Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Two Mammoth Fim Production Houses.


    Asking someone to mention the names of the two huge film production houses in Tamil Nadu, is like asking kids, who the super star is.The instant answer will be that they are the oldest Gemini and A.V.M.studios in Chennai. These two giant film makers of excellent quality and entertainment value, are the watch words of Tamil Cinema. 
  During difficult days of lack of  technical input and paucity of resources,they stood firmly to the ground realities of film making and passionately dedicated themselves, to do the unusual,the exemplary and the astounding things in Tamil Cinema.It is their profound involvement with heart and soul in the creative process of making films of high standard, that kept their growth and popularity intact, even during tougher days.
   My memories of the Gemini Pictures are tied up to the 1948 grand show of 'Chandralekha' the visual extravaganza released even before I was born.I think I watched it only a dozen years after its release in my pet touring talkies.This movie was my childhood treat to be treasured for ever,like the other brilliant Gemini Pictures' release 'Vanjikkottai Valiban' [1958].Both these extraordinary creations would show everybody,what the human body and mind are capable of and what the might of collective endeavour could lead to.
  These movies would have taken longer time and higher investment,crossing various obstacles in film making.But people who took the risk passionately,with sheer faith in the outcome of their pet projects,were greatly rewarded in terms of  audience reception and returns of investment.The Gemini Studios continued its royal journey of making high quality family entertainers and films of social values like 'Vazhkaipadagu''Motor Sundaram Pillai,' 'Irumbuthirai' 'Vilaiyattupillai' and Olivilakku'.
     Gemini's 'Avvaiyar', starring K.B.Sundrambal was a bold and successful attempt on the saint-poet Avvaiyar of the Sangam period. 'Aboorva Sagodharargal' the other great movie of Gemini Pictures was a catchy show of sibling rivalry between a pair of twins, wonderfully played by the much talented M.K.Radha,in dual roles. MGR's 'Neerum Neruppum'was a remake of this movie, by another film unit and this was said to be just half the mark of its original version.The recent releases from Gemini Pictures were, Kamal's 'Vasool Raja MBBS' directed by Charan and 'Kutty' starring Danush.
   The focus of the other, still active Movie Makers, is always on family dramas and the problems and predicament of human life in general.Unlike Gemini Studios,the AVM banner is a busier production company, releasing more movies, but still making them all economically viable and worth watching.Tamil audience would proudly preserve in their memory immortal movies like Sabhabadhi,Vaazhkai,Or Iravu,Parasakthi,Dheivapiravi,Thilakam,Kula Dheivam, Paava Mannippu,Annai, Paarthaal Pasitheerum,Kalathur Kannamma, Ramu,Anbe Vaa,Naanum Oru Penn,Adhe Kangal, Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum, ServerSundaram,Major Chandrakanth, Uyarndha Manithan, Mr.Bharath,Nallavanukku Nallavan, Sakalakalaa Vallaban,Pudhumai Penn,Samsaaram Adhu Minsaaram,Perazhagan and Sivaji. All these were notable blockbusters and there are many other hits and moderate shows. of AVM pictures.The success formula of AVM film makers consists of meticulous planning,targeted investment,strong story base and clear choice of the entire film making unit.
    There was a  mood of certainty among the film viewers, that the three- lettered film making company, was the symbol of victory and they went to the theatres with the simple faith that there would be a lot to enjoy and recollect in an AVM movie.It is a clear fact that their expectations never went wrong and whenever they left the theatres, after watching an AVM film, they had a lot to remember and store in their memory.This trustworthy link between the AVM makers and the audience,continues even today.   
   If Gemini Studios can take pride in making R.Ganesh into Gemini Ganesan,the AVM banner can celebrate its proud position for introducing two of the world's classic actors like Sivaji Ganesan in 'Parashakthi' and Kamalahasan in 'Kalathur Kannamma'the latter, as a child artist. Interestingly, the AVM Studios made the film 'Sivaji the Boss', as if to pay a kind of tribute to that legendary hero.Here, it should be added that the AVM studios produced another movie, with the title 'Gemini', may be, to glorify the victory march of the other great movie makers. 
    While MGR did one movie each with AVM [ 'Anbe Vaa',] and Gemini Pictures,[Oli Vilakku} Sivaji Ganesan has acted in about five films with AVM and three with Gemini Pictures. Gemini Ganesan was signed for movies like 'Kalathur Kannamma'Ramu' and 'Paarthhal Pasitheerum' under the AVM banner.For Gemini Pictures, whose prefix has adorned the name R.Ganesh as Gemini Ganesan,this soft romantic hero,has performed a solid hero role in Vanjikkottai Vaaliban,a film of epic status.' besides his first film Avvaiyar produced by this mammoth production house.
   The A.V.M's continued successive favourites  have been, kamalahasan and Rajinikanth.Of the two,Rajinikanth has joined  the AVM banner for nearly one sixth of its Tamil movies released so far, The greatness of A.V.M Pictures and Gemini Pictures is that, all their movies are wonderful family entertainers with decent story line, avoiding any negative thrust in theme,storyline and  characterization.They always ensure that the audience leave the theatres, with the utmost satisfaction of their time and money well spent. The other known fact is, some of the  Gemini and AVM movies, have drawn repeated audience to the theatres, to see the same movie because of their unique entertainment value . 
   The best way to recognize and appreciate the film making spirit and conviction of these two mega production houses, is to salute them both with a hearty sense of compliment and gratitude.  


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Transition Time Heroines.



