Sunday, September 29, 2013

Point of View on Preference and Patronage in Film Making.

     Film making is both an artistic and arduous process. A released film, is the heart and soul of a collective creative group, reflecting the preferences and applications of every segment of  the movie- making process. Preference may be a point of view or a personal whim. It may be about one’s liking for a pet theme, or genre or a favoured person. Patronizing  themes, genres  and individuals  is a prevalent factor in every human activity. The creative and commercial scopes of film making, look forward to the practice of preference and patronage, quite often  as a prerequisite.
    With regard to themes and story line the natural preferences would be romance, comedy, crime thrillers, myth and spiritualism, modernism, idealism, history, satire [political or social]Personal predicament and family sentiment.The Modern Theatres and the Devar films, mostly dwelt on crime and justice, in the form of action genre of narration. Devar would time again visit spiritual themes, to reaffirm his faith in Lord Muruga. A.P.Nagarajan was almost a full time devotee of myth and spiritualism. Directors like A.Bhimsingh,Krishnan Panju,K.S.Gopalakrishnan, P.Madhavan A.C.Thiulokchandar were experts, in demonstrating the diverse dimensions of an individual’s personal predicament in relation to one’s family and society.While Sridhar mixed up romance and comedy, Barathiraja was ever a profound adorer of the core of romance. K.Bagyaraj was the incarnation of levity and cheeky humour, reaching a state of seriousness for the climax. K.Bala chander was a mystifying combination of modernism, idealism, satire and family drama, with a fair focus on romance too. Like Balachander, modern directors exhibit their zeal for variety performance but still, each one could be identified by their respective tag of creativity like the negativism of Bala, the optimism of Vikraman, the committed visits of Mysskin to the darker zones of the human psyche and so on.
      It is not themes alone that are closer to the soul of film makers.There has ever been a predominant quantum of the absorption theory, bringing individuals to form an intimate circle. The amount of team spirit, the degree of wave length felt, experienced and shared among film folks, would most often surpass the boundaries of caste denominations, community orientation and religious and linguistic chauvinism. No one could successfully grasp the logic behind the mind boggling preference and patronage practised by individuals involved in the film making process. One could very well  understand that [late]Manivannan and Sathyaraj were batch mates in college and were  natives of the same town and so they were mutually compatible individuals.But Devar’s preference for MGR and his exclusion of so great an actor like Sivaji Ganesan would be a riddle for many. Similarly distinguished film makers like A.Bhimsingh and K.Balaji could think only of Sivaji Ganesan for their films and they had never inducted MGR even for a single film.Ironically,Balaji would have acted in some prominent films of M.G.R like Paasam,Parakkum Paavai but as a producer of films, Balaji has not inducted MGR even once in his movies.
    One could obviously notice P.Neelakandan’s spirit of  patronage of MGR like A.P.Nagarajan’s affinity with Sivaji Ganesan. A veteran director like K.S.Gopalakrishnan frequently went in favour of Gemini Ganesan and Muthuraman. K.Balachander also preferred Gemini Ganesan and Muthuraman to MGR and Sivaji Ganesan {excepting the single film Ethiroli with Sivaji Ganesan}. Later on he effectively supported the growth of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. Between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan the latter reflected a greater level of team spirit with Gemini Ganesan S.S.Rajendran and Muthuraman while MGR accommodated villain actors with a supportive frame of mind. While one could find late Raguvaran in many movies of Rajinikanth, one could not find the same actor in the films of Kamalahasan.P.Vasu’s preference for Sathayaraj and Rajinikanth would be similar to that of K.S.Ravikumar's for Sarathkumar and Kamalahasan. The biggest AVM banner would have included Rajini more in their films than Kamalahasan. S.P Muthuraman’s team spirit with Rajini is well known.
    When it comes to music, Devar films and Vijayalakshmi pictures always preferred K.V.Maha- devan  to M.S.Viswanathan. Where as, the romance specialist Sridhar could rarely think of including Mahadevan for his films. K.Balachander  always had V.Kumar in his mind to compose music for his films just as today’s Vikraman showed a soft corner for S.A.Rajkumar. Shankar’s priority for Rehaman’s music is a regular phenomenon.
    R.S.Manohar was a value addition in the films of the Modern Theatres, just as Nagesh remained with K.Balachander’s  Kalakendra unit. While K.S.Gopalakrishnan regularly used the talent of M.R.Radha ,his sons M.R.R.Vasu and Radha Ravi were duly recognized and supported by K.Balachander. Among actresses Padmini and K.R.Vijaya were the regular heroines of most of the films of KSG, just as Sowkar Janaki, Jayanthi and Saritha were periodical additions in the films of K.Balachander. MGR’s  lasting heroines were B.Sarojadevi and J.Jeyalalitha though he later on included Manjula and Latha. It was the popular opinion that MGR's  principle of patronage could do and undo the career prospects of many film personalities.
    Patronage and Preference is just a matter of compatibility and it need not imply prejudices of any kind against the other artists. Making a film looks forward to a lot of occasions to get together at positive meeting points, for discussions and decisions, in a mood of understanding, cordiality and pleasure. Like -minded people can work together, with greater levels of amicability and accommodation and come out with  commendable quality out put in their creative activities. Though team spirit is becoming a pre-determiner  for the successful completion of projects in various sectors, its indispensability is much more a demanding proposition, in the film making activity. What is more significant is, this kind of preference of concepts and individuals will automatically lead to the acceptance of responsibility for success and failure, with the same spirit of mutual accountability and collective good will.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Some Tamil Playback Singers of Unsung Merit.




Jikki.                                                                                                                  M.LVasanthakumari.

