Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Two Contemporary Yesses of Tamil Cinema..


     Tamil Cinema has been quite often under the influence of two predominant celebrities as actors or singers or film makers or as music directors.As far as actors are concerned it has been the case from the days of M.K.T Baghavadhar/P.U.Chinnappaa and MGR/Sivaji Ganesan down to the present scenario of Vijay and Ajit. Among singers such a distinct duality prevailed only between T.M.Soundarjan and Sirkazhi Govindarajan. Similarly among music directors M.S.Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadhevan alone held a remarkable distinction as powerful music makers of a single period.However among film makers we had A.Bhimsingh and the duo Krishnan Panju followed by pairs of directors like P.Madhavan/A.C Thirilokchandar, K.S.Gopalakrishnan/K.Balachander,Balu Mahendra/J.Mahendran, Barathraja/Bagyaraj P.Vasu/ K.S Ravikumar and so on.In this line we have another pair of upcoming dynamic film personalities who have been holding a leading place both as directors and actors.These two fairly young men with a significant stamp of individuality have periodically worked together in each other's films either by making each other's films or in acting at least in a cameo role in each other's films.They are M.Sasikumar and P.Samuthirakani who have won awards for their respective performances and keep moving the Tamil movie concept in a refreshing mould.
   P.Samuthirakani who is a bit senior by age,also entered the  film industry earlier than Sasikumar. He started grooming his creative ground realities at the golden film school of K.Balachander and also appeared in minor roles in films like Parthaale Paravasam[directed by K.B] at the beginning of the new millennium. M.Sasikumar  too began his film career in the company of directors like Bala and Ameer. But his first film Subramanyapuram produced and directed by him,became a super hit and the film had Samuthirakani playing a villain role in the most natural form. Sasikumar also played a vital role in that film which had Jai, cast as hero.With its nostalgic, retrospective story line and action sequences, belonging to the Nineteen Eighties this film of the first decade of the new millennium, created magic record of kinds, thanks to the qualitative, creative thrust of Sasikumar &co.
   For a change a little later,Samuthirakani directed the film Nadodigal in which Sasikumar played the lead role and this film proved to be the true yardstick for measuring his creative potential.This mega hit film became the talking point for the film stuff of this emerging duo with identical insight into the norms of making films by lifting them out of their artificial moorings of an exaggerated screen base.Both the films mentioned above, were award winners.In continuation of these success shows, Sasikumar produced the outstanding film Pasanga,directed by Pandiraj and this unique film also won the national award.
    It is not that Sasikumar and Samuthirakani are not at all cinematic.But their narrative parameters are within the barriers of naturalism.They never seem to overdo things, whether it is their delineation of characters as film makers, or their own way of acting in the role assigned to them.Their dialogue delivery for instance, is never over blown.They talk as ordinary people talk and reflect the real content of living.The only difference is that, Sasikumar frequently does some dance numbers in his own style and even this is not taken seriously by the viewers as any attempt at image building.
   After Naadodikal,Sasikumar produced and directed Easan in which Samuthirakani played the role of a police officer as naturally as possible.Then came Samuthirakani's Nimirndhu Nil starring Jayam Ravi in which M.Sasikumar lent his voice for dubbing.Even in the recent film Vetrivel the two actors have shared screen space.What is most common between them is their firm grasp of the soil while representing the world of Tamil cinema.
   Sasikumar's Sundara Pandian was a very popular film with mass appeal and story value.The most memorable dialogue at the end of the film goes as follows "If the person who has stabbed you is your friend,even if you have to die,you should not divulge it".Beyond the intrinsic layers of love, the film carried a vital thrust on the quality of friendship and the kind of friends one should choose in life. Sasikumar's association with Bala and Ameer, does not fail to pass on their influence on him, particularly with regard to the negative implications in human relationship, as one of the vital ingredients in his manner of story telling. One such indicator is the element of betrayal of friendship, that happens as an undercurrent both in Subramanyapuram and Sundara Pandian. The other notable entries of Sasikumar are,Kutti Puli,Poraali and Bala's Thaarai Thappattai.
