Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dynamic Comedy Duo.



             
















    Tamil Cinema has not been lacking in dynamics of comedy and humour at any point of time, ever since its inception. Even during its founding years, Tamil films were reputed for vibrant comedy, displayed by amazing comedians such as N.S.Krishnan, Kali.N.Rathinam, T.S.Dorairaj and later  by great actors like K.A.Thangavelu, Nagesh and V.K.Ramasamy. It was these people who took verbal comedy to its decent and enjoyable heights. But even among these comedians, we would not have seen a continued team spirit, in the line of the Hollywood famous Laurel and Hardy.
   However, there are two comedians of Tamil Cinema,who launched a team show and went on well, with unusual gusto and exuberance, calling for spontaneous audience admiration, for nearly two decades. Strangely, both these actors began acting on an independent track.By a touch of fortune,they came together to reach new heights  in commendable verbal comedy with an intermittent spell of physical comedy necessitated by contextual compulsions.These two comedians Goundamani and Senthil  will ever stay tuned to the memory of a large section of the Tamil audience,who were fortunate as movie watchers, during the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties.
     As far as their independent comedy roles are concerned, Goundamani  would have scored more credits  than Sendhil because of his extraordinary verbal force, which he would have sensibly used teaming up with all heroes including Kamalahasan {Singaravelan and Indian need a special mention} and Rajinikanth [ Padhinaaru Vayadhinile, Uzhappaali, Mannan and Baabaa in particular}.Goundamani’s  grand show of verbal comedy took several U turns and stomach curdling curves whenever he joined the company of Sathyaraj. Some of the special films in this regard are Thirumadhi Pazhanichami,Vela Kidachuduchu,Walter Vetrivel, Bramma, Nadigan, Pangaali,Vallal,Thai Maaman,Kungumapottu Gounder,Maaman Magal and Malabar Police. I think Goundamani  would have acted maximum number of films with Sathyaraj as hero. Goundamani's  role as a political aspirant in Sooriyan {with Sarathkumar as hero} was another feather on his cap with a performance full of lively wit vibrant satire.He also celebrated his solo comedy in films like Payanagal Mudivadhillai and Naan Paadum Paadal. 
    For Sendhil  without  Goundamani, it is not that easy to display his intrinsic  humour potential. It is the presence of Goundamani  that inspires him to make a marvelous show of his cheeky side of humour taking his senior comedian casually for a ride, every now and then. Tamil audience can never erase from their memory hard drive, the most hilarious scenes from films like Kattabomman, Chinna Gounder, Chinnavar, Manasukketha Maharaasaa, Thangamana Rasa, Naattaamai , Gentleman,Jaihind. Karna, Indian, and the most famous Karagaattakkaran. The banana scene from the last film mentioned here, would stay as an epoch making comedy scene like that  of K.A.Thangavelu narrating his bogus award winning function to his wife M.Saroja, in Kalyana Parisu and  Naagesh narrating the ghost tale in his proposed film to his father T.S.Balaiah, in Kadhalikka Neramillai.
   There is a remarkable scene in a movie in which Goundamani  would have explained the meaning of cholera as an evil spirit. Subsequently fearing the spread of cholera, Goundamani will travel on the pillion of the cycle pedaled by Sendhil . When Goundamani’s foot gets stuck to the back wheel, he will shout ‘kaalraa Kaalra’[my foot man! my foot] Senthil  will coolly say that he knows it is cholera and that is why he is riding fast so that both of them can escape from it. In another film, Sendhil  will watch Goundamani consoling a bereaved son at a funeral, stating that the dead man was not only a father to his son but also a venerable father to everybody in the village. Soon in  a similar context,Sendhil  will be seen consoling a bereaved husband, stating that the departed wife was not only a beloved wife of her husband but a loving wife of everyone.How much Sendhil   gets thrashed for this, is anybody’s guess. Senthil  will then innocently think, why when Goundamani says such things he is not beaten by anybody, forgetting the context and its requirements of behaviour and manner of talk.
