Friday, September 15, 2017

The Dialogue Component of Tamil Cinema.

     If the story of a film is the skeleton,dialogues constitute its flesh and blood and characters bring life to the dialogues.In other words, dialogues and the actors who deliver them, become complementary components of the cinematic process. Each language has its special attributes towards expressing thoughts and emotions in a way that would make the power of language closer to its soil.Cinema as a creative medium became full fledged only when it came out of its silent movie days.The sound track of cinema is its soul, setting the process of communication as a prerequisite for transporting the events on the screen into the grasp of the audience, as factors of entertainment,enjoyment and enlightenment.
    Film dialogues delve into a comprehensive course of introspection and revelation of a galaxy of human experiences, in individual and collective compartments.However, dialogues find their relevance and magnitude,only when individuals come together as friends,families and wider social groups.The nature and quality of dialogues will vary, in terms of the social base and the contexts,generating dialogues.So a good dialogue writer should first take these two aspects into his mind and then formulate the right course of dialogue.A realistic and relevant study of the dialects of the respective regions of any language, becomes the most important criterion for dialogue writing, besides the family and social layers involved in the portrayal of themes and characters.
    As far as Tamil films are concerned,the pertinence and force of  Tamil language as film medium, gained its significance only during the Dravidian era.Till then Tamil was under the spell and impact of the Devanagari sound and script.If one has to talk about the grip of chaste Tamil trying to find its strong foothold in Tamil Cinema, one has to gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi for his forceful and enriching quality of Tamil dialogues that he wrote for films like Parasakthi,Manohara ,Raja Rani and so on.In writing dialogues he could be said to have surpassed Arignar Anna himself, by adding greater semantic thrust,twist,punning and alliteration, to the dialogues that he wrote.Even these days, Tamil film directors and actors proudly recall the powerful dialogues, from the fertile and fiery imagination of this great creative force, in Tamil Cinema.
    There were many films which were enriched by the dialogue component.Various dialogue writers with a right perception of the diverse strata of society and regions of Tamil Nadu, contributed their stuff to the most vital, dialogue segment of Tamil Cinema.For instance,many of the successful films of A. Bhimsingh, owed their grand dynamics of  narration to the probing dialogues of M.Karunanidhi, M.S.Solaimalai, Kannadasan, A.L.Narayanan, Aroordas, Javert Seetharaman, Jeyakanthan and several others .Of these,A.L Narayanan and Aaroordas made their long time, emphatic contribution as dialogue writers of many popular films. Jeyakanthan created indelible impressions as a meritorious fiction writer and it was actually his two critically acclaimed  novels Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidharkal and Oru Nadikai Naadakam Paarkiraal that A.Bhimsingh made as films and it was  these two films that were adorned by Jeyakanthan's dialogues.
    Later K.S.Gopalakrishnan not only wrote the screenplay and directed his films but also wrote gripping dialogues, reflecting the power of family values and the unique cultural base of the rural soil of Tamil Nadu.Some of his films specially treasured for dialogues are Karpagam,Panama Paasama,Kai Kodutha Theivam,Vaazhaiyadi Vaazhai and Kulama Gunama.Great actors like Sivaji Ganesan Gemini Ganesan, S.Varalakshmi, Padmini,Savithri and Pramila added life and vocal splendor to the dialogues penned by K.S.G.One of his most memorable dialogues from Panama Pasama is that of the words spoken by the heroine to her mother who hates her son in law and plans to do away with him"Mom, I have had of mothers who want their sons dead because they want to see their daughter in law a widow.But you are one who thinks that even if your daughter becomes a widow, you want to see your son in law dead"
   Unlike K.S.G who wrote dialogues in an open and direct form, his contemporary K.Balachander had his package of dialogues written in subtle and suggestive mode as well as in clear argumentative style, with a flair for rationalizing and modernizing the dialogue format.His dialogues for films like Punnagai,Major Chandrakanth,Iru Kodukal,Arangetram,Aval Oru Thodar Kadhai, Apoorva Raagangal,Thamarai Nenjam, Nootrukku Nooru,Thanneer Thanneer, Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu, Thappu Thaalangal,Puthu Puthu Arthangal and Kalki had a lot to suggest things through hidden meanings and punch in dialogues.Whereas his other films like Server Sundaram Ethir Neechal, Velli Vizhaa,Bhama Vijayam, Kaaviya Thalavi ,Poova Thalaiya and Sollathaan Ninaikiren, were full of direct thrust of words with their mind blowing meanings. 