    Samuthirakani has consistently established his position in poignantly portraying  character as well as villain roles with convincing merit and reliability.No one can undermine his role performance as a value oriented school teacher, in the very well filmed, but not properly received movie,Saattai. In every frame of that character one could see the genuine struggles of a  socially motivated teacher, deeply penetrating into the character formation.The beauty with Samuthirakani is that one cannot see the actor overtaking the character .On the other hand the actor gradually transforms into the character with accuracy and  perfect understanding of the purpose and genesis of the character.Similarly in performing villain characters, he can become very crude if necessary, as he does in Payum Puli as the elder brother of Vishal, or a comedy crook and a mean villain, like the one he performs in Rajini Murugan.It was with  convincing ease did he perform the character role as the father of Danush, in Velaiyillaa Pattadhaari.Samuthirakani's acting verve has earned him a special place in the Malayalam film industry also.
    How much Samuthirakani deserves his special national award, for his subdued but striking performance as a police inspector with qualms,in the award winning film Visaranai, is an obvious and veritable reality. Vetrimaran of course deserves great recognition for narrating a ticklish story line, dealing with the criminal side of a section of the police department, with utmost precision and subtlety.The climax scene which suggestively and casually reveals the killing of the accused on fabrication, along with the conscientious police inspector, by a simple audio declaration, that both the proposed killings are over,{"ரெண்டும் முடிஞ்சுது சார்"} becomes the salient feature of Vetrimaran's course of narration.But beyond all this kind of distinct pattern of filming,it is Samuthirakani's underplay of the role, that adds weight to the certainly mind blowing movie.
   Both Sasikumar and Samuthirakani seem to shoulder the onus of creating a new wave in Tamil Cinema.As contemporaries working in the field of cinema, which is under various pressures such as focus on image building, competitive and divisive tendencies,money power and video piracy,we do not know how far they will succeed in retaining their on going sheen, without getting typecast in the years to come.However, as Barathiraja and Bagyaraj turned the Tamil film industry to newer directions with their individual trademarks of creativity,the hope remains that M.Sasikumar who is rooted to a balanced mode of performance and Samuthirakani who has not only occupied the big screen but has also reached every home through his television serials like Anni and Arasi, will go a long way in updating the image of the Tamil film industry, in their own style and formula of film making and histrionics.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Spark is Sporadic.


    Atlee's Raja Rani  would have significantly raised the expectations of the audience for his second film Theri [Spark]  mainly because of its star value.The greatest spark in the movie is the presence of Baby Nainika as Vijay's daughter and her cutest interactions and lovely rejoinders to her dad's words and actions.She kick starts the initial momentum of the film with the bike chasing the car and the dampening end up of the chase.There is certainly a spark in Vijay the police officer, caning the rowdies, who occupy a classroom in a government school for boozing and treating them with the thumb rules of teaching. The sparks hit us here and there, at unexpected moments with a couple of bullet strokes ,one at the scene when Vijay is talking to Samantha's father at the coffee house in his usual humorous vein and the other when a sudden hit of a bullet, kills Samantha when she is asking Vijay how he rates her as his wife.
     The Shankar school impact is obvious in Atlee in the way he delivers fascinating visuals and stunning stunts with a kind of mega effect.But it stops with that.There is no continuity in making impact through each and every scene of narration, that one could find in Shankar. This is a young kid's attempt to parade through an action packed arena.Hence there is no continuity of the spark in narration .The absence of a separate comedy track or a professional comedian not joining the hero's hand, is perhaps another spark dowser, because however graceful Vijay's sense of humor is,it gets stereotyped after a particular point.
    Between the two heroines,Samantha scores higher, may be due to the fact, that she has been given more space for role play.The first meeting between Vijay and Samantha does create a spark with Samantha initially asking him to remove his cooling glasses and later on saying that he deserves to wear the glasses, because he has saved children suffering as beggars and street vendors in the hands of cruel rowdies.There are intermittent sparks as verbal flashes, in most scenes concerning Vijay and Samantha and those between Vijay and his most passionate mother Radhika.
    The outstanding spark of the film is the demonstration of villainy through J.Mahendran, the most noteworthy director of of the Nineteen eighties who made commendable movies like Nenjaththai Killaadhe,Udhirippookkal and some special Rajini films, like Mullum Malarum,Jaani and Kai Kodukkum Kai. Mahendran's unruffled looks, controlled dialogue delivery and subdued mannerisms create the much needed spark in most contexts.But the same way he seems to be helplessly made to look tamed and meek, in the climax scene, without any chance to let the spark come out of him.This eminent director who is capable of grander acting skills, could have been used more meaningfully by extracting more sparks of dynamics in acting, hidden in his directorial brain.
