Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sridevi,the Subdued Charmer


       Among Tamil heroines Sridevi was the rarest among the rare.She was a combination of Savithri,K,R,Vijaya,Lakshmi and Sri Vidhya in her looks and manner of acting.Absolute feminine grace and subdued charm were synonymous of Sridevi.Starting her career as a child artist in 1969 with M.G.R's Nam Naadu and Devar's spiritual film Thunaivan {as Lord Muruga},Sridevi made her cutest innings in Tamil cinema.She again appeared as Lord Muruga in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's Aadhi Parasakthi and as Lord Krishna in P.Madhavan's critically acclaimed film Sabadham. She then went on to act in a number of Tamil films as a child artist of which En Annan,Babu,Bharatha Vilas,Kula Vilakku,Vasantha Maaligai  Kanimuthu Papa and Agathiyar were remarkable shows.
      Like Kamalahasan,Sridevi also continued her prominent demonstration of role play on the big screen, from childhood till date.As a heroine her first appearance was in K.Balachander's Moonru Mudichu in which both Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth made their first dynamic joint parade {after Rajinikanth's meek debut appearance in K.B's Aboorva Raagangal starring Kamalahasan as hero},with Rajini taking the lead in a negative role.With this beginning, Sridevi went on to become one of the brilliant pairs of Kamalahasan sharing effective screen space with him, in most popular films like Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,Manitharil Ithanai Nirangalaa ,Kalyana Raman,Saaindhaadamma Saaindhaadu,Meendum Kokila, Guru, Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu, Sigappu Rojaakkal,Vaazhve Mayam, and the award winning  Moonraam Pirai. Incidentally Sridevi was the only heroine who had acted in maximum number of films with Kamalahasan.With Rajinikath,her great entries were Gayathri,Dharma Yudham, Adutha Varisu,Pokkiri Raja, Thanikaattu Raja,Ranuva Veeran,Johnny and Naan Adimai Illai. In the other film Priya, though Rajinikanth was the hero,she was not paired with him.
      Later she was also seen with Sivaji Ganesan in films like Pattaakathi Bhairavan,Sandhippu Vishvaroopam Pilot Premnath and Kavariman.What is distinct about this voluminous actress is the fact that she  not  only remained as a South Indian top star during a particular period but also moved to Bollywood to carve an incomparable celluloid space for herself, in the line of her South Indian predecessors Vaijayanthi Mala,Padmini, Rekha and Hema Malini.In fact, her Hindi films are more than those in Tamil.But she has made a special contribution to Telugu Cinema by her more than ninety films.In contrast her Malayalam films were perhaps one third of her Telugu movies and her least participation was in Kannada films.
   Tamil Cinema last saw her in Vijay's 'Puli'in the role of a queen under a negative spell, making her look like the notorious witch Bellatrix in the Harry Potter series.Even here, her performance was really captivating with the charm of evil that the character demanded.The extraordinary thing about this fabulous star, was the eternal presence of feminine grandeur, truly personified.Her only drawback was the kind of voice she had,that would make it an ordeal for her to make emotional outbursts.But in reflecting modesty and exquisite poise she always remained unbeatable.Though she quit Tamil Cinema long back to hit larger fame and fortune in Bollywood,she would ever remain as the dream girl of Tamil Cinema too.Her loss is sudden but her position as a luminous star will ever glitter in the firmament of Indian Cinema, with the pages of film history speaking of her inimitable glory.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

S.A. Asokan,An Actor of Decibel and Dynamism.

