Saturday, May 30, 2015

Venkat Prabu's Brand of Ghosts.

  Tamil audience have been interestingly exposed to a variety of narrations of stories on benign, ridiculous and serious types of ghosts on the big screen.It has been a season of ghosts haunting us in celluloid form.The list has been considerably vast with entries like Pizza, Darling, Aranmanai, Pisasu and Kanchana making a special impact. Now  it is ''Maasu'',from the Studio Green Production house under the direction of Venkat Prabu.The director has not got out of his formula of crime and comedy, this time with an addition of a plethora of ghosts dominating the screen.His usual thrust on fraud, Hawala and the lure for money being  a vital ingredient of a Venket special, also finds prominence in this ghost ridden action entertainer.
   The initial scenes make it a strenuous necessity to correlate one with the other. Suriya has remained as the major source of strength in two roles as father and son, the former as a ghost character with a magnificently brief flashback. Suriya has put in his muscles and brain for a convincingly stylish performance talking Tamil, in the Chennai and Srilankan dialect and accent. Premji Amaran is behind Suriya for the most part of the film, both alive and dead[as a ghost] flashing his own style of humour here and there.Including Shanmugasundaram, there are more than half a dozen ghosts each with a pre mortal desire, remaining unfulfilled.With the arrival of the ghost of senior Suriya,the narration takes a more serious turn with events running one after the other, at a ghastly[ghostly too] speed.I think Yuvan is best only for melodies[Almost all his songs in Payya keep ringing in my ears.]His background score is a bit noisy and in most scenes the music component seems to swallow the dialogues.He could have learnt a couple of notes from his Dad's composition for Pisaasu.
   Samuthirakani has returned as a villain after Subramanyapuram.Parthiban is his usual stuff wherever he is and whatever role he performs.His cheeky sense of humour asks for more.It is his light minded approach to cinema that makes Venkat Prabu an endearing film maker.Though there is enough of it here,it does not fill one's expectation as his Mangaathaa and Saroja did.As the narration is half lighter and half serious, we do not know where we have to fix ourselves in watching the film.Though the first half of the film went off fast, without much to fall back upon,the second half came as an over loaded container, unable to unload the whole stuff for an easy and clear delivery.Is it a crime masala, or a ghost story, or a combination of both, in humour-cum-gravity mode,only Venkat Prabu should say.The women characters dissipate into thin air,in an atmosphere crowded by ghosts and criminals.I would not call it a gripping tale of ghosts.Nor would I rate it as an impressive action movie.But definitely it is somewhere  between the two.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Some High Voltage Tamil Film Songs.

    Film songs could be classified into breezy, solo, or mixed melodies,vibrant duets and inspiring group songs. Music composers have the onus of unearthing felicitous numbers from the existing seven ''swarams'' through an innovative process of fixation of tunes for a refreshing musical experience.How the tunes receive popular acclaim depends upon how they are tuned and rendered. The reception of a tune is also determined by the taste and mood of the audience, changing from time to time.Some might be longing for melodies.Some would stand up and dance for the fast  numbers.
  On the whole, good music hardly escapes popular admiration and patronage.However what decides the popularity of film music is the magnificence in instrumental and vocal inspiration. There is an absolutely unique category of songs that carry a high voltage of consistent energy, vibration and gusto to keep them eternally acceptable to human ears wherever they are, whatever be their mother tongue and to whichever time they belong to.In this connection I am presenting here a list of Tamil film songs of different periods that have become immortal pieces of music purely on account of their exquisite ingredients supported by a high voltage composition.
   Decades ago there came a group song in the voice of S,C.Krishnan,P.Suseela and others and this most popular timeless number is  ''Sithaada Kattigittu Singaaram Pannikittu''from the film Vannakkili. The enchanting aspect of the song is governed by its never sagging speed and the immortality of the song could be attributed to the wonderful musical composition of the traditionally talented K.V.Mahadevan.The lyric for this song was penned by A.Maruthakasi. The same K.V.Mahadevan composed another fascinating high voltage song and this song was written by K.M.Sheriff and delivered in the mighty voice of T.M.Soundarajan with the titillating female voice of Jamuna Rani .This memorable piece is ''Maamaa Maamaa Maamaa''  for the great movie Kumutham.Both these films were from the Modern Theatres.
