he performed in films like Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri and Saaindhaadammaa Saindhaadu,{both were beautiful stories from the hands of Maharishi}did not fail to reflect his innate sweetness in demeanour.
    Sivakumar has been a prolific actor,sharing screen space with top most heroes like MGR {Kavalkaran &Idhayaveenai}Sivaji Ganesan{Several films of which Uyarndha Manidhan  Kaval Theivam and Kandhan Karunai will stay immortal},Jaishankar,Muthuraman, Ravichandran and A.V.M.Rajan and later on with Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan and Mohan, despite the fact that he was a much senior actor to these heroes.The one remarkable fact about Sivakumar is that,he has never been craving for Single hero films,nor has he ever hesitated to do second hero or even supporting roles in many films.But it should be said in a similar vein, that he has also given us most memorable hits like Sollathaan Ninaikirein,Ponnukku Thanga Manasu,Pudhu Vellam,Rosaapoo Ravikkaikari,Eni Padikal,Vellikizhamai Viradham,Annakili Aattukkaara Alamelu,Paadha Poojai,Vandi Chakkaram, Chittukuruvi,Badrakali,Sindhu Bhairavi and Thangaikor Geetham.
    Though he has done only two films with the Superstar{Kavikuyil and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri} he has frequently acted with Kamalahasan.{Then Sindhuthe Vanam,Panathuk kaaga,Sollathaan Ninaikirein,Pattikaattu Raja,Kumaasthaavin Makal,Melnaattu Marumagal, Thangathile Vairam and so on}Those were times when Rajini and Kamal were at the starting spell of their career and Sivakumar was already an established actor of hero material.The two films he has done with Mohan are Naan Paadum Paadal and Paasa Paravaikal.Now Sivakumar is a fully blown senior citizen and he has made his mettle in paternal roles as the father of his own son Suriya {Uyirile Kalandhadhu} and as the loving dad of Vijay {Kadhalukku Mariyaadhai} and Ajith{Poovellaam Un Vaasam}.He was also very sweet as Vikram's elder brother in Bala's  Sethu.
   The one unforgettable role he did with Sathyaraj was for the film Malabar Police.Unlike his contemporary heroes Jaishankar and Ravichandran,Sivakumar boldly took up roles that demanded delivery of chaste Tamil dialogues in films like Raja Raja Cholan,Kandhan Karunai, Thirumal Perumai and Thirumalai Dheivam.In mythological profiles Sivakumar was not only compact,but also looked truly divine as Lord Muruga in Kandan Karunai and as Lord Vishnu in Thirumal Perumai and Thirumalai Dheivam.
   Coming to the thespian career of his two sons,a lot has been done by both of them on the big screen and a lot more is expected of them too.While Suriya is more an 'urbanized,exquisite Sivakumar',Karthik Sivakumar,{more familiar as Karthi} is out and out a genuine rural stuff,despite his higher education abroad. Suriya has consistently displayed the delightful parameters of style and elegance.Barring some of his initial films like Nerukku Ner, Kaadhale Niimadhi,Periyannaa and Sandhippoma,one could see multi shades of style in looks and performance in films like Friends,Aaru,Mounam Pesiyadhe,Pitha Magan,Kaakka Kaaka,Gajini,Ayyan,Maatraan,Anjaan,Ayudha Ezhuthu, Thaana Serndha Koottam and the most recent Kaappaan.In terms of performance,there was a lot of vigour delivered in the Singam series besides his action packed high power drama Aadavan,and the robust mischief beautifully portrayed by his role,in Pithamagan apart from the cheeky and sober dimensions of character,he impressively delivered in dual roles in AVM's Perazhagan.Three films of Suriya that have shown him move on the screen with incomparable speed are K.V.Anand's Ayyan and Kaappaan and K.S.Ravikumar's Aadhavan.
   Some of his characters that carried profound emotional layers and poignantly inward looking dispositions, were in films like Bala's Nanda and Gowtham Menon's Varanam Aaayiram.As a police officer he stiffly imbibed the inimitable crease of the uniform in body and mind and performed brilliantly in films like Kaakka Kaakka and the Singam series especially in the first instalment of Hari's serial shows.While Surya's  Sillunnu Oru Kaadhal was a tale of fascinating romance his Thaanaa Serndha Koottam was a casual street show of humour coupled with anger against the stashing of black money,by a section of the unscrupulous bureaucracy, including that of the investigating agencies.The two notable,disappointing failures of Suriya were 7aam Arivu and NGK. However, in Kaappan he has again exhibited his self determined vigour and dynamism in several respects.
