Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Belated Note on Brindhavanam.

        Normally I do not miss a Radhamohan film, because it always carries a feather touch effect, without creating a melodramatic or exaggerated impact on the viewers.This time it took me a little more time, to watch his latest release Brindhavanam. The title seems to find its relevance because the hero's name is Kannan and it deals with yet another aspect of romance. Though Arulnidhi naturally fits in to the role and delivers a neat performance it is Vivek who becomes the face lift of the film, by his mature adherence to the thumb rules of humour, with his well- tuned associate Cell Murugan who has  not only been the consistent comedy side kick of Vivek but is also reputed for taking Vivek for a ride, quite unexpectedly. M.S Bhaskar the usual value addition to all Radha Mohan films, is his usual self, with a character befitting his calibre of acting.
      Unlike most other Radha Mohan films, there is a lot of enjoyable comedy, thanks to the spontaneity and verbal twists that Vivek is capable of.While the genuine anguish of speechlessness was the poignant note of Mozhi, that captivated our imagination with the qualitative performance of Jyothika, Prakash Raj and Prithiviraj,Brindhavan takes us along the sportive track of pretended speechlessness of the hero, even after his restoration of speech, purely for the sake of drawing love and sympathy, as a survival mechanism. Arulnidhi has taken a lot of efforts in presenting the predicament of speech impairment as impressively as possible and has established himself as a growing actor.Of course,he could do this, only with with the vigorous vibration of the comedy track of Vivek.
    Radha Mohan deserves a pat, for retaining his usual breezy narrative mode, in the line of veteran directors like Sridhar and K.Balachander, in mixing the sentimental decency of the former with the positive pragmatism of the latter.On the whole, the movie is meant for a decent family watch.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Father of Tamil Film Comedy.


     This blog has paid tributes to quite a few comedians, who were and have been, making active contribution to the humor segment of Tamil cinema.There was in fact, a separate article in this blog, carrying the tile "The Changing phases of comedy in Tamil Cinema"making special mention about changing trends in humor transmission and the actors who were involved in changing the trends. Whatever be the benchmarks  in assessing the comedy element of Tamil cinema, the starting point becomes as much important as the process of evolution.In this regard, the origins of healthy and memorable comedy component of Tamil cinema,  could be traced along with the genesis of Tamil cinema itself.
  The effective fundamentals of Tamil cinema, could be said to have been formed during the early forties which saw a drastic transition from the silent movie days to films with  the sound track.As this blog writer was born at the fag end of that decade, he missed the opportunity of watching the early period Tamil films as and when they were released.But he came to know later that the basement for the comedy structure of Tamil cinema was beautifully and strongly laid by the immortal comedian of Tamil cinema,called Nagar Koil Sudalaimuthu Krishnan affectionately remembered by the three English letters N S K.or by the pseudonym Kalaivanar .
    A majority of this fabulous comedian's films were released before this blog writer was born.But still thanks to the repeated screening of some of the hits in theaters during the Nineteen fifties and sixties and the telecast of films such as Nalla Thambi, after the introduction of television, this writer could see at least a dozen great films in which this immortal comedian received an indispensable role assignment and audience acclaim.The writer considers it a good fortune to have been able to watch films like Aariyamaalaa, Manonmani,Jegdhalapradhaaban{all P.U.Chinnappa hits},MGR's Madhurai Veeran,Chakravarthi Thirumagal, and Arasilan kumari, Sivaji Ganesan's films like Raja Rani, Ambikapadhi and Thanga Padhumai,Gemini Picures' epic film Chandra lekha and Gemini Ganesan's Yaar Paiyyan. 
   The other film that was brought home through the small screen was the astounding Nalla Thambi. It could be said here that N.S.K was associated with the two major Dravidian leaders Arignar Anna and Kalaignar Karunanidhi. While Nalla Thambi in which N.S.K acted as hero, was directed by the former,films like Manamagal,Panam and Raja Rani carried the script of the latter and N.S.K not only played the beloved comedian in these films but also directed the first two films in the list.
    All the MKT-NSK hits like Ambikapadhi, Haridas,Siva Kavi,Amara Kavi and Thiruneela kandar remain in the wish list of the writer.During his early years in Tamil Cinema the two most popular heroes of N.S.Krishnan were M.K.T.Bhagavadhar and P.U.Chinnappa who were then replaced by the two epoch making heroes M.G.Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan. Some of the films of these two heroes such as Ambikapathi,and Raja Dhesingu  in which N.S.K performed the role of a comedian were released only after his death.Besides these two heroes, the other Dravidian hero who frequently got himself associated with N.S.Krishnan,was S.S.Rajendran.
