Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mukta Srinivasan,the Ever Modest Film Maker.{Posted again as Homage, on his death on 30th May 2018}

     Tamil Cinema has come across exuberant film makers at various points  of time. During the earlier years there were fabulous film makers like Gemini Studios S.S.Vasan,AVM's Meyyappa Chettiyar, Vijaya Vahini Studios Nagi Reddy,Modern Theatres T.R.Sundaram,the R.R.Pictures T.R.Ramanna, Padmini Pictures B.R.Bantulu and several others.Besides these production houses,there were other amazing directors like A.Bhimsingh, A.P.Nagarajan, P.Madhavan, Krishnan Panju,A.C.Thirulokchandar, followed by other most creative and popular film makers like K.Balachander, K.S.Gopala krishnan, Balu Mahendra, Barathiraja,J.Mahendan and S.P.Muthuraman. Among these there was another very modest film maker who under his Mukta Films came out with a sizable number of films of his chosen heroes, worthy of decent  family watch.This film maker V.Srinivasan whose very first film Mudhalaali which is still remembered for the most popular song ''Yerikkaraiyinmele Poravale Penmayile''fetched him national award,later on came to be known as Mukta Srinivasan.During the initial years he worked under eminent directors like T.R.Sundaram,K.Ramnath and K.S.Sethumadhavan.
      This modest face of Tamil Cinema had his own preferences of themes,course of narration, music component and above all his team of actors.His earlier notable releases were Panithirai, Idhayathil Nee and Poojaikku Vandha Malar and for the last in this list,it was K.Balachander who wrote the script.His hero would be Gemini Ganesan the soft romantic face of Tamil Cinema those days.He then tried his hands with sensitive, suspense prone stories with Gemini Ganesan in Thein Mazhai and with Ravichandran in,Ninaivil Ninraval.Then came the two Jai Shankar films  Bommalaattam and Aayiram Poi.These films are remembered as much for their quality of story line,music composition and clean narration as for their hilarious comedy sequences. Nagesh and Cho Ramasamy provided a combined show of humour in the first two and Cho Ramasamy with Thengai Seenivaasan and with comedienne Manorama enriched the comedy segment of Bommalaattam.
     After these,Srinivasan's attention was drawn towards the Chevalier.With Sivaji Ganesan some of the interesting movies like Niraikudam,Thavapudhalvan,Arunodhayam, Anbaithedi, Andhamaan Kadhali,Imayam,Paritchaikku Neramaachu and Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum, turned out to be distinct, with variety in theme content, story line and narration .The last two in the list were award winners. All these movies became great pointers to the growing popularity of Mukta Films as makers of aesthetic entertainers on the big screen..Cho Ramasamy was a regular addition in the films of Mukta Srinivasan and he took care of the humour component of all the films, with a significant thrust on satirical verbal force, leading to moments of vigorous humour and loud thinking.In fact, Cho Ramasamy's presence was an added attraction for dependable audience support, for most of the films of the Muka Pictures.
     Mukta Srinivasan's themes and mode of narration were mostly centering around human and psychological foibles.He would also focus on individuals' whims and vagaries, by showing them  as the traits of the main or supporting characters.Some of the pointed expositions in this regard were somnambulism causing entanglements,including those with criminal implications for the victims {Thein Mazhai}, amnesia resulting in a depressing personal predicament {Ninaivil Ninraval},day dreaming making the victim worthless in the perspective of others,{Anbaithedi} evening blindness bringing undesirable problems to the victim{Thavapudhalvan] and a husband's inferiority complex over his wife earning more than him,that became an irritant in the conjugal routine {Sooryakanthi}. Srinivasan handled these ticklish issues with maturity and understanding without letting down the momentum in narration.
     Besides these, the film Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum  discussed in a very subtle and commendable way, the plight of an eye doctor, struggling to save his erring son, from the hands of a blind man {Jai Shankar} brutally waiting to kill his son for avenging the death of his wronged  sister.The emotional moments involving Sivaji Ganesan,the ophthalmologist and Saritha[Sivaji's daughter-in-law in that film}were a great treat to watch.The climax of the film showing Saritha dead and the vengeful Jaishankar with his restored vision, thanks to the eyes of the deceased Saritha, created cathartic moments, eliminating the revenge goal of the wronged Jaishankar. Srinivasan deserves an extraordinary acclaim for this,as a maker of marvellous scenes, worth cherishing, in audience memory.