  What a speedy and powerful duet ''Oho Endhan Baby Nee Vaaraai Endhan Baby''  from the film Theinilavu was.How colloquially,the song  written by Kannadasan and tuned by A.M.Raja, sailed through the waters and stays stuck to our memory with its tremendous vigour.Then came the two fast numbers ''Adi Ennadi Raakkamma''from Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa and''Sattai Kaiyil Kondu'' from Kaadhal Jothi  from the clear and high sounding voice of T.M.Soundarajan and Sirkazhi Govindarajan.The former was from the mighty pen of Kannadasan and it was composed my melody king M.S.Viswanathan and the latter,written by Vaali was grandly tuned by MSV's counterpart T.K.RamamurthySimilarly,the stimulating group song ''Nallavan Enakku Naane Nallavan''from Padithaal Mattum Podhuma in the combined rendition of the stentorian Soundarajan and mellifluous P.B.Srinivas would ever have its gripping influence on those,bound to the traditional music of M.S.Viswanathan/Ramamurthy for the fine words of Kannadasan.
  Songs set to a context of competition such as the most glorious ''Kannum Kannum Kalandhu''sung by P.Suseela and P.Leela for the dance competition of Vaijayanthi Mala and Padmini in Vanjikkottai Vaaliban{ Song by Kothamangalam Subbu and music by C.Ramachandraand the musically competitive ''Chinnanjiriya Vanna Paravai'' and''Neeye Unakku Enrum Nigaraanavan'',the former in the voice of TMS and S.Janaki from Kungumam  and the latter rendered by TMS and M.Raju from Bale Pandiya which are monumental samples of high voltage singing and for which Kannadasan takes the credit for lyrics and Viswanathan/Ramaurthy and K.V.Mahadevan for tuning the songs respectively.
    Two more songs of the last century,one in the voice of P.Suseela and the other from the intoxicating tone of L.R.Eswari,came as the most throbbing numbers.These two songs both penned by Kannadasan but composed by M.S.Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadevan were for the two epoch-making films Ootivarai Uravu and Panamaa Paasamaa one a hilarious comedy and the other an extraordinary family drama.These two exuberant songs are ''Thedinein Vandhadhu''and ''Elandha Pazham Elandha Pazham''.
  S.P.Balasubramanyam reputed for his high spirited and most vibrating voice, sang an energy packed song for Sridhar's Avalukkenru Oer Manam.The song ''Aayiram Ninaivu Aayiram Kanavu'' for which SPB gave his masterly voice for Gemini Ganesan, became an eternal high voltage rendition on account of its contextual validity and commanding romantic felicity.SPB sang another high voltage number for Kamalahasan in Sakalakalaa Vallaban and the most popular song was ''Ilamai Idho Idho''[Vaali's lines hit the ears with the fantastic music of Ilayaraja].
   The same way,S.Janaki's historic, energy blowing piece ''Machaana Paatheengalaa''from Annakkili  brought overnight fame to Ilayaraja because of the novelty in composition and sustained speed and energy in delivery by the exemplary singer.The song written by Panju Arunachalam vitally presented the quintessence of rustic charm and glory.The other ever enchanting energy booster is the song ''Adi Raakkammaa Kaiyathattu''in the voice of SPB and Swarnalatha from the Mani Rathnam blockbuster Thalapathi and the song written by Vaali, became one of the most outstanding musical compositions of Ilayaraja.  
   Oscar winner A.R.Rehaman has come out with several high voltage songs like ''Mazhathuli Mazhathuli Mannil Sangamam'' that carried the combined effect of the mighty voice of M.S.Viswanathan with the mesmerizing voice of Hariharan.The lyric for this song was from the refreshing imagination of Vairamuthu for the film Sangamam.M.S.V has sung another breath taking high voltage song''Sivasambo''in his own composition for the film Ninaithaale Inikkum. 
