Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The High Pitch Heart Throb of Tamil Film Music.

       When M.V.Raman’s Konjum Salangai starring gemini Ganesan and Savithri was released in 1962, the film became a great hit of that decade as much for its richness in story value and narration as for its musical component particularly for the song ‘Singaara Velane Dhevaa’. Gramophone records of the song sold like hot cakes and it found a lasting place in the archives of Tamil film music.The inseparable mix of nadhaswaram music{Kaarakkurichi Arunachalam} and the voice of the singer, created the special effect for the immortality of the song. Not only did the song become a super hit overnight, but the singer also became famous like Lord Byron, who was said to have awakened one fine morning and found himself famous, on publication of his 'Don Juan'.S.Janaki the high pitch singer, stole the hearts of music lovers by her captivating voice 
    S.Janaki is perhaps the only female playback singer who started her singing career during the days of melody queen P.Suseela and other veteran singers like M.L.Vasanthakumari, Jikki,A.P.Komala,Jamuna Rani and L.R.Eswari and continued to rule Tamil Film Music for an endless number of years even when she was joined by other potential singers like Vani Jeyaram and later by several other new generation voices like those of Chitra, Sujatha, Jenzi  [late] Swarnalatha, and quite a lot of young new talents. Janaki braved the ever growing storm of competition with ease and felicity, lending her voice for many immortal songs with substance and capacity for sustenance.Awards do not matter for her, though she should have been adorned with the top most honours by this time.The voice of this multi lingual singer, has the right essence of qualitative music, that can ever make the process of listening both instinctive and exalting.Left to myself,I am a hardcore fan of this sweet,mellifluous and penetrating voice, that can spontaneously raise and subside a flood of emotions.
   Most of the songs delivered by this wonderful singer, were in high pitch note without losing the base of sweetness and aurally soothing component of voice frame. Starting from her earlier days when she came out with solo hits like ‘Vasanthkaala Kolangal’{Thiagam} 'Maadhaa Un Kovilil' {Achaani}or great duets like 'Oho Endhan baby' 'Kaalaiyum Neeye' both, with A.M.Raja {Thein Nilavu} ‘Oh! Oh! Mambazhathu Vandu’ {Sumaidhaangi} ‘Poojaikku Vandha Malare Vaa’{Paadha kaanikkai} with P.B.Srinivas and Kaathalin Pon Veedhiyil with TMS {Pookkaari}, her voice mellifluously used to shuttle between high pitch and the lowest soothing ebb in a gliding process.
   Though M.S Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadevan would have selectively utilized her singing potential, it was music prophet Ilayaraja who sumptuously capitalized on her magic and mastery of singing. Starting from his first film Annakkili, with the super hit song 'Machaana Paatheengala',Ilayaraja has consistently explored the voice richness and singing caliber of Janaki to a profuse extent, thereby exposing the music lovers to a continued experience in a fantasy of tunes.Imagine the intensity of emotion and its relevant voice quotient gracefully and proportionately mixed in a fine tuning composition, in quite a lot of popular numbers like ‘Sendhoorappove Sendhoorappove’{Padhinaaru Vayadhinile}'Poovarasampoo Poothaachu' {Kizhakke Pogum Rayil},Rojaappoo Thedivandhadhu {Agni Natchatram}'Paadavaa En Paadalai' {Naan paadum Paadal} 'Azhagu Malar Aada' {Vaidhehi Kaathirundhaal} ‘Chinna Chinna Vanna Kuyil’{Mouna Raagam} 'Adho Andha Nadhiyoram' {Ezhai Jaadhi}'Adi Aathaadi Manam Rakka Katti  Parakkudhu Koothadi' {Kadalora Kavidhaigal} Vetti Veru Vaasam{ Mudhal Mariyadhai } and 'Maniye Manikkuyile' {Naadodithendral}to mention a few.It was an ecstatic experience to listen to the sensuous richness and the exalting attitude in Janaki’s voice that would endear human imagination to an undeviating musical experience.
