Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Peerless Peak Among Tamil Film Makers.

        K.B, The Kinetic Bastion of Tamil Cinema,
        Who served films, as food palatable to all.
        Cracked hurdles as water bubbles,
        Swam bravely, against the tides of sham norms,        
        Echoed rational spirit, as the base of human living,        
        Staged serial shows, on behalf of oppressed women,
        Distinguished marriages on the line of convention
        Conviction and each one's convenience,
        Made Gandhian smile beam on the big screen,        
        Drew bigger parallel lines over the small,
        Let the modest  rise high, with a sense of wisdom,        
        Beat perverse notes, to display the vagaries of life,
        Played with words, on subtle and sublime notes,
        Flew high, with creative wings in the blue sky,
        Steered debutantes into lime light at his beck and call,
        Lived only to love films and loved them with a big bang,        
        Has left legendary themes, lofty skits and life- like characters
        As his living legacy, besides a Leviathan void.
        Let the void remain, celebrating his memory and the glory 
        Of his monumental movies, colorfully black and white.


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Role of Dancing in Tamil Cinema.


     Like most other arts, dancing is  known for its varieties, nuances and subtleties. Some of the enchantingly  popular names of India’s proud dancing varieties include Bharatha Naattiyam Bhangra,Dandiya,Kuchipudi, Kadhak,Kerala Nadanam, Mohini Attam,Keisabadi,Odissi AKA Orissi {the last two from Odhissa }and so on.These traditional Indian  dance forms particularly Baratha Naatyam used to be a preferred addition  to Indian Cinema.Tamil films offered immense scope and opportunity to professional dancers, in the early decades. Famous dancers like Gopi Krishna, Kumari Kamala {who started her dance celebration even as Baby Kamala} Vaijayanthimala Padmini{with her sisters Lalitha and Raagini} and L.Vijayalaksmi were all professional dancers creating a brilliant appeal in their dance shows. Later  entrants like J.Jeyalalitha, Shobana, Sankarabaranam fame Manju Bharghavi, Amala,Banupriya and Revathi were also trained well in Baratha Naattiyam to lead their respective generations.
    Among  actors, the two notable dance numbers assiduously practiced and enthusiastically delivered by the mass hero MGR, can hardly be erased from the memory of those, who saw them in the films Mannaadhi Mannan and the other, Kudiyirundha Koil,{rated to be one of the best films of MGR} The former was a classic Bharatha Naatiyam piece and the latter a Bhangra variety.The most important fact here is,MGR competed with two veteran and dynamic dancers like Padmini and LVijaya lakshmi. Sivaji Ganesan’s  grand dancing display as irate Lord Shiva, dancing his Rudra thaandavam in Thiruvilaiyaadal brought out his grit  and conviction in giving his best in any performance.Sivaji’s tumultuous dance sequence in spite of his fat physique poignantly presented his tremendous capacity for emoting through his body and mind. That was indeed another rich show of Sivaji  the actor par excellence.
    Can Tamil Cinema ever exist without the golden memories of the dance scene, flawlessly demonstrated by the two magnificent women ,Vijayanthimaala  and Padmini, in the epic like film Vanjikkottai Vaaliban? The competitive dance programme  showed them both, as equally competent and equally incomparable. It was not only P.S.Veerappa  the unbeatable villain actor who said’ Sabash Sariyaana Poetti’{Well done! A proper cotest.} but also the entire audience in all the theatres who corroborated his statement. What a splendid performance in dancing that was, with infallible body movements, involving the whole gamut of Bharathanatyam  and with the musical component fantastically augmenting the quality of the dance scene. It is one of the most glorious chapters of Tamil film history.
    Vijayanthimala’s  dancing might could have been witnessed in quite a few other movies like A.V.M’s Vaazkai,Gemini Pictures’ Irumbuthirai, and Modern Theatres’Bagdad Thirudan  But Padmini’s  dancing caliber was fully utilized by Tamil Cinema in a number of films, of which her peacock dance in Iru Malargal and the initial dance sequence for the sog Mannavan Vandhaanadi Thozhi, in Thiruvarutchelvar,stay as ever green memories.Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal  an epic stature movie on music and dance, will be an immortal work of art for various reasons, including the two dance sequences of Padmini,for the songs ''Maraindhirundhu Paarkum Marmamenna'' and ''Nalandhaanaa?'' 