  Rehaman himself sang the most powerful number''Adiradidhaan'' written by Vaali for Sivaji.The song made everyone dance,by its amazing flow of energy, speed and splendour of background music.The supremacy of the stringed and percussion instruments accompanying the forceful voice of Rehaman, made the song carry an everlasting impact on the listeners.The latest high voltage song in Rehaman's music is ''yei Sandikkudhira''for the film Kaaviathalaivan 
  The list of high voltage songs will remain incomplete without the two popular hits from the Vijay starring Gilli and Vettaikkaaran and the remarkable songs are 'Appadi Podu Podu' and 'Puli Urumudhu'.The two songs were written by Pa.Vijay and Kabilan respectively While Vidhya Sagar compsed the tunes for Gilli,Vijay Antony was the music composer for Vettaikkaran.There would be a temptation to add a few more songs in this list particularly the songs that introduce the heroes in many films,a few more solo numbers sung by A.R.Rehaman and the immortally mind blowing songs of MGR generating a lot of positive energy.
    But the songs I have mentioned here, show consistency in tempo and vigour capable of binding the audience mood from the beginning of the song till its end.It is this yardstick that has constrained me to restrict my memory to these high voltage songs and call them so, because of the genuineness in speed and power of delivery.I might have left out some songs due to my memory failure.Whether the list is big or small,the fact here is that there exists this specific genre of high voltage numbers that could invigorate the listeners'nerves and mood. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Romance and Manirathnam.



     Romance is always a rejoicing, reverberating and rejuvenating concept for the creative mind.What one perceives as the right core of romance and how one tries to interpret it,constitute the artistic and aesthetic fundamentals of creativity.As a result,romance in Tamil Cinema, has travelled through a galaxy of lanes with characters and events catching up the imagination of the creator, for a refreshing presentation of its complex layers, accumulated through the passage of time and perspectives of each generation.Eminent directors like Sridhar,Balachander,Balu Mahendra Bharathiraja and Manirathnam have relaid the lanes with their concrete stuff of imagination and reality. Idealistic Sridhar,innovative Balachander,uncoventional Balu Mahendra  poetic Bharathiraja and traditionally modern Manirathnam have walked through the lanes of romance, stamping their remarkable footprints for a line of followers, of their respective footprints.This article would like to see the depth and volume of Manirathnam's footprints,in this regard.
   Manirathnam is as much a specialist in romance as he is a specialist in narrating the innumerable intricacies of the gangster world, with intimate understanding and scrutiny. Manirathnam's delicate touches of the intrinsic vibrations of man and woman fondling each other, or tickling each other's emotions, have never failed to reflect an extraordinary aesthetic appeal, ever since the days of his first film Pagal Nilavu, followed by Idhayak Kovil. His earlier innings in romance were of course, a combination of ruggedness and male gusto as seen through his heroes of Pagal Nilavu [Murali}and Mouna Raagam[Karthik Muthuraman].Even his Agni Natchatram which was a family drama, celebrated certain amount of macho vigor in the character formation of one of the two heroes[again Kaarthik Muthuraman].
  Whatever be the story line of  a Manirathnam movie,one could not miss the robust delineation of characters undergoing the thrill and grill of the romantic journey.[Naayagan and Thalabathi could be exceptions].No one could find the romantic vigor ever sagging in the character portrayal of the heroes in Roja and Bombay[Arvind Samy playing the hero in both].Bombay was out and out a love story dipped in the cauldron of religious fundamentalism and religion related violence. But the all pervading high voltage romance was the power station of the film.There was the fire of  love in the midst of the flames of terrorism in films like Roja,Uyire, Knnathil Muthamittaal and Raavanan.[the last one was a passionate and powerful course of romance aggressively promoted by the thorniest bush, emanating the fragrance of  mighty romance].
   But two films that stand apart as the bullet trains of romance are Alai Payudhe and Oh Kadhal Kanmani that share a period of nearly fifteen years between each other.The two films thus belonging to two different generations, could not be compared as such.But at the same time one can not deny the fact that both the films have the train station link and the live-in relationship concept, apart from projecting the whims and vagaries of youth, governed by a craving for a sense of belonging,mutuality and the positive influence of elders, in shaping the aspirations of youth.