    The voice vibration in Surya's dialogue delivery is of a captivating mould which is capable of unfolding the inner anguish as we excitedly witnessed in Nanda,whenever he called his mother "Amma".The same voice could roar with a ranting force in Singam.It would be a great missing point if I do not mention the multi dimensional psychic complexities he let loose in Gajini under the incomparable direction of Murugadoss. Gajini is a governing pointer to the growth trajectory of Suriya as an inspired and invigorating performer,with a matchless manifestation of a mind,laid up with the trauma of hallucination and erratic memory power.One could very clearly perceive the impact of memory,playing the truant on his brain,subjecting and forcing him to a series of brutal physical assault.In a way Gajini could be rated as the magnum opus of Suriya's acting career.
    Unlike Suriya,Karthi is made up of rugged stuff that he has effectively revealed in his debut film Paruthiveeran itself.Though no one can grudge Priya Mani getting the best actress National film award  for her brilliant performance in that film,the same way,one can affirm that Karthi also deserved the best actor National film award,for his commendable role play in his very first film. Nevertheless, he got  an award from other creditable agencies.From his very first film,Karthi continued to reflect the rugged rural resplendence,in most of his portrayal of characters in films like Aayirathil Oruvan,Alex Pandian,Saguni,Naan Mahanalla,Madras, Komban and his other rural hit Kadaikkutti singam.While Naan Mahanalla and Madras exhibit remarkable ruggedness and macho might,Komban and Kadaikutti Singam are Karthi's extraordinary rural shows,narrated with gripping realism and splendid emotional involvement.
   The climax scene of Kadaikutti Singam,with the meekest and self defeating demonstration of emotions by karthi,would have made many family oriented film watchers dumbfounded and sentimentally struck down. Komban was another milestone in Karthi's career,neatly establishing the mild threads,interlinking the most dignified relationship between a son in law and father in law.The special charm of Karthi is his capacity to pour out exalted emotions through a rough and tough exterior.Much in contrast to these roles,he breezily performed as a very soft hero,in the two most celebrated films Paiyaa and Thozha.Payya was of course an indescribable musical treat from Yuvan Shankar Raja.But it was also an enchanting road show of romance, passing through a turbulent storm of successive threats to the life of both the hero and heroine. Lingusamy's road show in Payya retained the gusto,changing the track he set for a reckless race,in his earlier film Run.
   Thozha could be rated as one of the cleanest films of this new age with Nagarjun and Karthi getting mutually drawn to each other,through a natural course of spontaneous trust and sense of empathy. Like Kamal in Vasool Raja trying to heal the medico's wounds caused on a coma patient,Karthi struggles to revive the morale of the imbecile and wealthy  Nagarjun. All was well in Thozha excepting the physically challenged stature of Nagarjun.Subtle humour {between Karthi and Prakash Raj} and soothing romance were the singular attractions of Thozha.The other most challenging role that Karthi performed,was that of a dedicated cop travelling along a perfectly narrated story line,in Dheeran Adhikaaram Onru. 
   Karthi's Kaidhi,has shown how he could be simultaneously meticulous and casual in delivering the desperate role of a just released convict,waiting and wanting to meet his adolescent daughter put up in an orphanage.It is a solid narration of an ex convict's plight in the hands of a police officer,facing the unavoidable predicament of saving a host of poisoned cops,from a serial attacks by gangsters. Karthi has breezily borne an arduous role on his shoulders,in his own inimitable style of mixing roughness with rhythms, radiating poise,in an action packed thriller kind of film.Ruggedness,effortless excellence and subtle charm,are ever the singular profiles of Karthi.
   Thambi, Karthi's latest release has enrolled him for a very specially sparkling performance, with a fantastic combination of white-lying and valued perception of the entanglements he is facing.Within his character's flair for fraud,there lies hidden,a genuine compassion and love for those with whom he gets associated and this makes him draw a clear line between good and evil.It is a multi dimensional character and Karthi has essayed it with shades of innocence, mischief,stubbornness and inbuilt courage.Besides Jeethu Joseph's clean screenplay,the comprehensive role delivery of Karthi has exalted the status of Thambi,to its appealing and commendable reach.
   Both Suriya and Karthi have come across ups and downs and both have carved a niche for themselves in their own independent might and manner.The one striking note of difference between the two actors is,the eternal dazzling spark in Suriya's performance,pretty much in contrast to the ever enchanting casual ease, that has been the steady determiner of Karthi's style of acting.It is not that they have travelled enough on the road of Tamil Cinema.They have more to travel on the highways and crooked streets of the celluloid world. But their travelling experience has made them deserve their own characteristic space in acting, by proving their grease calibre, as the worthy sons of a worthier father.While the father spread a lot of natural fragrance in acting,his sons have imbibed it,so as to develop it into an all pervading aroma of the body and soul of acting and fulfill the aspirations of the new generation,that they represent, as naturally as they can.