Monday, June 10, 2019

Crazy but Creative too.{Homage to Crazy Mohan}

     Humour is the fuel for the laughter engine.In other words,if laughter is the exterior,humour is its interior.To counter a well known maxim we could say humour and not brevity that is the soul of wit.Comedians are celebrated with gusto and applause for their delightful delivery of humour for which it is the soul of the skit that matters.Tamil cinema owes a significant portion of its comedy perfection to the vigour sustaining dialogues and script contributed by the veteran humour wizard Crazy Mohan.
  Born as Mohan Rengachari,this Mechanical Engineer of the early Nineteen Seventies turned into stage play promotion and comedy skit promotion for quite a number of Tamil films.The success that he tasted by his stage play enacted in Guindy Engineering College perhaps changed his fate line from an Engineering career to that of a playwright and dialogue writer. Launching his "Crazy Creations" and making his brother Maadhu Balaji {prefix Maadhu lifted from Nagesh's role in Edhir Neechal} as the hero of most of his dramas,Mohan has substantially enriched Tamil stage plays and films by his massive contribution of plays,scripts and dialogues.
  Unlike late Cho Ramasamy whose sharp dialogues were aimed at political foibles and failures, Crazy Mohan's laughter vehicle drove on tracks of well timed spot humour generating instant laughter.Mohan believed in the power of words to generate laughter without letting the impact of words go waste and with the forceful pull of drawing the attention of the audience to the humour-pregnant contexts and the words that guaranteed those contexts.Consequently none of the audience would fail to burst into a stream of laughter.
  Tamil Cinema has breathed humour through Crazy Mohan's lungs,in a number of films. Mohan started his film journey as story writer for veteran director K.Balachander's Poikal Kudhirai {which was based on Mohan's drama 'Marriage Made in Saloon'}.However it was his close association with Kamalahasan that made him an astounding harbinger of comedy sense and spot humour. Teaming up with Kamal for the epic level film Aboorva Sagodharargal, Mohan ran on the race course of comedy,taking the audience to the zenith of humour,solely by his intoxicating power of humour in films like Sathi Leelavadhi,Tenaly,Michael Madhana Kamarajan,Avvai Shanmugi, Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa,Pammal K.Sambandam,Makalir Mattum, Panja Thandhiram and Vasool Raja MBBS. Almost all these films became mega hits purely on account of the rib tickling dialogues of Mohan who had an extraordinary flair for punning upon words blending English with Tamil and vice versa.The only film that Mohan worked with Rajinikanth was Arunachalam.
    The other notable films for which Mohan wrote the script or subscribed his comedy skit were Chinna Maapillai,Vietnaam Colony and Chinna Vaadhiyaar{all Prabu's films}Vijay's Enrenrum Kaadhal,Soorya's Poovellaam Kettupaar and K.T.Kunjimon's Ratchagan.Besides his invisible offering of humour,Crazy Mohan has also made a brief appearance in quite a few films.Of these,the most notable show was in Vasool Raja MBBS as Dr. Markabandhu,the most intelligent and father doting  son of Kaka Radhakrishnan. 
   How he succumbed to the intimidating tactics of Kamalahasan,Prabu and others and how innocently he reflected his gullibility,nervousness and devotion to his father,constituted one of the most memorable scenes of comedy in Tamil cinema,showcasing the whole event through a carom  board game,played by the fun loving gang along with the carom enthusiast Kaka Radha krshnan.The other briefly noticeable roles that Mohan played were those of a car customer {Aboorva Sagothararkal} a grocer{Michael Madhana Kamarajan}a doctor{Chinna Vaadhiyaar} an astrologer{Enrenrum Kaadhal}an ENT Specialist {Pammal K.Sambandham} and a hearing impaired Judge {Kola Kolaya Mundhirikaa}.All these small time characters will stay remembered, in spite of their short focus.The last film in which he appeared was Kalyana Samayal Saadham and his last film bearing his dialogues was Naan Ee.
   Many have ruled Tamil cinema and theatre in their own unique ways.Crazy Mohan has crazily ruled them both,as well as the Tamil small screen{through his serials of which Metti Oli was very popular}by his intelligent wordplay capable of creating a comedy wonderland with all its genuine ingredients.The essence of his comedy skit has always been at the exclusion of vulgarity and even in writing double meaning dialogues,intelligence has surpassed temptations for inferior abuse of words. Even while creating awkward situations as humour incentives, Mohan has always taken care to close his comedy doors against meanness in gesticulation and articulation.
   Crazy Mohan would definitely join the line of well meaning decent comedians empowered to amuse the crowd,through thought, word and deed,all governed by rules of genuine and spontaneous humour. His credibility for humour has always been looking up for laughter as a blessing and never been looking down for humour as a curse.Perhaps it was his absolute adherence to decent comedy that fetched him the Kalaimaamani award from the government of Tamil Nadu.It is really unfortunate that two great film celebrities passed away today. Mohan's death has followed that of Girish Karnad another great playwright and actor,who also died of heart attack this morning. Mohan's loss will surely throw a pall of gloom but in the long run,the memorable scenes of his comedy shows will lend him a stamp  of immortality and wipe away the gloom as light liquidates darkness.

