Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Theme of Love in Tamil Films.

                                                  {Devadas Courtesy,The Hindu}

     Love is a concept so pregnant that it has been conceived and delivered in as many forms as the number of human beings on earth.Literature and the film media, have evolved captivating contexts of love, to cater to the tastes and aspirations of readers and film viewers.The focus has generally been on the physical,passionate,Platonic,pragmatic and personalized patterns of love.Tamil cinema from the days of its birth throes, has time and again,visited the immortal zone of love,for bestowing upon the audience, the emotional,intellectual and aesthetic thrills of love making.
    The physical side of love is perhaps, the most inevitable core of delineation of love.It has been portrayed to the extent of creating, a visual extravaganza,to capture human imagination in boundless dimensions.Directors like Barathiraja and Balu Mahendra, have been experts in the description of the physical aspect of love without vulgarity.Their sense of aesthetics in this regard, has been on an exalted plane.However, the physical fundamentals of romance,have lured the attention of many film makers,to titillate the imagination of the audience,with an over doze of sexual display and vulgarity.Besides,Casanova model of stories have quite often taken the lead, in promoting the physical context of love- making.Heroes of films like A.S.Prakasam's Pattaam Poochi, [with Kamalahasan playing the lead role] K.Balachander's Major Chandrakanth,{A.V.M.Rajan being shown as jilting, in the name of love}and Sujatha Cine Arts'Vidhi{starring Mohan as the Casanova} are just a few samples in this category.Kamalahasan played a similar role in K.Balachander's Sollathaan Ninaikirein with his famous dialogue in the climax''the last in the list is lost at last''.
     While the predominant presentation of love in Tamil Cinema,has either been passionate Platonic and pragmatic, aberrations of personalized and selfish love game, would have been witnessed here and there, in films like Sridhar's 'Policekaaran Magal'{ K.Balajee ditching his gullible girl], S.P.Muthuraman's Buvana Oru Kelvikkuri {Sivakumar as a selfish lover}and Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai { Sangeetha as a materialistic character,ditching the hero to further her prospects}.Sivakumar did a similar role in Saaindhadamma Saindhaadu,in which he was paired with Sridevi. J.Mahendran's Jaani showed Deepa jilting Rajinikanth for the sake of her dreams of a luxurious life. Balachander's Achamillai Achamillai and Manivannan'a Amadhippadai showcased selfish heroes leaving their women in the lurch, to promote their political ambitions.Tamil Film watchers could recall a few more movies of this category.
    What has always occupied the creative imagination is the poignant presentation of the passionate and Platonic perceptions of love.This innate human attribute will hardly be found wanting, at any point of time in human history.Starting from the days of Ambikapathi,Anarkali,Laila Majnu and Devadas,it is the painful and exalting moments of the lovers,that have gained momentum in evolving and narrating love stories.Among the films cited,Devadas became an epic love story, with late A.Nageswara Rao making a brilliant impact of the most tragic,lovelorn character.The last remembered, powerful and qualitative presentation of this kind of love story would be,Oruthalai Raagam.
     For quite long, Tamil Cinema was obsessed with family stories, with an adequate mix of romance, towards fulfilling the emotional expectations of the juvenile section among the film watchers.In between, there came amazing  films on serene love and in this list we continue to cherish in our memory,movies like Devadas,Anarkali,Ambikapathi,Annakkili,Vasantha Maaligai Oruthalai Raagam and Mudhal Mariyadhai.All these films poignantly narrated the profound layers of selfless love that would treat the person loved as much more important than their  own heartbeat because it was perhaps the feel of love that kept their heart beating.Identically, all these films culminated on a tragic note, either in one of the lovers or both, losing their lives for the sake of their profound passion for love.
    Directors like Sridhar and Vikraman discussed this vital segment of passionate love at different times in different modes.In Sridhar, love always struck one's mind as an ennobling experience resulting in a pleasurable course of sacrifice.Whereas in Vikraman's films, the element of human goodness becomes a feel good factor, making individuals rejoice in positive celebration of their unrequited love by doing the best for the ones whom they deeply loved.If in Sridhar's movies the man or woman would give up their lives for their lovers as seen in Nenjil Oer Aalayam, Nenjirukkumvarai ,Avalukkenru Oer Manam and Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkirein,in Vikraman's world, one could find the role of commonsense, in rejuvenating the entire process of love.Films of Vikraman such as Poove Unakkaaga,Unnidathil Ennai Koduthein and Unnai Ninaithu went on to speak about the amount of human goodness that would take love to newer Platonic heights in living totally for the benefit and welfare of the loved one.The unique philosophy of love as far as Vikraman is concerned, is the positive realization of peace and happiness through a pragmatic approach.Never once in his films could we see the lover turning to negative emotions while falling in love or when love misfires.The'all is well'principle becomes the base of Vikraman's love stories.