    On the lighter side were, the titillating dance scene of K.R .Vijaya  for the song Thedinein Vandhadhu in Ootty Varai Uravu, and J.Jeyalaitha’s several beautiful dance sequences including the one for the song Oraayiram Naadagam Adinaal in Sumaddhi En Sundari.Of the two actresses,Jeya lalitha was a trained classical dancer and her expertise in this regard was a visual extravaganza  from her very first film Vennira Aadai in which she was shown as a character interested in dancing. Films such as Aayirathil Oruvan, Kannan En Kaadhalan and Adimai Penn continued to display her dedicated dancing potential. Latha,her successor as MGR's heroine, was also moderately trained in classical dancing.Her dance in MGR's last film Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundara Pandian deserves a special mention.
     Among the next generation actresses,Shobana's  dancing credentials were established in films like Enakkul Oruvan and Thalabathi. Later, it was Revathi who showed interest and acumen in classical dancing and her power of dancing was sufficiently vindicated in that most popular dancing scene in Vaidhegi Kaathirundhaal  for the song 'Azhagu Malar Aaada'.Ramya Krishnan   who is another good dancer has gracefully exhibited her capabilities in this regard in Padayappa for the song 'Minsaara Kanna' and in a few other films.The other notable dancer is Banupriya  an actor contemporary of Revathi and Ramya Krishnan. Similarly,Aiswarya Bachan's sparkling dance scene for the song 'Kannodu Kaanbadhellaam' in Jeans was also adequately appealing. 
    Heroes  and heroines of today, have shifted their focus towards Western varieties of dances like Disco.Break dance,Belly dance,Ballet,Salsa,Line dance and a few others. In fact, even during the last century,Western dance types were celebrated by many actors, including the fabulous comedian J.P.Chandrababu, whose rock and roll numbers were of a striking mode. Films like Periya Idathu Penn,Pudhiya Paravai, Parakkum Paavai  and Panam Padaithavan gave a fillip to Western varieties of dances that were a great delight to watch. But almost all heroes of today, have moved towards novel  concepts in inventing stunning body movements, both sprint and gliding, as if the entire course of dancing is a sequel to profound training sessions in calisthenics.
    The credit for the highly innovative concepts creating exquisite dimensions of physical excellence in the name of dancing, goes to trend setters like, dance master Sundaram, his sons Prabudeva and Raju Sundaram and others like Raghav Lawrence and Kala.The nimble body movements, establishing a fascinating reach with the audience, showed Prabu Deva,Raju Sundaram and Lawrence as dancers of exceptional standard in many films.The ebullient  dancers among heroes today are, Vijay, Barath, Simbu, Danush and Vishal  and they all have their performance dedicated to the trainers mentioned above.
    The only actor who  has untiringly retained the gusto of  multiple dancing potential is,the all rounder Kamalahasan.He is well versed in classical dance, Western varieties and some of the age old multi-cultural dance types like Kadhakali, Kuchipudi  and Mohini Aattam. Whatever he performs, he takes into himself the original stuff, with zeal and unquestioning commitment. Be it Salangai  Oli or Nizhal Nijamaagiradhu  or the latest Viswaroopam,  Kamal   as a dancer is a class by himself and proves to be the truest son of Art in its totality. There are a number of films to prove his excellence in imbibing the Western  dance forms too.
    Dance, like music, is an inseparable segment of cinema; but unlike music, it makes vital visual entries to visit the mind for a while or to stay as memory, for long. Unlike songs which can be heard even without watching the movie and enjoyed as an invisible treasure, dance requires at least a one time watch, to be watched again either on the screen or through imagination. A highly exhilarating dance number like the one  for the song ‘Ada Aalthotta Boobadhi Naanadaa’ from the film Youth, can be re- experienced through the imaginative process, any number of times, after a single visual absorption. 
    Beyond all this, it is a known fact, that dance by itself can not exist without the musical addition.It is music that  energizes the existence of dance and binds the dancer to the appropriate mood and form of dancing. In other words,dance percolates into an audio visual experience on the screen, only by travelling on a musical track, as the foremost aesthetic principle of film making.Tamil films in this respect, carry the legacy of dancing, with periodical addition of interesting and inventive patterns, as the greatest pride of human imagination.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Energy Surpasses Age.

