Friday, October 16, 2015

A Felicitous Film Maker of Family Dramas.

     During the early years of Tamil Cinema, its focus was mostly on family dramas.Here and there we would have come across historical or mythological films and a few thrillers.Family sentiment was the strong core of Indian cinema in general, because of the prevalence of the joint family system and the enormous faith cherished by everyone in the traditional core values of family life.Spouses deriving solace from each other,filial bond,parental love,sibling intimacy and an unfailing association with the paternal and maternal relatives which formed the base of family life, were invariably passed on to the larger than life events on the big screen.
    There were at least half a dozen film directors who had specialized in family drama.Of these,the duo Krishnan Panju, A.Bhimsingh and K.S.Gopalakrishnan were brilliant film makers. While others dealt with family stories with other significant elements such as rural charm, romance and the impact of society on family life, it was A.Bhimsingh who always clicked his camera intensely into every nook and corner of the family routine.The emphasis on family unity, was always a vital parameter of his depiction of family dramas.
    What made Bhimsingh's narration outstanding, was the total absence of artificiality in story telling, character delineation and dialogue delivery.One could always feel that the happenings on the screen were happenings in real life.There was nothing overdone, to call for an assessment of  melodramatic. content,In other words all that happened in a Bhimsingh film could very well happen in each one's family.It is this genuineness in presentation, that made the release of his films the most desired  occasion for theatre visits.
    Starting from his earlier innings such as Ammaiyappan and President Panjaksharam[both starring S.S.Rajendran] it was a race of family emotions supported or disturbed either by the family formation or by external aspects such as career and friendship.The intrusion of friendship into family life as a strengthening bond,was strikingly noticed in films like Padhi Bakthi and Paarthaal Pasitheerum.Films like Paava Mannippu, Paasamalar and Bhandha Paasam discussed  intimate sibling love, Paalum Pazhamum beautifully presented the profound layers of love between husband and wife. Pachai Vilakku, narrated the sad story of an Engine driver[again played by Sivaji Ganesan] of the Indian Railways, who went to the extent of giving up his life, in order to save a running train and its passengers, from the sabotage caused by an anti social wing.
    Whereas, Padikkadha Medhai and Paar Magale Paar were exuberant family dramas, with whole packed emotions, arising from conflicting interests between parents and children as pillars of the joint family fold.Padikkaadha Medhai with a huge cluster of characters, poignantly portrayed the plight of a wealthy family falling into ruins all of a sudden.The consequences of the family's fall were so grievous, that the children and parents were instantly disconnected from the family tree. Sivaji Ganesan as an adopted member of the family, played a key role in reuniting the family members after the pathetic death of the family patriarch.Each and every scene was so true to life, that those who watched the film would still be feeling its impact as an everlasting life experience.
     In Paar Magale Paar, Sivaji Ganesan himself was seen as an aristocratic and status conscious father whose obsession for wealth was awaiting humiliation at the sight of the fact, that one of his two daughters was actually the offspring of a servant woman.The weight of the story lay in the difficulty in tracing the identity of that particular daughter.The confusion was actually caused in the maternity ward, by the accidental death of the nurse, who mixed up the two new born kids while giving them their first bath.The film was a memorable event on the screen with Sivaji Ganesan and Sowcar Janaki as husband and wife, creating the greatest family drama by their gripping performance.
    Baagapirivinai was a still grander show of family experience with members of two generations of a joint family, living together and vested interests trying to break the roots of the grand family, by insisting upon partition of the joint family's wealth and resources.Films like Pazhani,Bhandha Paasam and Padithaal Mattum Podhuma confined the action component to the inner family circle with one or more of the siblings growing either selfish or greedy or suspicious.Almost all these films were award winners either drawing the national award or Certificate of Merit from the Government of India.
    Like A.P Nagarajan who specialized in myths and spiritualism and like K.S.Gopalakrishnan who stuck firmly to rural story backgrounds,,A.Bhimsingh devoutly cherished the core and depth of family drama to take it passionately to the audience, without any pretension what so ever.Music was another amazing supporting factor of all the films of A.Bhimsingh, with the duo Viswanathan Ramamurthy or K.V.Mahadevan stealing the hearts of film goers, with soul sustaining songs.Above all, what made a Bhimsingh  film stand up straight and greet the mood of the audience, was the supreme presence of Sivaji Ganesan as hero, heightening and fulfilling the expectations of the audience with grace, grandeur and governing participation.
