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 'ப'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.