   From the early Seventies onward,Tamil Cinema was undergoing changes at all levels.Film makers began to look at the entire gamut of their creative form with a modernistic mind to update and enrich the film medium, if not with an unconventional attitude to break all traditional norms. The Hindi movies of the same period were technically far more advanced to the extent of competing with Western standards.There were more colour films in Hindi than those in other Indian languages.MGR took the initiative to bring more of his movies in the colour form. Most of the Sivaji movies were also getting rid of the black and white tag. 
       As the glamour quotient was exhaustive in the Hindi films,this selling factor began to weigh more with South Indian film producers,particularly, those belonging to the Tamil and Telugu film industry. Though solid themes and substantial story lines continued to be mandatory,speed and glamour had to to be incorporated to meet the vital demands of the commercial side of producing a movie.It is this most dominant new trend, coupled with the elimination of existing taboos on sex and women's role towards sex delineation in films, that determined the fate of the new women entrants to the acting field. 
      The space for effective demonstration of characterization was still available for women;but they had to get out of their rigid notions regarding the close up shots with the heroes, in order to glamorize.Contrary to expectations,the transition moves brought in more women for acting. Some of them acted very well, besides contributing the glamour portion.Some could not move beyond the glamour point.But there were a few who stuck to the old norms.
       Among the new comers,there was Usha Nandini who emoted and glamorized, mostly with Sivaji Ganesan in many films that include 'Rajapart Rengadurai' and 'Gauravam' It was during this time MGR introduced two of his new heroines Manjula and Latha. His 'Rikshakaran' with Manjula was a blockbuster,with the latter adding greatly to the glamour element.Though she continued to act with MGR in about half a dozen movies,including 'Ulagam Suttrum Valiban',her equal number of films with Sivaji Ganesan, especially  'Dr,Shiva', and 'Engal Thangaraja'  and later her character in the controversial 'Marupiravi' with Muthuraman, established her position as a good actor .Latha was a great glamour queen in about  ten MGR movies. However, MGR films like 'Urimaikural' and 'Neethikku Thalai Vanangu' also showed her ability to perform roles with adequate emotion.She did only one movie with Sivaji but her performance in Sridhar's 'Azhage Unnai Aaaraadikkiren' and later in 'Aayiram Jenmangal' with Rajinikanth,made her a heroine of higher acting mettle.
     There were some actors who were more bothered about their roles than the show of glamour.It was a long list of acting stuff  that included the earlier entrant Srividya and others like Pramila introduced by Balachander, Jeyachitra,Saritha [another Balachander sponsored talent,]Sripriya, Sujatha,Sumitra,Fadafat Jeyalakshmi and Poornima. Of these,barring  Sujatha and Sri Vidya,the first four were the regular players of  the aggressive,melodramatic acting type, with ample scope for forceful dialogues that projected them as the bold firebrands among women. Jeyachitra in particular,had a stonger hold in Tamil Cinema,being periodically paired with Jai Shankar and Sivakumar. Her performance starting with Kurathi Magan,directed by K.S.Gopalakrishnan,was always on an upswing,gaining spontaneous control of the role assigned to her.She played commendably,in films like Sollathan Ninaikirein {directed by K.Balachander}
Akkarai Pachai,Vellikkizhamai Viradham and Thein Sindhudhei Vaanam.
     Sripriya was a greatly talented artist who could fit into the calm traditional mould  as in Balachander's Aval Oru Thodarkadhai or the aggressive feminist type of character as she bravely portrayed in Aattukkaara Alamelu. Like Sujatha,Sripriya was equally comfortable in being paired with a senior most,colossal actor like Sivaji Ganesan, or actors like Sivakumar substantially senior to her as well as her contemporaries like Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. Resembling actress Latha to some extent,she had also acted with her in a few films of which Neeya needs a special mention.She takes the credit for acting in the movies of renowned film makers like K.Balachander and Sridhar. If Latha had acted in Sridhar's Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkirein,Sripriya did a meaty role in the veteran director's film Ilamai Oonjaladugirathi, starring both Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth. She had been paired with Kamal and Rajini quite often and the two films that warrant special attention in this regard are Savaal with Kamal and Annai Oer Aalayam with Rajini. Besides these two,Sripriya has done as heroine in many movies of Sujatha Cine Arts and Devar Films circuit.Like her successor Radhika, Sripriya could be remembered as a symbol of feminine courage and freedom.  
    Whereas, Sri Vidya,Sujatha, Sumitra and Poornima were models of a subdued pattern of performance .While Sri Vidya's graceful show in 'Aboorva Ragangal',[A Balachander revolution in Tamil Cinema] brought her laurels, Sumitra,who teamed up with Rajini,Kamal and Sivakumar' played sober roles and later settled with an impressive show of mother characters. Sujatha made herself unforgettable, by underplaying her emotions in 'Annakkili'.Sujatha's fine aspect of acting, always included her capacity to suppress emotions and at the same time modestly reveal the dignity of womanhood through a silent affirmation of her faith in feminism.This could be implicitly felt in her characters witnessed in films like 'Aval Oru Thodarkadhai' 'Avargal' [both from Balachander's rejuvenating brain]'Vazhndu Kattugiren' and in her latest 'Amaidhipadai'.
     Both Sri Vidya and Sujatha perfectly fitted into  mother roles with poise, charm and firmness making their characters true to life.It is really unfortunate that both these women did not live long, to achieve further in their career. Poornima who did 'Thanga Magan' with Rajini and joined Mohan for many hits like 'Kilinjalgal', 'Payanangal Mudivadhillai' and 'Vidhi',later joined Bagyaraj for his 'Darling Darling Darling' and relinquished her acting career,to marry the ever genial Director. Fadafat Jeyalakshmi [the prefix before her name was her mannerism in 'Aval Oru Thodarkadhai'] was a blend of aggressiveness and softness in performance,as witnessed through her dynamic contribution to films like 'Mullum Malarum',Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai' and Thiagam'.The untimely and unnatural death of Fadafat Jeyalakshmi pitiably clipped her celluloid wings lest she should have continued her creditable calibre for performing meaty roles and claimed a laudable position in the  Tamil film industry. Jeyasudha, like the earlier time Rajashri, believed that an extra step in glamour,would augment her opportunities for acting.
     Sri Devi,who was already very popular as a child artist joined the transition age as a potential contender for talent and achievement and got her talent honed by the great actor makers Barathi Raja  ['Padhinaru Vayadhinile' and 'Sigappu Rojaakkal' ] Balachander ['Moonru Mudichu' and 'Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu'],Balu Magendra ['Moonrampirai']and Magendran ['Jaani'].She is one actress who has acted in a good number of films with the two dominant heroes of her time,Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth and her films with Kamal would outnumber those with Rajini. Her most popular films other than those mentioned here,were Guru,Vazhve Mayam,Saindhadamma Saindhaadu [all with Kamal] and Pokkiri Raja, Thanikkaattu Raja, Dharma Yudham and Naan Adimai Ilaai [with the Super tar]. Sridevi was synonymous of feminine charm and glory and no wonder that like her predecessors Vijayanthimala and Hema Malini,she too moved to Bollywood for fame and national acclaim.
      Then, there was Ambika  who beautifully mixed up glamour with acting and she had her acting spell duly shared between Rajini and Kamal. Ambika  also had the unique privilege of doing one movie with Sivaji Ganesan in 'Vaazhkai' besides frequently acting with the Chevalier's son Prabu. Her roles in  Rajini's 'Engeyo Ketta Kural ' of a rural woman going astray in life and in 'Andha Ezhu Naatkal' with Bagyaraj, of a married woman unable to forget her lover, established her ability to take up heavier roles at an early age.She has acted in a number of hit movies like Sagala Kalaa Vallavan, Kaakki Chattai,Kadhal Parisu and Uyarndha Ullam with Kamalahasan and with Rajinikanth she has acted in successful films such as Naan Sigappu Manithan and Padikkaadhavan. Her other famous films include Naan Paadum Paadal, Vellai Roja, Makkal En Pakkam and Anna Nagar Mudhal Theru.
     Urvasi who was introduced by Bagyaraj in 'Mundanai Mudichu' under the AVM  banner, became known for her spontaneous flair for the comic side and became busy both in Tamil and Malayalam films. Jeevitha another new face joined Karthic [Muthuraman' son] and Vijayakanth for a few movies and disappeared from the scene. Nalini and Amala [a dancer of merit] introduced by T.R Rajendar continued the race  for nearly a decade.Nalini's roles in Uyirullavarai Uasha' 'Raanuva Veeran','Thangaikor Geetham',  'Palaivana Rojakkal' Nooravathu Naal' and '24 Mani Neram' deserve special mention. Amala who fascinated every one in 'Maidhili Ennai Kadali' and 'Mella Thirandhadhu kadhavu' joined Prabu{Uthama Purushan and Agni Natchathiram},Kamal{Sathya and Vetri Vizha} and Rajini { Velaikkaran and Mappilaai} as their finely matching co-star and her performance gracefully combined charm with an underplay of emotion.
       These actors and the other heroines introduced by the enlightened Barathi Raja [To be seen in another article] have proved that the transition wind did not take away the deep rooted quality ingredient of the Tamil Film industry. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The A.V.M.Rajan Mystery.


      Rajan,who became A.V.M.Rajan,after his enthusiastic debut in 'Naanum Oru Pen' yet another hit from the AVM mega production house,became a sudden sensation in Tamil Cinema. Paired with Pushpalatha,whom he married afterwards,the movie transformed him into a hero over night.He was an actor of great energy and his acting fervour was ably supported by his wife,who acted with him in many of his movies as Vijayakumari did with S.S.Rajendran and Savithri with Gemini Ganesan. Rajan's voice had a flexible mode to cry in anger and instantly reflect an intense gush of agony that would never fail to change the mood of the viewers.
      Like Muthuraman,AVM Rajan also joined all his contemporary heroes for a substantial level of participation in many movies.He had acted with MGR in 'Engal Thangam' and 'Navarathinam'.But like most other actors, his entries with Sivaji Ganesan were more.He would have acted a great number of films with the Chevalier, such as 'Paar Magale Paar''Aandavan Kattalai','Pachai Vilakku' 'Galatta Kalyanam' 'Manidharil Manickam','Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal','Sivagamiyin Selvan' and 'Rojavin Raja'.With Gemini Ganesan he was seen in 'Chakkaram','Pandhayam' and 'Veera Abimanyu' and with Muthuraman in 'Kodimalar''Major Chandraganth'.'Thulaabaaram' and 'Irulum Oliyum .
      Among the films mentioned above, 'Pandhayam' was a remake of the Hindi movie 'Sachai' {starring Shammi Kapoor and Sanjiv Kumar} which was the story of two friends who were like the north and south poles in their choice of ideals and ways of life. Subsequently, both of them, under forced circumstances,change their ideologies and switch over to each other's way of routine.It was a challenging role for Rajan and he did leave an indelible impression. 
       As a playboy in Balachander's 'Major Chandrakanth',he was quite convincing.'Veera Abimanyu' was a true reflection of a portion of  The Mahabaratha and Rajan was cute in the role of Abimanyu with the fascinating pair of Kanchana, as Vaksala and Gemini playing the role of Lord Krishna, in a captivating manner.
      Rajan frequently appeared in the role of a baddie joining a gang of robbers and smugglers, owing to helpless, personal or family movies like 'Manippayal' [of Selvi Pictures'], 'Engal Thangam' [Mekala Pictures] and 'Anaadhai Anandan' [an AVM production, based on Charles Dickens'Oliver Twist' and Rajan appeared as Bill Sikes].Finally AVM Rajan also acted in Rajinikanth films such as' Billa' { as a cop} and Thee from the Sujatha Cine Arts, besides 'Thaimeedhu Sathyam' from the Devar films production house. Rajan could perform negative characters with consummate ease just as he portrayed hero and character roles with confidence and credit.
       AVM Rajan's 'Karpooram','Chithrangi'[A Modern Theatres' Release] and 'Magizhampu' with his wife Pushpalatha, apart from the earlier films when they were courting each other are the sweet reminders of the wonderfully matching couple.His other movie 'Darisanam' showed him  in the portrait of an irretrievably dejected man, flooded with philosophical whims as reflected in the most memorable song of TMS and L.R.Eswari starting with 'Idhu Malai Nerathu Mayakkam'.Rajan, had acted as hero in AVM Pictures 'Annaiyum Pithavum' too..
     He has also been a vital part of the devotional films 'Dheivam','Thunaivan' and 'Thiruvarul', all from Devar's Dhandayudhapaani production house. Rajan's performance in each of his movies was a clear vindication of the emotional intensity that he was capable of delivering,to the extent of melting the mood of the viewers.It was his most valuable performance that quite often enriched the quality of the films he acted.His voice was an amazing boost to his level of performance because it could churn out deeper emotions at his beck and call, adding a great deal of genuineness to the emotional context,with unfailing commitment.
       The most tragic of his roles,was that of a labour leader,falling a prey to the brutal schemes of the agents of capitalism, in the immortal Tamil remake of  the award winning Malayalam film 'Thulaabaaram', with the same title.This sorrow- laden film, fetched the national award for Saratha who played the role of Rajan's  widowed wife killing her children,forced by intolerable poverty and social indifference.Though Saratha got the award,no one can undermine the true- to- life portrayal of the union leader played by the emotionally profound AVM Rajan. It is really a mystery,that this great actor disappeared from the world of cinema all of a sudden and it is equally sad that he could not reach higher levels, on the rungs of the acting ladder,despite being called 'the glow of acting .'

