Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Missing Link of Mohan Raja.

     Mohan Raja's Velaikaran'has two heroes.Besides Sivakarthikeyan, it is the dialogue that draws the applause of the audience in the course of narration.Normally in a film of this kind, with abundant scope for challenges between the hero and the villain, it is the hero's punch dialogues that will govern the screen play.But here, the dialogues of several characters create a  greater, punching impact.From a playful, light-minded character running after his loved girls, Sivakarthikeyan has indisputably grown into a hero of purpose and performance.He measures his delivery of emotions as pointedly as possible.There is a perfect delivery of emotions even in the conventional funeral dance, that he performs to honor his murdered friend.Siva is as much a natural performer as Fahad Fazil is.The latter who has made his first entry into Tamil Cinema, is  cutely sleek and impressive as a born capitalist wolf ,awaiting its prey in the form of its work force and the victims of heinous marketing trends.The underplay of the hero and the villain and the blowing dialogue narrative, are a special treat of the film.
   The huge cast of the movie creates a lot of expectation leading to disappointments here and there.While Nayantara and Prakash Raj have been under utilized,actors like Rohini, Charliee and Vijay Vasanth {as Baghya }do cause significant emotional vibrations through their no nonsense performance.Rohini who tells her son how her stern looks submerged the nasty sexual overtures of her employers, makes her son grasp the concept of loyalty, with its roots firming up where and how they should. But Sneha's brief appearance is another failure on the part of the director to drive home the indispensable link of this character to the core of the theme and script .Owing to directorial drawbacks,like Nayantara,this fine actress also remains unimpressive.
    There is an inherent layer of intelligence connecting the characters and the progress of events to the screen play.But Mohan Raja used this technique more effectively in Thani Oruvan which also dealt with a similar theme of the atrocities of aggressive marketing.Thani Oruvan which showcased a character bound conflict between a cop and a marketing criminal, definitely reflected greater dynamism in narration. Whereas here, the thematic and narrative scope for intelligence has been let down by aberration in focus.For instance, when most of us would have expected a dramatic twist in the climax scene, it came as a dampener with a mere radio talk of exhortation, exposing the exploiting mindset of crooked growth-oriented marketing theories and practices, making the middle class consumers more and more vulnerable to life killing  food products, at the expense of its work force.But Sivakarthikeyan beautifully reflects the shock of distrust and disbelief caused by the secretly bullying schemes of the villainous Fahad Fazil ,with whom he blindly shared all his ideas and actions.
   Anirudh could not take his music closer to the heart of the audience beyond the background score.His force of music swallows the lyrics to a great extent thereby driving a wedge between tunes and words.Mohan Raja is always known for emphatic portrayal of events and characters. Starting from his first film Jeyam,he has earnestly stuck to this singularity in his direction.His Jeyam,M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi,Santosh Subramanyan,Velayudham and Thani Oruvan made the audience sit up and watch the films scene by scene.But such a magic does not happen here.No doubt, the film has become a lofty ladder for taking Siva Karthikeyan to the next levels of his acting potential.No doubt, it has become an exquisite launch pad for Fahad Fazil to get closer to Tamil Cinema.No doubt the dialogue component, lifts the film to new heights.But somewhere Mohan Raja has gone wrong,to make the film more exciting ,with his innate and usual dynamics of film making.It is this self known pitfall, that has generated confusion in approach leading to a lack of  compact and convincing narration.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Seeman, A Brief time Film maker of variety and Vigor.


      There are longtime film makers creating records with their focus uniquely fixed on their choice of one specific theme.It could be a family story, a rural tale, an absolute romance,an action thriller, a comedy track, a horror zone, a mythical fable, a historical narration,a psychological display or a spiritual  portrayal.At the most one could think of mixing comedy and romance in all these types of narration.But mostly, film makers get interested in any one of the areas of narration and go on making as many films as possible.A majority of film makers confine themselves to any one of the themes and try to excel in their narration.At times even small time film makers get locked up with one theme.For instance Rajiv Menon who did just two films could not cross his pet zone of romance both in Kandukondein Kandukondein and Minsaara Kanavu. Whereas, one could see director Seeman as a different film maker, who did five Tamil films with a sense of variety in his creativity.