   Ever since the inception of Tamil Cinema, music formed the heart and soul of film makers. But the number of music composers or singers could hardly reach the double digit for quite long. The most prominent music directors in Tamil were G.Ramanathan, the duo Viswanathan and Ramamurthy, K.V.Mahadevan,T.R.Paappaa, T.G.Linappa  S.M.Subbaiah Naidu, Ghantasaalaa and Chalapathi Rao who enriched Tamil film music by their qualitative contribution of melodies and mesmerizing tunes.Other worthy names like Vedha, V.Kumar. Sankar Ganesh, and Chandrabose, joined the field a little later.
  All these music directors could establish a name for themselves only with the voice support of singers of high caliber and merit. As most of the actors themselves were  good singers during the early decades of Tamil Cinema, the arrival of playback singers took some time.Some of the great actor singers like P.U.Chinnappa, M.K.Thiagaraja Bagavathar, T.R.Mahalingam P.Banumathi S.Varalakshmi and a few among the great playback singers likeTMS,Sirkazhi Govindarajan, Tiruchi Loganathan, C.S.Jeyaraman, A.M.Raja, P.B.Srinivas,S.Janaki.L.R.Eswari and Jamuna Rani  have already found a place in this blog. Separate articles on other fascinating singers like P.Suseela,SPB, K.J.Yesudas and several others of the new generation would soon adorn the electronic pages of this blog.
     Meanwhile,I thought that there are a considerable number of singers of the Nineteen  fifties and sixties who still remain as singers of unsung merit because of the lapse of time and the changing trends in Tamil film music, that cater to the taste of new generation music lovers. The objective of this article is to throw more light on those singers who positively supported the growth of Tamil film music, during the formative period of Tamil Cinema.
   The list includes voluminous singers like Ghantasala, A.L. Raghavan,S.C.Krishnan,Jikki, the veteran voices of Carnatic mold belonging to M.L.Vasanthakumari  Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi{known as Soolamangalam sisters along with her sibling Jeyalakshmi} Radha Jeyalakshmi,the duo vocal cousins, of whom Jeyalakshmi sang more film songs as Radha Jeyalakshmi, and other powerful singers like P.Leela, A.P.Komala R.Balasaraswathi, M.S.Rajeswari,T.S.Bagavathi and T.VRathinam. 
     Of these singers S.C.Krishnan’s was a leading voice of many chorus songs and funny duets meant for comedians.If A.L.Raghavan's voice perfectly suited the voice frame of Nagesh,the voice of S.C.Krishan found a great level of compatibility with that of Kali N.Rethinam,K.A.Thangavelu and A.Karunanidhi, the two leading comedians of the last century. 
   Ghanatasala whose sensitive and soothing voice charmed human ears with a vibrating throw, is known for leaving a rich legacy of music, with Telugu and Tamil cinema. That was a time when Telugu enriched Tamil Cinema, with an intimate sense of creativity at all levels and music being always outside the barriers of language, singers and music composers simultaneously took care of the interests of both the languages.With an enthralling impact, Ghantasala delivered songs, intensely filled with emotions of joy, exuberance and sorrow.
    There was always a penetrating element in his voice composition that could sharply and profoundly infuse grief and pathos more effectively than other emotions. Songs like 'Kanavidhthaan Nijamidhuthaan','Uravumillai  Pagaiyumillai'Ulage Maayam Vaazhve Maayam,{All, from Devadas},'Ullaasam Thedum' {Thenali Raman}'Amaidhiyilladhen Maname' {Paadhhala Bhairavi} and'Muthukku Muthaaga' {Anbu Sagodharargal}, seemed to carry a heart rending effect.But when it came to duets, he could reflect higher levels of ecstasy with a felicitous reach that could be noticed in songs like 'Aahaa Inba Nilaavinile' {Maayaa Bazaar} 'Thesulaavudhe Theinmalar mele' {Manaalane Mangaiyin Bagyam}, 'Rajasekara' {Anarkali} 'Aahaaya Veediyil'{Prema Paasam} 'Oho Vennilaave Vinnaalum Vennilaave'{Prema Paasam}. 
   In a lighter vein Ghantasala could also sing endearing songs like 'Ullaasa Ulagam Unakke Sondham' {Alibabavum Naarpadhu Thirudargalum}'Kaarile Savaari Seyyum Kannam Sivandha Ponnammaa'and 'Aadi Paadi Vela Senjaa Aluppirukkadhu' both from Enga Veettu Mahalakshmi.I have recorded only those songs that have stuck to my memory. It is a sad thing that a voice that made so many people happy,fell into the brutal hands of throat cancer. 
   A.L.Raghavan could be called one of the star singers among men of the last century.His voice was so malleable that it could easily shift from joy to sorrow and the mellifluous impact and amount of clarity and voice throw were amazing factors. In an exhaustively lighter mood, he could deliver songs like ‘A’ for apple {Saadhu Mirandaal} ‘April fool Enroru jaathi’{panithirai} ‘Kalloori Raanithaan’{Baagya Latchumi}’Adichirukku Nalladhoru Chansu’{Nallavan Vaazhvaan}’Jigu bugu Jigu bugu‘{Motor Sundarampillai} ‘Paappaa Paappaa Kadhaikelu’ {Ammaa Enge}’Vaazhaithandu Pola Udambu’{ with L.R.Eswari in Panamaa Paasamaa}Pombala Oruthi Irundhaalaam’{with TMS in a group for Adhe Kangal} Enna Vegam Sollu Baamaa {also with TMS&group for Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum} and ‘Budhi Sigaamani Pethapulle’{Iruvar Ullam}.The list goes on.
  If he gave his voice to Nagesh it would appear as if Nagesh himself was singing the song.But the same Raghavan gave a heart moving number in Sridhar’s Nenjil Oer Aalayam. The song 'Engirundhaalum Vaazhga' got firmly fixed in each one’s memory. In an equally fascinating way, he sang in a mood of romantic ecstasy, songs like'Kaadhal Yaathiraikku’ and 'Inbamaana Iravidhuve’ in Manidhan Maaravillai and others like ‘Anru Oomai Pennalloe’ {Paarthaal Pasitheerum} ‘Mullai poo Manakkudhu’ {Naan Vanangum Dheivam } and Oeviam Sirikkudhu’{Malliam Mangalam}.The other murmured song of Raghavan was 'Kaalgal Ninradhu Ninradhuthaan' from Poojaikku Vandha Malar. It is a very modest voice with several inherent layers of musical might that Rghavan is blessed with and he has effectively transpired it to the listeners. 
   Though the single most energizing group song ‘Sithaada Kattigittu’{Vannakkili} will do, to speak of what a musical stuff that S.C Krishnan’s slightly nasal voice was made of, the all pervading sense of humour and tempo in his delivery of notes,needs a special mention.His first most popular song was Kalappadam Kalappadam sung for Kali N,Rethinam in Thirumbi Paar. We do not know whether it was a coincidence or a deliberate attempt.Most of his songs contained lyrics with an alliteration effect that made his songs enjoyable and easy to remember.
  For instance,songs like 'Saathukkudi Saarudhaanaa Paathukkudi' {Vannakkili}' Athaanum Naanthaane, Satta Pothaanum Naanthaane',{Sakkaravarthi Thirumagal} Adi Thaaraaburam Thaambaram Un Thalaiyila Kanagambaram’{Makkalai Petra Magaraasi} 'Aanadhu Aachu Poenadhu Poechu','My Dear Meena Un Idea Ennaa"{Manjal Mahimai} 'Vethala Paakku Sunnaambu, Pathini Elakaraambu'{ Neelamalai Thirudan}’Chinnanjiru Chittei En Seena Karkandei' {Alibaabaavum Naarpadhu Thirudargalum}‘Mannai Nambi Maramirukku Kanne Sanjala Andha Marathai Nambi Naanirukken Joekka Konjalaam’ {Enga Veettu Mahalakshmi} and'Paandian Naanirukka Eindiunakku Vegam{Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal} are nothing but poetic shots of humour. 
  His similarly humorous numbers are,' Paartheera Ayya Partheeraa',{Baagiya Latchumi'}'B O Y  boy, Boyinna Paiyan’ {Thilakam}’Sedhi Kettoe Sedhi Kettoe Chettan Pathiya Sedhi Kettoe’ {K.Balachander’s Edhir Neechal} ‘Kattadathukku Manapporutham Avasiam’ {Dheivappiravi} and'Thangame Unpoela Thangapdhumaiyai  Engengu thedinum Kaanavillai’ {Mayaa Bazaar}.Some of these songs have adorned the lip movements  of the most famous comedian, affectionately called Danaal Thangavelu. One could not but genuinely laugh at the voice mould and the musical composition of all the songs of S.C.Krishnan. Very often I used to imagine that if Surulirajan, the other noted comedian had the singing potential, he would have sung only like S.C.Krishnan.
   The other two singers of this period Kovai Soundarajan { known for the popular songs 'Jambulingame Jadaatharaa' from Kaasedhaan Kadavuladaa,'Soen papdi' from Enmagan 'Suppannaa Sonnaarayyaa'from Thee and 'Thaanaa Pazhutha Thakkaaliye' from Siraiyil Pootha Sinnamalar}and Thaarapuram Sundarajan who sang the most popular 'Enakkagava, Naan Unakkaagavaa,Ennai Kaanavaa Ennil Unnai Kaanava'for the Sivaji Ganesan film Selvam also stay remembered for their musical contribution to Tamil Cinema.
    Among the women singers, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi‘s voice thrust on words with an emphatic stress on words put her on a distinct track of singing. Jikki had a very sharp and telling voice pattern similar to that of her next generation singer Vani Jeyaram. While P.Leela’s voice carried a lot of energy and throw there was  an extraordinary appeal of dignity and splendor in the voice of M.L.Vasantha Kumari. All these singers including A.P.Komala T.S.Bagavathi Balasaraswathi and T.V.Rathinam were known for their impeccable devotion to the lyrics in terms of pronunciation of Tamil words,accent and stress and none of their voices was lacking in clarity and force of delivery.
