Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Two Mighty Voices and Their Voice Alikes.

     There were days when only native singers used to sing Tamil film songs and some of the singers were primarily actors and then singers.This is how the centre stage of Tamil film music was dominated and enriched by many, great film personalities like the actor singers M.K.Thiagaraja Baghavadhar, P.U.Chinnappa,T.R.Mahalingam, and the musical monarchs like T.M.Soundarajan, Sirkazhi Govindarajan,Thiruchi Loganadhan and Chidambaram Jeyaraman among men and the most illustrious women singers like M.S.Subbulakshmi, D.K.Pattammaal and K.B.Sundaraambaal. Then came an amazing line of fascinating singers who were not natives of Tamil Nadu but who could steal the hearts of the audience by their effective rendition of  Tamil film songs.The list would include great singers like A.M.Raja, Ghantasaalaa,P.B.Srinivas,Dr.Balamurali Krishna, P.Susila, Jikki,S.Janaki and so on.Music lovers and film fans in Tamil Nadu were under the spell of these wonderful voices.
     As the Tamil film industry began to grow in leaps and bounds,more and more fresh talents began to occupy the field of Tamil film music.Heroes like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan whose voices were genuinely identified with that of T.M.Soundarajan,when it came to song sequences in their films, mooted a change either intentionally, or as a mark of transition and as a result of this, the voice of TMS was replaced by two fresh voices, that were destined to rule Tamil film music for long.The two mighty voices belong to K.J.Yesudas and S.P.Balasubramanyan.
      In terms of time of entry into Tamil Cinema,K.J.Yesudas is senior to SPB. The song 'Neeyum Bommai Naanum Bommai' had already become popular leaving a mark of identity for Yesudas. But he laid his footing firmly in Tamil cinema only after he delivered the most popular songs like 'Adhisaya Raagam,Aaanandha Raagam' and 'Dheivam Thandha Veedu Veedhiyirukku' from the films Aboorva Raagangal and Aval Oru Thodarkadhai both directed by the most esteemed K.Balachander. But for SPB, the beginning itself was well marked and the very first song Aayiram Nilave Vaa was for the gigantic MGR film Adimaipenn. Of course,during the same time he became popular with the other,first recorded, mesmerizing song 'Iyarkaiyennum Ilayakanni' from the thriller film Santhi Nilayam and both these were duets, in association with P.Suseela. MGR began to simultaneously utilize the captivating voices of these two singers.
    It is a known fact that MGR was always very particular about the quality and richness of musical component of his films.That MGR endorsed the incomparable talent of these mighty singers and that these valued voices contributed significantly for the success of MGR films like Urimakkural, Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban,Netru Inru Naalai,Sirithu Vaazha Vendum, Pallaandu Vaazhga , Naalai Namadhe and Needhikku Thalavanangu,became remarkable events in Tamil Cinema.Songs like 'Avaloru Navarasa Naadagam', 'AngeVaruvadhu Yaaro Adhu Vasandhathin Theiro' and 'Paadumpothu Naan Thenral Kaatru' from the first two films and the title song from Naalai Namadhe,breezily and powerfully delivered by SPB and 'Vizhiye Kadhayezhudhu'{Urimaikkural} 'Onre Kulamenru''Poivaa Nadhiyalaiye'{ Pallaandu Vazhga},Neela Nayanangalil'{Naalai Namadhe] and 'Indha Pachaikilikkoru' {Needhikku Thalaivanangu} in the gripping voice of Yesudas, remain as the richest legacy of MGR film songs.
      The musical voices of these men contain an independently penetrating charm with a classic structure of clarity,vibration and width.There is a kind of spiritual grandeur in the voice of Yesudas that keeps him endowed with a calibre for dignified delivery of music.I still wonder how he was able to deliver a song like 'Thanni Thotti Thedivandha Kannukutti Naan' for K.Balachander's other critically viewed film Sindhu Bhairavi. The voice of Yesudas is imbibed with an unbeatable soothing profile and it can straight away pierce into one's soul with a kind of intimate access that no other voice is capable of.The musical nuances forming part of this sacred voice belong to a special category.The only drawback{ if one is emboldened to call it so}in his delivery of Tamil songs,is the lack of precision in the utterance of Tamil words like 'Kiliye' and 'Pillai' as experienced while listening to the songs 'Poovizhi Vaasalil Yaaradi Vandhadhu Kiliye Kiliye' and 'Pillai Nila'{ the latter  is from Balu Mahendra's Neengal Kettavai}.