    S.Janaki is not lacking in generating the best kind of melodies, that would enslave human ears, longing for tender human emotions like love and compassion. Be it a song like ‘Thookam Un Kangalai Thazhuvattume’ {Alyaysmani} composed by M.S.Viswa- nathan or ‘Ooru Janam Thoongiduchu’ tuned by both Viswanathan and Ilayaraja [MellaThirandhadhu Kadhavu}or the most piercing numbers like ‘Azhagiya Kanne’{UdhiriPookkal} ‘Thaalaattu Maaripponadhe’ {Unnai Naan Sandhithein}'Raasaave Varuthama' {Mudhal Mariyadhai} 'Nilavu Thoongum Neram' {with SPB in Kungumachimizh}' Maargazhi Thingalallavaa' {Sangamam, under A.R.Rehman's composition} 'Maanguyile Poonguyile' with S.P.B in Karahaattakkaaran} and 'Yaarppadum Paadal Enraalum'{ with Malaysia Vasudevan in Paattukku Naan Adimai },the impact of a kind of heart rending melody remained as the singular asset of Janaki. 
   Only a few samples of Janaki's epoch making songs have been mentioned here.The profound throw and wide reach in Janki's voice always created an incomparable impression of tunes settling down rhythmically like one’s own heart beat, celebrating intrinsic peace and harmony.Most often, the profound sweetness in her voice proved to be a combination of clarity and force found in Lata Mangeshker and the titillating charm of Asha Bhosle. Age could not wither her musical might and she has always maintained the charm in her voice. With her most gifted voice, well formed for the high pitch galaxy, Janaki is the real heart throb of  the music-prone mankind.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Beaming Beard of Tamil Cinema.


                Homage to the Classic Actor,Revised after his passing away}
    In the early Nineteen eighties,there stepped into the Tamil film industry a new face,to add fame to his home town Coimbatore. His physical profile was not yet accessible to the Tamil population because he was working behind the scene and screen, as dialogue writer and assistant director and then came up with his first directorial venture 'Gopurangal Saivadhillai'.The title implies that the social and traditional values held at the height of adoration will never crumble.The maiden movie proved the man's might and put him on a growing scale.
       This was followed by a line of successful films, that this great brain produced, on a wide variety of themes like crime thrillers,[ 'Nooravathu Naal','24 Mani Neram', 'Janavari' 1 and 'Vidinja Kalyanam'] political satire [ 'Paalaivana Rojaakkal' and 'Amaidhi- padai']and social and family stories mostly associated with the rural belt[ 'Mudhal Vasantham'' Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi','Therku Theru Machan' and 'Vaazkai Chakkaram'].In all these movies, there  was another  film entrant, from the same soil, a tall stout man of stunning frame, called Sathyaraj, initially taking up villain roles and then as a robust rugged and aggressive hero. The master who moved the action in all these films was the beaming, bearded Manivannan who is today no more. I look upon this moment,as one of agonizing loss for the Tamil film industry, because this great film personality, both as director and actor, always made Tamil film watchers exhilarated and moved by his spontaneity and vigour.
    It was Barathi Raja who first introduced this bearded director as an actor in his Rajini starring movie 'Kodiparakkudhu', lending him his voice as well. Manivannan and his inseparable beard got fixed firmly in the minds of film goers, notwithstanding the fact it was the role of a crude die- hard villain he played in that movie. This was a promising starting point for Manivannan, to get transformed from a director's portrait to that of an actor to make his innings for a long term. 
   The audience began to identify one after the other, the latent acting legacy of this exemplary performer, capable of easily switching over to a galaxy of roles. He continued his performance as villain, mixing a strong element of comedy with villainy, as M.R.Radha and T.S.Balaiah would do. At a time when the Tamil audience are missing great talents like M.R.Radha, T.S.Balaiah, S.V.Renga Rao, S.V.Subbiah and Raguvaran, the sudden death of Manivannan would only create a greater vacuum as far as character acting and father roles are concerned.
     Manivannan  had always essayed character and comedy roles with consummate ease and felicity. As a comedian, his singular banter, joining hands with  invincible Sathyaraj who often succeeds in hitting his companion with words in an unexpected way at an unexpected moment, Manivannan had quite often made the tall man succumb to his humour shots. There was always a layer of mischief behind the  deceptive tag of the naive look, that he so naturally sported in every film that he appeared .The mutual banter of Manivannan and Sathyaraj became incomparable in many of their joint ventures to generate the comic grandeur and it was asking for a repeat in films like 'Maman Magal' and 'Amaidhipadai', though both the films were totally different in thematic content and presentation.
      I think Vijay is the next hero, with whom Manivannan would have acted in more films after Sathyaraj, as Vijay's father, father in law, well wisher and senior companion and the latest in the list was 'Velayudham'.Manivannan's way of acting as a comedian and character actor has revealed an increased degree of warmth and geniality and this has made him dearer not only to his fellow actors but also to the audience. 