   The agony of untold love has been the central point of quite a few films like K.Balachander's Sollathaan Ninaikkirein and Thaamarai Nenjam,Robert Rajasekaran's Oruthalai Raagam, and Sivasakthi Pandian's Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga. But Balachander has also portrayed the tormenting moments of unrequited love in Kaviyathalaivi apart from focusing on the higher side of ennobling love in Vellivizha. In his Punnagai Mannan the hero after losing his first love, accepts his new love, after a prolonged spell of hesitation and reluctance,thereby vindicating the practical, survival philosophy.This movie also put forward the theory that love could ever remain as a frequently blossoming experience.
   The practical difficulties and obstructions that thwart the passionate journey of love in the form of familial and social lobbies projecting the supremacy of religion,caste,customs and status against true love, became the main theme of the films of Barathiraja. During the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties this poetically powerful face of Tamil Cinema, gave us very many beautiful films like Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,Niram Maaraadha Pookkal,Kadalora Kavidhaigal,Alaigal Oivadhillai and Mudhal Mariyadhai, the last one becoming an extraordinarily Platonic narration of love with a fine rural background.One could also see the passion of love, passing through each one's nerve in the emotionally heavy films like Kadalora Kavidhaigal and Alaigal Oivadhillai.
   The thrills and excitements of falling in love found their valid acceptance in the love stories narrated by Manirathnam in films like Pagal Nilavu,Mouna Raagam and Alai Paayudhe.It is Manirathnam who drove the journey of love through the deeper psychological tunnels of the lovers.
Among the new generation directors,there are some who have successfully portrayed childhood friends rediscovering themselves as lovers through a casual course of introspection.Films like R.B.Choudhri'sThithikkudhe, Ezhil's Poovellam Kettuppaar and Prashanth's Piriyaadha Varam Vendum, belong to this category. Similarly during the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, we were flooded with love films on men and women making love through letters.telephones and so on.Some even went to the extent of presenting extreme cases of lovers cutting their tongues for the sake of love.Calf love and the exuberance of falling in love were beautifully presented by Balu Mahendra, in films like Azhiyadha Kolangal and Idhu Oru Kana Kaalam.Balu Mahendra could also delve into the vagaries of men shuttling between two women in the name of love, in films like Rettai Vaal Kuruvi and Marubadiyum. But he could also portray neatly and genuinely, the immaculate width of love in Mooraam Pirai.
    Negative tendencies transforming love into a kind of obsession and mental sickness,formed the theme of films like Vijay's Priyamudan and Vishal's Chellame{in which Barath was shown as the obsessed lover}.Love taking its cues from babyhood,attracted the attention of director S.J.Soorya for developing his story line for his most successful Kushi.The ego projections between lovers preventing them from expressing their love and the tone of jealousy on account of excessive love shown either by the man or woman could be seen as the repeated themes of Tamil films on love stories.{eg; Sivaji Ganesan's Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal and Vijay's Kushi}.Sensible priorities and family dedication have also been discussed as governing principles of the pragmatic side of love in movies like Love Today,Kan Ethire Thoenrinaal, and Santhosh Subramanyan. Age at times is kept at bay when the passion of love begins to dominate.This peculiar case has been witnessed mostly as an aberration or as something natural in films like Balachander's Aboorva Raagangal and Kalki and Simbu's Vallavan. The same theme was handled with poetic felicity by Barathiraja in Mudhal Mariyadhai.
     A bird's eye  view of the love stories experienced in Tamil Cinema would vindicate the inexhaustible nature of love, as the sum and substance of human life.The infinite variety of love has always been the most intoxicating and engaging force on the makers of films surpassing the barriers of language.Consequently,each love film would be different from the other with characters and situations throwing light on a newer dimension of love.Neither the film makers nor the audience would ever be tired of this universal aspect of human life.But beyond each one's observations and interpretations of the ever interesting love stories, the fact remains that some films outlive the passage of Time, to keep lingering in our thoughts and memories, as the grandest and most valued tales of love.Some such films in Tamil are Devadas,Vasandha Maaligai,Annakkili, Oruthalai Raagam, Mudhal Mariyadahi and Kaadhal. The other fact is that the theme of love is never going to become dry at any point of time, in the process of inspiring and energizing creative imagination.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two South Indian Films on a Christian Concept.