   Rajalakshmi's songs like ‘Kuyil Koovi Thuyil Ezhuppa’{ Naanal} and ‘Kungumam Mangala Mangaiyar Kungumam’{the title song of Sivaji Ganesan’s musically enchanting film Kungumam}and several other songs carried a marvelous level of clarity in  word accent as the special feature of her voice. She has sung  many songs for the films Madappura, {starring MGR and Saroja Devi}Nalla Idathu Sambatham and Neelavukku Neranja Manasu. Her popular songs were ‘Orumaiyudan Ninadhu’ {Konjum Salangai} 'Oorukkum Theriyaadhu','Manadhil Konda Aasaigalai Marandhu Poividu' {both from Madappuraa} 'Unakkum EnakkumVegu Dooramillai'{Edhaiyum Thaangum Idhayam}'Vellai Kamalathile' {Gowri Kalyanam}'Aarumugamaana porul' {Kandhan Karunai} and 'Kaakkai Siraginile Nandalaalaa' {Thirumal Perumai}.With P.Suseela she gave the immortal numbers ‘Thirupparankunrathil Nee Sirithaal”{Kandhan Karunai} 'Thiruppugazhai Paada Paada' {Gowri Kalyaanam}and ‘Thiruthani Muruga’ {Neelagiri Express}.Some of her famous  group songs are ‘Nooraandu Kaalam Vaazhga’ {Pesum Dheivam}’Aanimuthu Vangi Vandhein’{Baamaa Vijayam} and ‘Thulli Thulli Vilaiyaada Thudikkudhu Manasu’{Motor Sundaram Pillai}.Besides film songs,the Kandhasashti kavasam song sung by the Soolamangalam sisters, remains as a timeless fountain of spiritual energy.They have also composed music for more than half a dozen movies.
    Radha Jeyalakshmi like the other duo Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi were well versed in the nuances of Carnatic music and Jeyalakshmi's role in Tamil film music was noticeably vast and qualitative.Film watchers of the early decades of Tamil Cinema, would cherish in their memory her great songs like 'Kannukkulle Unnaipaaru'{with TMS}'Aadinaal Nadanam Aadinaal' both from the film 'Maragatham,'Enna Seidhaalum Endhan Thunai Neeye' from Irumbuthirai 'Kokku Parakkum' and 'Thandhaikku Mandhirathai'from Aadhi Paraasakthi and Naattukkoer Thandhaiyadi {sung with M.L.Vasanthakumari for Ponnithirunaal}were classic renderings from the well trained musical voice of Jeyalakshmi. She had been a playback singer for several films that include Town Bus, Thai Ullam, Mullaivanam, Saarangathaara, Booloka Rambai and Bagya Lakshmi.
    Jikki dominated Tamil Cinema as the most favourite Singer with her charming voice and graceful delivery of notes. Most of her solo hits were a lovely musical treat  and her voice sharpness was positively enchanting, be it a solo song or a duet one. From the  days of Aaravalli,  Mandirikumari and Gulebagavali it was an endless flow of sweetness.
   The grandest of her solo and duet songs are ‘Chinnappennaana poedhile’{Aaravalli} ‘Jeevithame Sabalamo’ ‘Raajasekaraa’{both from Anaarkali } ’Thullaadha Manamum Thullum’ {Kalyaana Parisu} ‘Oorengum Thedinein’{Thein Nilavu}’Mayakkum Maalai Pozhudhe’ 'Vaaraai Nee Vaaraai’ 'Ulavum Thenral Kaatrinile’{all from Gulebagavali}'Kannil Vandhu Minnal Poel' {Naadodi Mannan}’Thiraipoettu Naame’{Raajaa Raani} 'Minnuvadhellaam Ponnenru Enni” [Gomadhiyin Kaadhalan]’Poova Maramum Poothathe’ {Naan Petra Selvam}‘Gama Gamavena Narumalar Manam Veesudhe’{Samaya Sanjeevi} and ‘Kokkara Kokkarakko Sevale’{Padhi Bakthi}She has also joyously joined S.C.Krishnan for ‘Mannai Nambi Maramirukku’{Enga Veettu Maha lakshmi}as she has done other chorus numbers like 'Summa Irundhaa Soethukku Kashtam’and ‘Eichu Pizhaikkum Thozhile Saridhaanaa’ from Madhurai Veeran. All these songs would declare emphatically that it was an inspiring voice that Jikki had and with that voice she ruled the hearts of millions of music lovers.Her sharp and succulent voice perfectly matched the male voices of TMS,Tiruchi Loganathan, A.M.Raja, Gantasaalaa,S.C.Krishnan and even that of the actor singer K.R.Ramasamy for the song ‘Kannil Thoenrum Kaatchiyaavum’ in Sugam Enge.
    P.Leela’s voice always reflected a controlling dimension  transmitting boundless energy, like power supplied through a high voltage Transformer. Word clarity was her added attraction. P.Leela and Jikki together, added a lot of  dynamism with pep and style, to that historic song 'Kannum Kannum Kalandhu' showing the fiery dance competition between Vaijayanthimala and Padmini in the epic level movie Vanjikkottai Vaaliban. Songs like 'Mugathil Mugam Paarkalaam' and 'Inru Namadhullame'{both from Thangapadhumai} would hit us with the right stress on words, meant for a stronger reach with the listeners.Teaming up with TMS she made these songs immortal. 
   With Gantasaala, Leela's ever sweetest song was ‘Aahaa Inba Nilaavinile’ from Maayaa Bazaar and with T.R.Mahalingam it was ‘Kodi Kodi Inbam ‘ from Aadavandha Dheivam. Her other magic numbers were ‘Jagam Pugazhum Punya Kadhai’ sung with S.Janaki for Lava Kusa, the ever enchanting ‘Kaathiruppan Kamalakannan’ from  Sivaji Ganesan’s Uthamaputhiran and 'Konjum Salangai Oli’ from Konjum Salangai. More than the number of songs of this legendary singer, it is her piercing voice thrust that occupies my memory slots.
    M.L.Vasanthakumari’s traditionally profound Carnatic base rendered its invaluable service to Tamil Cinema to a brief but significant extent. Who can forget her fantastic high quality voice contribution for film songs like 'Aadal Kaaneeroe’{ Madurai Veeran} ‘Aadaatha Manamum Undoe’{Mannadhi Mannan}'Paadum Arul Jothi' {Meenda Sorgam} ‘Siramadhil ‘{Vanagamudi} ‘Varugiraal Unaitheidi’ {Thangapadhumai} and ‘Andhi Mayangudhadi’{Paarthiban Kanavu}. Her other most celebrated song is ‘Kadhavai Saathadi’ from M.R.Radha’s Rathakkanneer. The high pitch song from Mannaadhi Mannan mentioned second in the list was a meritorious voice competition  in tone and tenor between TMS and MLV. The Tamil film industry owes a lot to this traditional soul of music not only for her personal musical contribution but also for leaving her daughter Sri Vidya, as an invincible actress of subdued grace and  galvanizing performance.  
    A.P.Komala, who frequently gave her voice for chorus songs and duets without reluctance, has given well received melodious duets like 'Naananri Yaar Varuvaar’with T.R.Mahalingam {Maalaiyitta Mangai}’Oeviam Sirkkudhu Ullam Thannai Mayakkudhu’ with A.L.Raghavan {Malliyam Mangalam} and ‘Nilavoedu Vaanmugil Vilaiyadudhe’with Sirkazhi Kovindarajan {Raja Rajan}. Her contribution to Telugu films was more voluminous.
  R.Balasaraswadhi's legendary songs like 'Anbe Paavamaa'{Devadas},'Neela Vanna Kanna Vaadaa'{Mangaiyar Thilagam}'Malligai Poo Jaathi Raajaa,Mullaipoo Venumaa' {Raaji En Kanmani} and 'Singaara Punnagai Kannaale Kandaale' {Mahadevi } are an ecstatic treasure of music.She has also sung for films like Tenaly Raman,Raja Rajan,Bagyavadhi,Yaar Paiyan,Uthama Puthiran and Sahodhari. She had  enriched Telugu film music to an amazing extent.
   M.S.Rajeswari who was endowed with the captivating voice of a kid  sang quite a lot of heart warming songs that got deeply embedded in the memory track of many music lovers.It looked as though she was there to sing and entertain babies and older children because most of her songs were of the nursery rhymes pattern, forming an enchanting association with the beautiful world of birds and animals. 
  Some such numbers are Sittukkuruvi Sittukkuruvi Seidhi Theriyuma?[Oh my sparrow, do you know the news?] from Town Bus, 'Miaw Miaw Poonakkutti ,Meesakkaara Poonakkutti'[Oh my mewing Cat, with a lovely moustache] from Kumutham,'Sundelikkum Sundelikkum Thirumanamaam'[A mouse is getting married to another mouse]from Kaidhi Kannaayiram, ' 'Thaaraa Thaaraa Vandhaara?[Oh my duck,did my man come?] from Dheivappiravi and 'Koezhi oru Koottile, Seval oru Koottile'{ the hen is in one nest and the cock is in another} from Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum and they are all the golden treasures of film music.
   Her other scintillating songs are Kuva Kuva Paappaa {Iru Vallavavargal} Thunbam Nergaiyil {Oer Iravu} Pudhu Pennin manadhai Thottu Poeravare {Parasakthi} 'Mappila Vandhaan Maapila Vandhaan Maattu Vandiyile'{Thai  Pirandhaal  Vazhi Pirakkum}Ammavum Neeye {Kalathur Kannammaa} 'Padithadhinaal Arivu Petroer Aayiramundu'{Padikkadha Medhai},the most popular lullaby 'Mannukku Maram Baaramaa' from Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum and the very recent Naan Sirithaal Deepavali sung with Jamuna Rani for the film Naayagan of Kamalahasan. Rajeswari  could trigger one's nostalgic nerves with musical might and she could be called one of the greatest vocal assets of Tamil Cinema. 
    T.S.Bagavathi could amazingly squeeze out the essence of sorrow by her voice control and tone delivery in some of her melting songs like 'Poomaalai Puzhudhi Manmeile' 'Porule Illaarku Thollaiyaa Pudhu Vazhvei Illaiyaa'{both from Parasakthi}' Maanam Onre Peridhena Enni' {Mahadevi},and'Thatti Parithaar Envaazhvai'{Rathakkanneer}.Her other two well known melodies are 'Ellorum Vaazha Vendum'{Parasakthi} and 'Kanavu Kandein Naan Kanavu Kandein'{Sivagangai Seemai}.
    T.V.Rathinam who began her career with films Miss Malini, Marmayogi, Manohara and so on, wielded a lot of power as a singer with a bold voice that facilitated an easy access to the ears of the listeners.Some of the songs that keep ringing in my memory are her beautiful melodies like 'Nilaavile Ullaasamaaga Paadalaam'{Manohara} and 'Aaalai Aalai Paarkiraai' {Rathakkanneer}. She gave her clear voice for solo songs, as well as duets and group songs and her career as play back singer, continued till the mid Seventies of the last century.She has even sung a song in Balachander's Arangetram {Yenadi Marumagale}.Some of her humorous numbers are 'Kattazhagu Maamaa' {Vanangamudi} 'Athaane Athaane, Aasai Athaane' {Sakravarthi Thirumagal},'Kaiyum Oedala Kaalum Oedala'{Adutha Veettuppen} and 'Maamiyarukku Oru Sedhi'{Panithirai}.   
   Tamil film Industry on the whole is indebted a lot, to all these singers mentioned in this article because it was their open,distinctly vibrant voice force and their independently talented and dedicated contribution to Tamil Film music, that have made it what it is today. In my opinion, these men and women deserve a distinct place in Tamil Film history, on account of their excellence and merit, that still remain unsung.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tamil Film heroes of The New Age.