   Today Seeman is seen more as a sensitive politician than a film maker.As this blog is exclusively meant for films it has no room for making observations about the political side of this brief time film maker.But there is a lot to say about his exceptional attributes of film making.Not inducting more than three heroes, Seeman has made five films with five different themes, that can not be related to one another. Prabu,Sathyaraj and Madhavan have been his three heroes. Paanchaalankurichi, Iniyavale, Veera Nadai,Vaazhthungal and Thambi are the five films he has made.While Prabu was the hero of the first two films,Madhavan was the protagonist of the last two. Satyaraj donned the role of the hero for Veera Nadai. Similarly three music composers took care of the music component of Seeman's films. Deva composed music for Panchaalangurichi,Iniyavale and Veera Nadai and Vidyasagar{background score by Mani Sharma} and Yuvan Shankar Raja were the music composers for Thambi and Vaazhthungal respectively.
     What makes Seeman a special film maker is his variety and vigor in narration. Seeman always sticks to the ground realities of his subject matter. His first film Panchaalankurichi which he directed when he was quite young, was an emotion packed rural drama with its intrigues and maneuvers of family feuds and delicate touches of romance.The film also carried a couple of  twists in narration.Both Prabhu and Vijayakumar took the film to its deserving heights and Madhubala with her refined and delicate portrayal, enriched the quality of romance. Panchaalankurichi was in compact form, with necessary emotional outbursts adding heaviness and efficacy to Seeman's sentimental narration of events.The film which opened with Seeman's acknowledgement of respect and gratitude for director Bharathiraja, became one of the best films of Prabhu and brought great credit to Seeman as a film maker.Incidentally, it was Seeman who wrote the story and dialogues for Bharathiraja's Pasumpon,which was the great director's yet another poignant narration of rural, family drama, with Sivaji Ganesan donning a catchy role and Radhika making an outstanding performance.
       Veera Nadai with the tall performance of Sathyaraj, did not go very well with the audience. Besides Satyaraj, the film had Kushboo,Chandrasekar,Arun Pandiyan Goundamani and Sendhil. One can always count on the brilliant performance of Sathyaraj when it comes to rural themes. His absorption of the village routine on the whole, is almost  part and parcel of his making as a person.No doubt he did his best as Periya Karuppan in Veera Nadai. Unusually, the film did not have the comedy parade of the duo Senthil and Goundamani which was popular those days. This was because Senthil played a negative role in the film, as the paternal uncle of Arun Pandian  who played villain.To be on a different line, the film also begins introducing the villain and his family, with their scheming mindset. Goundamani's verbal efficacy was a great feature of the film. The other notable aspect of the movie was Seeman's dialogue segment with a significant punch here and there, on what bravery really is.However, the movie was not a perfect Sathyaraj hit, in the line of his other films on rural lines like Thaai Maaman, Senadhipadhi,Vallal,Vela Kedachiduchu,Therku Theru Machan, Vaadhiyaar Veetu Pillai, Vandicholai Sinnarasu,Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi, Mallu Vetti Minor and Vaazhkai Chakkaram .
    Iniyavale was a subtle tale of romance depicting the highly vulnerable nature of womanhood as reflected in the characterization of Suvalakshmi.The narration was breezy with noticeable underplay of emotions in the character portrayal of the hero played by Prabhu. The movie impressively dealt with the psychological intricacies in man woman relationship and was less melodramatic when compared to Paanchaalangurichi. Deva's musical component was an added support for the film as in Paanchaalankurichi. Like Prabhu's other romantic roles watched in Raajakumaran and Uthamapurushan, Iniyavale projected the Chevalier's son in a helpless situation, struggling to establish his own inclinations and creditworthiness.