    Similarly the sentimental sequences of Andhamaan Kaadhali, presenting the helplessness of Sivaji Ganesan and Sujatha in making a meeting point, after a prolonged conjugal separation and the profound emotions displayed by both of them, as love lorn husband and wife, showed the finest possibilities for narrating beautifully,a precious romantic element in a catchy form.Very rarely we come across, movies like Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum and Andhamaan Kaadhali.Apart from Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum,Balapareetchai and Avan Aval Adhu were also award winning films of V.Srinivasan.
    On the comedy track ,Srinivasan has clearly shown that he can provide decent humour with relevant scenic continuity adding gusto to the over all narration and quality of his films.Apart from Cho,his other preferred comedians were, the veteran comedians Nagesh, Thengai Srinivasan, Neelu and Mouli [whom he first introduced  as an actor in Sooryakanthi}. All Mukta films movies were endowed with adequate and appropriate comedy segment, mostly supporting the main plot and at times, existing separately as independent sub plots. Thein Mazhai,Ninaivil Ninraval, Bommalaattam, Aayiram Poi, Kadhaanaayagan and Vaaikkozhuppu, were a few of his films known for valued comedy sequences.
     From Sivaji Ganesan to Paandiarajan,Mukta Films Srinivasan has worked with many prominent heroes, including Rajinikanth{Pollaadhavan and Sivappu Sooriyan} and Kamalahasan[Andharangam and Cinema Paithiyam}.Interestingly Mani Rathnam's  block buster movie Naayagan ,with Kamalahasan's supreme performance winning him an award,was produced by Mukta Films.
     V.Srinivasan stands apart, as a modest but outstanding film maker, not only for producing the colossal film Naayagan but also for being part of Andhanaal, the first Tamil film without any songs, directed by Veena S.Balachander.He has worked with distinguished film makers like L.V.Prasad and K.S.Sedhumadhavan. He has teamed up with music directors K.V.Mahadevan, M.S.Viswanathan, T.K.Ramamurthy, V.Kumar and Ilayaraja
    However, he has not worked with the mass hero and former chief minister MGR even once, though he takes credit for exhibiting the best acting dimensions of the great woman and late Chief minister Jeyalalitha, in his immortal film Sooriyakanthi.In the passing phase of events,all things pass by.Many people come and go.Some are immortalized for their achievements.But many talents remain without being marked high, in spite of their power of performance to be marked high, because they are modest and have not claimed their place or clamoured for it. Mukta.V.Srinivasan belongs to this modest category of film makers,whose power of performance stands vindicated by the successful reach of most of his films, with a vast section of the Tamil audience.This day, the Thirtieth May 2018 is certainly a deeply mourning day for the Tamil film industry.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Riveting Remake.

       Remakes are not new to Tamil Cinema.Late K.Balaji was reputed for producing Tamil remakes of Hindi and Malayalam films.Some of them like Raja,Engirundho Vandhaal and Vidhi were mega hits. Rajinikanth's Muthu,Chandramugi and Kuselan were remakes of great Malayalam blockbusters of which the first two were remade to suit Rajini's fans with a Mida's touch,though they did not reflect the true spirit of the original.But Kamal's Papanasam,a remake of Mohanlal's most loved and talked about film Drishyam, not only gives an extraordinary feel of the original but has also put up a throw of freshness.The director Jeethu Joseph deserves a special pat, for not letting the remake of his original, deviate from the core dynamism of presentation, besides coming out with a refreshing stage for portrayal of events,scenes,characters and their emotions.The freshness of the film sustains on two counts.
  Firstly,Mohanlal's cycle journey has been  suitably accelerated by Kamal's two wheeler TVS moped speed that symbolically augments the speed in narration so as to make a three hour watching of  a lengthy movie into an absorbing experience.Who else other than Kamalahasan could have effectively replaced Mohanlal in a subdued underplay of the role of a hero, as the head of a crisis prone family moving from a calm journey to a stormy struggle? Secondly,unlike Drishyam,Papanasam has two heroes.One is Kamalahasan and the other is the enticing Tirunelveli Tamil dialect.Starting from Kamalahasan, everybody, including Kalabhavan Mani and M.S.Bhaskar, makes the delivery of dialogue so natural that it it literally takes us to the Papanasam routine.
