Friday, December 1, 2017

Fascinating Facts About Two Fabulous Heroes of Tamil Cinema.


      Cinema might look fabulous.But the factual side of cinema is sometimes more fascinating than its creative forte. It is not that easy, to record the factual dimension of the film industry of a single region or language,at one go.The scope and width of cinema of one particular region,is at times more exhaustive than the life of the people of that region.The history of Tamil cinema itself, is a compendium of events, relating to a period exceeding seven to eight decades.Hence,a comprehensive chronicling of details of Tamil Cinema, is certainly not a stuff meant for a single article.
    But one can try to factually record details of one or two areas or those of a couple of individuals, who dominated the center stage, during a specific period.The factual components involving the career of contemporary celebrities of a field,quite often carry a spicy touch, symbolic of the excitements they make in their respective field.In between such top level contemporaries,similarities and contradictions will always exist and precisely, the predicament of contrast overtakes similarities.This article attempts to unfold the distinct  positions held by the first pair of top stars of Tamil Cinema, viz M.G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan.
    The purpose of this article is not to make a comparison of the acting mode of these two stalwarts,which is known to the Tamil audience as an open book.On the other hand, its focus will be on a few interesting details pertaining to their career,as actors. Tamil Nadu has seen a gorgeous lot of these two men. MGR was a supreme reader of the psyche of the Tamils,as an emotional, loving and lovable race. On the contrary, Sivaji Ganesan's soul was passionately and perfectly bound to his profession as an actor. The former capitalized on the sentiments of the Tamil People, through his charisma and character portrayal on a single track of the Good Samaritan.The latter, became the one and only prototype of acting.
   Their film journey also marks an extraordinary note of contrast.M.G.R who became the most unassailable hero,began his career, playing only insignificant roles in a score of films.Whereas,Sivaji Ganesan the master performer, made his entry itself with a big bang, as a fiery hero. He demonstrated his verbal strength and dynamism,through ranting dialogues and racy style, in his debut film Parasakthi, noted for the powerful dialogues of Kalignar, M.Karunanidhi.
     However,M.G.R.has the singular credit of being directed first,by the reputed American film director Ellis Roderick Dungan, in the film Sathi Leelavathi.This American director made four other films with MGR, such as Iru Sagodhararkal, Dhaasipenn,Meera and Mandhirikumari. Of these,the last one produced under the Modern Theatres banner, became a great hit and established MGR's position as hero,in the line of his other two popular films Raajakumari and Maruthanaattu Ilavarasi.Some of the noted films of MGR during this period were Datchayagnam, Ashokumar,Thamizhariyum Perumal,Harichandra,Abhimanyu,Kumari,Mohini Saalivaahanan,Sri Murugan,Paithiyakaran, Prahalatha, Rajamukthi, Rathnakumar, Mohini and so on. MGR started his film career in the mid Nineteen Thirties. Whereas,Sivaji Ganesan came much late in 1952, joining Tamil cinema, straight away as the main hero.
   Though MGR began acting, sixteen years prior to Sivaji Ganesan's entry,it was the latter who first touched the one hundredth film,as early in 1964,by playing nine roles in the film Navarathiri,directed by A.P.Nagarajan.The film became a big talking point and ran for more than 100 days. Sivaji Ganesan could do this within twelve years after starting his career.But MGR hit his century only in 1968, four years later and thirty two years after he first set his foot in Tamil Cinema.It was the film Oli Vilakku, released under the Gemini Studios banner and it was the only film of MGR under this production house. MGR's one hundredth film was a grand success too. But Sivaji Ganesan did three films {Irumbu Thirai,Motor Sundaram Pillai and Vilaiyaattu Pillai}with S.S.Vasan's  Gemini Studios.
    Similarly, the other, outstanding AVM Studios also made only one film with MGR and the wonderful film was Anbe Vaa,a great entertainer,with fun and frolic.However, the same big banner film makers not only introduced the thespian wizard Sivaji Ganesan in Parasakthi, but also produced other memorable films like Andha Naal, Paarthaal Pasitheerum and Uyarndha Manidhan.In addition to these, the AVM banner was also involved in the production or distribution of Sivaji Ganesan's films like Dheiva Piravi, Paava Mannippu and Babu. 