    The Lamb and Christianity are not only spiritually connected but are also emotionally interrelated. The Christian faith symbolizes the lamb as Christ himself, by its belief that Christ is the Lamb of God. Besides, the Lamb is equated with innocence and the power of salvation through sacrifice.By all means, the Lamb plays a pivotal role in Christianity.
   Recently,two films released within a gap of three years had something to do with the Lamb, not only in their titles but also in their representation of ideas and ideals. One was the Dileep starring Malayalam film ‘Marikkundoru Kungnaadu’{Mary Has a Little Lamb} that came in 2010 and the other was the Mysskin film’ Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum’{The Wolf and the Lamb} released in 2013.While the former was out and out a story emanating from a truly Christian background, with a Christian hamlet providing the story base, the latter was not just a thriller, but a bit iconoclastic too, in its evolution of theme and narration.Though the theme  base and mode of narration were different, both these films finally established the supremacy of the Lamb with the force of a lion.
    As usual, like most other films of Dileep,‘’Marikkundoru Kungnaadu’’ was also greatly enjoyable with its Dileep ingredients of humour, love, sentiment and action. In addition to these, the main character played by Dileep,was cleanly bound to the Christian ideology of the lamb being meek, innocent and being placed at the altar, often for a sacrifice. The goodness of the Lamb with its immaculate nature, was vindicated solidly at least on two occasions in the film. When the Church father was falsely implicated in a case relating to a nocturnal visit to a woman’s bedroom, Dileep playing the lamb, saved the Father  from the predicament, by accepting the fact that it was he who dressed in the Father's cassock, was in the woman’s bedroom during his visit to meet his lover Mary.Secondly, at the end of the film,when the lost golden cross of the Church was retrieved, one of the two robbers [impressively performed by Biju Menon} who budged to the powerful emotional appeal of the Lamb {Dileep} not to take away the Cross,was not exposed as a partner in the theft and thereby shown mercy and grace, in the name of  the Lord. These two contexts were more than enough, to prove the power of the Lamb and its symbolic significance.
   The Tamil thriller ‘’Onaayum Aaattukkuttium’’ starring director Mysskin as the wolf and Sri, as the Lamb, projected the darker side of crime  and macabre adventure, that most often find prominence in many of Mysskin films. Here the Lamb was shown as the typical Saviour, who could gain a lion’s might when it came to dealing with a Satanic mind set.Mysskin’s creative mould is made of sterner stuff with a passion for the darker side of the human psyche and its potential for portending evil. As in some of his earlier films, the devil is punished, here too, with  the glory of the Lamb of God, overpowering and conquering the evil at the end. However, ironically, Mysskin seems to prioritize the presence of more number of wolves in the present day world, through scenes displaying human arrogance, indifference and brutality, in happily witnessing others suffer, shedding blood. May be, this emphasis on lupine crookedness, is a deliberate attempt at spot- lighting the dazzling presence of nobility, however small it might look, in the midst of the massive crowd of wolves. It is finally the victory of the Lamb in the film, that catapulted the supremacy of virtue over vice.
      The two films mentioned here, might differ in their story line and style of narration. The Malayalam movie would have drawn more audience because of its openness in presentation and its all pervading entertainment quotient, coupled with the endearing presence of a hero like Dileep,to warm up the audience.But the Tamil film could also definitely reach its targeted audience, through its  departure from the usual cinematic line and cross the barriers of one’s imagination, through its complexities of negative dynamism, surpassed finally, by the positive pro active formulation of the Lamb theory. Both these films would have succeeded in effecting a warming up of the souls of those, who are passionately devoted to Christ and Christianity.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Tamil Film Director of Commercial Hits.

    Directing films speaks of one's frame of mind as well as his creative credentials.In other words, each one expresses their passion for a line of thinking and field of programme with their innate quest for the fulfillment of their cherished and chosen goals.It is the hard core objectives of  film makers, that bestow upon them, a kind of tag or identity of their own.Some choose to entertain; some choose to enlighten.Some prefer to do both.Tamil film industry has an astounding list of renowned directors like A.Bhimsingh, P.Madhavan, A.C.Thirulokchander, K.S.Gopalakrishnan, Krishnan-Panju, K.Balachander,BaluMahendra,J.Mahendran,Barathi Raja,Manirathnam and Shankar among the front liners at various times in the history of film making.Another person who would naturally and without any exaggeration join this line of film directors, is S.P.Muthuraman,an eminent face of Tamil Cinema.