    In paternal roles, he has been memorably endearing, in films like 'Vaanavil',as Arjun's father and in 'Sullan,' as the father of Danush. No one can forget him as a friendly, loving and promiscuous father of an equally promiscuous son {played by Karthik Muthuraman} in Agathiyan's 'Gogulathil Seetha'i. Similarly, the films' Vaseegara' and 'Minsaarakkanna' also portrayed an intimate father-son relationship between Manivannan and Vijay. Manivannan has effectively portrayed a variety of  emotions, as a loving and concerned dad of heroines in films like 'Ennavale','Ellaan Avan Seyal','Parthiban Kanavu' and 'Youth'.
    Manivannan's comedy sense has been vigorous with all his team mates irrespective of who ever the actor is. He has created a humour wave with 'Karthik' in 'Ullathai Allitha', 'Mettukudi' and Pistha. He has been an enjoyable companion of heroes for a comedy show in films like VIP  and 'Naam Iruvar Namakiruvar'with Prabu Deva, in 'Tata Birla' with 'Parthiban' and 'Seena Thaana001' with Prasanna. He has joined Kamalahasan in 'Avvai Shanmugi', 'Pammal Sambandham' and 'Panja Thandiram', to be a part of the contextual comedy scripts of those movies. 
    The first in the list, stands unique, showing him as a hilarious landlord, running after Kamalahasan,who is disguised as a woman. He has also done a few character roles in Rajini's films, like 'Padayappa’ and 'Sivaji'.In Shankars 'Mudhalvan' he generated a lot of comedy moments, shunting between the long term Chief Minister Raguvaran and the one day CM Arjun as their P.A. It was a lovely performance he portrayed, as a person of good intentions for the welfare of the people.
    It looks as though Manivannan could easily walk into any shot and finish the take without any need for redoing the shot. His effortless acting manner, has always kept him the busiest among character actors and with his beaming beard, he seemed to carry the magic of master strokes in acting,that made him continue his onward march, uninterrupted. Cheeky, guile, crude, passionate and endearing,were the celluloid faces of late Manivannan.
  The robust film goers in Tamil Nadu, will ever remember him as the richest storehouse of energy, enthusiasm and entertaining fervor, in the line of his amazing  predecessors like M.R.Radha ,S.V.Renga Rao and T.S.Balaiah whom Manivannan himself had frequently declared as his role models in the field of acting. To me in particular, the speedy and forceful dialogue delivery of Manivannan as a character actor, will keep ringing in my ears, perpetuating genuine memories of this classic actor.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

T.M.S, The Vocal Cord of Tamil Film Music.

   The mighty voice that ruled the domain of play back singing in Tamil Cinema, for more than three decades was that of T.M.Soundarajan, popularly known as TMS.It was a stentorian voice,capable of an unimaginable high pitch and a succulently soothing ebb.It was also a voice fabulously cherished for its perfect clarity of words of lyrics passed on through pure and precise musical rendition.
  My memory of the old film 'Sadharam' is tied to that great male voice singing 'Ninaindhu Ninaindhu Nenjam Urugudhe' in his most gripping high pitch. The other wonderful pieces in this genre are 'Erikaraiyin Mele'[ Mudalali] 'Enge Nimmadhi',[Pudhiya Paravai] 'Aiyiram Kaigal Maraithu Ninraalum'[Arasa Kattalai] 'Paattum Naane Bhavamum naane' [Thiruvilaiyadal]"Odum Megangale"{Aayirathil Oruvan} and 'Yaarukkaha idhu Yaarukkaha'[Vasantha Maaligai].The  voice of TMS rose and fell with simultaneous ease and corresponding flow of pitch and melody,in songs like 'Padaithaane,Manidhanai  Aandavan Padaithaane' from Nichaya Thamboolam' Maadhavi Pon Mayilaal' from Iru Malargal and 'Manidhan Ninaipadhundu' from Avanthaan Manidhan.