     The voice of SPB on the contrary,is more open,with an innate force to flow and blow at one stroke.He has an invincible mark of clarity in his voice and it is a voice born with a quest and thrust for delivering words and musical notes without a hitch.He may not have the advantage of injecting vibration that is an inherent asset of the voice of Yesudas. But the force in the voice of SPB is like the down pour of the unfailing thick black clouds raining in torrents.The ever immortal Sangaraparanam song will speak of his might, for ever. He sings with full-throated ease and the sharpness and clarity of his Tamil accent is always a bonus to the listeners.
     K.J.Yesudas is ever a melody king exhibiting a peerless pattern of voice magnificence.Most of the Tamil film songs that he sang became a grand audio treat only because of his exquisite mode of rendition.To mention a few, songs like 'Sendaalampoovil' {Mullum Malarum} 'Pazhamudhircholai Enakkaagathaan' {Varusham Padhinaaru}'Nalla Manam Vaazha''{Oru Oothaappoo Kan Simittu giradhu}'Oora Therunchukittein'{Rajinikanth's Padikkaadhavan}, 'Annanenna Thambienna' {Dharmadhurai}are his amazing solo hits.Duets like 'Andhamaanai Paarungal Azhagu'{Andhamaan Kaadhali}'Malare Kurinji Malare'{Dr.Shiva}'Vizhiye Kadhaiyezhudhu'{Urimaikkural}}'Thenral Vandhu Ennai Thodum'{Thenral Vandhu Ennai Thodu}'Thanga Maganinru Singa Nadaipottu' {Baasha}and 'Maasimaasam Aalaana Ponnu'{Dharmadurai}are the eternal musical assets of Tamil Cinema.
    In the same way,SPB has given stunning songs like 'Pottu Vaitha Mugamo'{Sumadhi En Sundari} 'Kamban Emaandhaan'{Nizhal Nijamaagiradhu}''Unakkenna Mele Ninraai Oh Nanda laalaa' {Enakkul Oruvan}' Nalladhor Veenai Seidhu' {Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu} 
'Paadi Parandha Kili'{Kizhakku Vaasal}'Ilamaiyenum Poongaatru' {Pagalil Oru Iravu}{Sagalakalaa Vallavan}'Ilaya Nila Ezhugiradhe'{Payanangal Mudivadhillai} 'Sangeedha Megam'{Udhaya Geetham}'Koottathile Koil Pura' {Idhayakoil}'Manram Vandha Thenralukku Manjam Vara Neramillaiyo'{Mounaraagam} Vannam Konda Vennilave {Sigaram}and'Nalam Vaazha Ennaalum EnVaazhthukkal' {Marubadium} In fact, it would be an unending list of his masterly delivery of film songs, mostly under the felicitous musical composition of Ilayaraja,the venerable prophet of music.
     If K.J.Yesudas has delivered the immortal lullaby 'Kanne Kalaimaane',{Mooraam Pirai}SPB has given us the ever lasting melody "Kalayaana Maalai Kondaadum penne" in the film Puth Puthu Arthangal which would be more than a lullaby if heard at bed time.The former's memorable tribute to motherhood in 'Ammaavai Vanangaadha Uyirillaiye' {Mannan} is perhaps a sequel to SPB's 'Naanaaga Naanillai Thaaye'{Thoongaadhe Thambi Thoongaadhe}and 'Amma Amma'{Uzhaippaali}.
    Tamil film industry truly owes a lot to these two fabulous voices for their qualitative enrichment of Tamil film music.May be SPB's contribution would be more voluminous than that of K.J.Yesudas.The voice of Yesudas keeps us possessed by a kind of irreplaceable magical spell;the voice of SPB makes us energized and empowered with a driving gusto.What an incredible amount of emotional vigour and energy has been transmitted by powerful songs like 'Ennadi Meenakshi' {Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu} 'Unakenna Melei Ninraai Oh Nanda laalaa' {Enakkul Oruvan}'Ilamai Idho Idho'{Sagalakalaa Vallavan}'Vandhenda Paalkaaran' {Annaamalai} 'Naan Autokaaran Autokaaran'{Basha}'Adhaandaa Idhaandaa'{Arunachalam} 'Oruvan Oruvan' Mudhalaali' {Muthu}'Devuda Devuda' {Chandramugi}and 'Ballelakkaa' {Sivaji}.These are not only great Kamal and Rajini hits, but are also samples of the power packed numbers of SPB, demonstrating his immense capacity for breath control as truly noticed in the song 'Mannil Indha Kaadhalanri' from Keladi Kanmani in which he also displayed his extraordinary histrionic skill. If Yesudas has a delving voice SPB is endowed with a leading voice.It is a kind of swinging experience for the listeners between the dynamic voice of SPB and the devotedly soothing tongue of Yesudas. The film music album of these two grand singers is a treasure house, worth visiting for a repetitive aural exaltation.