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sivakumar,a symbol of sweetness.


     In the midst of  men of good looks,fine physique and individual acting merits, there came a handsome new comer, looking a bit small in structure and boyish in appearance. No one could erase from their memory, the scene in 'Uyarndha Manidhan' of a young, timid, boyish man being sent out of a huge bungalow on charges of theft and the pitiable voice talking to the spirit of his dead mother, asking her 'they all say I am a thief.Am I a thief ma?' that voice can be heard echoing even now. 
   It was with the same look,but with a recalcitrant mood, did he appear in movies like 'Kannipen' and 'Kavalkaran' raising his voice to be heard now and then.Besides 'Kaavalkaaran' his other was 'Idhaya Veenai'.One could always notice a kind of shivering in his voice that carried a vibration effect promoting felicity to his dialogue delivery. Those were the starting days of Sivakumar,the ever sweet actor who had his footing in Tamil Cinema through his debut film Kaakkum Karangal.His other budding films were 'Motor Sundaram Pillai' and 'Panamaa Paasamaa'
   From that stage, Sivakumar grew by leaps and bounds. He made his passion for acting, as well as his genuine love and admiration for the thespian colossus Siviji Ganesan, well known to all.His growth range as an actor, can be measured in true terms by watching his performance between the two great Balachander movies 'Sollathan Ninaikiren' and 'Sindhu Bairavi' with a time gap of about a decade or so..In the former,as a charming and decent youth ,being loved by all the three daughters of his landlord and himself loving the youngest of the three,and ultimately all the three marrying other men,he accepts the disappointment with dignity and a sense of stoic resignation . The failure of not having revealed his love is surpassed by an exalted feeling of fulfillment to see the happiness of the family that he loved and respected most.
   In the latter, as a carnatic music icon, poignantly does he portray the shades of pride,ego and dignity of the character.Caught in between two women, one his wife, who knows his needs and the other who adores his talent, he excellently brings out the plight and predicament of the role he adorns.Thanks to Balachander's thoughtful supervision, and Sivakumar's dedication,the character of the great singer reached the intended levels of delineation.The movie'Sindu Bairavi', thus became a clear pointer to Sivakumar's progress as an actor of great value.
    Sivakumar has always remained a hero without sound and fury but has made a lot of sense by his natural gift of sweetness and refinement From moderate roles to meaty characters his growth has been stable and steady.He distinctly displayed his innate sweetness through a variety of roles in manyof his films like like'Ponnukku Thanga Manasu'Annakkili''Vandi chakkaram'Badrakali 'Enipadigal''Pudhu Vellam''Paadha Poojai''Vellikizhamai Viradham','Thein Sindhudhe Vaanam' 'Aatuukkaara Alamelu''Rosaappu Ravikakari' 'Chittukkuruvi' 'Oru Vellaadu Vengaiyaagiradhu' 'Theerpugal Thirutha padalaam''Manidhanin Marupakkam/'Thandikkapatta Nyaangal''Paasa Paravaigal'[from Kalagnar's Pen] and 'Pasumpon'{again with Sivaji Ganesan}Sivakumar was in a compact frame as the local bigwig subject to police surveillance but free from any kind of criminality in P.Vasu's 'Malabar Police.' All these films become a long list of milestones,he reached in his acting career through a slow and steady race. 
    Sivakumar had a stint with the Motherland Pictures for its films 'Naan Paadum Paadal' and 'Unnai Naan Sandhithen'.He was the favoutie of  director A.P.Nagarajan for many releases of Vijayalakshmi Pictures,and his appearance as Lord Muruga in 'Kandan Karunai' and as Lord Vishnu in 'Saraswathi Sabatham'&Thirumal Perumai' really looked divine.His list with A.P.Nagarajan includes the most talked about film'Mel Naatu Marumagal' with Kamalahasan as the other hero.
    Sivakumar's most matching  female leads were Lakshmi,Jeyachitra,Vennira Aadai Nirmala   Sumithra and Sujatha. Particularly,Lakshmi and Jeyachithra suited him best as co-stars, when compared to others. He did a dual role in 'Pattikkattu Raja' and showed his style and elegance in acting.He has also played negative roles as a selfish,character exploiting the life of women in films like 'Buvana Oru Kelvikkuri'[a movie where he shared screen space with Rajinikanth] and 'Saindadamma Saindadu'{with Kamalahasan}Even in negative roles,it was the sweetness of Sivakumar that ruled over the negative undertones. 
    In the recent years,Sivakumar has appeared as the affectionate father of Vijay [Kadalukku Mariyadai],Ajith['Poovellam Un Vaasam'] Vikram [Sethu] and Soorya and Raguvaran ['Uyirile Kalandhadhu'].Whichever role he plays,his sweetness remains as an inseparable tag, taking him closer to all sections of people, without any preconceived notions of favour or prejudice . 


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Two Winsome Contemoraries


    During the middle sixties,there came two new faces into Tamil Cinema,who as charismatic contemporaries,created a lasting place as heroes in the line of  MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,adding new dimensions to the concept of hero .What was unique about these two fine actors was the spirit of competitive coexistence they reflected,by not giving room for rumours of rivalry or mistrust .They were JaiShankar and Ravichandran,the latter, about two years junior by age.Jai Shankar's 'Iravum Pagalaum',and Ravichandran's 'Kadhalikka Neramillai',put them both in the forefront among Tamil film heroes.Both shared the screen space in movies like 'Kaadhal Jothi', 'Naam Moovar','Naangu Suvargal''Gowri Kalyanam' and 'Akkarai Pachai.'and afterwards as elders in Abaavaanan's Oomai Vizhigal and Super Star's 'Arunachalam'They established their pathways of acting with independent moorings and left their foot prints in excellent form and force.
    Every one loved Jaishankar's plain and direct voice force that would cast its mettle in delivering emotions of love,compassion,hatred,anger, fear and courage.Like Sivaji Ganesan, Jaishankar boldly accepted and performed assertively,dual roles in 'Iaravum Pagalum' and 'Panjavarnakkili' at the starting spell of his acting career.In the latter movie,in dual roles, as an army officer and as a villain, he essayed the roles like a veteran, marking a striking difference between the two characters.
    Ravichandran who started  his great innings with an amazing level of energy in the full length comedy 'Kadalikka Neramillai'went on the victory route giving super hits like'Naan'Kumaripen  'Idhayakamalam''Naan''Ninaivil Ninraval''Adhe Kangal''Sabatham''Enga Paappa' and 'Utharavinri Ulleva' With his husky voice and controlled delivery of dialogues, he created a specific style of acting.
    JaiShankar's success entries were also distinctively large. Like Ravichandran,he too was capable of portraying diversity in performance,by choosing family dramas,comedies and action-cum-suspense thrillers.He had confidently got into characters  entangled in family sentiment,in movies like 'Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum' and 'Kulama Gunama' His extraordinary performance as a man of self dignity and male pride in 'Poova Thalayaa' earned him a lot of appreciation.This movie and 'Nootrukku Nooru' both directed by K.Balachander,made him emerge as an actor of commendable merit.
   No other Tamil hero would have fitted into the garb of a crime detective as wonderfully as Jai Shankar did. He was genuinely called the Southern James Bond following his effective performance as detective in movies like 'Neelagiri Express' 'Nil Gavani Kaadhali' 'Vallvan  Oruvan' and 'CID Shankar' [the last two were Modern Theatres Releases].He could also express valid and relevant sense of awe in the notable Thriller 'Yaar Nee' He did not fail to evoke the comedy feel in 'Veetukku Veedu' 'Ungal Viruppam' and 'Kalyaanamaam Kalyanam'. The valuable aspects of his acting profile were noticed in the great entertainers like 'Pattanathil Bootham'and 'Veetukkoru Pillai' and films of higher story value like 'Kannipenn' Maanavan' ,Nootrukku Nooru'Kannan Varuvan' 'Soothaattam'and  'Vandikkaaran Magan'.Jaishankar has beautifully exhibited sibling competition and rivalry in films like 'Iru Vallavargal' of Modern Pictures and 'Savaal' of Sujatha Cine Arts.
    ..All the great heroines of their times like K.R.Vijaya, Jeyalaitha, Vanisri, Kanchana, Lakshmi, Jeyachitra,Vennira Adai Nirmala, Barathi,and Usha Nandini. have been paired with both Jai Shankar and Ravichandran.The Jai Shankar K.R.Vijaya combination became a sure success in  films' like' Pattanathil Bootham,''Soothaattam''Vaayaadi' 'Thirudi' 'Mukoortha Naal',Akka Thangai and Mayor Meenakshi. The other heroines who naturally suited him were  Jeyalalitha,{Nee,Yaar Nee,Muthu Chippi,Bommalaattam and Vandhaale Maharasi were great entries} Lakshmi,{Mannippu,Nootrukku Nooru, Veettuku Veedu. and Kannan Varuvaan were special in their combination}Jeyachithra {Akkarai Pachai, Ungal Viruppam and Kalyanamaam Kalyanam were notable films} Vanisri {Kaadhal Paduthum Paadu,KanniPenn, Athai Magal,Edhir Kalam, Kulama Gunama and Aayiram Poi were lively shows} L.Vijayalaksmi {Iru Vallavargal and Vallavan Oruvan] Nirmala {Poovaa Thalayaa was amazing}and Bharathi {Unakkum Enakkum was a significant addition}
.   Similarly, Ravichandran was successfully paired with  Jeyalalitha,{Motor Sundaram Pillai,Naan, Kumaripenn and Gowri Kalyanam},K.R.Vijaya,{Idhaya Kamalam,Sabadham and Ninaivil Ninraval} Barathi{Enga Paappaa and Nimirndhu Nil} and Kaanchana {Adhe Kangal and Utharavinri Ulle Vaa}.Both the heroes did not act with MGR but both joined the company of Sivaji Ganesan Gemini Ganesan and Muthuraman.Jai- Shankar has done more movies with Sivaji and his role in 'Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum' with the Chevalier,needs a special mention.
      Then,Jai Shankar and Ravichandran took to villainous roles in their later days and  in Abaavaanan's 'Oomai Vizhigal',Ravichandran was shown as a crude, perverted villain and Jaishankar as his victim.The other movies that showed Ravichandran as an unforgivable bad guy were,'Amman Koil Kizhakkaale' ' Oru Thottil Sabadham' and 'Guru Sishyan'. JaiShankar's villainy was of the conventional kind ,starting with 'Murattukkalai' and 'Aboorva Sagodarargal' to many more movies. 
   Both of them joined the Rajini/ Kamal films in paternal as well as negative roles and both shared more screen space with Rajini than with kamal. If Jai Shankar played a dignified role as the step father of the Superstar in  Manirathnam's Thalabadhi,Ravichandran played an equally heavy role as Arjun's father in Karna. Both the contemporary heroes are no more now,Jai Shankar preceding Ravichandran at least by a decade. But the ever green memories of their days and ways of acting,will adorn the interiors of the Tamil film space,as much as they will occupy the memories of their fan base.   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Muthuraman Magic.


