Wednesday, February 20, 2013

T.R.Mahalingam,the Actor Singer.

     T.R.Mahalingam was an outstanding singer and a graceful actor of the incipient years of Tamil Cinema.His nasal voice was his special attraction.His voice modulation both in dialogue delivery and presentation of vocal music,was always known for its clear and confident deliberation. It was a voice that would categorically reflect the latent and innate spirit of modesty,that is a rare virtue of popularity.As an actor, he was quite compact in every role that was assigned to him.As a singer, he had a great sense of mastery over the musical notes and his mellifluous voice enriched the quality of his songs.
     I would have seen only less than ten of the nearly forty films that T.R.Mahalingam had acted. Vedhala Ulagam was the first of his movies I saw.It was followed by Abalai Anjugam, and Aadavandha Deivam. His later roles that attracted me were in Thiruvilaiyaadal and Agathiyar, both directed by A.P.Nagarajan.He had acted in Sri Valli as Lord Muruga and later he also acted in the revised version of another film with the same title in which Sivaji Ganesan played as Lord Muruga. The other memorable films of T.R.Mahalingam were Amudhavalli Maalaiyitta Mangai and Kavalai Illaadha Manithan.
     Among the characters he played, he excelled as poet-singer Paana Pathrar of the Paandia Kingdom in Madurai, in 'Thiruvilaiyaadal'. His confession of diffidence in competing in a musical contest with the most reputed but haughty singer Hemanatha Bhagavathar was an unpretentious manifestation of self awareness.It was Pathrar's staunch  faith in Lord Shiva that saved him from the crisis,and T.R.Mahalingam genuinely exhibited his acting credentials in that role, his natural modest attitude making his performance easier. Then as Saint Naradhar in 'Agathiyar',he played a convincing role.The last time I saw him on the big screen was in the A.P.Nagarajan film Raja Raja Chozhan in which he appeared as Karuvur Thevar.
     It was always a pleasure to listen to his songs and some of them were uniquely representative of the classic order.Very few people can sing a song like 'Isaithamizh nee Seidha Arum Saadhanai' [Thiruvilaiyaadal] which goes to the extremes of high pitch without a jarring note anywhere.The other captivating song''Illaadhadhum Illai'' from the same film, felicitously travelled from its highest pitch to a mellifluous glide, taking the listeners to the height of fantasy. It was a marvellous throw of voice creating ecstatic moments for the listeners.
    Similar devotional songs were, 'Namachivaya ena solvoeme' and 'Isaiyai Thamizhai Iruppavane' from Agathiyar and 'Thanjai Periya Koil' and 'Yedu Thandhaanadi Thillaiyile' from Raja Raja Chozhan. His other most popular numbers are'Senthamizh Theinmozhi yaal' {Maalaiyitta Mangai] and 'Adaikatti vandha nilavo' {Amudhavalli].He was also capable of delivering light minded songs like ''Sottu sottunu sottuthu paaru inge' ''Aasai Konden Amudhame'' and 'Kodi Kodi Inbam Perave' [ all from Aadavandha Dheivam] and 'Vennila Kudai Pidikka' from Abalai Anjugam. The other, audience favoured song was ''Padikka Padikka Nenjil Inikkum Paruvamengal Kaaviyam''from Rathnapuri Ilavarasi.
    The voice of T.R.Mahalingam was known for its individuality and its endearing impact.His contribution as a self confident artist during the formative period of Tamil Cinema, was definitely a qualitative addition to its growth- making process.He would not have been a trend setter in histrionics.But his characteristic sway of music and his modesty in role delivery,made him join the list of the front runners,claiming a distinguished position in the annals of Tamil film history.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Midas' Touch of Mohan.

       To be a romantic hero, might be easy for any man with a kind of appeal in appearance and performance.But to be  doing only romantic roles and not moving one step beyond that,might be very difficult for many.We have seen that, all heroes like,Vijay,Ajith, Soorya,Prasanth,Madhavan Srikanth,Jeyam Ravi and Jeeva who were initially making a romantic round, later switched over to the action side at one point of time or the other.Even Gemini Ganesan with his realm of romance, here and there did action movies, like Vallavanukku Vallavan, and Pandayam,and fitted into other themes, like friendship in Unakkaaga Naan and social concern in Ezhai Pangaalan. But there was one hero who always did only romantic roles during the major part of his career.That was Mohan, who created waves in his favour for more than a decade and made the fans crazy for a considerable period.
      Mohan was introduced to the world of Cinema by none other than the distinctly creative director Balu Mahendra along with the world class actor Kamalahaasan in the highly rated Kannada movie Kokila and then in a supporting role in his Moodupani. It is a well known fact that some years later, Mohan also acted as hero in Balu Mahendra's most popular 'Irattai Vaal Kuruvi', a film with a humorous title and a comedy story line, on male indulgence in extra marital aberrations.But the first Tamil film that introduced Mohan as hero, was J.Mahendran's Nenjathai Killaadhe in which he was paired with Suhaasini. This film was a stupendous tale of love and ran with grand audience support for many weeks. Following this Midas touch, came Durai's Kilinjalgal and R.Sundarajan's Payanangal Mudivadhillai, two silver jubilee hits in the same year.Both these films made a competitive run on the winning track.
      From Payangal Mudivadhillai,Mohan became the pet hero of the Mother Land Pictures. Who directed Mohan's film,became immaterial.It was Mohan the romantic star, that mattered. Movies like  Naan Paadum Paadal,Udhaya Geetham,Uyire Unakkaaga,Aayiram Pookkal Malarattum, Unnai Naan Sandhithen,Idhyakkoil, were all the fabulous master pieces of Kovai Thambi's Mother Land Pictures.Though Manirathnam's two introductory films Pagal Nilavu and Idhaya Koil, were released during the same time,Mohan could also be called in a way the first hero of that illustrious film maker.It should be said here,that it was Mohan who was the hero of Mani rathnam's  first National Award winning Tamil film Mouna Raagam. The other famous director who inducted Mohan frequently was Manivannan for his first and great film Gopburangal Saivadillai, and later for his Nooravadhu Naal and 24 Mani Neram. Incidentally, Mohan played a negative role as misogynist in Noorravadhu Naal, like Kamal in Sigappu Rojaakkal. 