    K.B's play with anagrams like 'life' and'file' in Iru Kodukal was discussed as an exceptional aspect of the dialogue form those days.In Arengetram the heroine would tell her mother. "There can be any number of skirmishes between a mother and daughter, but not that of two wives of the same husband, fighting over him."Similarly,in Sollathaan Ninaikirein, Kamalahasan doing the role of the Casanova, would proudly declare after seducing his last victim,"the last in the list is lost at last"This single utterance simultaneously brought out the filth of male arrogance and the ace director's ability to play with English words.It was no wonder that the driving pull of his dialogues and  his directorial excellence,fetched him awards for his films like Ethir Neechal,Iru Kodukal,Thamarai Nenjam, Apoorva Raagangal, Aval Oru Thodar Kadhai,Thappu Thaalangal and Thanneer Thanneer.
    A.P.Nagarajan took Tamil Cinema to a different level through his impressive dialogues written in pure literary Tamil format for his movies depicting religious and spiritual themes. His mega hit films like Thiruvilaiyaadal,Saraswathi Sabadham, Kandhan Karunai,Thiruvarut Selvar and Thirumaal Perumai bear clear testimony to his grasp of literary Tamil.He also handled colloquial Tamil with its local and contextual dialect varieties in these films as well as in his other films like Navarathiri,Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal,Vaa Raja Vaa, Thirumalai Thenkumari, and so on.In the peerless thespian skill  of actors like Sivaji Ganesan,Nagesh,T.S Balaiah, Padmini and Savithri and many others, all these films ruled to the roost, with Nagarajan's resplendent dialogues.The argument between Lord Shiva,played by Sivaji Ganesan and Tamil Poet Nakeeran portrayed by A.P.Nagarajan himself, showed not only the might of Nagarajan's creative mind but also his brilliant Tamil accent, intonation and clarity of utterances. Sivaji Ganesan as usual demonstrated the grandeur of his body language,with infallible verbal flair.
    Following these eminent dialogue writers there was a line of other qualitative dialogue writers like Sornam,Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram,Kaaraikudi Narayanan,Panju Arunachalam,Rama Arngannal,Valampuri Somanadhan,Malliyam Rajagopal, R.C.Shakthi,Madhurai Thirumaran,Visu,K.Bharathiraja K.Bhagyaraj, R.Parthiban, Liaqat Ali Khan,CrazyMohan, Vikraman, Agathyan K.S.Ahiyaman, K.S.Ravikumar,Bala kumaran, P.Vasu A.R.Murugadoss, Seemaan, Pandiraj and a few others. Most of them in this list have got awards for their dialogue composition. 
   But the present scenario is slowly changing with a clear shift in priorities from language heard to visuals expressed with minimum words.Most of Manirathnam films have dialogues less said, than visuals more seen.The slowness in dialogue delivery and the use of minimum words with maximum focus on wordless narration are the specialties of directors like Manirathnam.
  The last time we witnessed forceful dialogues were in Ramana and Thambi for which A.R.Murugadoss and Seeman wrote the dialogues, respectively.May be these days people do not want to listen to too many utterances in the place of impressive action play.Already language has shrunk on account of the social network exigencies.The decline of dialogues in Tamil Cinema is perhaps an indicator of the situation calling for the maxim"the less said the better"But let not film makers forget the fact that dialogues are the teeth of the film medium.If you pluck the teeth,cinema loses its power of place,by missing its focus on the sheen and charm of the human race.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Unconventional Hero of Tamil Cinema.