    What has always remained as an extraordinary value of this comedian was a galaxy of exemplary personal traits such as geniality,generosity and genuine humanitarian concern, reflected in his most frequent philanthropic contribution to the needy and the under privileged. There are quite a lot of accounts about the charitable  mindset and the give-away attitude, of this great comedian.Some in the film circles have compared him to Charlie Chaplin with regard to the deprived childhood of both the actors.But to me N.S.K appears much more sanguine in mood than the world famous English comedian.In Charlie Chaplin, despite his gorgeous comedy dimensions seamlessly merged with his body language,one could always notice a certain amount of melancholy that could rarely be seen in Kalaivanar. However, N.S.Krishnan's personal life was equally laid up with unforeseen misfortunes such as imprisonment in a less proved murder case and the consequential setbacks of penury and privation.
   It was a gentle humor, dipped in soothing satire, that N.S.K always perpetuated.He would not under estimate or insult his fellow comedians or side kicks.Some of the popular fellow comedians of N.S.Krishnan were T.S.Dorairaj,Pulimoottai Ramasamy,Kottapuli Jeyaraman and Kali. N.Rethinam. Kalaivanar's social concern ever formed a vital part of his spontaneous comedy generation.His was a perfect combination of both verbal and physical comedy.But his physical comedy was confined to changing facial expressions of joy,love,contempt,adoration and taunt. In this respect he would definitely have provided the right model for his next generation comedians like K.A.Thangavelu who excelled in verbal comedy and J.P.Chandrababu who reveled in physical gesticulations.But both these comedians could not be said to have imbibed the dual side of N.S.K's comedy fervor.It was Nagesh who later on succeeded in transmitting a balanced mix of word and deed.
     Something special about N.S.K is the fact that he acted in the two versions of Ambikapadhi, one starring M.K.T.Bhagavadhar and the other in which Sivaji Ganesan played the lead role.Similarly this primary comedian acted in films like Alibabavum Naarpadhu Thirudar kalum{1941a film in whichN.S.K played the hero}and Uthamaputhiran{starring P.U.Chinnappa}  which were later remade with M.G.R as Alibaba and Sivaji Ganesan as Uthama Puthiran.
    N.S.K was a casual singer and he spiritedly passed on the essence of comedy through his vocal celebration of music.Some of his most memorable numbers are "Thedhi Onnula Irundhu"{Mudhal Thedhi}"Enge Theduven Panathai Enge Theduven"Dheena Moona Khaana{Panam}, Seermevum Gurupaadham{Chakravarthi Thirumagal}Naattukku Sevaiseiyya Naagareeg Komaali vandhaan Aiyyaa {Nalla Thambi} and 'Sirippu"{Raja Rani}The musical notes might be missing in his rendering of songs.It might also look as if he was speaking through songs.But his soothing voice compensated the missing links. Comedian Chandrababu who in his hey days sang at least one song in each of his films would perhaps have drawn inspiration from this extraordinary actor.
    N.S.K's comedy skit was always a treasure of verbal decency and innocent humor.In most of the films the comedy skit originated from his creative brain and it was his wife T.A.Madhuram who joined him almost as his lifetime comedienne pair. His sense of humor was that of a seeming simpleton with a granary of precious thoughts of social concern and human harmony.Those were decades when the evil side of humanity was less emphatic than it is today.That is why films of those years were free from vulgarity and viciousness that have grown rampant now.
    Responsible film making was the over all general order of the last century.Hence it became the collective responsibility of everyone including those of the leading comedy team, to refrain from hurting individuals as well as the social fabric, while at the same time taking care of the process of social reform,by gently satirizing social taboos and practices, that went against the principles of personal freedom and the quality enhancement of both individuals and society. N.S.Krishnan scrupulously followed all these yardsticks and sensibly paved the way for healthy humor through the celluloid form.It was in this particular respect, he would ever be celebrated in memory as the King or Father of Tamil film Comedy


Friday, June 2, 2017

Kalaignar's Contribution to Tamil Cinema.

      Politics and Tamil Cinema became inseparable, ever since the inception of the Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu.Raising a cry for Social Justice and relentless struggle against caste orientation and superstition,were the fundamentals of the Dravidian upheaval and it took the centre stage on the big screen, after having had a significant stint as street shows and stage plays.