      R.Muthuraman who started his acting career with 'Abalai Anjugam' was the only person who kept his schedule mostly busy,by accepting a variety of  roles and doing full justice to them.This was chiefly because of his open mindedness to act with all the contemporary actors of his  days without prejudice of any kind.With his voice  made up of the mellifluous stuff,he could deliver the softer emotional side with utmost ease.It was by his sheer acting credentials,Muthuraman became the all time favourite of directors with  remarkably diverse creative aptitudes like Sridhar, K.Balachander K.S.Gopalakrishnan,P.Madhavan and so on. 
      Muthuraman was the only actor who would have acted as the second hero in almost three fourth of his releases.Again it was he who would have acted in maximum number of movies with Sivaji Ganesan{more than thirty films}.The other actors with whom he would have acted shunning any ego or reservation,were Gemini Ganesan Kalyan Kumar,JaiShankar,Ravichandran AVM.Rajan and Sivakumar.He had also acted with the famous actors like Rajini and Kamal who belonged to his successive generation.With MGR he had acted about five movies ['Arasilankuari,Therthiruvizha, Kannan En Kadhalan,En Annan' and 'Oruthai Makkal.']  
       Muthuraman's suave style of acting was a treat to the viewers.He fitted exactly into characters  of  stories representing both royal and social themes.Though his participation in films with a royal story background were not many,he made his contribution to such films noteworthy.As Arjuna in 'Karnan',as King Shenbaga Pandian in 'Thiruvilaiyadal' and as Prince Vimaladhithan in Raja Raja Cholan,Muthuraman's appearance and acting  were really impressive. His winning way of expressing tragic emotions was totally different from that of other actors because of the added sweetness in the modulation of his voice from its base to higher levels of intonation.
       Among the female artists his most frequent pair was K.R.Vijaya who seemed to enjoy her acting with Muthuraman ,as much as she did with Sivaji Ganesan.The best movies that Muthuraman and K.R.Vijaya acted together were,'ServerSundaram' 'Panjavarnakkili', 'Nenjirukkumvarai',Sondham, 'Namma Veetu Deivam' Raman Ethanai Ramanadi and 'Deerga Sumagali'.
     As an affectionate brother in 'Police karan Mahal' and'Major Chandraganth',and as a selfish one in 'Sumaithangi' he reflected the dual sides if sibling emotions.Similarly, as an egotist husband in 'Sondam' and as one afflicted with inferiority complex in 'Sooryakandhi' as a suspecting husband in movies like'Nenjirikkumvarai' and 'Raman Ethanai Ramanadi', and finally as the most loving husband in 'Deergasumangali' Muthuraman beautifully displayed the umpteen shades of the macho element in conjugal relationship.As an ailing husband treated by the former lover of his wife, Muthuraman excellently exhibited his helpless plight and  predicament in Srdhar's 'Nenjil Oer Aalayam'.In this context, it should be said that Muthuraman and Devika were also accepted as the matching pair of Tamil Cinema.
    Comedy was the other area in which Muturaman always stood to gain.From the most
hilarious 'Kaadalikka Neramillai' and 'Baamaa Vijayam' to the great farce 'Kaasedan Kadavulada' Muthuraman simply celebrated his exuberant journey through comedy.
       When it comes to villainy he was definitely of a different brand enjoying each and every moment of his villainy with the joy of hurting his victim.His womanizing zeal and deceptive behaviour shown in movies like 'Namma Veetu Deivam' and 'Avalukkenru Oru Manam' demonstrated his capacity for being cast in a variety of roles.His incorrigible craving for villainy depicted in Maanavan became another milestone in his career. Similarly,his acceptance of a much ticklish role in 'Marupiravi' [a remake of the Malyalam movie 'Punar Jenmam' starring Madhu and Jeyabarathi] as a mother- obsessed man,who sees his mother in his wife and hence is distracted from having sex with her, proved to be a fresh challenge for his confidence level.His performance in such a character with a complex psychological throw,put him at a higher scale as an actor.
     In the dignified role of a pastor in Cho Ramasamy's 'Unmaiye Un Vilaiyenna', as a fine  but,practical humanist in 'Punnagai' as a rude man with a melting soft corner in 'Ethir Neechal' and as a rough and tough guy with a comedy touch in Veetukku Veedu,his performance was a sample of his innate quest for acting. His final appearances were as Kamalahasan's father in 'Guru'and as villain in Rajini's 'Pokkiri Raja'There was a magic charm in his acting and that made him another great monument of Tamil Cinema. But for his untimely death, this best  performer, could have revealed much more of his latent histrionic skills.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Truly Dravidian Hero.


       [ This article published in my blog 'My Movie Minutes' as early in September 2012, becomes a homage to the stalwart actor and Dravidian face of Tamil Cinema,who passed away,this day the 24th October 2014. ]

      S.S.Rajendran,popularly known by the abbreviation SSR,like MGR,was an actor of standard in his own way.With a blooming smile on his lips and a dimple in his cheeks,he was a master of articulation of dialogues,in a clear,bold and nasally vibrated tone that would always reach the audience with its intended effect.As a true representative of the the Dravidian Party to which he belonged,and the ideals the party believed in, SSR made himself dearer and closer to those who watched him act in a way  that made him proud.
      SSR should be duly credited for liberally sharing the screen space as a second level actor, with the actor- giant Sivaji, in many movies, starting from 'Parasakthi' that gave Sivaji Ganesan the ground to begin his career. SSR joined Sivaji, in movies like 'Manohara' 'Deivapiravi' 'Shanthi'' 'Alayamani'' 'Kungumam','Pachai Vilakku' 'Pazhani''Edhiroli' and 'Kai Kodutha Deivam' and carried his roles in an assertive manner.
  In most of these films SSR was the submissive younger brotherof Sivaji Ganesan. Like R.Muthuraman who joined the team of Sivaji Ganesan for a large number of films,SSR's film association with Sivaji Ganesan too, was a remarkable journey, signifying the great personal understanding and mutual confidence that he deeply cherished with that outstanding actor.With MGR,his most popular films were Raja Desingu and 'Kaanchithalavan'
     His independent show as a hero of merit, brought him moments of pride and laurels, in films such as'Thalai Koduthaan Thambi', 'Petra Maganai Vitra Annai' [Which is specifically remembered for the A.M.Raja/ P.Suseela song 'Thingalurangia Podhum Thenralurangia Podhum' ]'Kuladheivam' 'Saratha', 'Kumudam,' 'Nanum Oru Pen' Kakkum Karangal','Panam Pandiyile' and 'Avan Pithana', all with his wife Vijaya kumari. He had also acted with her in the moderately successful films like'Deivathin Deivam'  'Neengaada Ninaivu' 'Anandi' 'Poomaalai' and the historical 'Poompuhar',in which they played the roles of Kovalan and Kannagi.  
    The other popular movies of SSR were,'Mudhalali','Thangarathinam',Sivagangai Seemai','Thai Pirandal Vazhi Pirakkum' 'Manapandal' 'Vaanambadi' 'Katturoja' and 'Manimagudam' and in these movies  he was paired with actors like Rajasulochana, M.N.Rajam,Devika,Padmini and Jeyalalitha. In 'Manapandal' he sacrificed his love for the sake of his elder brother as he did it for for his close friend in 'Aalayamani' Interestingly, in both the movies,the female lead  was B.Sarojadevi. 
   Most of these movies were rich in music,theme value and characterization.Some of the movies of SSR remembered for their story value,quality of narration and creditable contribution in acting by the hero, are, Mudhalaali, Kuladheivam,Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum, Manappandal, Aalayamani, Saradha, Naanum Oru Penn, Vaanambaadi, Marakka Mudiyuma and the ever unique Poombuhaar.
     Whether as a secondary character, or as the hero of a movie SSR always made himself noticeable by his natural ability and conviction for donning the role. Wherever there were openings, he would bring in his revolutionary concepts,for a plausible reach with the audience and there by sow the seeds for social awakening. SSR even in his eighties, kept himself busy appearing in movies, for small roles and thereby made the senior film goers call back their nostalgic memories riveted to this vibrant actor's acting vein.
   S.S.R's felicitous delivery of Tamil dialogues,particularly those penned by Kalaignar Dr.M.Karunanidhi are great memoirs of his solid association with the Dravidian party and its most respected leaders like{ late } Mr.C.N.Annadurai and Dr.M.Karunanidhi as well as his capacity for uttering Tamil words in their perfectly sweet form with innate ease and excellence.Tamil film industry has certainly lost a very dynamic Dravidian face rightly deserving a salute from all those who love Tamil and the rich legacy of the Dravidian movement.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fascinating Female Leads of Tamil Cinema