      It is interestingly a rare phenomenon that these two voices permeate in a form of semblance and similarity in the rendition of two other playback singers who have also vitally contributed for the success and sustenance of sweetness in Tamil film music.One is almost a close disciple of K.J Yesudas earnestly following his voice line, in tone and spirit and that is the effortless melody maker Unni Menon and the other is almost SPB's voice replica,the clear- tongued Mano. The subtle difference between Yesudas and Unni Menon is the absence of the stronger notes of the former's magnificent extent of vibration in the tone and delivery of songs, of the latter.However,heard from a distance, a song like 'Pudhu Vellai Mazhai Ingu Pozhihinradhe'{Roja}rendered by Unni Menon would perfectly bring the voice of Yesudas closer to our hearts.
     Similarly, it is a great  experience listening to the felicity and magic of music, perceived in the most penetrating  songs like 'Kannukku Maiyyazhagu' {Pudhiya Mugam}Poeraale Ponnuthaayee' {Karuthamma}'Ennavilai Azhage'{ both from Kaadalar Dhinam}'Nadhiye Nadhiye' {Rhythm} 'Enge Andha Vennilaa'{Varushamellaam Vasantham}or the joyous numbers such as 'Maanaamadhurai Maamarathukiliye'{Misaarakkanavu}'Dhaandiyaa Aattam Aada'{Kaadhalar Dinam}and 'Minnalaippidithu'{Shajahan}.Starting from 'Pon Maane Sangeedham Paadava'{Oru Kaidhiyin Diary}Unni Menon's  voice has almost been carrying on a proxy parade for K.J.Yesudas both in terms of sweetness and the mesmerizing calibre of singing.His is a softer voice than that of Yesudas but its level of reach and audio impact is no way inferior to that of Yesudas. 
    Both the voices carry a healing touch to the extent of mellowing human emotions with grace and dignity.I have mentioned only a few songs of Unni Menon here.He has sung  under the music composition of the two musical stalwarts Ilayaraja and Rehman and he has been a favourite of film directors like Mani Rathnam and Vikraman. That he has sung most pleasing melodies for films like Unnai Ninathu, Priyamana Thozhi and Vaanathai Pola shows how much his voice has been valued by director Vikraman and his patronized music composer S.A.Rajkumar. If one listens to the musical flow of Unni Menon through a process of 'willing suspension of disbelief' one would faithfully and unquestioningly accept it as the infallible outcome from the vibrant voice of K.J.Yesudas. Like the inseparable Siamese twins, these two riveting voices are of an indistinguishable mould with a predominant clasp of human ears for compulsive listening, leading to spontaneous enjoyment.
     Mano's voice throw,clarity of diction and felicity of singing reflect undoubtedly,a near perfect duplication of an SPB rendition.The subtlest note of difference would be SPB's innate capacity for tongue twisting and voice churning like that of a precise mixing and squeezing equipment letting out the essence of what is being fed with in.It looks as though SPB's tongue would dance in tune with the syllables of the words and the words of the lyrics in accompaniment of the galaxy of instrumental notes.But Mano definitely has the raw voice of SPB and he shapes it as he likes it to be; beyond his self conscious efforts in this direction,the ultimate impact is the feeling of having listened to another song of SPB. This is how I mistook Mano's classic number "Thooliyile Aadavandha Vaanathu Min Vilakke" from Chinna Thambi for one rendered by SPB and even recorded it here in this article by mistake.Thanks to a reader's prompting, I stand corrected.