     In an excelling tone he has sung  philosophical songs like 'Satti Suttadhada Kai Vittadhada'[Aalaya mani] 'Veedu Varai Uravu'[Paadha Kaanikkai] 'Ponaal Pogattum Poda'[Paalum Pazhamum]’Ullam Enbadhu Aamai’ {Paarthaal Pasitheerum}’Aaru Maname Aaru’{Aandavan Kattalai} ‘Iravum Varum Pagalum Varum’{Iravum Pagalum} Annan Kaattiya Vazhiyammaa’{Padithaal Mattum Podhuma} and ‘Annan Ennadaa Thambiennadaa’{Pazhani}.His ever soothing melodies are 'Naan oru Kuzhandhai'and 'Tharaimel Pirakkavittaan'[both from Padahotti] 'Thaalaattupadi Thaaiyaaga vendum’ [Praaptham] 'Paalum Pazhamum Kaigalilendhi [Paalum Pazhamum]‘Kan Poena Poekkile’{Panam Padaithavan} 'Pattuvannachittu Padagu thurai Vittu' {Parisu] and many more. No other singer would have used his voice for singing,with such a felicitous flow of words, control of pitch and quality of emotion like TMS. 
     The grand masculine voice of TMS perfectly matched that of the two mega heroes MGR and Sivaji ,whose song sequences made the audience feel as though the actors themselves were singing the songs. Most of the films of these two legendary actors, were significantly supported by the songs rendered by TMS on their behalf. The songs were all context oriented,meaningful and musically rich components of the movies, contributing additional value to their entertainment scope, so as to draw the repeated visits of the audience to the theatres.
   While the voice of TMS enriched the philosophical depth of Sivaji's songs, it became the life breath of MGR songs, that were meant for promoting a feel of personal and social wellbeing through self-actualization.The revolutionary movement envisaged by the Dravidian Party and its acknowledged heart throb MGR, could create an emotional base and platform for its acceptability, only through the captivating voice of TMS, delivering the thought provoking songs of optimism,with a forthright vision for the future. 
   Starting from the most famous ’Ethanai Kaalamdhaan’ from Malaikkallan there would be at least one solo revolutionary song in each MGR film,sung by TMS and undoubtedly, it was the winning voice of TMS that would have made the song popular and made the lyrics live for ever. This trend continued till the early Nineteen Seventies until S.P.Balasubramanyam and K.J.Yesudoss became the personal preferences of MGR. 
   The voice of TMS made the songs of MGR outlive his life time and it continues to ring in the ears of every one, because revolution is neither static nor time bound. Human society will continue to uphold revolutionary thoughts closer to their heart and in such a back ground,the voice of TMS will linger in the ears of music lovers as a tonic force,making them dream new social dreams and move to newer goals of social advancement. His masters’ voice will bring memories of MGR and Sivaji, besides controlling human emotions through its vital,vocal cord impressions.
    Some of the eternally mind blowing duets in the voices of TMS and P.Suseela are "Mullai Malar Mele"{Uthama Puthiran}"Naan Pesa Ninaippadhellaam Nee Pesa Vendun"{Palum Pazhamum}'Poo Maalaiyil Oer Malligai'{Ootivarai Uravu} 'Raajaavin Paarvai Raaniyin Pakkam'{Anbe Vaa} and "Vizhiye Vizhiye Unakkenna Velai" {Pudhiya Bhoomi}.With S.Janaki the two duets ever ringing in my ears are "Chinnajiriya Vannaparavai"{Kungumam} and "Kaadhalin Pon Veedhiyil"{Pookaari}.With P.Bhanumadhi his special duets were Maasilaa Nilave Nam Kaadhalai Makizhvodu"{Ambikapadhi}Aahaa Nam Aasai Niraiverumaa{Thaaiku pin Thaaram}and Poravale Poravale Ponnurangam{Makkalai Patra Makarasi}
    The devotional numbers of TMS recorded separately and sung  for some movies deserve a special mention,because of the depth and feel of his voice in penetrating into human hearts with spiritual zeal and force.Film songs like 'Thillai Ambala Nataraajaa' {Sowbagyavadhi}'Sindanai Sei Maname'{Ambigapathi}and ‘Pitha Pirai Soodi Peru maane'{Thiruvarut chelvar}and devotional pieces like‘Karpagavalliyin’and several songs on Lord Muruga are still being played at temples during the early hours every morning,in the Tamil month Margazhi. 
    The vast and extraordinary contribution of a felicitous singer like TMS cannot be satisfactorily  acknowledged and complimented.I could record here only a little bit of my appreciation and love for his amazing singing potential. Today, the man with his mighty voice is no more. But his sterling, immortal vocal cords, will continue to ring tunes in the memory lanes of music lovers, as the base of traditional music, as well as the eternal core of Tamil film music.No other Tamil singer can occupy his place in terms of clarity of Tamil words,and majesty of voice delivery.In this respect, TMS would ever remain irreplaceable and unsurpassed.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

VIJAY,the Name That Means and Makes Victory.