     Besides these films AVM's Mella Thirandhathu Kadhavu became a great hit with M.S.Viswa- nathan and Ilayaraja teaming up together to compose music for the film that had several musical melodies.The film also narrated beautifully Mohan's love for a Muslim girl [played by Amala] whose face was hidden in a traditional veil. The tragic note of the film was the girl whom he fervently loved,  was accidentally caught in a quicksand and he could never see her face at all. The other pair of Mohan in that great film was Radha, playing his uncle's daughter, whom he was forced to marry in the end.  
     Mohan  delivered a casual performance as a Casanova in Sujatha Cine Arts 'Vidhi' that became an awesome block buster. With Poornima Jeyaram doing a bold role in getting the womanizer legally exposed and shown to the world as a man of misdeeds, the movie ran for twenty five weeks, with crowded shows consisting more of women audience.The freshness in narration earned the film, a lot of accolades it deserved. Mohan  sustained his position as the most wanted romantic hero of the decade.The other popular romantic film of Mohan was Paadu Nilaave with Nadhiya. Mohan was paired with all the leading actresses of his period.Among his pairs Poornima, Suhasini,Nadhiya,Ambika,Radha and Revathi were his perfect matches.Some of his most impressive performances were from  Udhaya Geetham, Payanangal Mudivathillai,Mouna Raagam and Vidhi. Mounaragam in particular portrayed him as a husband with maturity in perception and his underplay of emotions made his performance commendable.
     Though Mohan was a charming romantic hero,he owed his speedy and successful growth in the field to three people.Firstly,it was the most pleasing, sonorous voice of S.N.Surender  that delivered all the dialogues of Mohan for a majority of his films, except the two movies from Kalaigner's mighty pen [Paasa Mazhai and Paasa Paravagal] and a few of his latest releases.The sweetness in the voice of S.N.Surendar was definitely an enriching factor that made Mohan's over all presentation, a pleasure to watch.Secondly,it was the scintillating numbers of SPB  that drew the crowd to the theatres to watch Mohan's exuberant depiction of romantic roles. Mohan's films were the favoured destinations for fabulous songs and they were all mostly in SPB's  voice.Can we ever forget the rejoicing and riveting songs like' Ilaya Nila Ezhugirathe' ,{Payanangal Mudivathillai} 'Sangeetha Megam' {Udhaya Geetham} 'Koottathile Koil Pura' {Idhya Koil} and so on?Thirdly,it was the music prophet Ilyaraja who composed the captivating tunes that would last for decades, as masterly musical pieces.It was Ilayaraja  who made almost all the solo and duet numbers in Mohan's films a rich treasure house of music .
     What made Mohan a special romantic hero was his natural ability to fly high with his breezy, exotic wings, singing immortal tunes and talking soothing dialogues in a borrowed voice, pouring like honey into the ears of the women he loved on screen.But beyond these borrowed attributes were, his graceful looks, the poise in his body language and the gentleness in his histrionic deliberation, that formed the neatly integrated layers of Mohan's acting stuff and actual celluloid fame.He was an actor with an extraordinarily composed frame of mind, mild and soft, and not meant for any melodramatic outbursts.His most striking credentials were his aesthetic priorities in look and demeanor.That was why, he could felicitously perform the roles of a professional singer in a couple of films.Above all,he was a dedicated lover neither resorting to a stalking type of behaviour nor overdoing his romantic roles.He was a natural romantic  and that was his constant asset.Lucky was Mohan, to rule the romantic sphere  of Tamil Cinema for more than a decade and make his films golden, with his Midas touch.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Two Magical, Male Melody Makers.

     Unlike other genres of music, melodies are not that easy to compose because of the greater levels of expectations for appeasement and soothing control from the recipients' side.Not all melodies create the intended effect or hold the reach that they were meant for, at the time of their composition.Nor all voices conveniently fit into the melody mould. Last millennium memories of Tamil film music will prove beyond doubt, that there were two men whose voices were welded to the melody zone and could make soul-sustaining rhythms of the highest order at all times and they are A.M.Raja and P.B.Srinivas. Though age wise, they could be called contemporaries, A.M.Raja had set his foot in the Tamil film industry almost a decade earlier than P.B.Srinivas. But both the singers were incomparable in their soft voice frame that carried an exciting quality of vibration and penetrating base.
     The similarity between the two star singers who ruled the taste of the music prone ears for a couple of decades of the last century, was their matching voice preference for the ever green romantic hero Gemini Ganesan as the voice of Mukesh was a grand suitable factor for the outstanding Hindi romantic hero Raj Kapoor. Besides,both the singers were the special favourites of  C.V.Sridhar the brand ambassador for romantic themes in Tamil Cinema.In fact, A.M.Raja had not only sung, but had also composed music for Sridhar's films like Kalyana Parisu,Vidivelli and Thein Nilavu. The other movie for which A.M.Raja was the music director was Gemini Ganesan's Aadipperukku directed by K.Shankar. P.B.Srinivas who began his career a few years later, became a regular voice addition to the music rich films of Sridhar, like, Nenjil Oer Aalayam,Nenjam Marappadhillai, Policekaaran Magal, Sumai Thaangi, Kadhalikka Neramillai,Vennira Aadai,Ootivarai Uravu and so on.The contribution of P.B.Srinivas to Tamil film music was a little more voluminous than that of A.M.Raja because his voice perfectly matched that of another hero Muthuraman. But what keeps them both in the fore front, is their commitment to the melody zone and the charming stuff of sweetness that has been an eternal layer of their song composition.