     Poor Mano,can not help his voice getting dissolved in the boiling Cauldron of the SPB vocal cords.Be it the soft numbers like'Nee oru Kaadhal Sangeedham'{Naayagan}'Malaikkoil Vaasalile'{Veera}"Pattuppoove Thottuppaaru' {Sembaruthi} 'Sandhana Maarbile Kungumam Dheindhadhe'  {Naadodi Thenral}'Ennavale Ennavale Engirundhai Needhaan'{Ninaithein Vandhaai}or the sprightly songs like 'Alli Alli Anaarkali' {Arunachalam} 'Thillaanaa Thillanaa"{Muthu} and "Ohoho Kikku Yerudhe"{Padayappa}it is just a hairline difference that could be noticed between Mano and SPB in their voice pattern and very often the debate continues in fixing the song with the voice of the original singer.
    After listening to such confusion in voice similarities,I would say that it is from Mano's voice and my son would say that it is in SPB's voice.Finally,sometimes I would be right and at times my son would score the point.Such a similarity in voice,would usually raise valid controversies, in fixing the identity of actors, during a course of listening to their dialogues, off screen. But here are two singers, whose voice and way of singing, make them both easily exchangeable on the platform of audition. Like SPB, Mano too has appeared on screen with an acting zeal and his role in Kamal's Singaara Velan stays memorable.But as a singer, Mano has sung songs mostly for Rajini films than those of Kamal. I have recorded here only a small number of Mano's songs from the exhaustive list of his Tamil filmography.This short supply is perhaps due to my inability to firmly differentiate a Mano song from that of SPB.
    These four great musical men, have crossed the linguistic barriers, both intrinsic and external and have meticulously and magnificently participated in the programme of patronizing Tamil film music through a genuine transmission of  energy and the power of music.The language of music is a firm ladder helping mankind reach newer heights of happiness and peace.What transpires vocally and instrumentally, might be the outcome of a human endeavour or the display of human talent, inborn and acquired.But there is always a pair of invisible hands operating from behind everyone and goading every human voice and hand, to play as it should.May be, that is why we say music is divine.The two mighty voices and their voice alikes, do have the backing of the invisible pair of divine hands, in driving them to the higher positions, that they have reached today.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Performance Hungry Hero.


      A majority of heroes perform as the directors want them to.A few heroes exceed the director's expectations,imbibe the spirit of the characters they do and finally end up in living the role bestowed upon them on screen.This is how Sivaji Ganesan very often performed and became the right model of acting for many other aspiring actors.At times, the audience came upon a deified hero like MGR, who generally made the directors direct him as he liked.But very rarely do we have the experience of watching some one with an insatiable quest for doing something different in each of their films.They always carry on an incomparable urge to try something impossible not bothering about the so called image factor.While Kamalahasan has already established his position as a film personality with an appetite for versatility,the only other hero who is ambitious about trying new layers of acting is Seeyaan Vikram.
    Vikram's modest beginning as a soft romantic hero, would not have projected him as a man with a huge agenda for acting and with unquestionable potential and credentials for moving up the acting ladder with self-made whims and convictions.Films like Meera,Ullaasam,Vinnukkum Mannukkum and Samurai would never be in his challenging list of roles.He should feel immensely indebted to an uncommon brand of director like Bala, for opening a broad gauge track and closing all level crossings simultaneously, so that a hero with a hidden treasure of exemplary acting zeal, could have his run fueled by nothing but the hardcore passion for acting. Sethu and Pithamagan were just a couple of sugar canes for a person with an elephantine hunger to perform.
   What makes Vikram different from others is his indifference to the concept of the hero image.If he had bothered about it he would not have taken up films like Sethu,Kasi and Pithamagan at the start of his career and Dheivathirumagal later. But it does not mean that he is unfit for the role of a full fledged action hero.His Dhil,Dhool, and Samy are perfect entertainers as amazing action films.The fact that most of the directors including Shankar,have not just stopped with one movie with Vikram shows how much trust they have reposed in his talent and how much they value his conviction for performing differently in each film. Bala, Dharani,Hari A.L.Vijay and Shankar are all there in the list as directors delighted by the performing vigour of Vikram that forced them to do another movie with him.Director Saran gave him an action bonanza with consummate juvenile gusto and the film Gemini that was released under the AVM banner, became a great entertainer.
   The amount of force and speed delivered by him in films like Dhool and Samy, his pointed underplay of emotions in the action genre of films such as Dhil,Gemini and Thaandavam,his unfailing grasp of vagaries and precision in seamlessly switching over to changed character delineation, in performing as a split personality in Shankar's Anniyan,his clean pass over from a casual and agile character mould to a sudden state of enforced dementia in Sethu and above all the silently delivered powerful role of an undertaker with inexhaustible love and revenge, in Pitha Magan will permanently mark him as a model actor with a mind full of fixations for multilateral performance.