    S.P.Muthuraman,like J.Mahendran and [late] A.Rajasekar,is primarily a Rajini film maker. Unlike the other two,S.P.Muthuraman would have made nearly twenty five films of the superstar. He could also be called the foremost director of films from AVM Studios,the biggest and most reputed production house in South India.S.P.Muthuraman's very first film Kanimuthu Paappaa was received with great enthusiasm for its quality of presentation worthy of family watch.The movie starring R.Muthuraman and K.R.Vijaya, had a great story line and was told neatly to cater to the taste orientation of the emotionally genuine Tamil audience.In the high quality list of films directed by S.P Muthuraman, one could find some of the earliest and most decent films of Rajinikanth like Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri,Engeyo Kettakural and Aarilirundhu Arubathuvarai and Kamalahasan's early hits like Oru Oothaa Poo Kan Simittugiradhu and actress Sujatha's Mayanguhiraal Oru MaadhuThe last three films in the list fetched him awards from the Film Fare and from the State Govt.of Tamil Nadu.
     The most significant factor of S.P.Muthuraman's films was their commercial viability.None of his films could be called a flop.On the other hand quite a number of his films like Rainikanth's Netrikkan, Murattukkalai,Nalaavanukku Nallavan, Manithan, Mr.Barath, Velaikkaran,Raja Chinna Roja, and Kamalahasan's Sagalakala Vallaban,Thoongaadhe Thambi Thoongathe and Uyarndha Ullam were great box office hits and his other movies like Kamal's Enakkul Oruvan and Per Sollum Pillai and Rajini's, Raanuva Veeran, Puthukkavidhai,Adutha Vaarisu,Paayum Puli,Adhisiapiravi,Guru Sishyan, Dharmathin Thalaivan and Pandian were fair shows on the big screen.His other films like Vijayakanth's Dharma Dhevadhai and Nallavan and the Sathyaraj starring Ulagam Pirandhadhu Enakkaaga, also rightly established the success formula of the respective heroes.
     Some of the sincerely popularized themes of S.P.Muthuraman's films were family sentiment,the prevalence of goodness in individuals,the right thinking people's inherent quest for justice and the victory of the good over the evil. S.P.Muthuraman would rarely visit negative zones such as hidden crookedness and the motivated aberrations of the human psyche.He had an open approach that dealt with life's realities as he saw them and he presented what he observed with the necessary cinematic ingredients, that would positively win the audience for a compulsive watch of his movies.He has been a film maker with a healthy frame of mind and he would not pretend to be an art film maker.His yardsticks of film making have been very simple and pragmatic and like a medical practitioner whose chief concern would be to heal,this film maker's creative priority has ever been to make the viewers happy.His films would mostly be on expected lines, because he had the set parameters of action display, for the targeted audience.In this regard he was a trustworthy film maker both for the producers and for the viewers.It is this success formula that has helped him to do more number of films for one particular production banner and for one special hero.
      Barring Mayanguhiraal Oru Maadhu and Nallavanukku Nallavan,almost all his films were hero-centric.Similarly,Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri Engeyo Kettakural,Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai  and Nallavanukku Nallavan were perhaps some of his films that had a climax with a tragic note.He has always had an even mix of action,comedy and sentiment and that is why almost all his films reflect an all pervading gusto of entertainment.S.P.Muthuraman has beautifully brought out the humour sense in Rajinikanth in some of his films like Velaikkaran, Adhisiappiravi and Dharmathin Thalaivan.He has equally presented effectively, the sober side of the Superstar's acting in films like Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri, Engeyo Ketta Kural, Murattukkalai,Nallavanukku Nallavan, Mr.Barath and Manidhan. Incidentally, it should be mentioned here that S.P.Muthuraman has directed at least four films of Rajinikanth produced by the latter's mentor K.Balachander and they are Pudhu kavidhai, Netrkkan,the super star's one hundredth film Sri Ragavendra  and Velaikkaran.The other film from Balachander's production house that he has directed is Enakkul Oruvan that has Kamalahasan as hero.
    Variety,value assessment and volume, have been the triple assets of S.P.Muthuraman.No doubt like his namesake R.Muthuraman, who remained a busy actor at all times,he too remained as the busiest and most buoyant film maker for nearly a quarter century and the fact that the most recent super hit of the superstar,Sivaji was co-produced by S.P.Muthuraman,shows that wherever there is a ray of success sighted, he will be there to ensure the presence of victory. It is this practical foresight, that has made him a stable,steadfast and successful film maker.