      India is a land of rich heritage of several kinds.But it is also a land of inheritance of positions in politics and films. This blog is not meant for speaking about political inheritance.However,a special mention has to be made about the heirs of film personalities occupying powerful positions as actors,music directors and choreographers.Though this phenomenon is applicable to the Indian film industry in general I am confining myself to the Tamil Film zone in particular.
    Children and grand children of film personalities of the last millennium have added prouder moments to Tamil Cinema. Prabu Ganesan, Karthik Muthuraman,Suriya,Karthik Sivakumar, Prasanth, Simbu Rajender and Arun Vijay, as actor heirs,Danush as actor son of a film director,Jeyam Ravi as actor son of a film editor,Yuvan Shankar Raja and Karthik Raja as music composers and Prabu Deva and Raju Sunadram as choreographers have beautifully carried on the onus of responsible film inheritance.But not all in this category have been able to sustain their glory and withstand the competition at various levels.Only a few could weather the storm and establish themselves as constant stars shining in eternal grandeur. We have seen quite a few sons and daughters of famous actors,directors and producers, breaking down permanently after a healthy start.Some are still at the starting point.This makes one thing very clear. Whatever be the parental backing one gets, it is one's own individual talent and charismatic appeal that always put one in a winning position.It is in this respect the Tamil  film industry today is celebrating the dynamic and impressive show of a younster who is the sum total of energy, confidence and understanding of the intricacies and nuances of his acting career.
   The specialty of  this inheritor of a film career is his inbuilt levels of competence meant to grow extensively and vigorously, making a victory march, least sagging over a period of  two decades and doing more than fifty films ,almost half of them creating  mass appeal.It is Vijay,son of S.A.Chandrasekar,one of the prominent directors of Tamil films I am talking about.I also cherish it as a matter of personal pleasure,to write about him because,despite myself being an old timer I truly belong to the group of hard core fans of this wonderful actor.
   With an ever captivating native smile,with a clear voice carrying the charm of a winning  modulation and singing potential,with agile limbs capable of innovating stunning choreographic movements and with genuine speed never failing to make an impact in stunt scenes, here is an actor well known for innate histrionic credentials to emote at various levels, taking the audience attraction ever in his favour. No doubt it was his father who introduced him in his own film Nalaya Theerpu after showing him as a child artist in 'Vetri.' There were about ten movies that followed.The list included Rasigan, Vishnu,Coimbatore Mappillai, Chandralekha, Rajavin Parvaiyile [the only movie he and Ajit acted together] Nenjinile and so on.But it was Vikraman's Poove Unakkaaga that put him on the significant growth trajectory, as an actor with delicate and subtle dimensions, willing to learn and lead the screen for an endless period of time. Besides, with this film,Vijay was recognized as a great romantic hero with subdued masculine glamour and controlled delivery of emotions.
   Vijay travelled pretty long on the romantic road taking sudden unprecedented diversions here and there in films like Priyamudan, as an anti hero and as a foreign returned youth with vagaries and misconceptions in Priyamaanavale,as a playboy in Once More, as a love obsessed man ever willing to help others in love, in Shajahan and as a mature adult with a practical approach to love and life in Youth. He was a dreaming chocolate boy in Love Today, Ninaithaale Inikkum and Enrenrum Kaadhal Vaazhga. As most of the films released during the Nineteen Nineties were love stories told vigorously in various modes,Vijay conveniently fitted into such narrations with tendencies of being typecast as a routine romantic hero.
    Luckily, Fazil  gave fresh looks for Vijay in his Kaadhalukku Mariyadhai by his clean narration of a love story blended with the dignity of romance reflecting innocence and firm filial bond, rooted to family traditions and values.The movie boosted the image of Vijay's romantic face. Then came Ezhil's blockbuster Thulladha Manamum Thullum that brought out the higher energy levels and hidden capacity of Vijay for expressing deeper emotions like uncontrollable grief and sorrow.No one could forget the scene showing Vijay's emotional outburst on hearing the news of the death of his mother that reached him only after the cremation rites were over.This scene became a sample of the extraordinary acting stuff that Vijay was capable of delivering, under the effective stewardship of talented directors.Thus Poove Unakkaga, Kadhalukku  Mariyadhai and Thullaadha Manamum Thullum proved to be the early milestones in his career.