    On watching O.K.Kanmani,one who had seen Alai Paayudhe, can not be faulted for making comparisons between the two, because the young lovers Adhi and Tara of OKK, seem to be a replica of Karthik and Shakthi of Alai Payudhe.The narration of the lovers' routine,the emotional exchanges between the lovers in OKK, keep on tapping at the doors of Alai Paudhe for a revisit.The predominantly different part of narration is the more exhaustive focus on the lovers in OKK because Alaipaudhe had a lot of other events such as the misunderstanding between another couple,calling for the intervention of the hero,the hurdles thrown on the track of Karthik and Sakthi in getting married and the accident in the climax sending Sakthi into a state of coma and so on.But in OKK,excepting Prakash raj and his wife, the audience have nothing to watch other than the pranks, buoyancy and bickering of the lovers.
    Alai Payudhe will live longer in memory, not only because of its eventful narration but also because of the richly enchanting music of the same A.R.Rahaman who has composed music for OKK too.The mighty numbers like''Snegidhane,snegidhane Ragasiya Snegidhane''''Pachai Nirame Pachai Nirame'' and ''September Maadham'' will continue to perpetuate the memory of Alai Payudhe. Moreover, without any prejudice to Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen,it should be said here that Madhavan and Shalini got into out heart and soul, as young lovers and still stay there, as eternal treasures of a solid romantic experience. All said and done, Manirathnam deserves a special applause, for not liquidating the traditional base of our culture and cherished values.The fact that the director is ever conscious of the supremacy of the roots of love in creating a bonding pattern and sense of belonging, puts him on the right exit, sidelining the roadblocks of the vagaries of youth and the new norms of man- woman relationship, imported through globalized existence.To put it in a nutshell, Manirathnam is never prepared to forego his traditional moorings, while presenting a romantic story, through his chosen lane of creative journey.And this makes him, a specially acceptable film maker of romance, at all times.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Invincible Verbal Comedian of Tamil Cinema.



       Unlike farce,slapstick comedy and other types of physical comedy,the power of words captures the context, with intelligence and presence of mind.Timing and contextual understanding to fix humour, with relevance and rightness of focus, make verbal comedy an outstanding creative experience.Verbal comedy generates not only spontaneous humour but also comic situations, promoting the well being of a vast section of the audience.We can not of course, undermine the imaginative scope and dimension behind conceptualizing a proper context, calling for exposition of physically clumsy, ridiculous and rib tickling proportions of humour.However, it is an accepted fact that verbal comedy involves a vital contribution of commonsense in flashing instant humour. Appropriate word play, be it a one liner retort, or an exclusive dialogue formula within a skit, reflects originality and freshness in laughter promotion.It is as much difficult to devise a comedy subplot as it is to frame the main plot.If the film maker decides to go in for a full length comedy entertainer,the focus will naturally be completely be on the humour side.
      On the other hand, if it happens to be a comedy sub plot,one has to decide whether the sub plot should travel along with the main story narration or can take its own independent route, with the sole aim of providing comic relief without forming any link to the main story.For making a captivating comedy sub plot, it is not only the skit that matters, but also the committed contribution of the players on the screen, at the delivery point.It in this respect,verbal comedians like N.S.Krishnan,T.S.Dorairaj K.A.Thangavelu and the successive actors like Nagesh,Thengai Srinivasan, Surulirajan, Goundamani, Vadivelu,Vivek and Santhanam have taken the lead position at various times with their distinctly vibrant style and focus on verbal comedy.I have excluded J.B.Chandrababu because he ruled as an exclusive physical comedian, with the additionally extraordinary skills of dancing and singing, that took the audience to the zenith of enjoyment.
     Of  all the verbal comedians mentioned above, it was K.A.Thangavelu, who maintained a track record of clean and sweeping verbal thrust, in kindling laughter moments.The fact that he had been a performer with unshakable faith in the quality of his skit and in his capacity for taking the skit,heart and soul to the audience,installed his position firmly as a competent verbal comedian. K.A. Thangavelu was one, who was truly wedded to the skit, with no itch for deviation at any point. In fact, it was the quality and variety of his skit development,that affixed an ISI mark of presentation on most of his skits.That is why quite a number of his comedy scenes, were made into gramophone records, to reach many homes,for a repeat of the happier moments that they spent at the theatre.A few treasured samples in this regard are from the films Kalyana Parisu,Adutha Veetuppen,Arivaali,Kaidhi Kannayiram and Dheivapiravi.