     One of  my childhood favourite songs that I always used to listen to and tried to sing  was A.M.Raja's 'Kalaiye Un Vizhikooda Kavipaaduthe' from Gemini Ganesan's 'Gunasundari' for which music was composed by Gantasala. The other unforgettable song is 'Samsaaram Samsaaram' from the film bearing the same title. Five decades later, even now these two songs are ringing in my ears as celestial numbers.These were songs eulogizing a woman and a wife. P.B.S sang a couple of songs similar in tone and tenor and they are 'Kaalangalil Aval Vasnatham'[Paava Mannippu] Maalaiyil Malarcholaiyil[Adutha Veettuppen] and'Thulli thirindha Pen Onru' [Kaathirundha Kangal]. The heart warming solo songs of Raja reflecting a mood of joy were 'Pattu Paada Vaa'[Thein Nilavu] 'Podhum Undhan Jaalame Puriyudhe Un Veshame' [Kadan Vaangi Kalyaanam] and 'Pazhaga Theiya Venum' [Missiamma]. The same kind of numbers from PBS were Ilamai Koluvirukkum Inimai Suvaiyirukkum', Kaadhal Nilave Kanmani Radha[Both from Halo Mr.Zamindhar] Nilavukku Enmel Ennadi Kobam [Policekaaran Magal] and'Paadhhatha Paatelaam Paadavandhaal' [Veerathirumagan]
     A.M.Raja had delivered a few immortal duet songs for MGR films such as 'Maasilaa Unmai Kaadhale' [Alibabavum Naarpathu Thirudargalum] 'Mayakkum Maalai Pozhudhe Nee Po Po' [Gulebagavali] and 'Kanmoodum Velaiyilum' [Mahadevi].Similarly PBS has done for that timeless hero, songs like'En Aruge Neeyirundhal' [Thirudhathe] and 'Paal Vannam Paruvam Kandu' [Paasam].Gemini Ganesan's mood of suspicion of his wife or lover was beautifully reflected by A.M.Raja's 'Arugil Vandhaal' [Kalathur Kannamma] and later the same way  by PBS through his ever green 'Chinna Chinna Kannanukku' [Vaazhkai Padagu]. Some of the joyous or soothing duet songs of A.M.Raja were 'Thingal Urangiyapodhum' [Petra Maganai Vitra Annai] 'Vaaraayo Vennilaave' [Missiamma]'Adhimadhura Anuraagaa [Engal Kudumbam Perisu]"Aadaatha Manamum Aaduthe' [Kalathur Kannamma] 'Vaadikkai Marandhadhum Eino' [Kalyaana Parisu] 'Kangalin Vaarthaigal' [Kalathur Kannaamma] 'Chinna Chinna Kannile' 'Kaalaiyum Neeye Maalaiyum Neeye' [ both from Thein Nilavu] and Thuyilaadha Pen Onru and'Kalaiye En Vaazkayin' {From Meenda Sorgam}.In addition to these, the two unforgettable duet songs that Raja sang for Sivaji movies were 'Singaara Paingiliye Pesu'[Manohara] and 'Vaazhvinile Vaazhvinile'[Vanangamudi]. For all these duet songs,the female voice support was that of Jikki or P.Suseela or S.Janaki.
      In an equally enchanting manner, PBS has bestowed upon the music loving Tamil audience, a huge collection of duet songs teaming up with P.Suseela or S.Janaki. Some of the all time hits in this category are,'Roja Malare Rajakumari' [Veerathithirumagan]'Poojaikku Vandha Malare Vaa' [Paadha Kaanikkai] 'Athikkai Kai' [ Bale Pandiya] 'Thoel Kanden' [Idhaya kamalam]'Valartha Kadhai Marandhuvittaal' [Kaathirundha Kangal] 'Anubhavam pudhumai' [Kaadhalikka Neramillai] 'Naan Unnaicherndha Selvam'[Kalaikoil] Raja Rajasri Raani Vandhaal [Ootivarai Uravu] and Podhigaimalai Uchiyile [Thiruvilaiyaadal] and 'Mambazhathu Vandu'.PBS has also given us a few unforgettable philosophical songs like 'Ninaipadhellaam Nadandhuvittaal'[Nenjil Oer Aalayam] Manidhan Enbavan [Sumaithangi] 'Sirippu Paadhi Azhugai Paadhi'[Enga Veetu Pem] 'Endha Oor Enravane'[Kaattu Roja] and Iravin Madiyil Ulagam Urangum [Sarasa.B.A]. The two beautiful numbers that PBS and TMS sang together are Aval Parandhu Ponaale [Paar Magale Paar] and Paadinaal Oru Paatu [Oruthai Makkal].One was a Sivaji Ganesan film and the other was that of MGR.
    While A.M.Raja came out with two high spirited duet and group songs like 'Oho Enthan Baby'[Theinialavu] and 'Koduthu paar paar unmai anbai' [Vidivelli] PBS has also done such record breaking tunes in his songs like 'Nee Pohumidamellaam naanum Varuven' [Idhayakamalam]  'Maadimela Maadikatti' [Kaadhalikka Neramillai] and 'Ethanai Ethanai Inbamadaa'[Aasai Mugam].If A.M.Raja has left us solo, sorrow laden songs like 'Unnaikandu Naan Vaada', 'Kaahalile Toelviutraan'[Kalyana Parisu] and duet ones with P.Suseela such as 'Varuven Naan Unadhu Maaligaiyin Vaasalukke'[Mallika] and 'Thanimaiyile Inimaikaana Mudiyuma' [Aadipperukku] PBS  has created a similar impact in the songs 'Mayakkamaa kalakkamaa' [Sumaidhangi] 'Aval Parandhu Poenaale' [Paar Magale Paar] and 'Indha Manrathil Oedivarum' with S.Janaki.
    Tamil Film industry has come across several talented singers in the recent decades.But there is always a sense of longing for the voice of A.M.Raja and P.B.Srinivas because of their mellifluous, melody making voice pattern.Most of the songs of these two grandiose singers have an underlying salutary component, that can assuage the conflicting emotions of the human population.They can infuse a great comforting sense like the mother's lullabies that are capable of calming the minds of kids undergoing some kind of disturbance known only to them and the mother.It is their voice frame with  the charm of maternal rhythms, that makes A.M.Raja and P.B.Srinivas, the two magical melody makers, because only music in its melodious form, can temporarily replace a mother.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Art of Intolerance Against Films.


        All art forms are characterized by an inner voice of freedom and individuality. Film as an art form has existed for long representing the attitudes and aspirations of individual and group activities. It has delved either partially or comprehensively into human and social issues from an artistic point of view, thereby creating awareness and response to those issues. At times, films themselves have suggested solutions, depending upon the bolder perceptions of creativity. The intention of a film maker will definitely be only to raise prevailing issues, fit for a healthy debate and not to get into a row with any particular section on account of raising these issues. Unfortunately, human society is in the grip of intolerance now. It could be fairly said that intolerance has surpassed its level as an emotion and has been cultivated and groomed as a counter form of art to resist, stymie and gag the voice of the original art form. Be it a piece of painting,or a book, or a film, the creator’s individual freedom of expression is being stifled by the art of intolerance, handled deftly by a group of vested interests, declaring themselves as the care takers of race, religion, community and language.