         Style and energy have always remained the Superstar's invincible assets that have taken him closer to his ardent fans.Despite ageing,the energy levels of Rajini remain as a source of grandeur in Rocky Venkatesh's Linga. This Rajini birthday gift celebrates the Rajini package of action, humour, philosophy, punch dialogues and exuberant delivery of role play, thanks to the  ever sparkling contribution of Rajinikanth, convincing direction of bustling K.S.Ravikumar,the scintillating musical component of A.R.Rahman and the  aesthetic cinematography of R.Rathnavelu. K.S.Ravikumar, best known for keeping the tempo of his films without sagging at any point, does the hat trick here too.As usual, he carries a huge load of cast on his shoulders, that include the regular Rajini additions of Vijayakumar,Nizhalgal Ravi and Radha Ravi and the director's pet actors like Anu Mohan and,R.Sundarajan.The latter's scheming  wolfish villainy needs a special mention. Besides, we have sweet additions like Ilavarasu and Manobala.The two heroines Sonakshi  and Anushka passionately represent the traditional and modern charm of womanhood. in their respective roles. Rehaman's 'Indiane vaa' is a beautiful number to repeat.
    The gusto of humour in the initial scenes is rejuvenating.The jewel theft scene makes a special impact with speed,subtle touches of romance and vibrant comedy.The arrival of Collector Rajini on a locomotive, with adequately animated stunt sequences ask for a gripping watch.There is crowd. There is crow behaviour too.Trust and mistrust keep shuffling as indicators of mob mood vagaries. Collector Ligeswaran's royal sacrifices,his reflections on wealth and mortality and his challenges to the British collector- cum -watch dog, seem to create the mood of watching a few poignant scenes from Muthu{a film of epic grandeur} and Padayappa once again.The climax stunt between Rajini and Jagapathi Babu though incredible to a great extent, evokes a 'willing suspension of disbelief'. K.S.Ravikumar's smart appearance in the climax effectively gives the finishing touch with a bang.On the whole this Rajini K.S.Ravikumar joint show establishes its dynamic reach for the third time.
   It is good that Rajini never wants to disappoint his devoted fans.It would be a happy moment for others, to get a chance of revisiting the Rajini of undying films like Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri,Engeyo Ketta Kural and Aarilirundhu Arubadhu Varai. Rajini being a combination of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan can definitely give a feel of satisfaction for many among the audience, eagerly waiting for his  other brilliant side of acting.It is high time Rajini thought of playing emphatic elderly roles like the Chevalier besides following the MGR thumb rule of being an eternal young hero,singing and dancing with pretty young heroines.. Linga no doubt is a special birthday gift from the superstar.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two Less Recognized Great Actors of Tamil Cinema.

     Not all actors in the cine field get their due recognition in terms of their talents and potential.This is applicable to actors in all language films.Tamil film industry is no exception to this.The actors undergoing the trauma of improper recognition would be many and they would belong to all categories of acting including that of a hero.It is not the objective of this article to analyse the reasons for such a predicament.It is just an attempt at throwing more light on the facts of what one is worthy of.
     Looking back at the days of Tamil Cinema when the two top most heroes MGR and Sivaji Ganesan had reaped the best of their acting career and when new heroes like Jai Shankar and Ravichandran had just begun their hey days,there was a search for new talents, to add a little more dynamism to the Tamil big screen. C.V.Sridhar and K.Balachander, the two illustrious directors of those days could be proud of introducing two new faces to Tamil Cinema.The former came out with a hero and the latter a hero-cum-character actor.One was Srikanth and the other was Jai Ganesh and their movies were,Vennira Aadai and Aval Oru Thodarkadhai. The other creditable fact is that Srikanth was the first hero of J.Jeyalalitha, who later became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Besides,he was older than Jai Ganesh, nearly by a decade.
    Both Srikanth and Jai Ganesh started their career with the best directors of their time.But for Srikanth,his first movie was not his best, because it was a heroine-oriented film and the role of a psychiatrist as hero, did not warrant any extraordinary display of acting dimensions.It was almost a docile role and Srikanth performed it as meekly as possible.But for Jai Ganesh,his entry itself marked a bang with the role of an irresponsible, dipsomaniac elder brother and family head. Incidentally,it was another heroine related story, that gave a remarkable beginning of acting career for debutante Sujatha. However,the performance of Jai Ganesh was extremely noteworthy and the tragic end that fell on him at the climax, when he got reformed of his drunkenness,made his role in that film strikingly memorable.