      Like most other prominent heroes Vikram  too had to concede defeat in his ventures to prove himself as a valued actor.Movies like Arul,Bheema, Kandasamy and Rajapaattai were all moderate demonstrations of the hero's fight against the corrupt lobby or samples of gangsterism and did not speak good of the profound acting caliber of Vikram. Kaadhal Sadugudu was a breezy romance but even there, Prakash Raj stole the show with Vivek's comedy also taking the lead.'Maja' a moderate remake of the great Malayalam original Thommanum Makkalum,was also not on the expected line. The most hyped Raavanan that showed him as hero in the Tamil version and villain in the Hindi script did not bring in the expected result to boost either Vikram's performing zeal or Manirathnam's directorial stuff.
      But beyond all these common setbacks and failures,Vikram has never failed to impress as a unique type of hero willing to perform differently in everyone of his films.His impressive body language,graceful dialogue delivery,right perception of the different layers of emotion behind the nature of his character in isolation as well as its scenic fitment core,his readiness to be one hundred percent genuine to the role and the usual dancing and fighting abilities expected of a hero in standing, always put him on the leading side with a keen sense of professionalism and efficacy.Had he been an actor during the hey days of K.Balachander,he would have easily stolen the mind and spirit of that directorial genius.
      It is a known fact that many talented heroes are hard working,aspiring to achieve higher positions in their career,to stay permanently noticed and acknowledged as actors of merit.But the fire in Vikram is of a different kind, burning constantly,igniting his action engine towards remarkable destinations.Number of films does not matter for him.Hero image is immaterial for him.It is his craving to perform differently and excel in doing the job assigned to him without taking himself to the scuffle for limelight, that makes him an actor of singular mettle.His unrelenting desire to perform specially for a personal satisfaction, will always keep him in good stead. Reasonably tall and well built in physique,the performing spirit from with in, should always remain intact, to drive him to many more, award winning positions in his career.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Two Elder Sibling Directors of Tamil Films.

      Film directors belong to an extraordinary tribe of makers of myth and reality.Age is no criterion to excel in creativity.In the music field, we have the Oscar winner A.R.Rehman who began to fly high from his teen age.Tamil film directors have begun to rule the game usually from their early forties or may be from their late thirties.But there are two youngsters who started spreading their wings much early, to fly high with an incomparable creative zeal and capacity.Perhaps as a mark of coincidence,both these men have their film ancestry,inheriting the power and will to reign the centre stage.Of the two,one is the elder son of the noted film director Kasturiraja and the other is the elder son of eminent film editor Mohan.These two young talents are Selvaragavan and M.Raja. Both these directors have the other similarity of capitalizing their creative excellence mostly on their younger siblings Danush and Ravi respectively.
     Selvaragavan first wrote the script for the critically reviewed film 'Thulluvadho Ilamai',directed by his father Kasturiraja. His first directorial venture 'Kaadhal Kondein' became an instant success. Following this,he directed his younger brother for a couple of movies like 'Pudhuppettai' and 'Mayakkam Enna' and wrote the script for 'Yaaradi Nee Mohini' starring his brother but directed by Mithran Jawahar{who also directed the other blockbuster film 'Uthamaputhiran' of Danush}.Apart from these films Selvaragavan has directed the most hyped 'Aayirathil Oruvan', that became the second film of Karthik Sivakumar.The other most talked about film of this young director is the latest 'Irandaam Ulagam' starring Aaryaa and Anushka Shetty.In about half a dozen films, Selvaragavan has created a distinct position for himself as a director of fantasies and fascinating romantic extravaganzas.
     What makes Selvaragavan different from others,is his uniquely reflective approach to evolving themes and characters and narrating the story line on a fantasy track.The focus on psychological intricacies of the protagonists of his scripts and the narrative techniques he adopts towards displaying his all round compass of creativity,make us identify his dreams and aspirations as those of a rare kind of film maker.The human mind's flair for guilt and compunction and the extent of criminality that embraces psychic aberrations, find ample scope in Selvaragavan's subtle delineation of scenes and characters in films like 'Kaadhal Kondein' and 'Pudhuppettai'.