   The other most popular film that made waves on account of stylish narration was S.J.Surya's Kushi which was known for its all pervading juvenile gusto of romance with a theme of love ignited from babyhood by a touch feel between two kids destined to become lovers later. The periodical spurt of bickering between the lovers  made the film a worthy watch.The tug of war between the male pride and female ego, with a sustained unrelenting temper, coupled with the humorous presentation of events, made Kushi an exclusive entertainer for youngsters. Vijay and Jyothika contributed their best performance to make the movie a memorable and most desired trip to the theatres. The duo continued their combined show of acting mettle for Kavithalaya's Thirumalai another love story that took the credit of projecting Vijay as a full fledged action hero for the first time.This movie should be considered as a turning point in the career of Vijay,for imbibing fire, rage and fury to be reflected in his later movies as an action hero girding up his loins, to fight injustice and brutality.With this film, Vijay became the unstoppable mass hero .
   The new trend continued throwing on the way, like a spell of fortune, a series of hits like Badri,Thamizhan Baghavadhi,the grand movie Gilli, followed by Perarasu's Thiruppachi and Sivakasi, Prabudeva's Pokkiri and later the fast moving Vettaikkaran. It was like a windfall for Vijay and happily did he essay his roles with jet speed and astounding sense of vivacity.In the midst of these great action movies,Vijay also did a breezy romance like Sachin and a rare film that eulogized the theme of consummate love for human beings and carried the most beautiful title Pudhiya Geethai.
   However,as a blow of Jinx, something happened all of a sudden, staggering the march of victory. A few failures like Azhagiya Thamizh Magan [a film casting Vijay in dual roles that had raised high expectations] Kuruvi [from the maker of Gilli]],Villu [a film from Prabudeva who gave the Silver Fubilee hit Pokkiri] and Sura, switched on the alarm bell at the right time, making him more alert in choosing themes and characters .
    Once bitten twice shy,goes the famous saying.Caution began to govern our hero's choice for his prospective roles as well as his future creative hands that should lead his line of growth. Malayalam director Siddique who had already given a hit with Vijay and Soorya in the most talked about film Friends was ready to re- book Vijay for remaking his Malayalam hit The Bodyguard. Kaavalan,the Tamil version, re- installed Vijay on the right track at the right time. The victory march resumed.M.Raja's Velayudham, Shankar's Nanban and A.R.Murugadoss' Thuppaakki have all regained the victory march that got stunted for a while.The release of his upcoming venture Thalaiva under the stewardship of a promising director and Vijay's namesake, is eagerly awaited, because the director's earlier hits like Kireedom, Madrasa Pattinam, Deivathirumagal and Thaandavam have already established a sense of quality of a very high order.
    Very few heroes have ever been so conscious about their choice of characters and story line that would ensure substantial career growth so as to establish a lasting name in the industry.The amount of sincerity and dedication to projects on hand have always remained Vijay's additional positive traits.The striking difference between his gusto on screen and his reticence outside makes him a unique person. He has a right sense of humour remarkably displayed in films like Vaseegara,Kushi,Thamizhan,Friends and Velayudham and he has been equally comfortable with all leading comedians like Vivek,Vadivelu and Santhanam. His most intimate and appealing  film fathers were Manivannan and Raguvaran. His capacity for sibling emotion has been beautifully demonstrated in Thiruppachi and Velayudham. His perfect heroines so far, were Simran,Trisha and Asin,
     No other new generation hero has portrayed the umpteen dimensions of the romantic hero as Vijay has done.As an action hero he has made a clean sweep.He has been creditably effective in displaying mixed emotions like love,anger,joy and grief.The only negative  thing that I could see in him is the absence of sync in lip movement in song sequences,that too,only in the long shots.To me he is a hero of personal preference and I hardly fail to watch any of his movies.The only sad thing is he has not so far given a hit under his father's direction. All the movies like Rasigan, Deva,Vishnu, Nenjinile, Aadhi and Manbumigu Maanavan directed by his father were just modest shows.Even Sukhran in which Vijay made a cameo did not do well at the box office.But then, among the new generation actors,other than [late] Murali,Vijay alone got a chance to act with Chevalier Svaji Ganesan. This agile hero, whose name means  and continues to make victory, would certainly have made his dear dad proud of his significant growth and enviable position as a mass hero in the Tamil Film industry, closely following the charismatic track of [late] M.G.Ramachandran and the living legend Rajinikanth. 


