Monday, November 25, 2013

Tamil Actresses of Feminist Mould.



  The struggle of womanhood for its rightful position is age old. Human societies were and are mostly patriarchal in their base. The psychosomatic fundamentals have generally gone in favour of men playing a protective role over women. But very often, oppressive tendencies have prevailed in the form of exercising a power game resulting in women becoming toys, puppets and victims in the hands of men. There have been instances of resistance and movements, carried on towards establishing the legitimate rights of women, as individuals and citizens of equal merit and might. As the roots of feminism are world-wide, it has fascinated the creative imagination of several sectors including the world film body, that play a crucial role in forming and propagating path breaking social awakening movements. Every region in its cinematic version, has shown its keenness in framing themes and creating stories, that would expose the flaws of male chauvinism and the lawful claims of feminism. Tamil Cinema has never been lagging behind with regard to championing the cause of women. Apart from the script writers and directors, every generation of actors has had its spokesperson particularly among the actresses.
     Tamil films such as Penn,Adhisiapenn,Aduthaveetuppenn, Irumbuthirai, Vanji koottai Vaaliban,Sabatham,Mayor Meenakshi, Veettukku veedu, Arangetram, Avargal,Aval Oru Thodarkadhai Vaazhndhu Kaattugirein,Vidhi,Rudra, Pudhumaipen  and several others have either suggestively or openly, humorously or seriously laid the proper emphasis on the need for setting the ground for increased role performance of women both at home and outside, so that their position as independent living beings, is not just confined to a decorative contribution to one's life routine. As suppression of women and male domination are the two sides of the same coin, resistance to such negative trends had to shoot up first from the eligible fighters among women. Eligible fighters are those who develop a spontaneous awareness of their secondary positions in life and start reasoning out why it is so and how it should be set right. Again eligible fighters are those, who have an innate fire to resist and remove injustice in any form. Such fighters among women, become the torchbearers for others. Bold women are certainly an asset to their gender and tribe.
   Characterization of women in feminist films, is evolved with a pointed reference to the solid psychological fundamentals of  struggling and fighting womanhood; it is the justifiable reasons for the fighting frame of mind shown in a film that facilitate its instantaneous reach and acceptability with the audience. In addition to the story line and characterization, it is the choice of actresses for a feminist role, that makes the whole process enduring and gripping. Even during the earlier decades, when the right for survival was restricted in the name of colonialism, orthodoxy and conservatism, there were stories of upheavals and there were characters projected as incarnation of rebellion. There were actors and actresses who would conveniently fit into such roles. Among men there were many. But among women the number was small. One could easily think of an actress like P.Kannaambaa to play the role of Kannagi, a symbol of courage and conviction, fighting against an injustice done to her husband. A film maker of those days would not have thought of a meek looking M.V.Rajamma or M.S.Subbulakshmi to play that role.
    Be it Penn or Vaazhkai, Vanjikkottai Vaaliban or Irumbuthirai,it was Vaijayanthi- mala, the self conscious epitome of feminine individuality who would immediately capture the imagination of film makers as well as the audience as a woman warrior. That was why she was chosen to play the role of Princess Padmini of Chittor in the film Chittor Raani Padmini. Actress  Padmini  in spite of her most vibrant voice, could be considered only for reflecting grace, modesty and submission of womanhood.Where as, P.Banumathi,like Vaijayanthimala, would cleanly sweep as a woman firebrand and a leading voice of feminism. It was her unique revolting voice mode and pattern of dialogue delivery, that effectively fixed her, mostly in the character of a highly resistant woman. The other great actress who obviously maintained her proud position as a woman was J. Jeyalalitha. Both in appearance and style of acting, she constantly reflected the root of feminine independence. Most other actresses who would have chosen or been offered to play feminist roles would have justified only their performance in such roles and not as persons in their individual looks and bearing.
    Sujatha for instance, beautifully exhibited her fighting spirit in films like Aval Oru Thodar kadhai, Avargal, Vidhi,[as a lawyer taking up the case of the betrayed heroine played by Poornima Bagyiaraj}Vaazndhu Kaattugirein and Amaidhippadai. Hers has been a silent unyielding revolution and she did win her ground in feminist roles. However, in her appearance and manner and spirit of interactions, she would more be with a vast group of amazing actors like Savithri,Sowkar Janaki, K.R. Vijaya, {Her roles in Sabatham and Mayor Meenakshi showed what best a woman could do in fighting the criminal and the corrupt}Lakshmi,SriVidya and Revadhi. {who did a meaty role in Barathi Raja's Pudhumaipenn as a true representative of the feminist lobby}.
      Among the late entrants , actresses like Jeyachitra, Sripriya and Radhika, could by their looks and demeanour successfully equate themselves with eminent feminist performers like Banumathi  Vaijayanthimala and J.Jeyalaitha. In voice mould and force of dialogue delivery, these three actresses carried a similarity of style and sheen. Interestingly, apart from the termagant role that Radhika performed in Shankars's Jeans most of  the characters she portrayed were of a soft and sublime nature as seen in films like Kizhakkuchhemaiyile, Pasumpon and Keladi Kanmani. Sripriya  Jeyachitra [who is endowed with a roaring voice of the feminist mould],and their other contemporary [late] Fadafat Jeyalakshmi were never found lacking in the perfect delivery of courageous feminine characters in several films.
      All these women cozily reflect a devil- may -care attitude in donning roles meant for encountering challenges and ordeals and surmounting them with grit and determination. Thus a casual review of the position of Tamil film actresses would reveal the fact, that P.Kannaamba, P.Banumathi,VaiJayanthimala J.Jeyalalitha, Jeyachitra, Sripriya and Radhika are made of sterner stuff and are the fittest women to play feminist roles with vigour and credibility . ========================0=======================    

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