   The spark of G.V.Prakashkumar's music is confined to a couple of songs, particularly the one sung by the father and daughter at the very beginning of the film.I would not compare this film, citing theme and  contexts of similarity, to other films like Baashaa,Chatriyan and Ramana as some reviewers have done . In those films the action segment was never found sagging.But here it is.May be it is due to the fact that here,one does not see action segment alone.There are more of sentiments, fun and breezy interpersonal links here, than in those films.It is not just a full fledged action film.It is on the other hand a Vijay film meant more for his fans, with his style and pep, to focus more on the actor's profiles of spark, rather than reflecting sparks of various formulations in film making, that one witnessed in Atlee's Raja Rani. Perhaps if the spark had permeated through out the film,it would have become an extraordinary Vijay film like Thuppaakki.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Love Triangle in Tamil Cinema.


     Tamil Cinema has dealt at length with a variety of themes like love,family sentiment, friendship, myths,religion,spirituality,social and historical transitions,psychic disorders and crime and violence, in broader perspectives and  as specific subjects for delineation.As far as love is concerned, there has been considerable thrust on the romantic side, with clear cut interpretations of calf love,cup board love and Platonic love.While the first one speaks of infatuation and the physical side of love hitting teen age victims,the second brand reflects the convenient aspects of love, such as financial benefits and personal advancement.But the third type is an ideal pattern of love, searching for a soul mate, through self inflicting moments of agony and sacrifice.
    Love need not always be an exclusive field for two people.Quite often two men might be in love with the same woman or vice versa.It is this this kind of love triangle that most often occupied the imagination of eminent director Sridhar and later director Vikraman. As a rare phenomenon, K.Balachander show cased a situation of three sisters falling in love with the same man, but none of them finally getting him and this story line as well as its captivating treatment made the film Sollathaan Ninaikirein a mega hit.
      Love triangle has been a fascinating subject for beautiful cinematic presentation,ways back in films like Manappandal,Aalayamani,Bagyalakshmi and later Kalyana Parisu.Triangular love has been a predicament experienced by two persons, either brothers, or sisters,or friends in relation to the third individual, a man or woman, who is put to undue mental anguish,because of the other two.In Manapandal S.A.Asokan and S.S Rajendran as brothers would be in love with the same woman [played by B. Sarojadevi] and when the younger brother SSR sacrifices his love interest for the sake of the elder brother,both of them do not realize how much mental agony they cause for the woman who is deeply in love with the younger brother.
     The audience were exposed to a similar experience of a woman suffering in between two close friends, equally loving her and finally one giving up his love for the sake of the other.The two friends were Sivaji Ganesan and SSR and here too,it was the same SSR who sacrificed his love for the same Sarojadevi and the film was Alayamani. Similarly in Uyarndha Manidhan,it was Asokan who gulped his one side love like poison and behaved nobly with his friend Sivaji Ganesan, who was in love with Vanisri.
     On the contrary, in the other two films it was Gemini Ganesan who was caught in between two women loving him .In Bagyalakshmi it was the two sisters Sowcar Janaki and E.V.Saroja who were after the hero and the hero sincerely loving the younger sister,  E.V.Saroja the younger one was found in a sacrificing mood suppressing her mental torment.In Kalyana Parisu,Saroja Devi was in a similar predicament, giving up her love for the hero, for her elder sister [played by Vijayakumari] who too loved the hero.For the romantic hero Gemini Ganesan, such roles were a cake walk and he was seen portraying roles of entanglement with ease and exuberance.Director Sridhar continued the theme of love triangle successfully, in a few more films like Nenjil Oer Aalayam,Nenjirukkum varai Avalukkenru Oer Manam and Ilamai Onjalaadugiradhu.In all these love triangle films, the original lovers were made to walk on fire for the sake of the in- between man or woman, who capitalized the situation, by emotionally blackmailing a sibling or friend and exploiting their generosity.
    K.Balachander had a taste of the love triangle concept in films like Aval Oru Thodarkadhai and Thamarai Nenjam.In the former, the elder sister Sujatha would sacrifice her love for the hero Vijayakumar, to help her widowed younger sister Sripriya,who was also in love with the hero,to marry him.Whereas in the latter, it was a clear demonstration of the competitive spirit of sacrifice between two friends of the fair sex,[Sarojadevi and Vanisri] to give up their love for their man, with a clean spirit of selflessness and  supreme trust.Among the new generation directors, it is Viraman who has succeeded in presenting the delicate and noble side of triangular love in his most celebrated film Poove Unakkaaga.