      Banning the independent voice of the art form either for a period or for long, and burdening the judiciary with cases relating to objections to creative formulations and the resultant ban, when there are so many other vital cases to be dealt with by the esteemed judges, could be viewed only as the expansion of the monstrous wings of the art of intolerance. If justice delayed were to be interpreted as justice denied, delaying  a movie watch for an unexpected period, to a particular section of passionate viewers of films, could also be called denial of right and freedom in the name of intolerance. It is again a sad thing that such things happen more frequently in India, the traditional, Gandhian land of tolerance.
      Decades ago there were revolts in Tamil Nadu, against the imposition of Hindi as official language. The rationale behind the movement of resistance was understood and the response from the side of that particular generation was genuine. But it went beyond that, as an act of intolerance against the screening of Hindi Films in Tamil Nadu. The art of intolerance superseded the priorities of film as an art form. Those were days when most of the theatres in the major district headquarters in Tamil Nadu used to screen all popular Hindi movies.Those movies and the theatres that showed them  suffered a setback then. Now, other language films are  rarely screened in major cities of Tamil Nadu, except in its State Capital Chennai.
    Years back, in the early Nineteen Sixties ,I remember to have seen Sivaji Ganesan’s Dheivapiravi directed by the famous duo Krishnan Panju, in a local theatre in Thrissur,Kerala. In the Nineteen Ninetees,during one of my visits to the temple town of Guruvayur in Kerala,I chanced to see there, A.V.M’s ‘Ulagam Pirandhathu Enakkaaga’ another Tamil movie, starring Sathyaraj and Gauthami. Even now newspapers stated that Kamal’s Viswaroopam was screened in nearly eighty theatres in Kerala. Malayalees who are said to have deeper affinity to their mother tongue when it comes to socializing, have also exhibited a free mind and patronizing attitude, with regard to movies of other languages.No doubt, Tamil films are patronized with equal supporting spirit in other Southern States like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It should also be mentioned here that even in the Western countries like England and the United States of America,popular films in Indian languages are screened in prominent cities.A film like 'Viswaroopam' that contained observations about America's craving for oil resources and the collateral damages caused by the US army and scenes showing the portraits of former US President George.W. Bush being attacked and damaged, were all allowed to be viewed in the US cinema houses, as mere film events.
    The art of intolerance attaches avoidable blinkers to a budding generation by restricting its rights and opportunities. When I write this, I do not mean that children should be allowed to watch objectionable visuals that form part of a movie watch.What I would like to stress here, is that every one should have access to a medium that provides a variety of perceptions to several issues like community hatreds and rivalries,communalism,religious intolerance, terrorism,vulnerability of women to physical and emotional harassment,and the larger- than- life, levels of corruption. Similarly, every one should have access to the grace and nuances of other languages.Binding a generation to one particular language in the name of mother tongue would prove to be a clear negative move to paralyze the posterity.
    Now a days, we see most of the Television channels in India, telecasting  English movies and those in other languages dubbed into their respective mother tongues.The reason for this dubbing process could be understood at least in the case of national languages, because, most of the South Indian languages are inter related to one another.But to dub English movies, at times, with dialogues reaching ridiculous proportions,only adds to misconceptions and misunderstanding of the very purpose for which the films were made.I remember that in a municipal town in Tamil Nadu, where I was born and raised, there were two theatres one regularly showing only English Movies and the other constantly taking care of the interests of Hindi Film viewers.The films were all received well and admired with a feel of enjoyment.It was an experience that placed pleasure as more prominent than understanding. Now my native town has become a corporation, but the two theatres are screening only old Tamil movies, with escalating fears of closure.
    The final decades of the last millennium, were days of global film experience and enjoyment. Today there is globalization only in technology but the global spirit has vanished thanks to the perpetuation of the art of intolerance.Politicized movements of intolerance carry the risk of getting boomeranged. Saner attitudes of leadership not only save all art forms including films, but also protect  human civilization, against the gloomy consequences of the promotion of the art intolerance.

The Kamal Specials.

     Initially I thought, that I could write an article on Kamal,the actor.But my imagination failed.My mind began to shudder at the very thought of putting points coherently on some one, who is more than a combination of Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan,and an unconscious mix of a Balachander, Balu Mahendra and Barathiraja, a fine product of the divine dance school,a spec of the music maestro Ilayaraja and a miniature voice of many laudable singers. Kamal is in short a great creator with an aggressive cry from within to get noticed and recognized.One could have traced this aggressive thrust for performance in getting himself more prominently noticed than Gemini Ganesan,in Kalathur Kannamma, than Sivaji Ganesan, in Paarthaal Pasitheerum and than MGR, in Ananda Jothi. This was when Kamal was just a boy of six or seven years of age. It looked as though this clear and loud voice had an incessant hunger to rule the screen.The level of confidence and the competitive force, were incomparable assets that have taken forward the child artist of the last millennium to a ruling star with a variety of glows and colours.
    How could a single star carry the magnificence of a galaxy?This star did.The multifarious manifestations in an individual, of a constant urge to do the impossible,by changing tracks and vehicles every now and then, have kept film lovers glued to his stunning surge of creativity.An ardent film lover that I am, I could hardly extricate myself from this creative bond that Kamal has established with his zeal and perseverance.To be on the safer side,I decided to write on some of the special films of Kamal, that inspired and kindled my  imagination and curiosity. Even here, the choice became very difficult. First I wanted to restrict the number to a dozen.But I could not.The number began to increase aggressively like the aggressive Kamal. 