    All the films mentioned in the previous paragraphs, were Sivaji starring blockbusters with the prominent support of the other hero Gemini Ganesan or a few other heroes like S.S.Rajendran and R.Muthuraman.His other Sivaj Ganesan films include Raja Rani,Naane Raja, Petramanam,Shanthi, Senthamarai,Paalaadai and Paadhukaappu. No one can say if Bhimsingh's films guaranteed the growth trajectory of Sivaji Ganesan,or if the latter's presence and role play enhanced the quality and ensured the victory of those movies.Whatever be the contention, it is an established fact, that all films of A.Bhimsingh with Sivaji leading the show, were inimitable family dramas.
      Bhimsingh's prominent Gemini Ganesan films were,Thirumanam, Kalathur Kannamma and Ponnu Vilaiyum Bhoomi. Kalathur Kannamma takes the credit for introducing Kamalahasan as a child artist besides being one of the most remembered films of Gemini Ganesan.Thirumanam was a highly talked about movie.Some of the other different films of this high profile director were, Sahodhari, Paadha Poojai,Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkiraal. The last two were based on the two famous novels of Jeyakanthan. Sahodhari will always be remembered as a great movie with the remarkable performance and songs of Chandrababu.Paadha Poojai had Sivakumar and Jeyachitra in the lead roles.An absolutely different film of Bhimsingh was Saadhu Mirandaal, with T.R.Ramachandran playing a neat role.It was a thriller kind of film and could be called a deviation from the professed path of film making, of this great director.
    Two specially distinct features of Bhimsingh's film career were, his preference for the Tamil letter 'рок'as the fist letter of a number of his films and his obvious avoidance of MGR as the hero of any of his films.Though no specific reason could be attributed to this rejection, the fact remains that MGR has not acted in any of his films.Setting aside these observations,it should be categorically mentioned here, that no other film director in Tamil, has gone deeper into the intricacies of a well founded institution, called family.In upholding family values and in portraying characters of exemplary virtues and behavioural patterns,A.Bhimsingh always created records of kind, not just for the sake of winning awards, but positively for the purpose of creating a classic sense of order and discipline in  the family foundation, with its inherent fundamentals of love,understanding,mutual concern and sacrifice.In portraying the true spirit of family objectives, it was A.Bhimsingh who was found to be enjoying what he was trying to project on the screen.It is this innate felicity in narrating family stories, that made him, the master film maker, of family dramas.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fantasy Tiger, Fails to Pounce.

    Gorgeous settings,magnificent locales,exquisite presentation of the hero and his charming girl,impressive underplay of villainy by Sudeep,fascinatingly horrid reappearance of Sridevi on Tamil screen after a long spell,convincing graphics,gripping stunt scenes and credible Hollywood style of scenic display,are certainly the most positive features of Actor Vijay's latest film Puli.A couple of throbbing dancing numbers make Devi Prasad's musical score something special.Father Vijay roars and pounces more ferociously than son Vijay. But beyond these the film seems to lack tempo and ceases to entertain with consistency.It really made me long for the film 'Vedhala Ulagam' released by the AVM banner in 1948,starring actor singer T.R.Mahalingam.
  'Puli' altogether seems to be a medley of quite a few Hollywood films including the Academy Award winner Brave Heart and the Harry Potter series.Being stuffed with horror elements in narration it can not be a worthy watch for kids.Being neither a complete supernatural fiction nor a totally out -of -reality narration, it does not seem to reach adults, in its intended form.May be teenagers who are neither free from childhood fantasies,nor  have realized adulthood facts, will enjoy this sandwich.
   As an ardent lover of actor Vijay's films, I was happy when he became careful in choosing his roles and story lines, after a series of failures like Kuruvi,Villu and Sura.That he was able to repeat his hat trick of victory through movies like Kavalan,Velayudham,Thuppakki and Kathi,boosted his capacity for giving only hits.In fact, the tiger in Vettaikaran roared and pounced much more powerfully than this Puli.
   After seeing this film, two points were nagging my mind.Firstly,why should Vijay think of playing such a role, which does not fit him in an acceptable profile?Secondly why should director Chimbu Deven resort to such an alien kind of theme and story line, which obviously lacks relevance, compactness and vigour in its over all impact.Like the character of Vijayakumar which has been wasted without any dialogue delivery,befitting the veteran's capacity for grandeur,huge funds seem to have been wasted in a futile exercise in building this exhaustive world of fantasy. Chimbudeven's portrayal and presentation of Torture King Pulikesi XXlll, was far more enchanting and entertaining than this disappointing 'extravaganza'.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Two Vijay Super Singer Judges, as Playback Singers.

    Vijay Super Singer competitions for seniors and juniors have been making remarkable records in many  aspects.One of its most interesting features is the composition of its judges.The usual bench consists of popular playback singers like Mano,Srinivas,Unnikrishnan,K.SChitra and Sujatha Mphan besides the periodical addition of Usha Didi and T.L.Maharajan. This blog already carries an article on Mano in comparison with S.P.Balasubramanyam.The objective of the present article is to discuss the singing style and impact of Srinivas and Unnikrishnan,leaving the other four, for independent  or comparative inclusion in later articles, under different headings.