  Tamil language which was simultaneously undergoing a structural revolution in sound and script,played a key role in taking the core of Dravidian ideology closer to the Tamil society, which was  under the clutches of vested interests, even after the departure of the colonial forces.It was under these circumstances,Dravidian leaders like Mr. C.N.Annadurai and Mr.M. Karunanidhi, affectionately called Anna and Kalaignar, respectively, by the Tamil fraternity, focused their attention on Tamil Cinema, purely with the intention of propagating the legacy of Tamil culture and language.
  Unlike Anna who had to restrict his love for Tamil Cinema on account of his greater political priorities,Kalaignar pragmatically bifurcated his time between politics and films and expanded his creative width,to be duly complimented by the Tamil film industry,with gratitude and grandeur.
   Some of the most popular films for which C.N.Annadurai wrote the story and dialogues were Nalla Thambi,Sorgavasal,Velaikaari and Ore Iravu. All these films were great hits with N.S.Krishnan playing the lead in the first and K.R.Ramasamy as hero in the rest.He had also written the story for MGR films like  Thai Magalukku Kattiya Thaali and Nallavan Vaazhvaan. The one Sivaji Ganesan film based on his story was Rangoon Radha for which M.Karunanidhi wrote the dialogues.This film was actually based on an English play called 'Gas Light' written by Patrick Hamilton.Anna's other stories made into films were Edhayum Thaangum Idhayam, Kadhal Jothi and Vandikkaran Magan.
    Though Annadurai was an eminent story writer it was M. Karunanidhi who excelled as a fiery and forceful dialogue writer. Before writing stories and dialogues,Kalaignar had already proved his ability to perform as an actor, in stage plays. The generally accepted perception in those days was, that Tamil film industry was blessed with two  geniuses, who were actually school dropouts. One was Kalaignar and the other was Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan.
  Kalaignar, himself being an eloquent and astute orator, his dialogues were perhaps engendered in a formula of impersonation.What I mean here is that whenever Kalaignar wrote the dialogues for the protagonists of his stories, he perhaps imagined himself to be the chief character and hence the force and depth of the dialogues were presumed to be passed on to the actual hero from the original hero.Consequently,both Kalaignar and Sivaji Ganesan ruled Tamil cinema, with the mighty pen of the former and the magnificent voice of the latter.
    In fact, Kalaignar's film journey started with M. G. Ramachandran the other most popular and dynamic Dravidian hero, by gathering momentum with four of his consecutive hits, like Rajakumari, Abimanyu, Marudha Naattu Ilavarasi and Mandhiri kunari.{The Minister's Daughter},all with the budding mass hero.The last in the list, was a stupendous show with Kalaignar's sparkling dialogues and G. Ramanathan's scintillating music.The other remarkable feature of Mandhirikumari was that it was directed by Ellis Roderick Dungan,the well known American film director of those days.The film was produced by the Modern Theatres' T.R.Sundaram.
    Kalaignar's dialogues for other MGR films include the run away hit Malaikallan,and other popular films like Arasilankumari, Pudhumai Pithan and Kanchi Thalaivan. M.G.R's dialogue delivery was no less forceful than that of Sivaji Ganesan, particularly when it came to films of historical fiction like Mandhirikumari, Arasilankumari and the true- to- history presentation of historical events in Kanchi Thalaivan.
   However, as far as film relationship was concerned it was the teaming spirit of Kalaignar and the Chevalier that established the hat trick,because of the soul making chemistry that they both enjoyed in the creative process.What a grand show of Tamil script it was, in films like Parasakthi, Manohara, Panam and Raja Rani. Words flowed from the brain of the amazing creator Kalaignar and were articulated with a kind of spontaneity, force and natural thrust of utterances, from the gifted tongue of the unconquerable actor Sivaji Ganesan.Be it the court scene in Parasakthi,the first film of the irreplaceable hero,or the climax scene in Manohara or the rendering of dialogues by Sivaji Ganesan as Socrates, in a mono acting scene in Raja Rani, the Kalaignar-Chevalier combination made a tremendous impact on the audience,with the emphatic dialogues of Kalaignar,delivered with verbal clarity and correctness in accent and intonation,by the Chevalier.
     Mr.M. Karunanidhi's dialogues were specially marked for their purposeful punch,punning zeal,probing pattern,and precision of language, culminating in perfection at the delivery point. It was Sivaji Ganesan who facilitated the process of felicitous reach of the ranting dialogues. The other great movies of the duo were,Panam,Pudhayal, Thirumbipaar and Iruvar Ullam. The last one projected Sivaji Ganesan as a playboy spoilt by wealthy parentage.Whereas, Thirumbi Paar portrayed Ganesan, as the Casanova and womanizing anti hero, ruthlessly spoiling the lives of women.Hard hitting dialogues and sense of guilt reflected through verbal force, transformed Thirumippaar into a trend setting film of that century.