     Tamil film industry has moved fast and far from restrictive domination of a few heroes as during the days of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan Gemini Ganesan, Rajini and Kamala hasan. These actors established themselves as great stars to make their long time innings.There were only a few other contenders like Muthuraman, Jai Shankar, Ravichandran and Sivakumar during the days of MGR/Sivaji. Similarly,only Vijayakanth, Sathyaraj and Sarath kumar, Prabu and Karthik Muthuraman were there to compete with Rajini and Kamal. Afterwards the scene of competition began to expand with quite a lot of youngsters occupying the centre stage. Starting with Ajith, Vijay and  Soorya many began to claim a place for themselves.A five decade observation of the scenario of the Tamil Film industry thus shows that the occupancy of hero position has not been open to all, at least until the close of Nineteen Nineties. But the new millennium brought in a totally different picture. Like the markets opening up to many bidders in the name of globalization, hero positions come for the asking, to many new faces irrespective of the norms of eligibility previously created and adhered to.
     There are film directors and music directors, sons of film actors, directors and producers, and siblings and cousins of existing heroes, finding a berth in the vehicle of movie acting, as heroes in their own capacity, for making vital impressions with commitment and dedication. Most of them can not be called leading and charismatic stars in the line of MGR, Sivaji Rajini and Kamal. But they have all managed to establish a name for themselves and keep themselves considerably busy in a field that is facing a surplus of names and talents to the extent of new faces being introduced as heroes every other day.
     Among these new age heroes ,Prashanth,Prabu Deva,Madhavan Barath, Danush,Jeyam Ravi, Simbu, Srikanth, Jeeva,Vishal, Arya and Karthik Sivakumar are in the front line, being followed by others like Shyam, Prasanna,Jai, Aadhi, Shiva, Nithin Sathya, Vemal, Akil, Magesh, Nandha, Jeevan, Adharva, Shanthanu,Vishnu Vishal,Vikranth Siva Karthikeyan and Vijay Sethupathi. Besides these actors, there are directors like Sundar.C, Seran, Sasikumar and Samuthira kani making an impressive show as heroes of merit.Music director Vijay Antony and lyricist Pa.Vijay have also got into the hero’s garb. The spurt of new production units and the emergence of new directors most often precede the birth of new heroes. Talents to emote and capacity to display strength in histrionics count more than one's face and personality These new age heroes are in the grip of high level competition to withstand failures and sustain the grit to survive against odds.