     Ironically speaking,both these actors seemed to have had a similar fate line at least with regard to their film career.There are solid reasons for this kind of assessment.Both these men after failing as heroes became very impressive comedians and villains.Audience of their times could hardly forget the brilliant performance of Srikanth,with his famous dialogue'I am always open' in Aval,a successful remake of the mega hit Hindi film Doraha.This movie hit the screens with the hidden histrionic ability of Srikanth,substantially displayed.While Srikanth came out with a remarkable role of villainy in Dhandayudhabaani pictures' Komaadhaa En Kulamaadha,Jai Ganesh showed his ebullient villainy in Aattukkaara Alamelu of this production house.Similarities between these two actors are many.
   Though Sridhar introduced Srikanth,K.Balachander used his talents for his films like Naanal, Navagraham,Ethir Neechal,Poovaa Thalayaa,Bhama Vijayam and so on.Similarly Jai Ganesh introduced by K.B was effectively portrayed by Sridhar as a villain in Azhage Unnai Aaradhik kirein. Both these actors had been Sivaji Ganesan's co stars  in several films, particularly in negative roles. Srikanth's role as the son,of Sivaji Ganesan in Thangapadhakkam would be one of the most memorable roles in his archives.His other notable performance with Sivaji Ganesan was in Gnaana Oli. Interestingly in both these films Srikanth is shown as dying in the hands of that veteran, towards rendering justice for his wrong doings. Srikanth had again played as the corrupt son of Sivaji Ganesan in Vietnam Veedu and as a selfish younger brother of Sivaji Ganesan in the most popular film Rajapart Rangadurai. His other noted movies with Sivaji Ganesan were, Siagamiyin Selvan,Rojavin Raja,Anbaithedi,Vasantha Maaligai and Avan Oru Sarithiram.
    Jai Ganesh was found acting with Sivaji Ganesan in several films like Annan Oru Kovil, Pattakathi Bhairavan,Naan Vaazhavaipein,Pilot Premnath,Thirisoolam,Imayam, Andhaman Kadhali,Vaa Kannaa Vaa, AmaraKavyam, Needhipadhi and so on.Most of the roles were on the negative side.Both  Srikanth and Jai Ganesh were taking up roles that showed them throwing challenges to the hero and were later made to accept defeat.Apart from acting as villains both these actors were quite comfortable on the comedy side.While Srikanth made his humour sense relevant and impressive in films like Kaasedhaan Kadavulada and Poova Thalaiya,Jai Ganesh was his hilarious self in films like Murai Maman and Ullathai Allithaa,both directed by Sundar.C.and later with Kamalahasan's farcical comedy Kadhala Kadhala. Both of them are capable of generating decent,convincing sense of humour.
     Srikanth has acted with Rajinikanth in Bhairavi  as a crude villain and later in Thambikku Endha Ooru.But Jai Ganesh has been in Rajini's films like Naan Vaazha Vaipein, Raja Chinna Roja and Adhisiya piravi .After Aval Oru Thodarkadhai,Jai Ganesh has also acted in a couple of movies of K.Balachander such as Pattinapravesam and Rojavanam. He has  played important roles in some films on spiritual themes like Thaaye Neeye Thunai, Samayapurathaale Saatchi,Mel Maruvathur Arpudhangal and Varuvaan Vadivelan.Jai Ganesh has  acted with new generation heroes like Vijay {Poove Unakkaaga}and Ajth{Mugavari}.
     For Srikanth two of his movies Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal, stand out to be unique in the sense, both these films were based on Jeyakanthan's novels and they were highly acclaimed for their story value and refined character portrayal.The character of the hero in both these films was beautifully carved and Srikanth fitted himself into the character with compactness and dignity. Srikanth was a natural actor and his role performance was always a sample of straight course in acting.He has done his best in all his films though movies like  Aval, Thanga Padhakkam,Rajapart Rengadurai,Komadha En Kulamadha, Avan Oru Sarithiram, Kaasedhaan Kadavulada and the two Jeyakanthan films will be the most remembered ones.I last saw Srikanth in a negative role as Chief Minister,in Vishal's  Sivappadhikaaram.
    Jaiganesh could be called an all rounder with a flair for essaying with felicity, villain,character and comedian roles as naturally as possible.In dialogue delivery too,one could find a kind of effort and strain in the voice mould of both Srikanth and Jai Ganesh. Both have not shared screen space with MGR.Besides being natural actors they could also afford to be melodramatic if the story line warrants.It is my personal opinion that these two talented actors could have been recognized a little more than how they were.With more challenging roles and due accommodation they would have retained their positions in the Tamil film field,with more command and wield.