     Four decades ago, when Rajinikanth hit the big screen, he was considered to be an unconventional actor because of his novelties in portrayal of roles and his brave new style that broke the earlier conventions meant for donning the role of a hero.As a negative hero with ruffian roots, he created new waves and sensations and this soon began to create a new chapter in Tamil Cinema.But soon Rajinikanth was seen to consolidate his style components in acting, to become a conventional hero in the line of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, besides capitalizing a favorable situation that transformed him into a Superstar.In the early years of the new millennium there entered another unconventional actor into Tamil Cinema, so far unrelenting to change his unconventional approach and that is the brave Vijay Sethupathi, born afresh, in each of his new releases.
      After playing insignificant roles in films like M,Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi,Puthupettai, Lee Anjaadhe,Vennilaa Kabadikkuzhu,and Naan Mahaan Alla, he played the lead role in Seenu Ramasamy's award winning film Thenmerku Paruvakatru. Then we saw him in Sasikumar's 'Sundarapandian', playing a silent, negative role, with some excusable reason to be a baddie.At that time, no one would have thought that here was a person with his own hidden agenda for acting, with a grit to drive the audience imagination, to a maddening craze for seeing him more and more as a hero of unconventional stuff.Well, when the audience first saw Rajinikanth  playing the role of the sickly, docile husband of Srividya, in 'Aboorva Raagangal', who would have thought that he was going to  rock in his next film Monnru Mudichu with a rebellious and unconventional pull in his body language and dialogue delivery.This is how Vijay Sethupathi continues to haunt the imagination of the audience, by playing even serious roles with a self surrender, towards creating glimpses of a hero, without an iota of heroism and personality projections.There is a perennial store of innocent mischief in him, waiting to take a new avatar in each film.
      Film after film,Vijay Sethupathi's  irreverence to the conventions of hero norms, took him to greater reception and higher acclaim from the audience.There is an unending list of films like Pizza,Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom,Soothu Kavvum,Idharkuthaan Aasaipattaaya Balakumara,Kadhalum Kadandhupogum,Sethupathi,Orange Mittai,Naanum Rowdy Thaan,Rekka, Dharmadhurai,Aandavan Kattalai,Kavan and the recent blockbuster Vikram Vedha. Most of the films fetched him awards from one source or the other.What is special about this new wave hero is the special impact he creates in not claiming to be a hero.In this respect he reminds me of Nivin Pauly of Malayalam Cinema.{His film "Action Hero Biju"is one big sample of his quest to crush the image of the action hero}.Vijay Sethupathi's big image is born of blowing off the projections of being a hero.When you break and crash the existing norms of the hero base, a new base is constructed and this new base takes wings like a phoenix and creates wonders.We do not know whether Vijay Sethupathi does it purposely, or it is his way of acting.But the end result is the fresh appeal and the new lease he has given to what it means to be a hero.
      There is always the layer of a thug in most of the role performances of Vijay Sethupadhi and there is ever a uniqueness in making the thug look clumsy and funny.Humor -blended negative role play, always carries a charismatic touch. Rajinikanth and Sathyaraj were successful in negative roles because of their singular stylish approach to display villainy.The Superstar's sense of humor began to reflect itself only from the film Ninaithaale Inikkum directed by the commendably professional K.Balachander. Whereas Vijay Sethupathi like Nivin Pauli, makes himself a butt of ridicule and silently pushes himself along with the character he plays,for an instant reach with the audience.No one can forget how he beautifully destroyed the rowdy image, in Naanum Rowdythaan. Even in the latest, wonderful movie Vikram Vedha, it is the fun impact during every encounter between the Cop Madhavan and the Rowdy Vijay Sethupathi that rules  every frame of presentation and makes the film a trend setting phase, in Tamil Cinema.
    As matters stand, Vijay Sethupathi  has come to be a broadly acceptable hero, without being a hero.How long this unconventional endearment will continue with the audience,will be decided by factors like difference in story line, characterization and the actor's unflinching motivation to preserve the ongoing gusto.However as on date, let us wish him well for a long journey through the Tamil big screen for being one of the most viable and desirable segments of the Tamil film industry. The number of entries he makes every year shows how much viable and desirable, this unconventional hero is.If this trend continues it will create new records for Tamil Cinema.