                                                           PART 1

      The early years of Independent India,were still under the hard grip of a deeply traditional and orthodox mindset.The yardsticks for social behaviour were totally different for men and women, Education,employment and the galaxy of social activities continued to be the sole right of men. The female population was waiting yet, for the lifting of the screen.However, the barriers were broken by a small section of the fair sex, who had the courage not only to move out, but appear on the stage and screen, for a panoramic show of what they were and what they could afford to be.  
    On the screen,this brand of women with their fascinating grace,warmth and charm were making their beauty and talent a visual bonanza for viewers of all kinds. Their looks allured,their words intoxicated,and their actions appealed to the mixed moods and expectations of the audience. The starters of the game were of T.R.Rajakumari,B.S.Saroja and Madhuridevi. This trio ignited the spark for a flash of their dynamism in performing roles of courage that women are capable of. My memories of B.S.Saroja are tied to two of the oldest movies I saw,viz.'Jenoa' and 'Koondukkili' [the only movie that MGR and Sivaji acted together ] and she was paired with MGR in both the movies.Madhuri Devi can come alive any time as the bold woman of 'Mandhirikumari' clever enough to preempt the villainous move of her lover, played by S.A.Natarajan.So long 'Vaaraai Nee Varaai' keeps ringing in our ears,memories of Madhuridevi will last.
      T.R.Rajakumari,the sister of film director T.R.Ramanna,was the most popular among the three. As the dream girl of that generation,with her voluptuous pair of eyes,she perfectly fitted into the role of Vasanthasena,the scheming mistress of the Chola King in 'Manohara'.But her performance as the embodiment of bravery and grit in Gemini' Pictures' ''Chandralekha'' was one of epic grandeur.She was paired with M.K.Thiagaraja Bagavathar in 'Amarakavi' and 'Haridas' and her acting  with MGR in movies like 'Gulebagavali''Pudumaipithan' and later in character roles in 'Periya Idhathu Pen' 'Vaanambadi' and then as the mother of MGR in 'Paasam', demonstrated her capacity for donning a variety of roles.
    The other trio of this period, who performed soft and subdued roles were V.N.Janaki, Pandaribai ,and Anjalidevi.Of the three,V.N.Janaki paired with MGR in' Marudha Nattu Ilavarasi' and 'Marmayogi'. Later she became MGR's life partner,and was elected, the leader of the party founded by her husband to assume office as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a brief time, after the great leader passed away. 
     Pandaribhai could take the pride of being the first heroine of Sivaji,to be paired with him in 'Parasakthi' the movie that began Sivaji's acting career with a bang. She was also the female lead in 'Thirumbipar' in which Sivaji played a negative role as the younger brother of Pandari Bhai.But the same Pandaribhai  was soon ready to play as the wife and mother of Sivaji in 'Annaiyin Aanai',a movie with dual roles for Sivaji, as father and son.Her performance as MGR's mother in 'Deivathai' would have made people, long to have a mother like her.Similarly as the physically paralyzed mother of Rajinikanth in 'Mannan' she earned the sympathy of one and all. Pandaribai ever remained as the symbol of submissive womanhood and maternal glory and she always played lovable roles in quite a lot of movies that include MGR's mega movie EngaVeettuppillai and Sivaji Ganesan's Vellai Roja.
      Anjalidevi an actor with a look of modesty and with lachrymose eyes, became a straight inclusion in  the role of sorrow laden womanhood.She was one woman who could be comfortably paired with MGR,Sivaji and Gemini. As a princess in MGR movies like 'Sarvathihari' 'Chakravarthi Thirumagal ''Mannathi Mannan' and then with Gemini in 'Kanavane Kan Kanda Deivam' 'Manaalane Mangaiyin Bagyam' 'Boologa Rambai', and 'Veerakanal' she was both captivating and convincing.In movies like'Mudhal Thedhi''Nalla Veedu'and'Naan Vanangum Deivam' she was a matching pair for Sivaji.Anjalidevi also performed a negative role in MGR's 'Marmayogi' as a scheming woman behind the plot to topple a kingdom. But her performance on the comedy track, in the most memorable'Adutha Veetupen' showed the opposite dimension of her acting zeal. Later,she acted in 'Urimaikural' as MGR's elder brother's wife and then in 'Annai Oer Aalayam' as the mother of Rajinikanth and both the roles she essayed with her habitual warmth..
     Unlike Anjalidevi who acted in more Telugu movies, but picked up and performed solid roles in Tamil movies too, the other Telugu actor Jamuna, inspired the audience through her selective Tamil movies,by her sparkling eyes and graceful performance. No one could have ignored Jamuna's graceful and enticing appearance in 'Tenali Raman'''Marudha Naatu Veeran','Nichaya Thambulam'and,'Thangamalai Ragasiam'all with Sivaj Ganesan ,and afterwards in'Missiamma' and 'Manidhan Maaravillai' with A.Nageswara Rao .However, it was in a mother- pampered, helpless wife's role in AVM's grand  show 'Kuzhandhaiyum  Deivamum' she impressed every one.[ She had of course done the role of a wealthy pampered daughter, in other movies like 'Missiamma' and 'Manidhan Maaravillai' but she was only a second  heroine in those movies.] Finally,as Kamalahasan's mother in AVM's 'Thoongaadhe Thambi Thoongaadhe' she represented the quality of meek motherhood.