    Prashanth,a close contemporary of Ajith and Vijay and son of last generation's hero-cum-villain actor Thiagarajan, started his career with a bang through his first hit Vaikaasi Porandhaachu. Soon, he became the hero of Mani Rathnam's  Thirudaa Thirudaa and Shankar's Jeans. This made his ratings very high and his other films like Aanazhagan, Mannava and the two films Winner and London directed by Sundar.C marked his growth trajectory to a great extent. Saran's Paarthein Rasithein and Ravichandran's Kannedhire Thoenrinaal also did well at the box office. Madhuravan's  Poomagal Oorvalam and Selva's Aasaiyil Oer Kaditham were equally worth watching .The other moderate films of Prashanth were,Jodi,Hello and Majnu.But a series of failures like Thamizh,Aayudham, Jaambavaan, Mambattiyaan and Ponnar Shankar from Kalaignar's creative brain have pulled down Prashanth's arduous journey towards firmer destinations. Prashanth is well known for his impressive underplay of emotions and his amazingly soft, voice modulation. One could not fault him as a romantic or action hero and he is capable of taking his comedy team mate for a clean sweep as witnessed in Winner and London. He is definitely a hero of independent merit and power. 

     Prabu Deva,son of a famous dance master and choreographer, began his film career as a charming and challenging choreographer for movies like Pratab, Agni Natchathram, Idhayam, Sooryan, Walter Vetrivel and Gentleman. Soon he transformed into an actor doing the role of a hero in Pavithran's Indhu which was followed by Shankar's Kadalan that became a mega hit and this was followed by several other films like VIP, Rajiv Menon's Minsarakanavu,P.Vasu's Love Birds and later by Romeo. Besides acting as main hero in about fifteen Tamil movies,he has also also done supporting hero roles in block busters like Vanathai Pola, Kadhalaa Kadhalaa and Enga Anna.His other successful movies include Sundar.C's comedy Naam ruvar Namakkiruvar and the pleasing romance Ullam Kollai Poguthe,Subash's Ninaivirukkumvarai and Ezhaiyin Sirippil and others like Manadhai Thirudivittai, Allithandha Vaanam,and Ezhil's Pennin Manadhaithottu. He has also acted with Prabu in Charlie Chaplin and with Parthiban in James Pandu. The fact that most of his films as main hero and as secondary hero were successful at the box office proves his mettle not only as a felicitous dancer but also as an actor capable of expressing diverse emotions such as love  joy,sorrow anger,humour and despair.Besides acting in about twenty Tamil movies, he has also directed the Vijay silver jubilee hit Pokkiri and the moderately received Kuruvi and Vedi. Agility and gusto in body language have always remained the positive traits of PrabuDeva .   

   Madhavan another coeval of Vijay and Ajith, carries the singular pride of being a young talent spotted and supported by the golden hands of Manirathnam of the Madras Talkies. His first movie Alai Payudhe introduced him as a charming romantic hero with a chocolate boy image increasing the heart  beat of young girls. Director Lingusamy transformed him overnight into a dynamic hardcore romantic hero by his most exciting 'Run'.Manirathanam continued to rope him in for his great hits like Ayutha Ezhuthu and Kannathil Muthamittaal  the latter earning him an award for best performance from the Govt of Tamil Nadu. Madhavan was again crowned with an award for his remarkable performance in Anbe Sivam, a wonderful movie directed by Sundar.C in which he shared screen space with the legendary star Kamalahasan. Madhavan was lucky to act with Kamalahasan again in Manmadhan Ambu directed by the most successful K.S.Ravikumar who inducted him as hero for his Ethiri. Similarly Sundar.C utilized Madhavan's talent again for his Rendu a comedy entertainer that came after his amazingly directed movie Anbe Sivam. Seeman's Thambi saw him transforming from a naturally timid and soft tempered guy into a ferocious fighter against injustice without losing his inherent social concern and love for fellow human beings.It was one of the most qualitative films that he did.Besides these famous directors, Madhavan was  lucky to work with the most eminent director Balachander in Parthaale Paravasam and the young director of creativity Gautham Menon for his Minnale. Madhavan has in his kitty other good movies like Jay Jay of Saran, Ennavale, Dum Dum Dum,Arya and Evano Oruvan. His latest hit has been Vettai by the director who gave him the run of his career. Madhavan is a beautiful combination of grace and charm and most often he seems to fill the void created by enchanting heroes like Gemini Ganesan and Muthuraman.  

      If Madhavan's talent was picked up by Manirathnam, Shankar selected Barath as one of the heroes for his film Boys. Barath was chic and sweet as a teenager and then he moved on to play a negative role as a psychologically obsessed pervert in Chellame. He did romantic characters in Kadhal, Chennaikadhal and Kandein Kadhalai. Of the three films the first one showcased his histrionic fervour and ability to a tremendous height. The tragic end of the film added to the sharp focus on his characterization and he did not betray the expectations and standards of a Shankar product .He proved his mettle once again in the role of a young husband in Nepali, taking revenge against those who were responsible for the outrage of modesty and death of his wife. The habitual cycle of  romantic heroes turning to the action genre did not spare Barath  too .He did a few action films like Pattial [in which he appeared as dumb and deaf] Pazhani, Seval and Thiruthani. He did his best in family stories like Em Magan and Veyil and excelled in performing as a son with utmost filial devotion in the former and as a younger sibling with lot of love and concern for his elder brother in the latter. His spontaneous comedy sense has helped him act with great comfort levels with Santhanam, in films  like Kandein Kadhalai and Thambikku Intha Ooru. His recent Aindhu Aindhu Aindhu has done fairly well. He has a high degree of clarity in dialogue delivery like Vijay and his dancing credentials are well known. If he makes a right choice of roles, he will move to greater heights as a hero of exceptional standard.

    Danush an agile and active hero, has to his highest honour a national award that he won for his outstanding performance in Vetrimaran's Aadukalam. He had already proved his mettle in films like Thulluvatho Ilamai and Kadal Kondein. Beyond the facts of being a popular director's son and a successful director's younger brother, Danush has a stuff of his own to register a stable growth in his career as a hero of individual value. His films like Thiruvilaiyadal Arambam, Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Uthamaputhiran have impressed the audience as positive entertainers with a lot of juvenile energy and fun. Polladhavan another movie directed by Vetrimaran showed his deep sense of involvement in doing a poignant role. Balu Mahendra's Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam brought out the inherent acting potential of Danush in a role as victim of negative circumstances. The physical shortcomings [if his lean and short frame could be called so] have never obstructed the vigorous performance of Danush. He has duly compensated his negatives with a lot of positive input in body language ,dialogue delivery, subtle display of emotions, sprightly dance movements and singing ability. Danush's status as a hero of great standing is his self- earned asset through his sincere and steadfast contribution to Tamil Cinema. He has quite often symbolized the recalcitrant youths looking forward to moral guidance and  rightlychannelized direction from well meaning elders. The lungi dance he performed in Aadugalam belongs to a uniquely fascinating category. He has successfully carved a niche for himself in a challenging style and he is bound to weather the storm of competition from other eligible heroes. The other popular movies of Danush are Dhevathaiyai Kandein, Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan, Thirudaa Thirudi,Sullaan,Padikkadhavan,Mappilaai, Seedan and Mayakkam Enna,the last one with abundant scope for subtle performance, that he delivered with consummate level of maturity. His latest film Mariyaan establishes his ever growing quest for new dimensions in acting through a visibly gripping display of facial formulations.   

 Jeyam Ravi, the son of a reputed editor and younger brother of a talented director has steadily moved upwards on the acting ladder with ability and conviction .Starting from his first film Jeyam ,his career growth has been commendable. His stout physique has been a supplementary strength and the impediment in his voice pattern has been fruitfully compensated by his energy levels in exhibiting emotions with relevance and charm. He has been blessed with hits like M.Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi,Unakkum Enakkum and Santhosh Subramanyam. Ravi has been a convincing hero of family dramas effectively told in an endearing and entertaining manner. The other hits of Ravi include Peraanmai ,Ezhil's Deepavali and Sun Pictures'Thillalangadi .His latest release Aadhibagavan has been rated as a moderate success.
     Simbu the son of a popular film director and actor of the last millennium and a successful child artist,turned into competitive hero with a flair for dance, music and direction like his dad .The two films Manmadhan for which he also wrote the screen play and Vallavan that he acted and directed, were received with rave reviews and admiration. His other film Saravanan directed by the commercially successful K.S.Ravikumar raised his image as a promising hero. His hero image was substantially boosted by his impressive performance in Gautham Menon's Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Unfortunately,  the subsequent releases Osthi and Poda Podi  flopped at the box office causing a negative impact to his steady growth.Kovil,Silambaattaam,Kaalai andVaanam were his moderate successes. Simbu remains one of the most vigorous performers waiting for right opportunities to prove his stuff. 

   Srikanth like Madhavan is not the son of any film director or actor. Like Madhavan he too belongs to the category of staunch romantic heroes. Starting from his first movie Roja Koottam, he found himself in  very comfortable positions doing a successful round or romantic roles in films like April Madhathil, Parthiban Kanavu, Bambarakkannaale and Mercurypookal. K.V.Anand's Kana Kandein was another decent movie in Srikanth's kitty. But like the other heroes of his age he has also been pulled to the action genre of films like Joot, Bose,Varna Jaalam and Kutrapirivu. He has been lucky to act in Shankar's Nanban along with Vijay and Jeeva. Like Prashanth ,Srikanth is also capable of underplaying emotional scenes and he seems to fit into romantic roles and family dramas with a natural acceptability and convincing ability.