     K.A.Thangavelu  started his verbal comedy fair, from the days of M.G.Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. Though  he would have made more worthy entries with the Chevalier,his association with MGR also carried a significant impact in films like Chakravarthi Thirumagal,Alibaabaavum Naarpadhu Thirudargalum,Gulebakavali,Thirudaadhe,Arasilankumari, Enga Veettupillai,Nam Naadu and Uzhaikkum Karangal. It would be surprising that he played negative roles in the last two of the movies cited.With Sivaji Ganesan  he was effectively enrolled in several films that were great hits like Panam,Anbu, Ambikapathi,Amaradeepam,Vanangamudi,Mangaiyar Thilagam, Dheivapiravi Uthamaputhiran, Padikkadha Medhai,Irumbuthirai, Arivaali,Paasamalar,Thillaana Mohanaambaal and Galaattaa Kalyaanam.
     Of these,the comedy scenes from Amara Deepam,[remembered for his outstanding comedy show] Dheivapiravi [celebrated more for the Kadhaa kaalatchebam} Irumbuthirai,{as an underpaid mill worker} Arivaali{as a helpless husband trying to mould  his wife} and Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal {as Nattuvanaar}will refuse to leave the audience memory.As  bogus writer Bhairavan in Kalyana Parisu,as a private detective in Kaidhi Kannayiram and as a lover in the guise of an old man to win his love in Adutha Veettuppenn,the pranks and comedy manoeuvres of Thangavelu  conveyed a stamp of maturity in grasping the concept of humour.
     The other popular films of Thangavelu's comedy drive include Pathini Ddheivam, Karpukkarasi, Sowbagyavadhi,Sadhaaram,Missiamma,Vanjikkottai Vaaliban Maayaa Bazzar,Thein Nilavu, Meenda Sorgam, Manidhan Maravillai {all Gemini Ganesan films} Manjal Magimai and Enga Veettu Mahalakshmi starring A.Nageswara Rao. What  is unique about Thangavelu's comedy is his context awareness,word precision and timing of jokes without violating the yardsticks of decency in promoting laughter.It was always very interesting to watch him getting caught in a helpless situation and the frequent misfiring of his manipulative, escape mechanism.
    There was an effortless and impressive voice modulation in his dialogue delivery, with his clear bold tone embracing a shrill pattern, to indicate the final moment of defeat, confirming the failure of all his planned efforts to escape from a ticklish situation.It was this interesting journey through the vocal cords that made his humour  delivery, win strength and acceptance.Unlike Kalaivanar and Chandrababu, who sang at least one song in their own voice, in every film that they acted, Thangavelu was offered a song sequence in a number of films,though he could not himself, sing a song.Films like Rambayin Kaadhal,Naan Kanda Sorgam{in which he acted as hero}Kaidhi Kannaayiram,Irumbu Thirai,Maayaa Bazaar,Alibaabaavum Naarpdhu Thirudargalum, Vanangamudi Dheivapiravi,Manjal Magimai, Manidhan Maaravillai and Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi showed him singing either in the voice of Sirkazhi S.Govindarajan or S.C.Krishnan.The first two films in the list were noted for his centralized role performance with both humour and sobriety.
     During the later years of his acting career,Thangavelu performed compact and convincing characters as the father of girls, trying to outwit guys running after his daughters.Even in villain roles, he could effectively play second fiddle to the main villain.As a sidekick,he could make himself naturally ludicrous. Nevertheless, for all the roles Thangavelu played,it was his right and timely focus on words, that quickly drove him to the winning territory.Whether it was the main course of narration as in Adutha Veettuppenn, or a sub plot as in Kalyana Parisu and Arivaali, he always excelled with his commonsense  and competence for promoting humor.
    Thangavelu's  comedy track never failed to display an inbuilt force and vigour, amounting to the impact of bursting of crackers and this was always executed with a confident and convincing throw of words.There was ever a breezy touch in his comedy demonstration, as if humour  could emanate with the feather touch of a tennis ball with its speed,thrust and thud towards winning the game of laughter play, without unwanted hue and cry.It was a tender game of comedy that Thangavelu  played with words, that never hurt, but sent the audience to the peels of laughter.Certainly this splendid mark of  neat verbal comedy made him an invincible comedian.