                                                        PART  2
         The succeeding trio to adorn the Tamil cellular sphere, were the indomitable P.Banumathi, the bold and beautiful Vijayanthimala and the lovely and powerful Padmini. Among these three most talented women,Banumathi and Vaijayanthi shared between themselves an unusual spirit of feminism in an age of male domination.While Banumathi's singing potential was an added merit to her prioritized acting vigour,Vaijayanthimala's excellent dancing core boosted her acting credentials.But in her dancing field, she had to face the stiff competition of the other trained and equally dynamic dancer Padmini who excelled both in acting and dancing, with spark and splendour
       All the three actors were paired with the most popular three heroes of their days viz. MGR, Sivaji and Gemini. However, Banumathi  acted more movies with MGR, Padmini became an enviable pair of Sivaji and Vaijayanthimala  was more comfortable with Gemini. Banumathi's role in 'Malaikallan' 'Madurai Veeran','Thaikkuppin Thaaram' and 'Nadodi Mannan' all with MGR ,and her movies with Sivaji Ganesan, like 'Makkalaipetra Magaraasi' and 'Arivaali' and with Gemini Ganesan in 'Sadhaaram',were all successful at the box office.But she is most celebrated  for her sterling performance in ''Annai' as the possessive mother of a son not born of her. Her last movie was in R.K.Selvamani's 'Chembaruthi',as the grand mother of Prashanth. Banumathi's dialogue delivery reflected a unique combination of temerity and tenderness and her Tamil accent was specially charming like that of the Superstar.
       Vajayanthimala will be in our memories for her effective performance with Sivaji in 'Irumbuthirai' and with Gemini Ganesan in 'Vanjikkottai Vaaliban' .Both were Gemini Pictures' releases and in both ,the actor revealed her ebullience for brave characterization as in her other movie 'Chithoor Rani Padmini' again, with Sivaji. She also portrayed a beautiful role in 'Paarthiban Kanavu', besides making an agile and mirthful appearance in Sridhar's 'Thein Nilavu',both with Gemini Ganesan. Her films with MGR like' Raja Desingu' ana 'Bagdad Thirudan' could not be underrated in terms of their popularity with film fans.As Vaijayanthimala became the most wanted star of Hindi Cinema, her Tamil movie list was not voluminous. Neverthless,her commitment to Tamil Cinema was equally strong and from her maiden movie 'Vaazkai', she never faltered to maintain her image, as the proud face of the budding feminist movement.
        It was Padmini who stuck to the Tamil Film industry for a longer period. Her dancing domain like that of Vaijayanthimala,knew no bounds.It was a classic dance number she did with Vaijayanthi, in 'Vanjikottai Vaaliban', taking the audience to the height of enjoyment and appreciation.Her other stunning dance sequence was in the movie 'Irumalargal' in which she literally made a brilliant peacock show of her dancing dimension for the famous TMS song 'Madavi pon mayilal' Her other amazing dance shows were in MGR's 'Mannaadhi Mannan' and Sivaji Ganesan's 'Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal'.
      Padmini's sharing of screen space with Sivaji always reflected greater levels of intimacy to the extent of making one believe as if they were real lovers.Sivaji and Padmini acted together in a number of movies starting with' Panam'. Of these, 'Thookku Thooki' 'Uthama Puthiran' ' Deivapiravi'  'PunarJenmam''Thangapadumai' 'Irumalargal' 'Thillana Mohanambal'  'Vietnam Veedu'  'Pesum Deivam' and 'Kulama Gunama' will occupy the pages of Tamil Cinema as a fantastic display of man- woman relationship and a historic show of true romance.
      With MGR too,Padmini created records of success in movies like 'Mannadhi Mannan' and'Madurai Veeran';but her other film 'Rani Samyuktha' with the mass hero,came a cropper.Films like 'Meenda Sorgam' and 'Ezhai pangalan' in which she was paired with Gemini Ganesan and 'Kaattu Roja' ,her post marital release with S.S.Rajendran also speak of her unstinting gusto for acting. Padmini did an immortal role as the second wife of M.R.Radha in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's highly reviewed 'Chithi' vindicating the plight and problems of a young step mother of the grown up children of MRR. 
       The final innings of Padmini was in the film'Poove Poochudava' in the role of a sad grand mother with her heart full of love for her terminally ill grand daughter.There was a majestic vibration  in the voice of Padmini that facilitated an emphatic reach of the emotions of characters she played and built a rare rapport with the audience. Padmini who had more to share with Sivaji on screen,should have imbibed a little bit of the master actor's thespian stuff. The amount of sincerity and devotion to the field of cinema demonstrated by Padmini, placed her much ahead of others, towards attaining a  monumental status as an actor.
     Tamil Cinema began to gain greater acceptance and plaudits thanks to the entry of more talented women to the acting zone.A woman of extraordinary acting ability slowly emerged into stardom winning the hearts of the viewers. She was very often referred to as the female Sivaji. And that was Savithri the facially expressive, and the emotionally impressive artist.Just a few years younger than Padmini,she ruled the Tamil film industry for more than two decades. With her bubbly cheeks and sparkling eyes, she always looked the girl next door.As the wife of Gemini Ganesan in real life, she was paired with him in many movies.But she has also acted with Sivaji as his love interest in films like 'Vanangamudi','Aanaiyin Annai','Vadivukku Valaikappu' 'Navarathiri' and the most notable 'Kai Kodutha Deivam'. Her role as Goddess Paarvathi with Sivaji as Lord Shiva in the famous mythological hit 'Thiruvilaiyadal' of A.P.Nagarajan needs a special mention.
     But the grandest of all her movies itnwas 'Paasamalar' in which her performance as the affectionate sister of Sivaji,put the audience at an emotionally melting point.The quality and level of sibling intimacy displayed by the acting efficacy of both the actors earned the film not only the amount of success it deserved but made it the greatest among tragedies in Tamil Cinema. Savithri's films with Sivaji, became a pointer to her acting credentials and made her a performer equal to the stature of that male stalwart among actors.
     Savithri did just three movies with MGR.Among those,'Mahadevi' became a block buster. The other two movies 'Parisu'and 'Vettaikkaran' were also popular,because no MGR movie had failed to make a mark in one way or the other.Her movies with Gemini were all-time romances and family dramas.Starting from the period of,'Pennin Perumai','Padhibhakthi,' 'Sowbhagyavadhi,' 'Missiamma'  and 'Gunasundari' and through 'Kalathur Kannamma','Kaathirundha Kangal' 'Halo Mr.Zamindar' 'Paavamannippu', 'Paasamalar' ,'Paarthaal Pasitheerum' and 'Manithan Maaravillai' it was an unending love story of Gemini and Savithri on screen showing them as perfect match in real life too Though she was not a dancer like Padmini,her inimitable acting style endeared her to the audience as the most pleasing female lead of Tamil Cinema. She was wonderfully appealing in the role of a mother in 'Engal Thai' and 'Sooryakanthi'
      After Savithri, came another star to become a winning voice among the women actors.She was called 'dream girl', 'Abinaya Saraswathi' and 'Kannada Paingili'. B.Sarojadevi who made small appearances in films like 'Boologa Rambai' and 'Irumbuthirai',scored her victory in Sridhar's 'Kalyana Parisu' and then in MGR's  'Nadodimannan' as a felicitous female lead, not to be disturbed at least for a couple of decades.
    With her characteristic tone and graceful looks,she drove the hearts of young men to the zenith of frenzy.She was another actor to act comfortably with all the three heroes of fame.But it was with MGR she became an incomparable match acting almost a score of movies with him.The most successful of her MGR movies were,'Thai Sollai Thattathe' Thirudhadhe' 'Periya Idathupen' 'Deivathai' 'Padahotti','Engaveetupillai' and 'Anbeva'.She was a beautiful pair of Sivaji in 'Bagapirivinai''Paalum Pazhamum'Paarthaal Pasitheerum''Aalayamani' 'Pudhiya paravai' and 'En Thambi'. 
    Sarojadevi's  films with Gemini like' Kalyanaparisu' 'Panithirai' 'Aadiperukku' and 'Thaamarai Nenjam' were all made up of  the tormenting tragic stuff. Her acting in K.Balachander's Thamarai Nejam' and her challenging roles in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's 'Panamaa Pasamaa' and 'Kulavilakku' received special accolades.With her unmatched way of delivery of Tamil dialogues, Sarojadevi created an image for herself to be perpetuated and she continued this even in her latest movies' 'Once More', and 'Adhavan'.
   During this period there were few other actors of merit like Devika ,Vijayakumari ,M.N.Rajam and Rajasulochana. Devika's powerful eyes and emotive ability made her a special choice of Sridhar for his movies like 'Nenjil Oor Alayam' 'Nenjam Marappadillai' and 'Sumaidhangi' .Devika  became the lovely pair of Sivaji in his movies 'Annai Illam' 'Andavan Kattalai' 'Bale Paandia' and 'Anbukkarangal', and she had also acted with MGR in 'Anandajothi'.Devika should really be credited well for her greatly convincing performance in 'Vanambadi' and Gemini Pictures' 'Vazhkaipadagu'
     Vijayakumari who was married to actor S.S.Rajendran,acted mostly with him apart from acting as a charming pair for Gemini Ganesan. With Sivaji,she always donned the role of a sister.She is mostly acclaimed for her impressive performance in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's 'Saradha'  AVM's' 'Nanum Oru Pen' and as Kannagi in Mekala Pictures'Poompuhar'.She  has also performed with force in films like 'Kumudham' 'Pachai Vilakku' and 'Kakkum Karangal'. Like her husband SSR, Vijayakumari is also a powerful actor with clear and bold dialogue delivery.
      M.N.Rajam was the personification of cruelty in 'Thangapadhumai' and an incarnation of intolerance and anger in 'Mangaiyarthilagam';but she was a loving sister of heroes in many movies.Her acting space was mostly confined to the secondary stage as the villain's sweetheart -cum-victim. She would have acted more with M.N.Nambiyar and S.S.Rajendran. The other actor Rajasulochana  was paired with SSR in 'Thangarathinam' and 'Mudalali' She made her performance praise worthy in 'Kaidhi Kannayiram' and later as the uncompromising wife of Sivaji in 'Padithal Mattum Podhuma?' She had also starred with MGR in 'Nallavan Vaazhvaan'  and 'Arasilankumari'
      But there was one woman who did not belong to any of the category of actors mentioned in the list.She was a beautiful blend of pride and humility, humour and sorrow, sobriety and animation.It was the most talented Sowkar Janaki,who brought dignity to the role of womanhood by acting as the fine better half of Sivaji in 'Padikkadha Medhai','Paar Magale Paar' 'Motor Sundaram Pillai',and 'Uyarndha Manidhan'.But she also played with conviction, the character of a woman of snobbery and bad habits in the most talked about 'Pudhiya Paravai' of Sivaji and 'Panam Padaithavan' of MGR. Her talents were promptly identified and properly utilized by K.Balachander for serious roles in'Iru Kodugal' and,'Kaviyathalaivi' and for an amazing comedy show in 'Edhir Neechal','Baamaa Vijayam' and 'Thillu Mullu'. She had also made an impressive appearance in the Gemini Pictures' MGR hit 'Olivilakku'
     Tamil audience will also remember the performance of Pushpalatha,an actor great in voice and vigour,who later married A.V.M.Rajan. Her films with Rajan like 'Naanum Oru Pen',and 'Karpooram' and her reappearance on screen as the mother of heroes, will keep her in the list of memorable actors. All these actors will have their  presentable pages in the annals of Tamil Film history.