      However on the fantasy side,both in 'Aayirathil Oruvan' and 'Irandaam Ulagam',obstructions seem to take the audience by surprise and one wonders if the absence of an impressive link or sense of continuity is accidental or due to lack of perspective in narration.There is definitely an all pervading presence of exquisite visual aspects and freshness in presentation of scenic sequences, but beyond all these,there is a constant feeling that an exuberant creative formulation is going futile,not yielding the intended result.What would strike the mind of the audience is the concern and sympathy for a powerful creative film maker missing the mark, that he very much deserves.Is it a flaw in the genesis of the creative process, or an enigma of the parts of the process not contributing to its wholeness and totality, is a question remains unanswered.
    The other elder sibling M.Raja is an openly vibrant film maker concentrating purely on  the thrills of romance and family sentiment.His is a stuff meant for the larger audience, with an unfailing commercial formula in the line of Lingusamy and Hari. Starting from his first venture Jeyam,almost all his Tamil films have been Telugu remakes and except in 'Velayutham',it is his younger brother who made his debut in 'Jeyam' and became Jeyam Ravi, {to be differentiated from Nizhalgal Ravi}has been shown as hero.His second film 'M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi' was a sensitive family drama, unlike his first energetic show of romance in Jeyam. Besides bringing back Nadhiya to Tamil Cinema,his second film had Prakash Raj doing a powerful father character which he did again in Raja's 'Santhosh Subramanyan',a healthy family entertainer. Santhosh Subramanyan was a very decent film known for a powerful display of paternal responsibilities and filial inheritance of love and family sense.It celebrated the clean movie concept in all respects and became a crowning experience for this young director.
    His other film 'Unakkum Enakkum Something Something'that preceded Santhosh Subramanyan was equally demonstrative of the invincible family link. Raja's 'Thillalangadi',a remake of his Telugu 'Kick' effectively portrayed how the  innate spirit of adventure and longing for thrilling moments could drive an individual to the edge of enchantment and endangering predicaments.In most of Raja's films, either Prabu or Prakash Raj, made a dignifying mark in elderly, character roles.In all the films including  his 'Velayutham', Raja has unflichingly promoted his concept of making life a  self satisfying course of adventures and excitements,be it romance or a riveting family drama.'Velayutham' wonderfully dramatized sibling affection and intimacy in the line of Vijay's Thiruppachi, but the scenic displays were totally different from those of the Perarasu movie .Raja always guarantees that moments of continued entertainment will never be found wanting in any of his films. Unlike Selvaragavan who restrains the scope for comedy in his films, due to their introspective predominance,Raja opens the doors wide, for hilarious moments and consummate joy, mostly with comedians like Santhanam,Sathya and Soori, dominating the humour zone.It was only in M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi Vivek took care of the comedy side of a Raja film.
     As far as romance is concerned,Raja's focus is on the degree of excitement it generates for the lovers and the way it takes the romantic wagon to the family station,initially with resistance and opposition from the family members and then as an energizing addition of a new member to the existing family unit.In Unakkum Enakkum,it was a case of acceptance of a highly positive guy to the girl's side and in the other film Santhosh Subramanyam the boy's family took into its fold,an exuberantly positive minded girl,as an enthusing element.Whereas,Selvaragavan looks upon the romantic experience as purely a psychological drive,either enriching or disturbing the mind of the lovers with a poetic feel of joy,suspense,awe and at times even horror.
     M.Raja invites the audience with an open mind to watch his films and stay delighted for a while.Whereas, Selvaragavan is bent upon involving the audience in an introspectively valid, mystifying and demystifying cinematic experience.One wants to entertain with a hearty sense of light mindedness, geniality and exultation, while the other tries to offer tantalizing,possessing, couple of hours of show, of an incredible world in celluloid form.One has a pragmatic and down to earth formula for success and the other is devoutly abstract in narration.The flow of positive energy is the dominating element in Raja's films;but Selvaragavan's mode of narration can not help pulling him to the negative fathoms as a compulsive psychological push. It is finally the individual's choice, for the kind of show that one wants to watch and enjoy, being glued to the big screen,in one's frame of mind, for a self satisfying course of movie watch.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sophisticated Villainy in Tamil Cinema.


      William Shakespeare said'one may smile and smile and be a villain'.Be it reality or fiction, open villainy is always easy to deal with.Crude villainy is of course bloody,horrid and hateful; but the movie villains are admired or condemned depending upon their manner of exposition. Generally,the display of 'motiveless malignity'and suave,sweet coated villainy overpowers the human psyche to a great extent.World cinema in general has dealt with hidden roots of villainy with sophisticated exteriors involving charm and grace.But the thing is, not all actors would physically fit into deceitful villainy, with a comfortable facial leverage.English villains have always excelled in this regard.In Hindi cinema, late Pran was a monumental actor of concealed villainy by his well refined looks and standard of acting. But others like Premnath, Omprakash and Amrish Puri could easily delineate rude and open villainy. Prem Chopra could excel in both.I am not knowledgeable about the new generation villains of Hindi films.