  The other two films {Panam and Pudhayal}pointedly presented the role of money in society,the quest for status, born of wealth  and the excessive greed for acquiring wealth by hook or crook. There was another film Kuravanji in their combine, which created only a moderate impact, in spite of  its memorable musical component involving music composer T.R.Papa and singer C.S.Jeyaraman.
    The third pet hero of Kalaignar was the other truly Dravidian actor S.S.Rajendran, who played the protagonist in movies like Poompuhar, based on the Tamil epic Silappadhikaaram,Poomaalai, Marakka Mudiyuma and Avan Pithana.Among these films Marakka Mudiyuma was the most disturbing film, because of the tragic undercurrents and agonizing plight of the characters caught in a web of miserable circumstances.I personally felt that one would need an extra amount of strength of mind  to watch this colossal tragedy.
   Besides these films Rajendran also became an impressive addition in most of  Kalaignar/Sivaji Ganesan hits like Parasakthi,Manohara,Panam and Raja Rani and the Kalaignar/MGR's historical film Kanchi Thalaivan. Familiarly known as S.S.R, this hero has outlived his life, by his sheer dedication to Tami language, Tamil culture and the cherished values of the Dravidian movement through his symbolic role performances in films,both as main hero and second level hero.But the credit for all this goes to Kalaignar's script of meaning and might.
   There were quite a few  remarkable films such as Thaayillaa Pillai,Pillaiyo Pillai,Paalaivana Rojaakkal,Paasa Paravaigal, Paasak Kiligal,Paadaatha Theneekkal,Needhikku Thandanai, Niyaaya Tharaasu, Pen Singam,Ponnar Shankar and so on, from the untiring creative brain of Kalaignar. Family emotions and struggle for justice were the prime themes of most of the stories of this reformist story writer and it was the spirit of his dialogues,that controlled the base and course of events that were displayed on the screen.
   Kalaignar has written both the story and dialogues or only the dialogues,for more than seventy films.To me the top ten movies from his hands are Mandhiri Kumari,Malai Kallan, Parasakthi, Manohara,Thirumbi Paar,Pudhayal,Iruvar Ullam,Pillaiyo Pillai,Paalaivana Rojaakkal and Paasaparaivagal in terms of box office records and audience reception.
    However, films like Kaanchi Thalaivan and Poompuhar will occupy a special place in Tamil Cinema, because of the historical veracity of the former and epic lenience of the latter.MGR as King Narasimha Pallavan,SSR as Kovalan,Vjayakumari as Kannagi and K.B.Sundarambal as Kavundhi Adikal will stay as immortal characters in celluloid form, mostly because of the energizing dialogue component of Kalaignar.I am sure the audience will also carry in their memories,the passionate cry for justice, through the power of words,in films like Parasakthi, Palaivana Rojaakkal,Needhikku Thandanai and Niyaayath Tharasu.
    The world claims that a man who never went to school, stole the hearts of people as an outstanding English poet and dramatist with his name Shakespeare, surpassing centuries and geographical barriers, striking a note of international creative identity.Similarly,here is another unschooled or less schooled Tamil master craftsman, who has intelligently acquired the nuances of the Tamil language,with a flair for literature and has succeeded in stamping his image as an invincible writer of stories and scripts, besides making indelible impressions as an interpreter of the two line poems of the Tamil classic,called Thirukkural, through his exemplary literary work known as 'Kuraloviam'.
     The power to use any language with a captivating wield, is an innate gift of greatness,to be passed on to generations of people, looking for exalting fulfillment of human intelligence and emotions. Kalignar's exceptional capacity for the felicitous use of Tamil, in prose, poetry,fiction and drama rightly earned him the title Muthamizh Vithagar {i.e an expert in the use of the three forms of Tamil literature }
  The best way to acknowledge the creative grandeur of such an unschooled or less schooled genius, is to continue to feel inspired, by his thoughts and words,that could pave the right way to universal human progress and enlightenment.A special salute to Kalaignar, who as one of the Titanic Tamil patriarchs,has infused his enchanting appeal of Tamil,into literature,cinema and politics,as a three dimensional force with the charisma and character of words and nothing but words.And the magic of the matter is that he made the fire of language burn passionately and beautifully,both through his eloquence in speech and expertise in writing.