          PART  3

     Two other women took the Tamil movie mainstream to its newer heights by reinforcing its fundamentals with an emotional portrayal of womanhood that would naturally weigh more with the women section of the audience and win their hearts for sentimental melodrama and family-oriented themes.The focus of these two epoch- making artists,was emphatically on the quality of entertainment. Consequently,both of them stood the test of time and established themselves as the most desired female leads of the Tamil film industry 
      One of them was K.R.Vijaya introduced in the title role,by the most reputed director of that period,K.S.Gopalakrishnan for his film 'Karpagam' It became one of the best films of the director and K.R Vijaya,who most elegantly essayed her character in her maiden appearance had no turning back from that day.The other dynamic woman J.Jeyalalitha  a new find of Director Sridhar for his movie Vennira Aadai ' brought laurels to herself and her director by her meritorious performance in the role of a young widow,demented by the death of her husband, following a child marriage.
    Of the two,K.R.Vijaya, joined the mighty acting space of Sivaji Ganesan, as his most intimate co-star,reminding film-goers of the close rapport between Sivaji and Padmini. Together,they exhibited the glorious dimensions of man-woman intimacy and family emotions.Starting from Selvam and 'Irumarlagal' they went on with this mega celebration of sentimental melodrama in ''Baratha Vilas'' 'Thangapadhakkam' 'Thirisoolam' ''Kalthoon'',and many more films. Both in 'Raman Ethanai Ramanadi' in 'Nenjirukkumvarai'. K.R.Vijaya was the love interest of Sivaji Ganesan playing the hero, but was married to Muthuraman doing the second hero.
     K.R. Vijaya would have acted maximum number of movies with Sivaji,making them all success stories,as Jeyalalitha did with MGR. Jeyalalitha as the closest co-star of MGR in as many as twenty five films,,not only provided graceful glamour, but also remained as a major supporting factor for the winning march of all the grand films like 'Aayirathil Oruvan'' Kaavalkaaran' 'Kudiyirundha Koil' 'Adimaipen' 'Maattukkaara Velan'Nam Naadu'  'Kannan En Kadalan' and' Olivilakku'  
    Moreover, it was Jeyalalitha among the MGR- favoured  females, who could act maximum number of movies with the other hero Sivaji. Jeyalalitha's wonderful acting ability came to the limelight when she acted with Sivaji in movies like  'Engirundho Vandhal' 'Pattikkaada Pattanamaa' 'Savaale Samaali' and 'Sumadhi En Sundari' Whereas, K.R Vijaya was MGR's female lead only in a few movies of which  'Panam Padaithavan' 'Nalla Neram' and 'Naan Yen Pirandhen' were significantly successful. Both K.R.Vijaya and Jeyalalitha added to their list of remarkable films, by joining hands with many other popular heroes of their time like Gemini Ganesan S.S.Rajendran JaiShankar, Ravichandran, Muthuraman, Sivakumar and AVM Rajan.While K.R Vijaya was the pair of SSR in 'Kai Kodutha Deivam' ,Jeyalalitha starred with the veteran actor in 'Manimagudam'.
    Both the leading female actors were often paired with Jai Shankar and Ravichandran in quite a number of movies, some of them mega hits like 'Kumari Pen' and 'Naan' both starring Ravichandran and Jeyalalitha and 'Nee' 'Yaar Nee' and 'Muthuchippi' the movies of JaiShankar and Jeyalalitha. Similarly K.R.Vijaya's 'Idhaya Kamalam' and 'Sabadham' with Ravichandran and 'Pattanathil Bhootham' and 'Mayor Meenatchi ' with Jai Shankar were great entertainers of those days. K.R.Vijaya immortalized by her portrayal, characters full of grit throwing challenges to the opponents  and defeating them high spiritedly,in movies like 'Sabatham' 'Enna Mudalali Sowkyama' 'Vaayaadi'  and 'Mayor Meenakshi'[the last two directed by Madurai Thirumaran]
    Though K.R.Vijaya had acted earlier with Muthuraman for a success show in movies like  'Server Sundaram', 'Panjavarnakkili' 'Sondham' and 'Namma Veetu Deivam'it was her role with that vibrant hero in the most moving melodrama 'Deergasumangali', that made the viewers experience the impact of an extraordinary conjugal intimacy demonstrated by an uxorious husband and a dedicated wife. Strangely, the same theme was identified in the Muthuraman -Jeyalaitha paired film 'Sooryagandhi',where, in the role of a wife of  subdued devotion to her husband, afflicted with an inferiority complex,Jeyalaitha created records.She was again paired with Muthuraman in Sivaji's unique film Avanthaan Manidhan. Jeyalalitha also played a striking role in 'Vandale Maharaasi' under the sterling direction of K.S.Gopalakrishnan.
    While K.R.Vijaya did one rejuvenating dance number in 'Ootivarai Uravu' Jeyalalitha continued the miracle of dancing in many films,besides showing her singing mettle in about six movies including 'Adimaipen 'and 'Sooryakanthi' . Both of them also did one movie each, under the veteran Balachander's  controlled direction ['Naanal' starred by K.R.Vijaya and the most famous 'Major Chandrakanth' of Jeyalaitha].More than four decades have gone since they began their acting career. K.R.Vijaya is still found on screen once a way.But Jeyalalitha has been making greater leaps in her political career as the strongest leader of the party founded by MGR and ruling the state of Tamil Nadu with renewed vigour. These two actors could be called the stablest and most successful female leads of Tamil Cinema. 
    During their period, there were half a dozen women actors like Kanchana ,Jeyanthi ,Vanisri Barathi,Nirmala and the Urvasi award winning Lakshmi who made Tamil film industry proud by their distinct contribution to the field of acting. If Kanchana was Sridhar's good addition to Tamil films,Jeyanthi remained a Balachander favourite. Kanchana's acting zeal with Sivaj in 'Sivantha Man', with Gemini in 'Avalukkenru Oru Manam' and 'Saanthi Nilayam' and  as a second heroine in MGR's 'Parakkum Paavai' and 'Naan Yen Piranden' showcased her as an actor capable of venting soft emotions.She appeared as a piece of beauty in the role of Vaksala in 'Veera Abimanyu' She was specially good at expressing emotions of fear in thrillers like 'Adhe Kangal', 'Santhi Nilayam' and 'Ponnu Mappillai'.
        Jeyanthi with her moaning voice and grumbling tone was a sweet performer in 'Edhir Neechal' 'Iru Kodugal'  'Vellivizha' and 'Baamaa Vijayam' Her performance as a rape victim and as the wife of a great human being in 'Punnagai' [starred by Gemini] was really heart rending. Vanisri  was another suitable pair of Sivaji in films like 'Uyarnda Manidhan' 'Vasantha Maaligai'  'Vaani Raani' and 'Sivakamiyin Selvan,.She did more movies with Jai Shankar and a couple of movies with MGR. With her sparkling eyes and chubby cheeks,she appeared to be a remake of Savithri mainly in movies like 'Uyarndha Manithan'.'Vasantha Maaligai' 'Vellivizha' and 'Kulama Gunama'. Nirmala who came to the industry along with Jeyalalitha scored high in films like 'Vegulippen'  'Poovaa Thalaiya' and 'Aval' and keeps acting in elderly roles even now. Barathi who resembled Sarojadevi to a great extent made her role  performance in 'Avalukkenru Oru Manam' a regular reminder of the acting stuff, she is capable of.She also did a few glamour roles paired with Jai Shankar[Naan Yaar Theriyuma] Ravichandran[Enga Paappaa Nimirndhu Nil,Singapore Seemaan and so on]and with Sivaji Ganesan in Thanga Surangam .
    Lakshmi who got National award for her best acting in 'Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal'  s one among the top ranking Tamil female leads whose underplay of emotions is her great asset.She was a sweet addition in MGR movies and a qualitative performer with Sivaji in 'Thiagam' and 'Unakkaga Naan' .Starting from her first film 'Jeevanaamsam' her roles were challenging and she did justice to all the characters she performed particularly with Sivakumar and Jai Shankar. Her films like 'Kannipen','Nootrukku Nooru' 'Veetukku Veedu' 'Akkarai Pachai' and' Mannippu' all with Jai Shankar were  great in theme and characterization.The other two extraordinary roles she played were, in 'Sirai' and 'Samsaaram Adhu Minsaaram'.
     The period during when all these fascinating female leads performed, was the golden era for them, because of the ample scope and space each one had, to compete and excel. But the stage was getting widened for a shift in priorities to suit the changing trends in audience expectation and this led to an unprecedented influx of women to share the centre stage of Tamil Cinema and their profiles will be presented in another chapter with a different heading. 





Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gemini and His Realm Of Romance.