     In Tamil, among the old timers,P.S.Veerappa always belonged to the open gang of villains. Though Nambiyar could be fairly called Tamil Pran, he has been both refined and rude on the screen and the latter mode was more visible in films like Kudiyirundha Koil,NaanAanaiyittaal, Pudhiya Boomi and so on.In reflecting sophisticated villainy S.V.RengaRao usually excelled in films like Annaiyin Aanai, Raaja {both Sivaji films} and Nam Naadu {MGR's}.S.A.Asokan was like Hindi Premnath.
     While most screen villains in Tamil Cinema have tried to be loud and noisy in displaying a particular mode of their histrionic ability for portraying villainy,some have maintained style, charm and sophisticated appeal that generally reflect a classic character of aristocratic scheming and execution of negative motives.Some are capable of combining both varieties as we have seen in the case of M.N.Nambiyar,Nasser,and Prakashraj. No one can forget Nasser's crudest form of villainy in Thevar Mahan. But the same actor gave a brilliant performance as a stylish villain in 'Olympian Antony Atham', one of the most popular Malayalam movies starring Mohanlal as hero.
     Prakashraj who mostly excels in loud verbal villainy of a powerful thug, as shown in films like Gilli, Poekkiri and Singam 1, showed his pep and style of a different attitude, in films like Aasai, Vaanavil and Vaanchinathan. But there are two villain actors, who have constantly reflected smiling and charming villainy of the high class, reflecting a frame of mind specialized in the art of killing with fake kindness.They are Late Raguvaran and the famous Kannada writer and actor Girish Karnard. 
    Interestingly, these two dynamic actors gave a joint performance of grand villainy, in films like Kaadhalan and Ratchagan. Raguran who was initially noisy in some of Rajini's earlier films, began to reach greater heights with his amazing performance in films like Puriyaadha Pudhir,Abhimanyu,Uthayam,Baasha,Arunachalam, Mudhalavan, Vallarasu and Baalaa. As a gangster head and as a prototype of the greedy power block, Raguvaran has rightly fitted into his role with a striking sense of precision and style,his husky voice carrying a singular pattern of modulation, adding charm and perfection to his performance.
      A highly original creative writer,an illustrious playwright and stage actor and a wonderful film actor that he is,Girish Karnard has fascinated my imagination to a great extent.I enjoyed reading and teaching his most popular play 'Hayavadana' {translated into English from his original version in Kannada} to my undergraduate students.My enjoyment of watching his acting skill in movies like Naan Adimai Illai,{A Rajinikanth film} Kaadhal Mannan {A Saran hit starring Ajith},Rajeev Menon's Minsaarakkanavu, Kamal's Guna, K.T Kunjumon's Ratchagan,Shankar's Kaadhalan and Vishal's Chellame made me feel that Karnard has the spontaneous ability for negative portrayals, combining style and refinement of the richest order.It is difficult to imagine him in a role of either a poor man or a middle class person.By his looks and body language, he cleanly represents a section of the wealthy tribe, known for snobbery,personal aggrandizement, power mongering and exploitation of the gullible.   
       Greed for money and clinging to norms of status building, as the innate traits of the pseudo aristocratic class, have been perfectly portrayed by Girish Karnard in the films cited.He truly brought out the fears of the tax evading rich, when raided by the tax regulatory authorities,in the film Chellame. In Ratchagan, he kills his half brother with kindness blended with venom, with a view to avoiding competition in acquiring the huge, ancestral wealth.In many of the other  films, he was a wealthy dad, recklessly trying to prevent the marriage of his daughter with an underdog, thereby exposing his reluctance to surrender his inherited status of wealth and nobility.
      Raguvaran and Karnard could rightly be called the standing models of sophisticated villainy in Tamil Cinema.The other actors who fall in this category are Kitti{Kamal's Sathya} Captain Raj{ Jeeva and Pick Pocket starring Sathyaraj} and Salim Ghouse {Vetrivizha, Chinna Gounder and Vijay's Vettaikkaran }.