  But the impact of Drishyam has been so irretrievably fixed in the minds of the audience that it would be difficult for them to get out of it, for the sake of watching its Tamil Version.Frame by frame the film has been remade with conviction and commitment so as to make a revisit of the original. Though it is a pleasure to see Gowthami back on the big screen, giving a neat and veritable performance as the responsible and loving mother of two daughters,one can not dismiss the fact that she is looking a bit fatigued .One cannot also ignore the temptation to compare her with Meena of the original, whose inspiring looks and  graceful bickering moments with Mohanlal were the bonus scores of Drishyam.A remake is of course a remake.But this is the case of a riveting remake because of Kamal's outstanding performance and his inseparable Tirunelveli slang.I always had a feeling that Kamal has not been focusing on family sentiment.This longing has been fulfilled now,a long time after Mahanadhi. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tamil Cinema's Timeless Villain.


    Villainy is as old as humanity.Creating concepts of villainy and a focus for its proper display are the greatest challenges facing the creator of any art form, that demonstrates evil or bad behaviour denoting the yardsticks of villainy.Fiction and drama, have specialized in the working of the human mind and its reflection as character and behaviour. Cinema has distinctly extended the dimensions of good and bad manners and ways of life, through a dedicated presentation of themes, stories, events and characters.Villainy in Tamil Cinema, is factually as old as Tamil Cinema itself.This Blog has already discussed fairly, the varied trends in villainy prevailing in Tamil Cinema, under another article entitled, 'The Archetypes of Villainy in Tamil Cinema'.The objective of this article is to make an exclusive tribute to a villain actor whose villainy on screen is closer to the inception of the Tamil film industry. It is M.N.Nambiyar,the marvelous villain actor,who deserves this special encomium for remaining as the timeless villain of Tamil Cinema.
    The composition of villainy involves two things.They are,a foul psyche and its fouler manifestation. One may be a scheming villain,a crude villain,a loud villain or a smiling villain. M.N.Nambiyar has proved many a time that he is the combination of all these tough and trendy traits of villainy.What always created a special impact in the case of Nambiyar was his singular modes of gesticulation and. unique voice modulation creating the most gripping shades of villainy.
     Two of the earliest films that showed him as the sweet quoted villain,were Nichaya Thamboolam and Thirudaadhe,the former a Sivaji Ganesan film,and the latter an MGR special.He also did a similar dubious role in Missiamma a Gemini Ganesan hit. Later he appeared once again in such a role in one of MGR's last leg films Neethikku Thalaivanangu. As a deceptive villain, Nambiyar was perfectly captivating because of his charming and graceful looks.As Nambiyar was one of those actors who moved to the screen from the stage,he knew at the deeper levels, the intrinsic parameters of timing in dialogue delivery and bodily coordination in acting,that made him a special asset to Tamil Cinema,leave alone his inborn flair for performing villainy with felicitous involvement.
     Nambiyar was one of those actors who was simultaneously performing character roles along with villain roles in early Tamil releases like Thigambara Saamiyaar, Makkalai Petra Magaraasi, Baagapirivinai, Naan Petra Selvam, Nallavan Vaazhvaan, Boologa Rambai and Paasamalar.He also convincingly portrayed the role of an honest police officer in movies like, Nallavan Vaazhvaan, Panthottam, Ragasiya Police and Ninaithathai Mudippavan, all MGR films.As a police officer, he was chic and stylish in all these films.What was extraordinary about this outstanding actor was his facial composition and body frame that could naturally fit into any kind of character be it of a royal mould or a social/ familial/tribal type. 
      Some of the earliest grand shows of Nambiyar's incomparable villainy were the MGR blockbusters Marmayogi, Mandhirikumari  Sarvaadhikaari and the moderate hits like Arasilankumari and Arasa Kattalai. He was either a Raajaguru or scheming royal lieutenant or a flirting guy in these immortal films.Similarly inspiring were the roles he performed, in the Sivaji Ganesan super hits like Vanagamudi, Uthamaputhiran and Thanga Padhumai. One great thing about M.N.Nambiyar was that he was a non controversial actor at all times and that is why he could get patronized both by the MGR and Sivaji Ganesan camps, without any degree of discrimination.