    These two singers have been brought under a comparative discussion because both Srinivas and Unnikrishnan made their entry into Tamil Cinema with the A.R.Rehaman label and both made their first shots distinctly memorable.The songs that made them special were ''Manamadhura Maamarathu' from Minsaara Kanavu and ''Ennavale'' from Kaadhalan the former sung by Srinivas and the latter by Unnikrishnan.
    Interestingly,Unnikrihnan who is about six years younger than Srinivas  made his entry first and he also joined Srinivas. for his first song in Minsaarakanavu. Unnikrishnan's voice is as modest as he is,without claiming to be too big on any count,but at the same time making a powerful and indelible impression on the listener.It is a clear, soothing, digging and forceful voice capable of venting a galaxy of emotions at one go.Be it 'Ennavale' or the succeeding songs like 'Uyirum Neeye Uravum Neeye' {Pavithra}'Narumugaiye'{Iruvar}'Meenamma' {Aasai} 'Inninisaipaadivarum'{Thulaadha Manamum Thyullum}'Thenmerku Paruva Kaatru' {Movie with the same title }and'Manam Virumbudhe Unnai'{Nerukku Ner} 'Roja Poondhottam'{Kannukkul Nilavu}they were all felicitously, enchanting, emotional and romantic melodies.
    Whereas,'Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga'{Kadhal Kottai}'Roja Roja' {Kadhalar Dhinam}and 'Maargazhi Thingal Allava' {Sangamam}were profound emotional outbursts. There were also great energizing numbers like 'Sonia Sonia' {Ratchagan}'Selayile Veedu Kattavaa' {Aval Varuvaalaa } 'Haire Haire Hairabba'{Jeans}'Mayilu Mayily Mayilamma'{VIP}'Nilavai Konduva' [Vaali} 'Ivan Yaaro'{Minnale}and 'Vennilaa' [Kushi}.In rendering all his songs,Unni krishnan proved his depth and exuberance in pouring forth contextually valid emotions, with a rare kind of style and depth in presentation.There were many more mesmerizing songs of Unnikrishnan, under the music composition of eminent composers like A.R.Rehaman, Ilayaraja,Deva,S.A.Rajkumar and Harris Jeyaraj.
    Unlike Unnikrishnan,Srinivas was not fortunate in lending his scintillating voice, for many block busters.Most of his songs were  for average, or, to-be forgotten films.But there were great hit songs like'Yenge Enadhu Kavidhai'{Kandukondein Kandukondein} Maha Ganapadhi {Amarkalam} Kaalai Arumbi{Kanaa Kandein}'Minsaara Kanna'{Padayappa}and'Apple Penne Needhaano{Roja Koottam} Snehidhane {Alai Payudhe} 'Mouname {Mozhi}' Yarumilaa'{Kaavia Thalaivan}'that carried verry significant waves with music lovers.The song 'En Uyire' from the film Uyire could pierce the soul with an incomparable sense of anguish and agony. Songs like 'Aalangatti mazhai{Tenaly}'En Mannava' {Linga}'Nenjam Enum oorinile' {Aaru}' 'Enrenrum Punnagai'{Alai Paudhe}are some of the most vibrating numbers of this penetrating singer.
    Srinivas has a  travelling voice, similar to that of Hariharan and he is strikingly capable of juggling with his own voice.He is a self exploring singer, with an outstanding musical research attitude, with regard to the conception and delivery of tunes and the effective role play of the human voice,in harmony with the instruments.However in my opinion, the opportunities that came in the way of Unnikrishnan, were more fascinating and dynamic, in delivering quality music and he made the best use of them.On the other hand, despite his tremendous voice potential and singing ability, similar opportunities did not come in the way of Srinivas and there lies the gap between the two,as far as popularity and larger acceptance of  their film songs are concerned.
    Both Unni and Srinivas have an immensely power packed voice.Both have the positive base of their expertise in carnatic/classical music.No one can say 'no' to their songs, because they have all the captivating ingredients involved in the rendition of songs, by their endearing voices.As judges at the Vijay Super Singer programmes,it is Srinivas who always steals the show.But as a singer it is Unni who has stolen the imagination of the audience, by giving more memorable songs for a large number of very popular films.As a commoner,I am always for the songs of both these fabulous voices.It is left to a voice expert like Mr.Anand Vaidyanathan to say, whose voice characteristics can be explored again and again, for the presentation of mind blowing musical magic, of varied kinds.