    Romance is the solid base of world cinema.Tamil films are no exception to this aesthetic principle of film making.Think of romance in Tamil movies, and there appears the insurmountable image of  Gemini Ganesan,the outstanding ambassador of  the romantic realm. Any one can adorn the grease for a role;but not all can fit into the role of a romantic hero.The element of romance can be demonstrated in a serenading, subdued style, or with the force and fervour of an aggressive macho frame. Gemini belongs to the former brand, reaching his lady love in committed form with a body and mind full of warmth and sweetness.
     Gemini's honey-tongued words, and the persuasive manner in which they are uttered are the chief source of the winning streaks of the true romantic model.The most essential quality of a romantic, is the ability to instill faith,sustain it with utmost credibility and avert disappointments at any stage.It is the foremost duty of a lover to prove his credibility and confidence in the art of love making. Even in helpless situations,he should be reasonably convincing to the extent of generating acceptability. Gemini has always essayed his role as a lover without a trace of flamboyance in normal and turbulent situations.Torn between two women in movies like  'Bagyalatcumi'  'Kalyana Parisu' 'Iru Kodugal' and 'Vellivizha' he has proved to be an inimitable actor capable of venting his emotions with valued dignity and poise. As a strained lover,caught in the web of selfishly demanding family circumstances in 'Sumaithangi', his acceptance of priesthood at the cost of his profound love for the girl of his choice, the level of grandeur and dignity that Gemini Ganesan reflected, proved his classic style of acting .
      No one can sideline Gemini's softest core of love making. The smoothness with which he delivers dialogue and his synchronizing body language are notable assets to his romantic roles.It looks as if, he loves at the perfect unison of his mind and spirit. His craving for love, at times makes him a possessive lover, prone to suspect the fidelity of his lady love as it happens in movies like 'Kalathur Kannamma','Vazhkaipadahu' and 'Paarthaal Pasitheerum'.However, in all these movies, it is the circumstances that drive him to behave so.
       Gemini's display of romance in movies like 'Kalyana Parisu','Paarthiban Kanavu'.'Thein Nilavu','Meenda Sorgam','Halo Mr.Zamindar','Kalathur Kannamma' 'Panithirai' and many more films will make him a living legend of love. He has also donned the role of a Casanova in K.Balachander's 'Naan Avanillai' showing remarkably,the fake side of romance.
       The songs in male voice rendered by A.M.Raja and P.B Srinivas, in the films of Gemini add to the fascinating perception of romantic experience,reflecting the tantalizing characteristic of the realm of romance. Gemini has acted as an exemplary soldier stamping bravery, in movies like 'Veera Paandia Kattabomman','Vanjikkottai Vaaliban' and 'Konjum Salangai'. He has also played character roles in several films and performed villainy in some.But his major contribution to Tamil Cinema was as a staunch lover of women, reflecting his capacity for letting out the distinct shades and dimensions of the romantic world.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sivaji,The Actor Par Excellence.


     Goddess Parashakthi would have been  proud of her son.The Tamil film producers would have genuinely recorded their gratitude and indebtedness to him.The stalwarts who directed his movies would have cherished memories of their brimming moments of happiness and fulfillment.His fellow actors would have felt elated for being a part of the fantastic acting space they could share with him.The audience,awe-inspired by his magnificent play of roles,would ever stay tuned to their leading nostalgic reveries.That was the stature of the ever unsurpassed Sivaji Ganesan,the prototype of acting,in Tamil Cinema.
    From the portrayal of Gods to that of man,as a king and a clown,as a millionaire and a pauper,as a saint and a sinner,and as a law maker and breaker,Sivaji's roles permeated to every nook and corner of the acting sphere.An unschooled genius he was,with an incessant versatility for acting that could not leave any role untouched;and what ever he touched,he adorned.He could do,not just one,but ten or more roles in one movie.His thespian thirst for roles was insatiable.The most astonishing aspect of his acting style was, the perfect coordination that always prevailed in the movement of his eyes,lips and limbs.The whole body would automatically get involved in the acting process as though everything was initiated at the turn on,of a switch. One could watch enthralled,his lip movements in song sequences.He should have imbibed the acting spirit as an embryo.
    A special mention has to be made about the face of this dynamic hero,that could be easily made up to bring back to life and reality,the historical and mythological figures portrayed by him on the screen.Every one will naturally visualize Veerapandia Katta bomman,Raja Raja Cholan,and V.O.C in the looks of Sivaji, as he lived their characters in cinema.The faces of mythological characters like Baratha,Karna,Lord Shiva,Lord Vishnu,Lord Muruga and Naradha can not be anything other than that of Sivaji as he truly identified himself with them.No one can think of the Tamil saint Appar or the famous Raman,the Telugu incarnation of practical intelligence of Tenali [called Tenali Raman],in any other form, than that of Sivaji.
   The lengthy,ranting dialogues that Sivaji delivered in his stentorian voice in his earlier movies,could invigorate the spirit of the audience as an experience to be carried in their memory gallery and preserved there permanently.By face,voice and performance,he could sustain an element of epic grandeur in acting,through out his career.He loved his profession with absolute dedication and it appeared as if he lived only to act.Even in some of his movies that flopped at the box office,no one could fault his performance for their failure.
   Sivaji has acted with the maximum number of female leads beginning with Pandarbai, Anjalidevi and P.Banumathi,of his generation to his third generation actors like Ambika and Radha.He had acted with wonderful emotional intimacy with almost all of them.But the two women who always proved to be his best and true-to-life match as his acting spouses were Padmini and K.R.Vijaya.While these two had mostly appeared as his docile wives of the traditional and idealistic mould,Sowkar Janaki and J.Jeyalalitha would quite often join him as his argumentative and inspiring life partners.Whoever happened to portray the role of his wife,Sivaji would get them involved in the process of making all the scenes as it would happen in real life. 
    Unlike all other heroes,Sivaji has made the names of some of the characters he played, live long in the memory of  people.Some such names are Manohara {Film with the same title} Prestige Padmanaban {Vietnam Veedu} General Chaudhri{Thanga padhakkam} Barrister Rajinikanth {Gauravam} Pilot Premnath {Film title is also the same}Sikkal Shanmuga Sundaram {Thillaanaa Mohanaam baal}Renga{Padikkadha Medhai} Chinnadorai alias Anand {Vasantha Maaligai} and Rengadurai {Rajapart Rengadurai} Similarly,he has made immortal,the names of some of his spouses on screen by calling them in different tones in different movies.A few names ever remembered in this category are Savithri in Vietnam Veedu,Sumathi in Thirisoolam,Paarvathi in Uyarndha Manithan  Shanthi in Paalum Pazhamum and Latha in Vasantha Maaligai.
    Sivaji was ever an accommodating hero in the sense,he let other heroes fly their wings high in his films and enjoyed their brilliant show of acting.Most heroes like Gemini Ganesan S.S.Rajendran, R.Muthu raman,Sivakumar,Jai Shankar A.V.M.Rajan and Ravichandran would definitely have felt comfortable in sharing screen space with Sivaj Ganesan because he would always like to see each hero establish his individual acting style without any kind of prejudice or professional jealousy.The reason for this broad spectrum of co-existence was the amount of confidence he reposed in himself and in others.In this particular aspect Sivaji Ganesan always remains as an unparalleled hero.  
    Starting from'Parasakthi''Manohara''Uthamaputhiran'Veera Paandia Katta bomman' 'Karnan'Navarathiri''Paasamalar'Paalum Pazhamum''Padikadha Medhai''Iruvar Ullam''Iru Malarkal' 'Uyarndha Manidhan' 'Deivamahan' 'Thiruvilaiyaadal''Thillana Mohanaambaal''Gnana Oli' 'Vietnam Veedu''Raman Ethanai Ramanadi','Rajapart Rengadhurai ''Sivandha Mann' 'Gowravam' and 'EngirundhoVandhal'down to 'Thirisoolam'Mudhal Mariadai' 'Devar Mahan' and 'Padaiappa',the list of movies that celebrate his stupendous scale of acting is so vast and great that it would be very difficult to say which movie was his best.
   Sivaji is the Thava pudhalvan [the blessed son] and Deivamagan [the son of God] of Tamil film industry.He was a constant source of pride and power, for production units like Padmini Pictures,Vijayalakshmi Pictures,Sujatha Cine Arts, PSV Pictures and for big banner movie makers like AVM and Gemini Productions.
   DirectorslikeA.Bimsingh,B.R.Bantulu,P.Madhavan,C.V.Sridhar,K.S.Gopalakrishnan, A.P.Nagarajan,Krishnan Panju C.V.Rajendran,A.C.ThirulokChander,Malliam Rajagopal and K.Vijayan should have been struggling to feed his histrionic hunger for more and more variety in role presentation.The late entry directors would surely have grudged the restricted time and field they could share with this encyclopedic yardstick for acting.The actors of today, would either be happy about escaping the stage for a competition with the unbeatable,or feel sad for being deprived of an opportunity to compete with him.
   Sivaji's new generation directors like Barathiraja and Bagyaraj proudly declared that they were joining the Himalayas,when they cast him in their movies'Thaavani kanavugal' and 'Mudhal Mariadai'directed by them respectively.The most creative Barathiraja can feel greatly delighted about making Sivaji,a director's actor, by presenting the actor in a calm and emotionally controlled role,full of dignity and poise,without too much of dialogue delivery that Sivaji was used to.It proved to be a refreshing experience for the audience to see their dear actor with an unusual package of acting.Great heroes of the successive generation like Kamalahasan,Rajinikanth  Sathyaraj,Prabu,Karthik Muthuraman,Murali and Vijay happily acted with Sivaji with a feel of proximity, confidence and competitive zeal. 
   One extraordinary thing about Sivaji is that,his saga of acting was an eventful course that abounded in opportunities,for an infinite variety of roles,boldly taken up and effectively delivered by him.He can not be remembered for his best acting just in a score of movies,as in the case of other actors.All the movies in which he acted are still remembered and all the roles he performed stand out to be his best.It is in this respect,he is an actor par excellence.