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 }.   


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