    The examples given here are not many. But they are valid indicators of the complexity of triangular love.What is always special about the treatment of the theme of love triangle,is the reflection of the ideal base of romance for building a monument of nobility, magnificently portraying the sacrificing instinct of the lovers.The ideal incorporated and propagated through this noble theme is that, there is greater happiness and fulfillment in living for others,than for one's own desires and expectations.This supreme factor of giving in for others, seems to surpass the barriers of gender,because it is an all embracing way of life and the hallmark of exemplary human attitude and behaviour.In this way, Tamil Cinema has certainly succeeded in ennobling the fundamental principle of love,through its focus on the triangular predicaments of love.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Casanovas of Tamil Cinema


     Casanova is a man who flirts with many women at a time and jilts them.He is a smooth tongued charmer and seducer of women.Lord Byron's Don Juan,is an immortal example of a Casanova.With a play boy attitude,Casanovas play with the emotions of women in the name of love and leave them in the lurch.Romeos and stalkers are a part of the global realities.In the prime of youth some men take upon, a take- it -easy policy and in this casual process, they take women's life into ransom.World cinema has focused upon such characters time and again and Tamil cinema is no exception to this.Ever since the inception of the Tamil film industry, there have been films narrating the vagabond type of youths as stray characters, appearing in main or supportive roles.
     Starting from Sivaji Ganesan,many front line heroes of Tamil Cinema,have visited this unpalatable character with immense passion and have done utmost justice to their roles. Sivaji Ganesan's most striking movie Thirumbi Paar at the start of his film career showed him in a detestable negative shade as a hell bent womanizer.The fiery dialogues of the film written in chaste Tamil by Dr.M.Karunanidhi,remained as the most talking point, taking the film to its brilliant heights. I think after this film, Sivaji Ganesan did not play such a role, though he was seen as a playboy getting redeemed in L.V.Prasad's memorable film Iruvar Ullam. Whereas ,MGR the mass hero and close contemporary of Sivaji Ganesan was always image conscious and would never think of donning such a negative role, causing harm to anyone in general and to womanhood in particular.Never during the life time of his career did MGR play the role of a Casanova.
    K.Balaji,a close contemporary actor of Sivaji Ganesan and one who later turned producer of several Sivaji hits, was a charming spoiler of passionate womanhood in Policekaaran Magal [an earliest grand creation of director Sridhar}and later in Sivaji Ganesan's Enga Mama. Gemini Ganesan delivered a wonderful performance as Casanova in K.Balachander's epoch making film Naan Avanillai, as a social menace walking into the lives of many women.The film created so great an immortal impact, that it was remade after nearly three decades,with Jeevan replacing Gemini Ganesan The success of this remake, which was narrated in a much lighter vein, called for the making of its Part ll, which became an average show.
     R.Muthuraman at one stage, played such characters in films like' Maanavan' 'Namma Veettu Dheivam' and Sridhar's most popular 'Avalukkenru Oer Manam'.The other critically reviewed film in this category was K.Balachander's Major Chandrakanth' showing A.V.M Rajan in a stylish form of Casanova.In most of these movies such deceptive men finally fell under the clutches of destiny or were done away with,by the affected persons or their family members.
    Between Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan,it was the latter who ebulliently performed Casanova characters in films like Sollathaan Ninaikirein and Pattaam Poochi.Though Rajinikanth did quite a few negative roles[the most detestable roles in this category were in films like Padhinaari Vayadhinile and Gayathri} in his early impressive innings in Tamil Cinema, the role of Casanova perhaps evaded his grasp.Whereas MGR cautiously avoided such characters throughout his film career. Another memorable Casanova portrayal came in handy for Mohan and he beautifully made use of his opportunity in K.Balaji's silver jubilee hit movie, Vidhi. Even here,the affected woman legally fought her case and exposed the dirty side of the hero.
   Modern Tamil Cinema is almost getting out of such themes because in new wave thought and globalized life styles, the sentiments of affected womanhood, are not selling factors anymore.On the one hand, there are women empowerment programs.On the other, women's liberation movements have started looking at man woman relationships, as choice based and optional concepts.There are simultaneous changes in perspectives taking place at various levels, in the form of dating,live-in-relationships and divorce-cum-remarriage schedules.In a way, the term Casanova is becoming an outmoded expression .Besides, jilting is also crossing gender barriers.Hence Casanova tales can be called things of the past.