    As MGR was active in politics and became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977, he had to dispense with his cinema career.Hence he could not reach the magic number 150 in his dream world.But his star contemporary Sivaji Ganesan, did more than 300 films, occupying the Tamil big screen until 1999, 12 years after the demise of MGR in 1987.
    The other indisputable fact was that MGR did not frequently share his screen space with his contemporary heroes.He did one film each with Sivaji Ganesan {Koondu Kili}and Gemini Ganesan{Mukarasi}and two films each with SS.Rajendran {Raja Dhesingu and Kanchi Thalaivan} and Siva Kumar {Kavalkaran and Idhayaveenai}. But he did five films with R.Muthuraman.{Arasilankumari,Ther Thiruvizha,Oru Thaai Makkal,En Annan and Kannan En Kaadalan.}MGR did not act even a single film either with Jai Shankar or Ravichandran.
  In fact,MGR entertained more villain and character actors in his films rather than fellow heroes. On the other hand, Sivaji Ganesan would have acted a number of films with all these actors including Ravichandran and Jai Shankar. Besides these heroes, Sivaji Ganesan has also acted with Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan. Excepting Sarojadevi and Jeyalalitha,most of the heroines of MGR were glamour pieces.But Sivaji Ganesan appears to have contributed and encouraged the acting potential of all his heroines.
     Even among reputed directors, these two stars had their selective positions well laid.While the ace director A.Bhimsingh was a Sivaji devotee and did not do even a single movie with MGR,P. Neelakandan who had directed nearly 25 films of MGR did just three films with Sivaji Ganesan.{Kalyanam Panniyum Brammachari,Mudhal Thedhi and Ambikapadhi}.The other famous film maker K.S.Gopalakrishnan who made five films with Sivaji Ganesan{Selvam,Kai Kodutha Dheivam, Kulama Gunama, Pesum Dheivam and Padikkaadha Pannaiyaar},had no film for MGR. Whereas,the Devar Films house,which was busily making many films of MGR,did not bother to make any film of Sivaji Ganesan. Similarly, the Sujadha Cine Arts of K.Balaji, got itself stuck to the Chevalier, never turning to the side of MGR. 
     A.P.Nagarajan who made many hits with Sivaji Ganesan,did just one MGR film {Navarathnam},which failed at the box office.Directors like C.V.Sridhar and B. R. Panthulu who did not think of doing any film with MGR  during their hey days, later turned to MGR to improve their fortunes. Sridhar's Urimaikural and Pandhulu's Aayirathil Oruvan were both monumental films of MGR.If Urimaikural was an extraordinary family drama, unusual to the norms and conventions of MGR's role play,Aayirathil Oruvan retained a cult status as an epic film. 
   Sivaji's other favourite directors like A. C.Thirulokchandar and  P.Madhavan made one film each, with MGR{Dheivathaai and Anbe Vaa respectively}.The other well known directors of Sivaji Ganesan films, like K.Vijayan and C.V.Rajendran did not work with MGR. Besides all these men, Sivaji Ganesan also worked with new generation directors like Bharathiraja, Bhagyaraj,S.A.Chandrasekar, K.S.Ravikumar and Kasturiraja.
     K.Balachander,a revolutionary film maker of those days could be said to have treated both the stars alike.He wrote the dialogue component for the MGR film Dheivathai as he did it for Sivaji Ganesan's Neelavanam. Nevertheless,this brilliant director made  one film with Sivaji Ganesan {Ethiroli,} and the movie was just an average show.He did not direct any film of MGR.
   Many heroes and Superstars may come and go.But Tamil Cinema has never been  so much stressed under the influence of any two mega stars,as it was under MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. While MGR's road was meticulously laid with ritzy,ravishing, revolutionary stretches, Sivaji Ganesan just walked into the lives of men,with a galaxy of roles, through both wide and narrow pathways.
  MGR gave hope. Sivaji Ganesan raised alarm bells about life's realities, with twists and turns, reflecting the intricacies of the psyche of individuals,in association with groups as family, society and so on. His modules of acting became exemplary samples of life.But MGR's essence of role play always remained as the driving force,as the harbinger of a positive change.It was this underlying factor that marked the victory of MGR in politics,against the failure of Sivaji Ganesan,whose transit from the silver screen to the slippery foothold of politics, ended up as a pipe dream.


  1. Enjoyed reading the worthy details of the two greats of Tamil Cinema. The author's collection and description of the acting careers of the two legends in their own way is worthy of adulation.