      Jeeva the younger son of a victorious film producer has the potential for award winning performance and he proved it once by an amazing show of his talent in Ram. However, it was Thithikkuthe from his father's production house that first introduced him as a hero prior to his unique acting in Ram. Siva Manasula Sakthi directed by Rajesh, brought out his high energy levels of acting. His other releases Yee, Thenavettu,Rowthram and Rameswaram projected him as an action hero .But it was Ko that presented him as a suave, handsome youth in a neat role and this was followed by Shankar's Nanban wherein he shared screen space with Vijay and Srikanth. Mysskin's Mugamoodi that carried a hype and a lot of expectations before its release failed at the box office .Unlike his brother Ramesh who has not been rewarded by fortune for his skills, Jeeva has been lucky to fall into the hands of worthy film makers and he has never failed to project his latent ability and commitment, to retain his hero position in the midst of stiff competitions. 

 Vishal is once again, the promising son of an esteemed producer and with a tall physical frame and rugged manliness, he seems to be well made for the action genre with suitable gusto and smartness. Even in his first appearance as an income tax official in Chellame he delivered a compact performance required for an action movie .Lingusamy's Sandakozhi presented him as a very impressive action hero with a fascinating and powerful story line. It was continued in his next movie Thimiru which proved to be a commercial entertainer though not to the extent of Lingusamy show. Then came Sivapathikaram and  Hari's Thamirabarani to prove Vishal's capacity to emote in aggressive characters fighting for Justice,family unity and social welfare.Theeratha Vilayaattuppillai went on the lighter side without much scope for displaying talent. Two of the hyped movies Sathyam and Bala's Avan Ivan became dampeners and films like Mlaikottai and Thoeranai and the latest Samar have just maintained the survival level.His recent Pattathu Yaanai though a failure at the box office, projects him in the similar style of Sandakozhi and Thimiru.

Arya is another vibrant hero with immense capacity to deliver different types of roles in genres like romance,action, comedy sentiment and sobre attitudes of life. From KalabaKadhalan he has journeyed through different roads in films like Pattial, Arindhum Ariyaamalum, Orambo, director Vijay's Madarasupattanam, Rajesh's Bas Engira Baskaran, Vettai, Chikku Bukku and Bala's the most extraordinary Naan Kadavul, in which he performed the role of an Aghori. He is handsome, physically well built and significantly nimble in delivery of roles and he can entertain effectively, in any role assigned to him. More positive support from production houses, will definitely take him to unusual heights of performance as a hero of great quality and vital throw of histrionic ability.His latest 'Settai' has also received positive reviews  .

   Karthik Sivakumar,the younger son of Sivakumar has to his new born glory,seven films released with in a fairly short period and all of them have projected him as the main hero and the first film Paruthiveeran itself,  has fetched him the Tamil Nadu State award for best actor.He has been lucky to start his career under the able stewardship of a capable director like Ameer and then to work with creative and successful directors like Selvaraghavan, Lingusamy, Suseendran, and Siva.Of the seven movies Lingusamy's Payaa was a run away hit and Naan Mahan Alla was also rated highly for its refreshing presentation. The other three films, Siruthai,Saguni and Alex Pandian were similar in style and narration to the extent of endangering the talented actor's growing career in stereotyped characterization, though the Karthik--Santhaanam team provided the redeeming factor, through an enjoyable comedy show.Unlike his father Sivakumar and elder sibling Soorya,Karthik has reflected a kind of casual gusto and rugged manliness that made him compact in the roles of a village thug in Paruthiveeran and a rough and tough underdog in Ayirathil Oruvan. His style in romantic roles with a sort of naive naughtiness makes him different as a performer of romance.In most respects, he could be called a disciple of Sathyaraj in exhibiting a satirical approach to the events and characters that form part of his films.But Sathyaraj the tall actor  both in height and calibre stamped his image as an outstanding actor in amazing elderly roles, in films like Pagal Nilavu,Mudhal Vasantham, Vedham Pudhithu and Mr.Barath. Hope Karthik  becomes careful in shunning characters that make him repeat his track and force him perform without much difference between roles.This caution will certainly auger well for his future growth.

   Shaam is a highly talented actor whose subtle and soft delivery of roles has always remained his plus point. Be it a romantic theme like 12B,Lesa Lesa, Iyarkai, Anbe Anbe and Ullam Ketkume or an action story like Bala, Shaam's capacity for diversified acting has been an evident factor. He also gave a neat performance as police officer in Thillaalangadi. The other actor whose inherent acting zeal has not been properly tapped is Arun Vijay the son of veteran actor Vijayakumar. This great actor has to his credit, highly rated films like Thullitirindha kaalam from K.Balachander's production house and Cheran's Pandavar Bhoomi. He has also come out with exemplary performance in Iyarkai and Thavam.He is not lacking in action genre as it has been proved in Malai Malai and Maanjaa Velu. But still he remains a talent not rightly exposed.   

.   Prasanna who began his acting career with Susi Ganesan's Five Star has come under the direction of able hands like Radha Mohan [Azhagiya Theeye] Siddique [Sadhu Miranda] Lohitha Das[Kasthuriman] and Myskin [Anjathe],the last one in a negative role. He is a realistic actor not fit for melodrama or high end action packed roles. He needs the type of roles that would bring out the best in him .He has also exhibited his flair for comedy in films like Seena Thaana His last release Chennaiyil Oru Naal did not do much to upgrade his progress chart. 
 Actor Jai is shaping well compensating the hitch in his voice pattern like that of Jeyam Ravi. He has evinced his capacity for romance and action and made a very impressive show of his strong acting side in films like Chennai 600008 Subramanya puram, Vamanan, Engeyum Eppothum Goa,Aval Peyar Thamizharasi and Adhe Neram Adhe Idam. From his first movie Baghavathi, in a supporting role as the younger brother of Vijay, Jai has continued to establish himself as an ever ready hero to compete in the race for a special place in the Tamil film industry.  Adhi is yet another hero with a high physical stature who has substantially proved his acting ability in Eeram from Shankar's production unit and in other action movies like Ayyanaar, Aadupuli  and Aravaan. He will do much more in the action genre besides  fitting himself  adequately in refreshing romantic roles. Nanda demonstrated his skills through a negative role in Eeram and he was also convincing as a police officer in Vellore Mavattam. Nithin Sathya proved his stuff in a negative role in Satham Podaathe. Vinay another tall and stout guy like Vishal and Adhi got an elite introduction in Unnaale Unnaale and made an impressive performance in Jeyam Kondan. His Modhi Vilayaadu directed by Saran did not make an impressive show. Santhanu son of veteran director-cum-actor and Adharva son of [late] actor Murali have made a good beginning, the latter with a solid role in Bala’s Paradesi, after making a mark in Baanaa Kaathaadi. Magesh and Akhil who reached the Tamil audience as heroes in Angaditheru and Kalloori have not disappointed the Shankar production base.
      Jeevan who became famous by doing a villain role in Gautham Menon's Kaakka Kaakka and an anti hero role in Naan Avanillai[in two parts],a remake of the Gemini Ganesan starring block buster with the same title from K.Balachander's direction, had done a couple of films like  Thiruttupayale and Machakkaran but got stuck up in his journey. Nakul who did a couple of movies after Shankar's Boys, such as Kadhalil Vizhundhein and Maasilaamani and Kandakottai is yet to find a solid footing as longstanding hero.Shiva is a light minded actor who has got into the hero mantle with a compact humour sense and has entertained interestingly in films like Chennai 600028 Thamizh Padam and Kalagalappu Thillumullu and Sonnaa Puriyaadhu. Vemal of Kalavani fame did a great role as a school teacher of a primary school in Vaagai Soodavaa and he has the capacity to do both light and serious roles.His performance in Kalagalappu  and Kedi Billa Killaadi Ranga, convincingly presented his comedy sense. 
    Vishnu Vishal who made a good beginning with his convincing show in Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu,has continued his smooth and successful journey through a decent performance in films like Kullanari koottam and Neerparavai. Vijay Sethupathi of Then Merku Paruva Katru has been contributing his might to the big screen by his catchy performance in films like Sundara Pandian, Pizza and Naduvila Konjam Pakkatha Kanoem and Soodhu Kavvum Sivakarthikeyan who moved to the big screen from the small,is another talented guy whose capacity for performance as an actor has been rightly acknowledged and utilized by directors of repute such as Pandiaraj in his films'Marina' and 'Kedi Billa Killaadi Renga' and  Ezhil in his Manam Kothi Paravai. His most recent Edhir Neechal has done a good round and his latest Varuthappadaadha Vaalibar Sangam is making agood round. Vikranth, the cousin of actor Vijay has acted in about half a dozen films of which Karka Kasadara, Goripalayam and Engal Asaan need a special mention. Vikram Prabu has not belied the expectations of the Sivaji Ganesan dynasty as well as those of the audience in his debut role as the hero of Prabu Solomon's Kumki.
   The list of new age heroes is felicitously expanding every day.In a monstrously competitive environment, each one is struggling to enter the field, make a mark and retain one's position to get stamped as sterling heroes of continued acceptability.For instance, despite his charming looks, handsome appearance and graceful acting, seen in films like VIP, Minnale, Malabar Police, Anandam, Pammal K.Sambadam,Hey Ram [both with Kamal] and Padayappa [with Rajini] Abbas has mostly been used as a supporting actor and not been focused as a single hero. Seean Vikram has been left out in this article, because he deserves a separate space for himself in my blog on account of his tremendous acting potential and challenging dimensions of the roles he has delivered so far. 
   Not all can become stars like MGR, Sivaji,Rajinikanth and Kamal to become lifetime actors and establish a powerful fan base.But everyone will try and strive to reach that historic position. So long passions govern and dedication prevails, every individual has the right to find his legitimate place in their chosen field. Time and audience preference will decide the fate of  stars of the future.The screen of sustained star popularity is always hanging down to be lifted at the appropriate time.Till then the arduous journey goes on.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Two Sterling Stage Artists –Cum-Character Actors, on Screen.