    Let us see the directors with whom Kamal happened to work. Of course, Kamal did take up conventional action hero roles with Devar Films,Sujatha Cine Arts films,and the biggest AVM banner that introduced him as a child artist. But there were people, who made him grow under challenging situations, asking for compliance to critical and qualitative performance of roles of rare kinds. Barathiraja offered him the rustic role of Sappani, with just a loin cloth to wear, during the major portion of the film 16 Vayadhinile. With disheveled hair and crude looks, it was a character that reached the masses as a village lad next door.It was a role with a lot of complexities to deliver and Kamal the aggressive actor, did more than what was expected of him.Then came the veteran director's Sigappu Rojaakkal and Oru Kaidhiyin Diary,one making Kamal perform as a man with a misogynistic frame of mind and the other narrating the tale of a gullible innocent party loyalist whose wife was molested by the very same political bigwigs he trusted.The second film was more powerful because of its arresting story line with abundant acting scope for the hero, playing dual roles as father and son.These were the early specials of Kamal.
   K.Balachander who first rediscovered Kamal as a teenager for his Arangetram, fed Kamal's hunger for action with meaty roles in more than ten films, half of which went to the combined show of Kamal and Rajini. But K.B threw meaty roles for Kamal in his films like Enakkul Oruvan,Nizhal Nijamaagirathu,Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu and the most popular Punnagai Mannan, in which Kamal also appeared in a character imitating Charlie Chaplin. Though all the films mentioned here, were Kamal's specials under his mentor KB, Punnagai Mannan topped the list as a dynamic story of love. The other eminent director who made Kamal eligible for another national award was Balu Mahendra and it was his Moonraam Pirai, which became an extraordinary Kamal film.The riveting climax of the movie, was a sample of how an anguished soul could vent its emotional longing.
    K.Viswanath's Telugu movie Saagara Sangamam dubbed in Tamil as Salanga Oli exhibited Kamal's ability for classical dance, besides the poignant narration of a personal tragedy suppressed by intoxication.The theme of adoration of the art form and idealization of romance transformed Salangai Oli  into an exalting experience.Later K.Viswanath's Telugu 'Swati  Muthyam' became Tamil 'Sippikkul Muthu', narrating an autistic innocent Kamal's sudden marriage of a widow with a five year old son.The movie was received well for sublimating man woman relationship. Another Telugu movie of Kamal dubbed into Tamil was Suresh Krishna's Indran Chandran,a political comedy with power manipulations with an even blend of humour and seriousness.Incidentally, Suresh Krisna's first directorial venture was also with Kamal as hero, for his most critically reviewed Sathya,a crime story powerfully narrated, showing Kamal as a fiery and belligerent youth fighting for truth and justice.The difference in narration made the film a trend setter.
    Singeetham Seenivsa Rao, who had a significant creative association with Kamal, came out with a film of epic grandeur in Aboorva Sagotharargal that presented Kamal in three roles of which one was as a dwarf.This became an amazing experience for viewers on the big screen and made every one feel that Kamal alone could think of doing something different and unique in every film. The movie was a block buster and retained its undying impressions on the audience of all age groups. The other hits in their combination were Raja Paarvai, in which Kamal was shown as a blind youth, Michael Madhanakamarajan a full length comedy that showed Kamal in four remarkably different roles, Kadala Kadala a farcical show of Kamal, in which along with Prabu Deva and M.S.Viswanathan Kamal took the audience to the edge of laughter,and Pesum Padam,the first Tamil movie and a black comedy, without any dialogue. All these  films proved to be the most popular entertainers, with Rajapaarai ever retaining the memory of the song, 'Andhimazhai Pozhigirathu' . 
    The other two creative geniuses who effectively utilized Kamal's acting stuff were, Manirathnam,the votary of aesthetics and Shankar the technical wizard and maker of mega films. The former, created the epoch making film Nayagan that penetrated deeply into the histrionic intricacies, inherently bound to the soul of the world class hero. The theme, story line and delineation of events and characters were all heavy in nature and it was a lasting emotional appeal the film left on the minds of the viewers. Shankar's Indian marked a stupendous show of the undying will of an old,patriotic Indian to fight corruption prevalent in a country, for whose independence he too had relentlessly fought. The pity of it was, his own son was an agent of corruption and he had to eliminate his son as he did it in the case of others. It was another film of Kamal in dual roles, but, it represented conflicting characters unlike the previous ones. It proved to be yet another award winning demonstration of Kamal's acting calibre and Shankar's splendid support of directorial dynamics made Indian, a historic victory.
    Raj Kamal Pictures Thevar Mahan directed by Bharathan brought Kamal and Sivaji Ganesan together in a compact frame as father and son.The movie was closer to the Tamil soil and it truly reflected the fundamental emotions causing family feuds and internecine rivalries of people belonging to the same community.This film like Nayagan and Virumandi carried strong emotional vibrations dramatized effectively as living realities, that  weighed heavily with the viewers for a pretty long time.
    K.S.Ravikumar the other name known for giving periodical hits seems to enjoy great levels of cordiality and comfort with Kamal as he does with his other favourite hero Sarathkumar. This commercially successful director has come out with unforgettable comedy projects with Kamal, like the rip tickling Avvai Shanmugi,in which Kamal impersonated as a middle aged woman Thenali that ruled the audience imagination, with Kamal as a Lankan Tamil afflicted with a variety of phobias, Pancha Thandhiram another hilarious show of Kamal with four of his close, but mischievous friends and Manmadhan Ambu,a romantic comedy. K.S.Ravikumar and Kamal also stunned the film goers with their massive show Dhasavadaram with Kamal donning ten roles with a great effort of make up sense, making one character look totally different from the other. The movie became a colossal attempt at doing something that no body else had attempted so far.
    In addition to all these films, Sundar C's Anbe Sivam, was unique in spearheading the noble theme of love superseding all other human emotions. The other, out -of- the routine films of Kamal were, his pet projects like Guna,Kuruthippunal,Hey Ram and Nammavar.
Apart from K.S.Ravikumar's notable comedies Kamal has done a few other roaring comedy
films like R.V.Udhayakumar's Singara Velan,Balu Mahendra's Sathi Leelavathi,Moulee's Pammal K.Sampandam and Saran's most positive entertainer,Vasool Raja MBBS.The  list will vindicate that almost every other movie has been Kamal's special in terms of presentation of story line and character.