Monday, June 3, 2013

Shankar,The Strategic Stalwart.


      Film making is a passion for some and a strategic progression for others. For a few, it is a combination of both. Until a couple of decades ago, the main focus of film directors would be on the script, the suitable cast and the overall production planning that would include all the prospective expenses to be let known to the producers.Creative ambition was confined to the final impact of the movie, based on its thematic value, concentration on the story line and the inherent dramatic input, that would drive the audience to travel with the film from its beginning till the end. Strategic planning on a big budget process, taking into effective consideration the financial viability to match technical efficacy, would not have been on the agenda of film making for long. 
    During the early Nineteen Nineties, the Tamil film industry saw for the first time, a young film maker, just in his early thirties, exhibit a bubbling flow of technical strategies, that would make each of his projects, a mega endeavor resulting in a fantasy experience of film watch. With his very first production transforming into a film of epic genre, the director of the monumental movie called ‘Gentleman’, was identified as Shankar and from then onward, the audience used to wait crazily, for each of his upcoming films, the moment the title of his next venture was announced and its inauguration held.
    Each movie of this technical wizard, has been an extravaganza in terms of entertainment content. He seems to have taken a vow to make each of his films, of unusual standard, so as to keep the audience spell bound for a couple of hours, during their inspired trip to the theatres.  Shankar’s magic wand is made up of sterner stuff and nothing less than a grandiose kaleidoscope of life’s untraveled zones, can it create in any of his production ventures. It is not just a show of flamboyance he makes. His concept of the fundamentals of high end cinema, is not just an amalgamation of the usual ingredients of an entertainment film. It is rather a precise combination of creative and administrative strategies, incorporating the unfailing logistics for an enchanting art experience linked to an innovative process. He is one film maker, who firmly believes in the richness and quality of his final presentation that would automatically make his finished product, a positively marketable commodity, by the sheer brand name Shankar. Like a popular smart phone or any other electronic piece, his films sell  by their brand name, patronized by a huge audience support,as an endorsement of the quality stuff.
    The theme base of this new wave director, has remained a shuttle march between  social  amelioration and romance.A vital social issue like denial of right to education to the deserving and meritorious among the underprivileged, was the source of inspiration for his Gentleman that created a storm in film circles ,by its novel approach in narration in every frame. The same theme was handled differently in Sivaji, starring the Super Star, projecting education as the bone of contention between philanthropy and commercialism. Both the movies,critically assessed the prevalence of deep rooted corruption in public relations that nullifies the dreams and aspirations of the eligible and the meritorious, among the underprivileged sections of society. The looming aggression of corruption in public life weighed more heavily in three of his other movies bearing titles such as Indian, Mudhalvan and Anniyan.
   The first in the list showed Kamalahasan in dual roles as father and son, the former a freedom fighter, fighting corruption in any form in free India and the latter, representing a section of  the corrupt lot. The old man stood proud as the conscience of the true Indian voice, with a burning passion to retrieve the soil from corrupt forces, after the enforced departure of the colonial rulers. The formidable old Indian, did not spare even his son from his hit list, to affirm his commitment towards eradicating the corrupt elements from his motherland. Mudhalvan celebrated a one day match, played as chief minister of a state, by a sensitive and responsible journalist [played  by action king Arjun] after accepting the challenge unwittingly thrown by the existing corrupt chief minister [Raguvaran]. The events that followed, vindicated what best could be done on a single day by the political head in rule, of a state. 
   Anniyan projected the trauma and its resultant extremism in the form of a split personality in a youth affected by routine level corruption in one’s every day walk of life. The social malaise causing psychological turbulence in an individual, was profoundly perceived and powerfully portrayed through emphatic narration by Shankar,the dynamic director and through effective character delivery by Vikram, the dedicated actor.
   One could see the same theme being used to focus different dimensions of an issue or situation, inspiring each protagonist differently, to march towards the redeeming destination through different exits, reflecting each one’s frame of mind and the diverse impact of the same issue or situation on different individuals. One became a Robinhood and a do-gooder to arrest loopholes in the system [Gentleman]; the other's intolerance to corruption made him deliver equal punishment to all wrong doers including his son [Indian].The third individual preferred to show an exemplary positive direction to the corrupt lobby,but in that process,had to become a manipulative politician himself in the end, for the sake of good [Mudhalvan].The last in the list showcased the psychological rift between the soft and rigorous sides of a personality resorting to the enforcement of  lynch law for cleansing the filth. [Anniyan].