      Nambiyar was seen as the crudest and most violent villain both in looks and demeanour in some of the notable MGR films like Naan Aanaiyittaal,Padahotti, Kudiyirundha Koil,Pudhiya Bhoomi,Kaavalkaaran,Naalai Namadhe, Sirithu Vaazhavendum and Pallaandu Vaazhga.Of these Kavalkaaran was a totally different type of film in which he played the role of an irredeemable rich criminal-cum-father-in law of MGR.In Engaveettu Pillai he was the greedy and ruthless brother-in-law of the hero MGR, but finally got mellowed through a process of reformation, as in the film Aayirathil Oruvan, which showed him as a bad provincial ruler unethically attempting to marry the heroine.In Sridhar's Urimaikural,he was the scheming son of a greedy mother who finally got beaten and reformed by the hero {MGR}.The other detestable villain characters in which he appeared were for the Sivaji Ganesan starring Thirisoolam and Rajini Kanth's Naan Mahaan Alla. A few other films that exhibited the brutal side of his villainy were, MGR's Dheivathai,En Kadamai, Parisu, Nododi,Madapura, Vivasaayi, Thozhilaali and Aasaimugam.
      Some of the rarest and most memorable roles that Nambiyar performed brilliantly, were as a rich zamindar bent upon destroying the love of his son even during the rebirth of his son and his lover, in the film Nenjam Marappadhillai and as a rich man displaying the arrogance of wealth or  not allowing his sister or daughter to marry a poor, beneath- his status man, in films like Raman Ethanai Ramanadi Enga Oor Raaja and Rajapart Rengadhurai. He compactly and buoyantly fixed himself, in performing  roles such as poet Ottakoothan in Ambikapathi  as an aristocratic zameendhar in Thilaanaa Mohanaambaal and as Balathevar in Raja Raja Cholan. 
    Unlike P.S.Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar did not have bold eyes to make a physical thrust of villainy.But his eyes could at times speak more than his tongue because his eyebrows could rise and shrink to suit the emotions required for the scene .The effectively calculated rise and fall of intonation in his delivery of dialogues and the corresponding gesticulations he would make, were the invincible trademarks of his villainy would inspire many mimicry artists and comedians like Vivek to imitate him, not for the sake of mockery but for the pleasure of doing it.If P.S.Veerappa was good mostly at fencing, M.N.Nambiyar was equally adept in fencing, boxing and wrestling.This comparison should not be misunderstood,because P.S.Veerappa who was an inimitable and contemporary villain actor of Nambiyar,had shown his tremendous skill for fisticuffs in films like Kaidhi Kannayiram and Ananda Jothi.The point here is, unlike P.S.Veerappa,M.N.Nambiyar had acted in more number of films on social themes and so the need for practising and performing other genres of stunt activities, was more for M.N.Nambiyar than for Veerappa. 
    M.N.Nambiyar lived longer than P.S.Veerappa and he could share screen space with a long list of actors starting from MGR and Sivaji Ganesan down to the youngest actors like Vijay, Prashanth and so on.Similarly both as a villain and character actor he would have acted with comedians like N.S.Krishnan, K.A.Thangavelu,J.P.Chandrababu,Nagesh and Vadivelu quite often sharing their comic spirit with him.Incidentally,the very first film of M.N.Nambiar 'Vidyabadhi' showed him as a comedian and many years later,it was K.Bagyaraj who restored the comic mantle to Nambiyar in his film Thooral Ninnupochu. In the film Winner, one can see Vadivelu teasing M.N.Nambiyar with a funny remark that the death of MGR has made his  mischief rather uncontrollable. Surprisingly,Nambiyar would not make any reaction to this remark. Perhaps he would have silently enjoyed and endorsed Vadivelu's cheeky remark.
     No one can ignore his elderly character roles,mostly as a lovable grand dad in the films of heroes like Rajinikanth [Ejaman}Vijayakanth[Ezhai Jaadhi}Vijay{Poove Unakkaaga} and Prasanth{Winner}.It is known to the Tamil audience that this ardent villain of Tamil Cinema was a staunch Ayyappa Devotee and a teetotaler.His journey from villainy to valued character roles on the stage and on the screen, was ever a spontaneous course, because of the magic in his voice and the volume of his vision, that could easily travel from the destination of villainy to that of virtue.It was his inbuilt capacity to undergo this by polar journey that keeps him in the most reputed and prestigious position as the timeless villain of Tamil Cinema.