   However,two films have cast an indelible impression on my mind with their profound tragic impact and brutal sense of reality.Interestingly,in both the films, Kamal was shown as an innocent,gullible man being taken for a ride in the name of blind trust.One is Mahanathi, which I would rate as the most monumental movie of Kamal. This film was least cinematic, in theme and narration, showing how the peaceful and happy life of a fairly rich man in a village was transformed into an infernal course, by the Machiavellian machinations of unworthy associates.The other movie Virumandi  painfully reflected the crude schemes of rural cousins spoiling the life of an outspoken, happy- go -lucky youth. Both were heaviest personal tragedies not earned or deserved by the protagonist.The helplessness of the affected person in the midst of tragic happenings, made the developments, too horrid to watch.
   While Mahanadhi portrayed a loving father's pathetic plight in finding his lost daughter in a Calcutta red light zone,Virumandi brought out powerfully an uxorious husband's anguish and grief over the gruesome murder of his wife by the hands of the people whom he trusted. Though Virumandi contained certain aspects of the family vendetta noticed in Thevar Mahan,the intensity and focus of the tragedy were more prominently felt in the former. Mahanadhi and Virumandi are obviously the most striking, spectacular Kamal movies that find the foremost place in the memory records of my movie minutes.
    If Rajini teamed up with Malayalam megastar Mammootty for a gripping show in Manirathnam's Thalapathi,Kamal joined the magnificent Mohanlal for Chakri Toleti's Unnai Pol Oruvan,a film dealing with the commonest subject of terrorism in the most uncommon way, suited to Kamal's creative norms.The movie told how the intelligent agencies were inadequate and the administrative machinery lukewarm, in dealing with the danger's of terrorism, besides subtly presenting the common man's ire for terrorism and his concern for its victims.It looked as though the film was offering a few effective modules on how the menace of terrorism could be tackled if only the defence mechanism was equipped with greater will power and technical adeptness.This movie was definitely dynamic in approach and portrayal of issues rather than projecting the heroism of individuals and both Kamal and Mohanlal deserve praise for their realistic performance. 
   Viswaroopam from Kamal's own production house and directed by Kamal himself, became the outcome of commitment, dedication and maturity of Kamal, the all rounder. It was a classic piece of technical excellence and astounding cinematography with the  all inclusive contribution from Kamal and those he relied upon.As a seeming effeminate, as a Kathak dancer and as an intelligent and ferocious RAW officer,it was out and out Kamal's one man show of his proven versatility.Speed in narration was the most positive aspect of the movie, besides the lighter side provided here and there with subtle satirical dialogues of a fleeting nature, on convenient adoption of food habits by a particular community, and the humorous reference to Hindu Gods.[eg, ''Who is your god? Our god has four hands.Do you crucify him?No.We douse him in water''].Thank God no objections were raised by these sections concerned too.It was really unfortunate that access to this extraordinary cinema experience was withheld to the film viewers in Tamil Nadu, following unforeseen protests that caused a tentative ban.
    We have seen Kamal as a Casanova [Sollathaan Ninaikiren, Manmatha Leelai and Pattaam Poochi] as a willing or circumstantial prey of temptations [ Sattam En Kaiyil, Ilamai Oonjal Aadugirathu and Thoongathe Thambi Thoongathe] as an emotionally affected father [Nayagan and Mahanadhi] and as a police officer [several films,notably Kaaki Chattai,Vetri Vizha, Soora Samhaaram,Kurudhipunal and Vettaiyaadu Vilayadu].As a romantic hero his distinct moves have always been trend setting for others.He has trodden on various new pathways of acting with a devil- may- care attitude, of consummate faith in his own ability, as a self confident and competent achiever, not bothering about the end result.
   Kamal's  most earnest and impressive dialogue delivery would naturally reveal his flair for many Tamil dialects like the Chennai Tamil [Savaal,Aboorva Sagotharargal, Pammal K.Sampantham and Vasool Raja MBBS],Madurai Tamil [Devar Mahan and Virumandi] Kovai Tamil [Sati Leelavathi] Palakkad Tamil [Michael Madhanakamarajan] and Lankan Tamil [Tenali]. Besides,Kamal's felicitous use of other languages like Malayalam Telugu Hindi and English,offer him the status of a polyglot. It is Kamal's versatility and his untiring efforts on the creative side that have put him far ahead of his predecessors and contemporaries.He is for sure,going to be a creative model and a source of inspiration for  successive generations of talent hungry artists and actors of the film field.
   The only zone he has not so far traveled to, is strong sibling sentiment. Nor has he come out with a touching tale of friendship other than the modest film Sattam of Sujatha Cine Arts. But Kamal's creative steps have always been guided and governed by sharpness in   perception and intelligence in presentation He is one of those rare kind of actors who is not comfortable with sentimental melodrama;hence, all his emotional outbursts in his films, were necessitated as a corollary to the natural developments, incorporated adequately for  audience acceptance as normal course of events in real life.There has hardly been any instance of over acting in Kamal's entire acting career.
    Kamal specials could thus bestow upon the vast section of movie lovers, a renewed sense of film viewing experience every time, without resorting to repetitions of any kind either in theme or in scenic display. All that they keep doing is to perpetuate an undercurrent of newness in their comprehensive content and quality of making. It is a kind of infinite variety that Shakespeare spoke of, with special reference to Cleopatra, the Egyptian beauty, that makes the Kamal Specials, eternally fascinating.Above all, Kamal is one among the creamy  creative artists, for whom art and its processes are the only goals, for which he will sacrifice anything including money, to any extent.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Farewell to the Three Dimensional Old Guard of Tamil Cinema..[Revised on 14th July 2015]

    M.S.Viswanathan could rightly be called the icon of Tamil film music.Though there were others like G.Ramanathan,Vedha and K.V.Mahadevan,MSV's career was evenly and busily spread over a period of nearly four decades chiefly as a maker of great melodies.While G.Ramanathan and Vedha had a brief spell during the early decades of Tamil Cinema,the other legendary music composer K.V.Mahadevan was not ready to mix the native notes with the Western genre of music.Whereas,  MSV was a singer with a high pitched voice,an actor with a spontaneous flair for humour and a commendable composer of a variety of fresh notes. Joining hands with T.K.Ramamurthy,MSV has created records of amazing musical stuff that would transcend local barriers and reach global human ears with a universal appeal. Lyricist Kannadasan the favoured child of the Muse, provided not only the creative base, but also the necessary impetus for the duo's splendid rhythms.