     What made all these films an eventful theatre experience was the strategic blending of speed, action, music, dance, comedy and dialogue in insatiably enjoyable proportions, without letting the continuity of an energized experience sag at any point in narration.The uniqueness of Shankar as film maker, is his assurance of quality time to be spent by the audience at the theatres. Eventually, no one would ever say that any of Shankar’s films was boring at any stage.
    Romance, the other favoured subject of Shankar had its complete sway in his second film Kahdalan starring Prabu Deva and Nagma .A usual, oft repeated theme, involving sentiment and villainy, was refreshingly told with the hilarious inclusion of Vadivelu’s comedy and the passionate paternal support of S.P.Balasubramanyam, as the affectionate dad of the hero.The urban dissembling villainy of Girish Karnard and the committed forthright villainy of Raguvaran  opposed to treachery, were the other hallmarks of the movie. A.R.Rehaman's ecstatic tunes shot aesthetically in exotic locations and presented with delicate scenic blending, became the added attractions of the film. Prabu Deva proved that he could move beyond his dancing stuff and perform a romantic role, with relevant emotional appeal. It was Shankar who could think of adding juvenile gusto to romance, with a gorgeous style in presentation.
   Two other movies Boys and Jeans spoke of the electrifying nature of love .The former, in an attempt to tap new budding talents, dwelt upon the vagaries of teen age love and told categorically, how best adolescent vigour could be channelized positively, if right minds and the spirit of goodwill led them. The latter pictured delicately, the subtle intrusion of romance in a story, dealing with the psychological predicament of twins. In terms of star value, the latter included great talents like Prashanth and Aiswarya Roy. The sub plot in the form of a flash back concerning Nasser in twin roles, became another value addition to the story line, with Radhika playing a brief, but very powerful role as the virago wife of one of the Naaser-twins.
    Probability of abuse of technology, promoted by a figment of imagination, formed the base for the evolution of story line of Enthiran. In a world living at the beck and call of electronic governance, it became refreshing to think of electronic inventions like robots usurping human emotions, such as love and hatred and it made us shudder at the thought of possible ruins they might lead to. Enthiran was a colossal attempt at utilizing electronic  support systems  towards exposing the dangers of the abuse of  electronic  technology. The super star in dual roles, as a scientist and his invented electronic prototype gave an astounding performance, particularly, in the character of robotic villain, maintaining the energy levels of his early years, when he was doing an amazing round as a self styled big screen villain. In terms of enormous technical exuberance, Enthiran was in no way inferior to the most famous English film Terminator. The film was certainly a technical blockbuster vindicating the strategic smartness of Shankar. 
   Nanban the latest Tamil remake of Three Idiots,a highly rated Hindi hit, was a clean satire on the misconceived notions of higher education perpetuated by those, who carry the onus of disseminating knowledge and information. Shankar inducted the proven talents of Vijay and Sathyaraj, for demonstrating his capacity to narrate a story on a different line without his usual and popular strategies of film making, dominated mostly by mega events interwoven to the action segment.Besides directing ten movies,Shankar's production house has the credit of releasing the national award winning film Veyil. The other films like Kaadhal, Kalloori, Imsai Arasan Irubathu Moonraam Pulikesi,and Eeeram were all made up of high quality, speaking greatly of Shankar's production unit. A three time award winner from the State of Tamil Nadu for directing films like Gentleman,Kadhalan and Anniyan, definitely deserves a special place in the hearts of the audience, for his fantastic flair for regularly giving hits of specialty. 
    An analysis of Shankar's film titles shows that excepting Sivaji, seven of them have taken 'N'as the last letter{Gentleman,Kadhalan,Indian,Mudhalvan,Anniyan,Endhiran and Nanban].
and the other two titles end in letter 'S' as Jeans and Boys.We  do not know if this is just an accidental occurrence or a deliberate choice.A careful  and continuous assessment of Shankar films would unveil his vast expanse of strategic canvas spreading its dish antenna of imagination, intelligence, innovation and logistics management, preempting waste in any move, so that the quality of the end product is precisely ensured before it reaches the consumers. Shankar, the strategic stalwart is one who makes sure that what is conceived is delivered in perfect form, through a standard process of programmed evolution.