    Drama has always remained as the source of inspiration for world Cinema.The stage has steadily laid the foundation for the screen. In Tamil Nadu, there were street shows and organized stage plays happening as daily events and entertaining the people as the most relaxing weekend experience.There were amazing stage artists like Nawab Rajamanickam Pillai whose Play on Sabari Malai Ayappan was the most talked about stage play. There were men like R.S.Manohar known for the play Lankeswaran. The TKS brothers called T.K.Shanmugam and T.K.Bagavathi were dedicated stage actors. Great comedian N.S.Krishnan was an expert in stage acting too. The other great stage actor was S.V.Sahasranamam. All these men listed here became very popular as film stars at a later stage in their career. Only Nawab Rajamanickam did not make it properly to the tinsel world. While R.S.Manohar established himself more as a villain actor, T.K.Shanmugam acted  in less number of films than his sibling.His role as Subramanyam Siva in Kappaloettiya Thamizhan is the most remembered one. But the other two stage artists T.K.Bagavathi and S.V.Sahasranaamam, stuck to the film world for  longer period, doing a successful round as character actors. This article aims at recording my personal  admiration for these two most talented actors.
    Both these actors carry certain similarities between themselves.Both of them were commendably compact in the role of an elder brother or father. Though both of them by their looks and mode of acting may appear to be unfit for taking up villain roles both have acted as villains. S.V.Sahasra- namam’s  hidden force of villainy was vitally felt in the good old film Nalla Theerpu starring Gemini Ganesan. Similarly T.K.S.Bagavathi performed fiendish villainy in Sabathan, starring Ravichandran and K.R.Vijaya. Of course in that film, Bagavathi performed dual roles  as twin brothers, the elder of the two, an honest man and the younger a wastrel and scheming criminal. The film was greatly entertaining, because of the challenging situations prevailing between the criminal Bagavathi and the heroine K.R.Vijaya struggling to expose him.
    Both Bagavathi and Sahasranamam  acted as M.G.R’s elder brothers,the former in Nam Naadu and the latter in Urimaikural. But one of the earliest roles of Sahasranamam was as the younger brother of M.G.Ramachandran in Jupiter Pictures' Marmayogi that portrayed S.V.S as the army captain full of conviction in his service and dedication to his country.S.V.S also takes the credit for donning the role of the elder brother of Sivaji Ganesan, in the latter’s very first movie Parasakthi. S.V.Sahasranamam has acted  in quite a few movies of Sivaji Ganesan, of which  Padithaal Mattum Poedhuma,and Sivagamiyin Selvan deserve a special place.Similarly Bagavathi has done another film Sange Muzhangu with MGR and his role in Sivaji Ganesan’s Rajapart Rengadurai and Savaale Samaali, is also worth remembering.
   The most striking role for T.K.Bagavathi was that of Raavanaa in Sampoorana Raamaayanam. In appearance, characterization and role performance one could genuinely think that Raavanaa would be like Bagavathi, just as many of N.T.Ramarao’s fans identified him with Lord Rama.
For Sahasranamam, one of his most powerful roles would be that of a cop and sad father of a betrayed daughter in Sridhar’s historic film Policekaaran Magal which was previously staged as a play and then formed into a film. It was a grand show of pride and pathos and grandly did this veteran actor display his inherent histrionic skill.Similarly as a conservative father of the hero {Gemini Ganesan} in K.Balachander's Punnagai,he would not approve of his son's marriage with a rape victim.His son who was named Sathyamoorthy {Lord of Truth} would die of Kidney failure and after that Sahasranaamam would be stunned to hear that his son had told the little boy born of rape that he was not the boy's father.The heart of SVS would melt on hearing that his [late] son had never deviated from the line of truth. It was another powerful character that SVS played and his excellent performance added more merit to that character.If in Policekaaran Magal, Sahasranamam took the whip to  lash his daughter who had gone astray, Bagavathi took that chance to tame his shrew- like wife{played by S.Varalakshmi} in Panamaa Paasamaa. SVS also appeared as a cop in Sathya Movies' mega movie Dheivathaai starring MGR and Sarojadevi.It was the only film of MGR directed by P.Madhavan and it has the other unique aspect of K.Balachander writing dialogues for the film.
   The greatness of these two actors is their dignified flair for  performing character roles with all the relevant attributes that would make the role get solidly fixed in the mind of the audience. There was always a conscious effort on their part, to perceive the gravity of the role on hand and do it with infallible precision. Both of them could necessarily influence their voice frame to bring out the core of emotion in the dialogue, be it anger or happiness or sorrow. Both of them truly belonged to the traditional or conservative school of acting meant for grooming the patterns of acting through a programmed course of pragmatic participation.The amount of the air of discipline that they inhaled, they successfully and effectively breathed out on the stage as well as on the screen.
    To put  it in a nutshell, these two men always looked like the two governing patriarchs of a system that could be called the field of acting. I would not have seen many of their worthy films. But What I saw and have recorded here, are certainly the worthiest samples of what these two sterling character actors are capable of. From these samples ,they  could be named as the indisputable yardsticks for the measurement of exemplary thespian skills.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Ever Pet Lullabies of Tamil Cinema.