     MSV and TKR were the double barrel water pistols shooting their awesome tunes for a soothing flow of fine melodies.It was like a pentagon show with the lyrics of Kannadasan wonderfully reinforced by the tunes of MSV and TKR and sung by T.M.Soundarajan and P.Suseela with clarity, sweetness and conviction.This show went on for years.Here and there, Vaali would have replaced Kannadasan and P.B.Srinivas and S.Janaki would have substituted TMS and P.Suseela. But the Pentagon remained strong because  of the strong base.
    M.S.V's[and T.K.R's] philosophical numbers,the fascinating duet songs and the solo songs of joy and sorrow were all received by a music hungry generation, as gifts coming straight from the kingdom of god.Songs like 'Ponal Pogattum Poda',[ Paalum Pazhamum] 'Satti Suttadhada' [Aaalayamani] 'Aaaru Maname Aaru' [Andavan Kattalai] 'Ullam Enbathu Aamai'[Paartaal Pasi Theerum] Annan ennada Thambi Ennadaa[Pazhani],Annan Kaattiya Vazhiyamma[Padithaal Mattum Podhuma]'Veeduvarai Uravu' [Paadha Kaanikkai] 'Sathiyam Idhu Sathiyam' [Idhu Sathiyam] 'Padaithaane' [Nichaya Thamboolam] 'Enge Nimmathi' [Pudhiya Paravai] all from the mighty voice of TMS were the immortal philosophical songs meant for the Sivaji Ganesan movies. The other immortal philosophical song is ''Ullathil Nalla Ullam''from the clarion voice of Sirkazhi Govindarajan for the blockbuster film Karnan.
   For MGR films, the voice of TMS would imbibe the force of the revolutionary and reformer and the songs would have a different dynamics of music, perfectly envisaged by the highly imaginative duo.'Naan Anaiyittal' [Engaveetuppilaai] 'Ulagam pirandhadhu Enakkaga' [Paasam]' Ennathaan Nadakkum' [Panathottam] 'Koduthathellam Koduthan' [Padagotti] 'Buthan Esu Gandhi Pirandhadhu'  [Chandrodhayam] 'Moonrezhuthil En Moochirukkum' [Deivathai] and many more, were tuned by MSV and TKR and sung by TMS to invigorate people towards right goals of life.
    Fabulous male solo melodies like' Tharaimel Pirakkavittan' 'Naan Oru Kuzhandhai''[both from Padahotti] 'Vandha Naal mudhal '[Paava mannippu]'Ponnai Virumbum Boomiyile' [Alayamani] all from the titanic voice of TMS and 'Mayakkama Kalakkama' [Sumaithangi], 'Ninaipathelaam Nadandhuvittaal' [Nenjil Oer Aalayam] 'Ilamai koluvirukkum' [Halo Mr.Zameendhar] from the mellifluous tone of P.B.Srinivas, are a few samples of the vast world of music glory that solely belonged once, to the golden era of MSV and TKR. While the voice of TMS, and P.B.Srinivas contributed the male vocal grandeur, P.Suseela's honey- tongued voice gave us immortal songs like 'Kangal Irandum' [Mannathi Mannan] 'Kadhal Siragai' [Paalum Pazhamum] 'Ninaikka Therindha Maname' [Ananda Jothi] 'Neeyilladha Ulagathile' [Neengatha Ninaivu] 'Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathile' [Bagyalakshmi] 'Chithirai Maadham Pournami Neram'[Raman Ethanai Ramanadi] ,followed by S.Janaki's 'Thookamun Kangalai Thazhuvattume' and L.R.Eswari's ,'Palingnaloru Maaligai' [Vallavan Oruvan] and 'Pattathuraani' [Sivantha Man] ,to mention a few.
    Among the duet songs composed by MSV/TKR and later by MSV himself, many have become eternal tunes.'Naan Pesa Ninaipathellaam' [Paalum Pazhamum]'Pesuvathu Kiliya' [Panathottam]  'Chinnavalai Mugam Sivandhvalai' [Pudhiya Bhoomi] 'Ponnezhil Poothadhu' [Kalangarai Vilakkam] 'Poomaalaiyil Oer Malligai'[Ootivarai Uravu] by TMS and P.Suseela, 'Kaadhalin Pon Veedhiyil' [Pookkaari] by TMS and S.Janaki,'Poojaikku Vandha Malare Vaa'[Paadha Kaanikkai] and 'Roja Malare Rajakumari' [Veerathithirumagan] both by P.B.Srinivas with S.Janaki and P.Suseela respectively, are some of the vast galaxy of unforgettable duet numbers, composed by MSV,either with or without TKR.
     Some of the vibrant tunes in solo voice were 'Ponmagal Vandhal'[ Sorgam] by TMS, 'Kaalangalil Aval Vasantham [Paava Mannippu] 'Aval oru navarasa naadagam'[Neitru Inru Naalai] by SPB and 'Adhisaya Raagam' [Aboorva Raagangal] by K.J.Yesudoss that carried a similar element of  lyrical thrust in praise of the charm of womanhood.One can keep on citing an endless list of songs composed by MSV and TKR that could connect human ears to a variety of emotions like joy,gusto,grief and exaltation. Songs in MSV's own voice like 'Sivasambo' in Ninaithaale Inikkum 'Etharkum Oru Kaalamundu' from Sivakaamiyin Selvan,Mazhaithuli Mazhaithuli, and Alaala Kanda,both songs sung along with Hariharan for the film 'Sangamam' [for which music was composed by A.R.Rehaman] were unique reflections of the gusto and grief that MSV's voice was able to deliver. Some of the movies that carried a complete album of hit songs composed either by MSV himself or in team with TKR, were,Paalum Pazhamum,Oottivarai Uravu,Pudhiya Paravai [all Sivaji Ganesan movies],Paasam, Padahotti, Panam Padaithavan, and Ayirathil Oruvan [MGR films] Most of these films were as mush known for all hit songs, as for including other vital aspects of  high quality . 