    Among villains of early Tamil Cinema,no one would have been so loud as S.A. Asokan in articulating words of villainy. No doubt M.N.Nambiar also used to increase his decibel here and there. P.S.Veerappa felicitously performed his bad roles with his crude looks and serial serpentine laugh. S.A.Asokan with his hefty body and high profile appearance, came into Tamil Cinema during the early Nineteen Fifties and enjoyed the loudness in his voice as his potential trait of villainy, reflecting detestable fury on his face.May be he had to cleverly manipulate his voice vigor because he had a pair of eyes as obvious indicators of compassion and love.It was his soft looks that made him perform character roles in a much better way than the other two villain actors.
    The magnitude of Asokan's voice was a piece of challenge to the ears of audience in films like Veera Thirumagan, Kaaval kaaran Adimai Penn and Rickshakaaran. As a henchman of M.N.Nambiar,the irredeemable villain of the film Kavalkaran,I still remember how Asokan would angrily shout at his master who betrayed him.The way he loudly uttered the name 'Marudhachalam'{that was Nambiyar's name in Kavalkaran} is still echoing in my ears.The decibel that he created as a villain in Adimai Penn was exceedingly characteristic of his villainy.Perhaps it is the innate fury in his voice that enabled him to perform evil, mythological characters such as Dhuriyodhana and Soorapadman in the films Karnan and Kandan Karunai. Asokan's voice blasted in the theaters especially, while watching the film Kandan Karunai.
    But this guy could also perform villainy with an exemplary sense of humor in films like Naan, Moonrezhuthu,Namnaadu, Neelagiri Express and Vairom. Humor-prone villainy not only reduced the loudness of his voice but also changed the profile of the villain, that he played.He would deliver dialogues in a sweet coated way and crush his traitors and enemies.In most of his later movies Asokan demonstrated  the strength of his villainy through this fresh dimension. 
    Asokan became an inseparable part of quite a number of MGR films.He not only did the character of a baddie but also adorned roles such as MGR's father {Dheivathai&Thanipiravi} father-in-law {Panakkaara Kudumbam} and elder brother {Thaai Sollai Thattaadhe, Kudumba Thalaivan & Thaaiku Thalai Magan}.Even in these roles he usually stood on the wrong side,waiting to be corrected or at times even killed by the hero. Asokan also did subtle villain roles in films like Kannan En Kaadhalan, Sange Muzhangu and Thedivandha Mappillai. Besides acting with MGR, he also produced a couple of MGR films like Thalaivan and Netru, Inru, Naalai.
    But Asokan was not always a villain.In royal roles, he was always dynamic as the Chola King in Paarthiban Kanavu and as the Chalukya King Pulikesi in Kanchi Thalaivan.He was a chic police officer in perfect form, in films like Aanandha Jodhi,Naan Anaiyittaal and Kuzhaindhakkaaga.His mysterious role play in the most popular thriller movie Adhe Kangal from the AVM banner, was a different character assigned to him and he performed it as impressively, as he did the other roles.
   Who can forget his role as hero in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan' in which Gemini Ganesan starred as villain.He also came as hero in the film Idhu Sathiyam paired with Chandrakantha,an actress with expressive eyes and ability to deliver Tamil dialogues with force and clarity. Some of the character roles he performed were as the elder brother of S.S.Rajentan in Manapandal and as Gemini Ganesan's elder brother in Paadha Kaanikkai.In both the films he was taken to bad ways and then reformed.He was also seen singing songs in the voice of T.M.Soundarajan and P.B.Srinivas. Songs such as 'Oer Aayiram Paarvaiyile' Udalukku Uyir Kaaval,'Sathiyam Idhu Sathiyam'and 'Veeduvarai Uravu'are not only thoughtful, philosophical melodies, but also valuable musical treasures of Tamil Cinema. 
      One of the unforgettable roles he performed was as Dr. Gopal, the soulmate of the hero Sivaji Ganesan, in A.V.M's Uyarndha Manidhan. It was a film wherein both the friends would love the same girl;but once Asokan comes to know that his love is one sided, he gulps the disappointment at one stroke and remains as the steadfast friend of the hero till the end.At one point in a drunken mood he would say "the day I came to know that Paarvathi was not to be there in my life, my heart became void and started beating like an old unusable watch" and that was usually, one of the most meaningful dialogues to be heard, only from a hero's mouth, in Tamil Cinema.
   Asokan has acted in a vast number of films with MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan Jai Shankar and Ravichandran. Later he also did a couple of films each with Rajinikanth {Billa&Thee} and Kamalahasan {Ram Lakshman&Savaal} I would have seen a lot of his films.It is not necessary to record all the films here, because surpassing the number of films,the fact remains that Asokan is not just an actor of loud voice but is made of very many layers of action, hitting the roots of a galaxy of characters and capable of alluring the audience with eternal charm, style and steam.