      Maternity  is the main text of human life. Paternity is just an annexure, a supplement. The bond between a child and its mother is much more than the biological base of the umbilical cord. It is the gestational, prenatal  and post natal epic of human life. There are various theories about a child peacefully going to sleep in its mother’s arms. One of them  is an interesting account of the mother’s heart beat theory, that goes into the interpretation of most mothers holding their babies in their left arms. Though this may look habitual, it is scientifically described more as an instinctive behavior,in the sense, that the child having been familiar to the heart beat sound of its mother in her womb, feels more comfortable on the left  arm of its mother and calmly goes to sleep hearing the hearty music.
   But,for that matter, most men also hold their kids on the left side, may be because, they too were comfortable once, being closer to their mothers’ heart beat. However, more than all these perceptions and theories, practically, all children need  rocking movements, accompanied by music not only to go to sleep but also to sleep well. That is why mothers resort to singing lullabies to make their babies go to sleep. In this respect film songs have been quite supportive and Tamil film songs are not lacking in spirit either.
     Being a profound lover of films in general and Tamil films in particular, I have stored in my memory list, some Tamil film lullabies, as my pet songs. Decades ago, as an adolescent  I was deeply moved by the song நீல வண்ண கண்ணா வாடா! நீ ஒரு முத்தம்  தாடா !{Mangaiyar Thilagam} from the soothing voice of Balasaraswathi. The tuning of the notes by the illustrious S.Dakshinamoorthy had a telling impact on my tender feelings. Even now, It can easily carry my thoughts to my distant past.Almost during the same time, there was yet another most popular lullaby that came in the baby like voice of veteran singer M.S.Rajeswari that carried a fabulously soothing effect and the song from the film Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum was,
மண்ணுக்கு மரம் பாரமா?,
மரத்துக்கு இலை பாரமா? ,
கொடிக்கு காய் பாரமா?
பெற்றெடுத்த குழந்தை தாய்க்கு பாரமா ? But before these two songs, there was another very sad lullaby பூமாலை புழுதி மண்மேலே,வந்தேன் பிறந்தாய்.from Sivaji Ganesan’s first film Parasakthi. It was sung by T.S.Bagavadhi for the lip movement of old actor RanjiniJr who could effectively portray pathetic characters and take the audience to the peak of sorrow and despair. Music for this song was composed by Sudharsan and it could always create a melting effect in me. Almost in a similar line T.M.S  sang the song,
ஏன் பிறந்தாய்  மகனே, ஏன் பிறந்தாயோ !
இல்லையொரு பிள்ளையென,
ஏங்குவோர் பலரிருக்க, இங்குவந்து நீ
ஏன் பிறந்தாயோ ! for the film Baagapirivinai.This fabulous song was composed  by Viswanathan Ramamurthy for the precise lip movement of Sivaji Ganesan.
    T.M.S sang another wonderful lullaby for the Sivaji Ganesan film ‘Paarthaal Pasitheerum’ produced under the AVM banner.That song பிள்ளைக்கு தந்தை ஒருவன்,நம் எல்லோருக்கும் தந்தை இறைவன் was one of the sweetest melodies of TMS and for this too, the credit goes to Viswanathan Ramamurthy. The scene of the song showed Sivaji holding child artist Kamalahasan in his arms. The other sweet  and sorrowful  lullaby came from the amazing voice of Thiruchi Loganathan for the film Pangaaligal and the song was சின்ன அரும்பு மலரும்சிரிப்பைச்  சிந்தி வளரும் !
    P.B.Srinivas with his vibrantly soothing tone, has given us immortal numbers like
சின்ன சின்ன கண்ணனுக்குஎன்னதான் புன்னகையோ!{Vaazhkai Padagu} and
காதல் நிலவே கண்மணி ராதா,
நிம்மதியாக தூங்கு;
கனவிலும் நானே மறுபடிவருவேன்,
கவலையில்லாமல் தூங்கு . {Halo Mr.Zameendar}
  Both the songs were for Gemini Ganesan ,one to make his son to go to sleep and the other to comfort his lady love. Some of the other songs sung to make the lovers go to sleep in a romantic  fantasy or pathetic mood,are தூக்கமுன் கண்களை தழுவட்டுமேஅமைதியும் நெஞ்சில் நிலவட்டுமே {by S.Janaki in Padha Kaanikkai under the music of Viswanathan Ramamurthy}’and தாலாட்டுப்பாடி  தாயாக வேண்டும்,தாளாத  என்னாசைச் சின்னம்மா! in the mighty voice of TMS for the film Praptam, and
கண்ணே கலைமானே,கண்ணிண் மனியென, கண்டேன்  உனைநானே !
 was the scintillating lullaby sung by K.J.Yesudas for Balu Mahendra’s Mooraam Pirai ,under the unique composition of the music maestro Ilayaraja that showed Kamalahasan lulling the mentally unsound  heroine,{Sridevi} to go to sleep.Yesusudas sang the other mesmerizing lullaby,  இந்த பச்சைக்கிளிக்கொரு செவ்வந்திப்பூவில்தொட்டிலைக் கட்டிவைதேன்!  adding quality to MGR’s  one of the most valued films Needikku Thalaivanagu.The song was in fact a repeat of the one sung by  S.Varalakshmi who appeared as MGR’s mother in that film. Both Varalaksmi and Yesudas maintained the richness of the lyric and contributed meaningfully for the popularity and remembrance of that lullaby.
    A few fabulous lullabies from the archives of the melody queen P.Susheela are
கண்ணன் வருவான் கதை சொல்லுவான்,
வண்ண வண்ண தொட்டில்கட்டி தாலாட்டுவான் !
வலம்புரிச் சங்கெடுத்து பாலூட்டுவான் .{A.V.M’s Panjavarnakkili},’
அத்தைமடி மெத்தையடி ஆடிவிளையாடம்மா
ஆடும்வரை ஆடிவிட்டு அல்லிவிழி மூடம்மா  {Karpagam} and
காலமிது காலமிது கண்ணுறங்கு மகளே
காலமிதை தவறவிட்டால் தூக்கமில்லை மகளே !  {Chithi} 
both from the traditional film house of K.S.Gopalakrishnan. I would never say ‘no’to these lullabies as also to the immortal ,
செல்லக்கிளியே மெல்லப்பேசு,தென்றல் காற்றே  மெல்லவீசு!  sung  first in a mood of joy and later on the verge of sorrow,by the greatest mood tilting voice of TMS from ‘Petraalthaan Pillaiyaa’ the most qualitative film of MGR under the eminent direction of the duo Krishnan Panju. In a similar vein TMS sang the eternal melody செல்லக்கிளிகளாம் பள்ளியிலே செவ்வந்தி பூக்கலாம் தொட்டிலிலே என்கண்மணிகள் ஏன் தூங்கவில்லை delivered through the precise lip movement of Sivaji Ganesan for Enga Mama,the closest remake of Shammi Kapoor's Block buster Hindi film Brammachari. All these songs, I am sure will be the all time favourites of many film fans like me.
     The latest, most fascinating addition to the list of eternal Tamil film lullabies was the grandest lyric தூளியிலே ஆடவந்த வானத்து மின்விளக்கே ! sung meticulously and meritoriously by the silver tongued S.P.Balasubramanyam for the Silver Jubilee hit film, Chinna Thambi. No doubt, the film was a perfect addition to Tamil Cinema to warrant universal attention and unmatched audience support because it was a story of celebration of innocence transcending the conventional barriers of romance.Story line, direction, acting, music and comedy were all in perfect blend and the film was not found lacking in any aspect of variety entertainment. But beyond all this was Ilayaraja’s music and beyond the might of the maestro’s music ,was the scintillating voice of SPB singing this sterling song.
  Before I conclude,it should be said here that almost all sweet lullabies are embedded in striking similies and metaphors that enrich the poetic value of such genre of songs and make them live long.The two lyrically and aesthetically immortal lullabies in this category are,
  ''மலர்ந்தும் மலராத  பாதி மலர்போல வளரும் விழிவண்ணமே'' from the grand Sivaji Ganesan movie Paasamalar and
''தென்பாண்டிச் சீமையிலே தேரோடும் வீதியிலே மான்போல வந்தவனே'' from Kamalahasan's stupendous film Naayagan.
   I have included  here a few lasting lullabies, that keep enchanting my ears,longing for soul sustaining music. I am sure, I have not mentioned  all pleasing lullabies. My omission might be due to lapse of memory and inclusions are a mark of preference. It is certain that those who chance to view this page, will not frown upon me, for the chosen lullabies.