     Madhavan's two movies directed by Seeman were of totally different themes. In Thambi, Seeman could take the credit for portraying  the ever soft chocolate boy Madhavan, as a revolutionary hero, with a cry for justice and a passion for fighting evil. Thambi's introductory note stating that it is our enemies who decide which weapon we have to take,made a refreshing beginning on the big screen.It was an action film and the dialogue segment of the film was an extraordinary treat, thanks to the force and fineness of expressions from Seeman's hands.There was action, there was elegant romance {Pooja's cute overtures to the hero need a special mention} and above all, there was the climax of generous revenge, pictured in the form of the hero reforming the villain, by his noble act of saving the villain's mother at a crucial juncture. All these positive notes made one feel that Thambi could be rated as the best film of Seeman.
   Madhavan's other film Vaazhthungal in the hands of this variety spinning  director was a fine tale of love and family bonding.It was an aesthetic show of a hero, looking for a life partner, who would not discard his parents after marriage. The theme of the film was itself exquisite to make the film worthy of a decent family watch. Madhavan and Bhavana who were also paired in another film Ariya, did a graceful role delivery in Vaazhthungal. Seeman showed that he would do a different touch in each film and not travel on the same track.Besides making films he has also acted in a few films like Amaithi Padai,Magizhchi,Pori,Pallikkoodam, Mayaandi Kudumbathaar and Nagarja Chozhan M.A; MLA . Of these,his role performance in Mayandi Kudumbathar  became remarkable.May be he would have given us more of his creative stuff and performance ability, had he not picked up politics on the way of his film journey.Perhaps this is another streak of his capacity for variety in performance.Let us wish him well.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Kapoor Brothers.


      Bollywood is the pride of Indian Cinema.When I make this statement it does not mean that I undermine the other regions of the Indian film society.What I mean here is Bollywood has always been a few steps ahead, in importing new technologies from wherever they are invented and infusing them into the big screen, before other Indian film industries could make such a move. Moreover when other regions could think only of black and white films,Bollywood came out with quite a number of color films in the Nineteen Sixties itself.This blog has rarely gone into the Hindi movie world, for want of creditable access to Hindi films, due to my selective Hindi movie watching schedule.
   The reason for this was that most of the areas in Tamil Nadu other than Chennai,were not screening Hindi movies in theatres from the middle of Nineteen Seventies.However Tamil audience had once cherished a special fascination for Bollywood films, purely for their aesthetic richness, in terms of quality exposure to  enchanting components of romance and action and reverberating music.The Hindi heroes starting from Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Rajendra kumar, Sanjeev Kumar down to Dharmendra, Rajesh Kanna Dev Anand, Amitab,Shatrugan Sinha and the Kapoor brothers, all were adored in Tamil Nadu, as darlings of Bollywood.But among these the Kapoor brothers displayed a special charm and charisma because, though they all emerged from the same Prithvi Raj kaboor dynasty,each of the three brothers made a distinct appeal in romance and action and created a variety of sensations among the audience.
   I should modestly acknowledge the fact that I have not seen even countable movies of Ranbir Raj Kaboor,Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.I have just watched two films of Raj {Sangam and Mera Naam Joker} and three films each of the other two brothers.{An Evening in Paris, Brammhachari and Andaaz of Shammi Kapoor and Sharmilee, Aa Gale Lag Ja and Deewar of Shashi}.But a sample of rice is enough to rate the quality of the pot full of rice.Assessments are based on a kind of spark between two interacting forces.It is this spark that gets released in different dimensions and brings different people together.