    The music of M.S.Viswanathan ruled the Tamil film industry for a substantial period until Ilayaraja began to occupy the centre stage. His high pitched voice like that of  his contemporary S.D.Burman of Hindi Cinema,his vitalizing power of music composition and his spontaneous display of acting abilities were his spectacular assets.No one can forget his strict ban on cigarettes for his mess members, but at the same time,himself secretly enjoying solo cigarette smoking sessions, in Saran's first film, Kadhal Mannan. As mess Viswanathan, MSV played an endearing character in that movie. Besides, he was also shown by Saran as a devotee of Poet Kannadasan as it was in his real life, and he also sang a number in that film, in praise of that first Tamil Poet Laureate.Again with Kamalahaasan, in Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa, MSV took us to the height of hilarity calling every time the name of his pet deity. [Muruga !] He also played a vital role as one of the inmates of a home for the aged,in Rojavanam.
   Every generation develops new likes and dislikes for patterns of art.When it comes to music,it is the enthusiastic reception of fresh lyrics and tunes that determine the success show.However, there are some, who make long standing appeal and keep their tunes ringing in the hearts of music lovers, crossing the barriers of generation concepts. MSV is an old guard, whose music can embrace old and new alike.Besides,he is three in one, as a  composer,singer and actor.Today,this old guard is no more.But memories of his grand show, will continue to enrich our routine, through the mesmerizing, audiovisual wield, in global connectivity.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sundar.C,The Man of Mirth.

   Directing a film means, living up to one's cherished norms of creativity. Every film director is usually focused on themes and genre of presentation closer to their hearts. Some are always bound to an inner voice, that commands them to excel, by doing the extraordinary.For them the cry for originality becomes the only yardstick of creativity.They do not bother about the impact their movies have on the audience.Their creative priority anticipates a sense of fulfilment. But for many in the film industry,their sole objective should be to entertain and keep the audience happy. For such people, film making is like a merry go round, resulting in the transfer of happier moments to a wide section of film viewers. Such film makers are light minded and are happy in making films, not falling into the serious category.Previously C.V.Rajendran and Billa R.Krishna- murthy who worked more for Sujatha Cine Arts movies, were known for their interest in casual narration of stories events and characters.In the recent two decades, Sundar.C has been consistently visiting the humour zone to provide comic relief and joy to an otherwise strained generation.Barring his 'Thalainagaram' which too contained the hilarious scenes of Vadivelu, almost all the films of Sundar .C were devoted to the laughter side. 
   'Muraimaman' was the debut film of Sundar.C as director.It was the comedy combination of Jeyaram and Goundamani that made it a worthy entertainer.Then came the silver jubilee hit Ullathai Allitha with Karthik Muthuraman and Goundami teaming up for a rip tickling laughter show.The duo then continued their humour gusto in 'Mettukkudi' and 'Unakkaaga Ellaam Unakkaaga' the other two makings of merry minded Sundar.C. Karthik Muthuraman became one of the most favourite actors, for Sundar.C's films like, Azhagaana Naatkal, Kannan Varuvaan and Ullam Kollai Povuthe. The two movies that Sundar.C worked with Prabudeva were Naam Iruvar Namakkiruvar,a memorable romantic comedy and Ullam Kollai Povudhe,a breezy and sensitive narration of romance. Sundar.C has also worked with Sathyaraj twice for Azhagarsamy and Unnai Kan Theduthe. Janakiraman with Sarathkumur doing the hero, was a jovial narration of the hero's deviation from professed bachelorhood towards accepting romance as the enchanting gateway to marriage. He did one movie with Ajith[Unnaithedi] and two each with Arjun [Giri and Chinna]Madhavan[Rendu and Anbe Sivam] and Prashanth [Winner and London]. All these films carried his usual thrust on entertainment and romance. The two popular heroes whose talent Sundar has not  utilized so far, are Ilaya Thalapathi Vijay and Soorya.                                                                                
    Sundar.C 's priority for humour was always characterized by a shift in pattern and performance, besides a prompt change in the type of comedian, to fit into  situations calling for  a twist in focus. For a few films it was Goundamai  and then Vadivelu who took over the show only to be followed by Vivek and then by Santhanam. There were memorable laughter scenes thanks to Vadivelu's demonstration of physical comedy in films like Winner,Giri, London, Rendu and so on.The originality of Sundar.C could be traced in his frequent shift in comedy thrust along with the change of the comedian to perform the hat tricks of humour and offer comic relief with freshness in humour concept and its execution.
    When Sundar. C transformed into an actor, he began to project himself as an action hero.In his first movie 'Thalainagaram' he refused to smile in any scene.The seriousness continued in 'Veeraappu',a remake of Malayalam 'Spatikam'.But he began to rely on Vivek to provide the comedy segment in that film. Sundar.C continued to induct Vivek for a few more movies like Ayudham Seivom, Sandai and Aindham Padai. All these films were effortless comedy events celebrated by Sundar.C and Vivek without much exertion for any serious exposition of theme or character. It seemed as if their chief objective was to keep the show going, just for the sake of generating happier moments for the audience.
   This light- minded director has come out with one of the best movies of Kamalahasan viz. Anbe Sivam. Right from framing the title down to the clean presentation of a very noble theme followed by remarkable characterization and narration of events Sunder.C made every one understand that if necessary, he too could come with an exemplary film meant for rave reviews and great popular acclaim.The film turned to be a milestone in Sundar.C's career as director. Sundar.C also came out with a popular entertainer with the Super star as Arunachalam,which also happened to be the title of the movie.It was also rich in theme and narration with abundant scope for comedy provided by Setnthil,Janakaraj and Crazy Mohan. There were no sagging moments in the movie and it became a blockbuster as expected.The latest refreshing entertainer was 'Kalagalppu',the title suggesting events full of gusto and the narration of events justifying the title.It was in this movie,Santhanam joined the comedy team of Sundar.C
   From most of the movies of Sundar.C,one could make out, that he is a man of mirth and his focus would never tilt towards negative interpretations of life.Pleasantly,his first heroine Kushboo,who is known for her explicit cheerful credentials on screen, joined him as his life partner.His films generally belong to the conventional action-cum-entertainment category and they would rightly fulfill the commercial objectives of making movies.It is an attitude that is down to earth without claiming ever to do the impossible or the unusual on the creative side.So long one aims at the larger section of the audience without any pretension, in terms of one's creative propensities,one is true to the task on hand. Sundar.C belongs to a group of directors who do not want to disappoint the film goers on the entertainment side or put the producers into trouble by draining their finance.His merry go round attitude always makes him the man of the match.