    In another film Goundamani  will  be selling tender coconuts and Sendhil as his assistant driven by the temptation to become a coconut seller will soon indulge in stealing Goundamani’s tender coconuts, using a rope and pulling them one after the other, to another place installed by him as a shop. He will do this with the help of Vadivelu.  In Jai Hind, every time when Goundamani{ a cop, in that film}goes to sleep, Sendhil will appear in his dreams, goading him to do the unwanted, thereby causing a demotion or some other punishment in his job. Through out the film, Senthil will be a nightmare for Goundamani. Who, other than Sendhil ,will have the temerity to argue that  he an  eight standard passed out candidate, is superior to Goundamani, a tenth standard failed person, because a pass is always superior to  failure in an examination.
    The collateral damage that Senthil  causes to Goundamani in several movies, is the creamy layer of hilarious comic situations ending up in thunderous applause from the audience. The most unforgettable comedy in this category is from K.S.Ravikumar’s Naattaamai  wherein, Sendhil plays the notorious womanizing father of Goundamani. While Goundamani will be helplessly looking for  a girl for himself to be his wife Sendhil will effectively thwart the former's attemptsThe other noteworthy aspect of Goundamani's search is his desire to know who his mother is. Whenever Sendhil addresses Goundamani as'My son' Goundamani will retort by calling him'Dei Thagappa'}.Though Naattaamai was a grand show in all respects, one could firmly acknowledge the dynamic reach of Goundamani Senthil comic anecdotes adding to its historic victory at the box office.
   At one point of time or the other any trend  has to meet its natural end. This dynamic duo could not be said to have parted ways. But  the audience preference began to move towards newer display of laughter quotient and comedians like Vivek and Vadivelu took over the screen for the evolution of  social concepts and contextual display of physical comedy combined with verbal banter. However, Sendhil  like Goundamani ,established his  individual might of comedy, by his special association with the Superstar in films like Muthu,Arunachalam and Padayappa and the comedy segment of these films was a clear indicator of what Senthil is  independently capable of .
   Goundamani, who was introduced by Barathiraja, continued to remain a constant addition in most of the films of this  epoch making film maker. His talent has also been successfully utilized by many able hands like R.Sundarajan, Manivannan, Ramarajan, Ve.Sekar, P.Vasu, K.S.Ravikumar,R.V.Udhyakumar and Shankar. Besides he was  regularly included in the films of the Motherland pictures. Sendhil being almost the alter ego of Goundamani would have been there in most of the films directed by the above film makers.Perhaps Shankar would have inducted him in a few more films like Jeans and Boys.Sendhil has also been a special favourite of actor Thiagarajan who gave him the first opportunity in Malayur mambattiyaan.
    Like Nagesh whose comedy show dominated Tamil Cinema for more than two decades, the humour  component of Goundamani and Senthil  flew high  wielding their welded wings to newer zones. Trends might change every now and then. But each age has a special message to pass over to posterity. It is this message that makes history. In this regard  the message passed on by the duo is that, if two individuals set aside their ego, they can create new records in joint ventures  with a dynamic reach of their joint show.
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The "Innocent" Face of Malayalam Cinema.