     Each of the three Kapoor brothers has created a cinematic flame and not a spark, particularly in their concept and display of romance and action.The all giving but forlorn face of romance was omnipresent in Raj Kapoor's show of the fall of love, in the two films that I watched.He was one who would love only for love,however unrequited it was.The pitch of pathos was a predominant factor, pulling the nerves of the audience into a soul searching but agonizing experience. Raj Kapoor was indeed a lovely, tormenting force of romance and the tormenting experiences of the audience while watching Raj singing a heart piercing song, in the melting voice of Mukesh, could create cathartic moments for every one.The actor Raj and the singer Mukesh, were the grand masters of dejected love and they both casually carried on the load of sorrow and gracefully passed it on to everybody, watching and listening to them.Great were the days and greater were our exalting hours at the theaters.
     Shammi was an invigorating tornado of love.His nimble bodily movements and characteristic gestures would make the audience dance with him."An Evening in Paris" shot almost completely in the  Capital of France was an energizing action bonanza with romance and gorgeous visual display, captivating the audience imagination as an inexhaustible treat.The glamour parade of Sharmila Tagore and the stylish villainy of Pran were the other positive notes of this big budget film.The music of Shankar Jaikishan  was the major crowd pulling force of the film. Shammi would almost thrust circus moves on his limbs, in most song sequences and romantic scenes.It was this physical vigor that sustained his position as hero and made his role play endearing to the audience.As a widower with a kid in Andaaz and as a lover and caretaker of children in Brammachari, he made his roles remembered.He was a hero with unstinting gusto and a kind of mischievous innocence in looks, that could made him reflect shades of romance in a rare form.
     Shashi,the youngest of the three was a combination of charm,style and intelligence that could effectively make him a deviant of the Kapoor breed. No doubt, he had a little bit of his immediate elder Shammi. But he had an inbuilt ingredient of subtlety in his approach, with which  he carved  a specially identifiable niche for himself, in the line of Dev Anand. His calculated articulation of dialogues was quite symbolic of a probing,introspective mindset, that singularly helped him hone his style of acting, frame by frame.Of his three films I watched,Aa Gale Lag Ja was a delicate romantic tale with profound intricacies in narration.Paired with Sharmila Tagore, Shashi Kapoor brought out a new dimension in man-woman relationship with a refreshing psychological perspective of accidental pre-marital sex, that was necessitated for reviving the life of a person in an ice bound region.
   The success of the film called for its remake in Tamil as Uthaman starring Sivaji Ganesan and Manjula. While his  earlier film Sharmilee was an action thriller with Rakhee playing dual roles, his Deewar with Amitab as his elder brother was a block buster cop and gangster story, which was also made into Tamil as Thee. Shashi was chic and brilliant both in  police and military uniforms.Of the three brothers, Shashi certainly had an Anglican touch in fixing his profile into characters.I always loved to see more of his films but owing to political compulsions in Tamil Nadu and changing circumstances in Tamil cinema, my wish remained unfulfilled at a time when even TV watch was not available in many homes, until the mid Nineteen Eighties.
    Of the three brothers,the eldest lived comparatively a shorter life and he could not see even Seventy.Whereas the other two brothers,interestingly died in their Seventy Ninth year, just before seeing eighty.Tamil cinema has also come upon  brothers like M.G Chakrapani and M.G.Ramachandran,T.K.Shanmugam and T.K.Bagavathi,Chaaruhasan and Kamalahasan and the now popular Surya and Karthik. But the Kapoor family was a unique lamp post for Bollywood, marking effervescence and efficacy of branches of a single tree, standing up proudly and enhancing the image of Hindi cinema, through the creditable contribution of four heroes starting from the Kapoor patriarch Prithviraj.But the three Kapoor brothers not only made their father proud, but also heightened the grandeur of Hindi Cinema, by spreading their wings of acting with awesome colors and characters.This belated tribute that closely follows the death of the youngest of the Kapoor brothers, also carries genuine apologies from me, for having forgetfully delayed a timely tribute from my blog, to Prithvi Raj Kaboor &sons .

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.