    




















     Malayalam Cinema owes its credibility in creativity and success in status,to many veteran film makers,script writers,actors,cinematographers,musicians,singers and so on.There is always a unique stamp of originality governing the entire gamut of Malayalam film making.Among heroes, from Prem Nazir to the most recent entrant, many would take credit for lifting the creative face of Malayalam film industry,each one unfolding a distinct dimension to character delineation. But among character actors, mixing a celebrated gusto of comedy,there are only a few actors who have made a long standing impact,with a constant display of spontaneity,individuality and variety.
    There was Adoor Bhasi who occupied the centre stage as one of the prominent  faces of Malayalam Cinema, nearly for four decades from the Nineteen Fifties.Luckily,there was no vacuum left by him because immediately,there came another ebullient actor,who amazingly mixed up comedy with character portrayal and sustained the tempo maintained by Adoor Bhasi.

 The grandeur in Bhasi was due to the impeccable mark of innocence coupled with mischief and there was no decline in this extraordinary brand of character fixation,thanks to the emergence of yet another master of the craft, carrying innocence in his name too.Innocent Vareed Thekkethala, shortly called Innocent,is the steadfast actor- turned politician and Member of Parliament, who has  attained the singular position of an inseparable segment of the Malayalee movie routine.
    Those who have acquainted themselves with the inception,emergence and progress of Tamil Cinema would  compare Innocent without prejudice,to the prestigious position held by actors like S.V.Subbiah,S.V.Rengarao,T.S.Balaiah,V.K.Ramasamy and M.R.Radha of the last century. Innocent has in him,a trait or two of all these actors and with his own  masterly strokes has added pep and dynamism to each of his role performances.
  Voice is the greatest asset of Innocent. It is a tremendous voice pattern capable of churning out several emotions at one stroke. In expressing anxiety and nervousness,he may resemble T.S.Balaiah and in increasing his decibel he may be closer to V.K.Ramasamy.In moments of dignified silence he will bring the veteran SV.Subbiaha to our memory. In deliberation of hasty dialogues ending up  in a sudden switch off, he will be like S.V.Rengarao or M.R Radha.
  It is my remarkable association with Tamil Cinema,that makes  me equate Innocent with the stalwart character actors in Tamil films.Otherwise, one could simply say he is an actor in the line of Adoor Bhasi, opening up newer channels and intricacies in acting, through his independent creative formulations .
     As far as quality of role performance is concerned,Innocent heralds fresh throws and trends in acting by injecting hilarity and emotions relevantly to the context, thereby making himself incomparable.One could say he is unbeatable in combining comedy with character projection.The salient humour shots of Innocent, generate more from his physical demonstration [otherwise known as body language]than from his utterances.It is a kind of immobile,stony stance he periodically maintains in his body language, resulting in instant laughter.His face is a symbolic exterior,shuffling expressions and emotions in a sequence,through the calculated movement of his eyes and lips. 
   Most often, one could perceive an ostensible stubbornness in his body mould and gesticulations, that would successfully reflect him as an unrelenting talent.Yes, as an aggressive artist, he would not surrender his position  to anyone in any context. Be it in the midst of reputed Malayalam big screen comedians,or great heroes like Mammootty,Mohanlal Jeyaram and Dileep, the presence of Innocent, will be a poignant indicator of the shot that stays glued to the memory of the audience.
   Malayalam films abound in rib tickling physical and verbal comedy scenes vigorously carried on by a hearty tribe of humour mongers,like[ late] Cochin Haneefa,Jagathy Sreekumar,Harisree Ashokan,Salim Kumar, and Sooraj Venjaramoodu.Among these seasoned comedians, the first two have excelled in character acting too.But Innocent belongs to a specific category of actors capable of establishing an endearing link with the audience,demanding an invisible personal acceptance.It is difficult to bring in the list of all his great movies because the number itself is great. However, there are some special films, that would force the audience to keep thinking not only about those films, but also about Innocent’s contribution towards enriching the quality of the films.
   In this regard, my memory archive could release from storage films like Kilukkam, Devasuram, Life is Beautiful,Vietnam Veedu,Ravanaprabu,Mithunam,Rasathandhiram,Manichithrathaazhu , Balettan,Naran,Madampi,Ustaad, Alibhai,Baba Kalyani, Maambazhakkaalam, Snehaveedu, Gitanjali [all with Mohanlal}Hitler, Pattaalam Valiettan, Chronic Bachelor,Kaazhcha, Vesham, Kadha Parayumbol, Pranchiettan &the Saint with Mammootty,Verudhe Oru Bharya, Bagyadhevadha with Jeyaram,Nandanam and Vellithira with Prithviraj and Paapy Appachan  Chandran Udhikkunna Dhikkil,Vettam,Ishtam Marykkundoru Kugnaadu and Aagathan with Dileep{apart from the mega hit multi-starring Twenty Twenty produced by Dileep}.
   I have given here only the list of significant movies that I have watched. I have not seen his most popular films like Mannar Mathai Speaking l and ll and Husbands in Goa.The eventful scenes of comedy and character performance of Innocent, are an on-the-spot  quick fix, refusing to leave the memory slot.The periodical  quarrels between him and his wife in’ Life is Beautiful’ ending up in a sweet course of romance,thanks to Mohanlal, his helplessness in preserving secrets in ‘Rasa Thandhram' his comedy time presented in association with  Mukesh and Harishree Ashokan in ‘Chronic Bachelor’ and in almost a similar role as a confirmed bachelor with a craving for women in Ishtam,,his rigid approach towards his son in ‘Pappy Appachan’ and his self-centered clandestine banking  activities in ‘Chandran Udikkunna Dikkil’are a few samples of the variety dimensions of characters he played on screen with precision and perfection.
   Besides these memorable performances, it was a pleasure to see him in priestly roles in a few movies and the way he fixed himself compactly,with unfailing look of dignity and sanctity in the character of God, in ‘Philips and the Monkey’s Pen’.
  Innocent’s progress and sustenance in the field of acting has been both stable and substantially qualitative.The presence of this amazing actor in several Malayalam films is not due to any special favour shown to him,but because of his indispensability for adding certain amount of valid vibration to the narration of the main story. 
  Above all, his amiable frame of innocence,capable of delivering the perennial flow of mischief and humour, is his potential  market value,letting him fall lovably into the hands of many film makers as an inevitable value addition.The really complicated issue in the case of this renowned Malayalam movie lord is the difficulty in assessing,when actually Mr.Innocent is mischievous and when this cheeky mischief maker is helplessly innocent.This is certainly the piquant side of the 'Innocent' face of Malayalam Cinema.
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