Homage to Girish Karnad

    A passionate writer,a probing playwright,a dedicated theatrical celebrity and a poignant actor that Girish Raghunath Karnad was,it is very painful to accept his death,though death comes to all with or without giving notice.I still cherish my happy moments,teaching one of his wonderful creations 'Hayavadana' to a couple of batches of Arts and Science students in the college where I worked and retired from.I would rate him as an actor of awesome academic mould with a very high and critically challenging creative potential.I have watched almost all the Tamil films he acted and I am sure they would all celebrate his memory in the decades to come.
  What was special about this cutely urbanized actor,was his aristocratic demeanour that would naturally fix him in any elite role such as the Black dog Security Service Officer {Kadhal Mannan} and a haughty,scheming,status conscious,greedy,tax evading industrialist cum business magnate {Naan Adimai Illai,Kadhalan,Minsaara Kanavu,Ratchagan,and Chellame}. Mysskin's Mugamoodi was the last Tamil film that Karnad acted,as the grandfather of the hero. {played by Jeeva}He also worked with Kamalahasan in Hey Ram.
  The way Karnad would churn out the intricacies of his character delineation was a special treat to watch.His eyes would deliberate his manipulations more than his tongue.The arrogance of wealth was the most notable trait that he would felicitously portray through his body language and his distinct style of acting.On the Tamil screen,he was ever a self conscious promoter of foul accumulation and proud display of wealth,through characters evolved with an extraordinary care for the Machiavellian touch.It would perhaps look that in his death,the world of cinema stands impoverished,because it has lost one of its fabulous faces of the guilt and grandeur of wealth.
  So suave and refined were his looks that only actors like {late}S.V.Renga Rao and Pran of the last millennium could be equated with him in exhibiting the value and vile of the highest rung of the aristocratic ladder.Late Raghuvaran was a perfect match to his negative role play and perhaps that was why they both were brought together,in sharing the venom of villainy in films like Kaadalan and Ratchagan.The winning streak of these two actors,was based on their innate grasp of playing crude villainy with a mask of refinement,that would enable them to ruin their rivals through their soft dozes of devilishness.
   Karnad's main focus was on Kannada cinema followed by his contribution to Hindi and Tamil films.He has also acted in a couple of Malayalam films{Neela Kurinji Poothapol and The Prince}.Beyond his enrichment of Indian cinema was his exhaustive contribution to Kannada literature and no doubt it was his creative versatility that earned him the most coveted  Jnanpith Award from the government of India,for his significant literary achievements.Today Tamil cinema is as much deprived of one of its most dynamic actors as the Kannada region has every reason to mourn the death of one of its most illustrious sons.The Tamil soil is certainly indebted to this great Indian,for adding pep and flavour to its celluloid glory.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The most remembered Court scenes in Tamil films.{Revised}

{Revised on 26th July 2021}


   Tamil cinema is as much unique for its crime thrillers as it is for the huge archives of social and family narrations.Most of the crime stories have projected the punch of the police force with the stiffest crease of the police uniform.There has been an enormous display of the sense of dynamism and commitment of the cops in chasing the actual criminals,with a perfect grasp of the event and the scenario of crime,without of course failing to underline the existence of the intrinsic darker patches of prosecution of crime due to men of criminal frame of mind,getting into the vitals of the police department.
    Owing to the growing demand for the action component of movies of this kind,narration of this genre was mostly confined to the chase and run course of events,culminating in the nabbing of the actual criminals.Hence crime thrillers generally have not reflected  the need for matters going to the court of law for a suitable award of justice.Nevertheless,there have been films which have successfully focussed on the process of litigation and pronouncement of verdicts pertaining to mysterious cases of murder,sexual crimes,infidelity and divorce.Some of the Tamil films have beautifully highlighted the intricacies of criminal cases and the shrewdness of the legal wing in meticulously disentangling the complexities of crime and punishment.This article intends to reflect upon the dynamic depiction of court scenes in a few memorable films.
    The earliest court scenes that the Tamil audience would have briskly witnessed were from the climax of Parasakthi,the very first film of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan.The tremendous impact that the court scenes of the film created was of paramount significance,because of the chaste and fiery dialogues,penned by Kalingnar M.Karunanidhi and the flawless delivery of those dialogues by the robust and stentorian voice of Sivaji Ganesan.This was almost a trend setter for prospective Tamil films and will remain as an immortal treasure in the archives of Tamil Cinema. 
   Then came the Gemini Ganesan starring film Nalla Theerpu produced by Sundarlal Nahata and directed by T.Prakash Rao.While Murasoli Maran wrote the screenplay,cinematography of the film was enriched by Kamal Ghosh.The film beautifully narrated the reopening of a case of murder of a reputed dancer,that had its verdict,convicting an innocent man who was the father of the hero.It was a very decent film depicting powerful court scenes with Gemini Ganesan as a lawyer,struggling to get into the facts to arrest the actual murderer {S.V.Sahasranaamam} and get his father{V.Nagaiah} falsely implicated in the case,released from life imprisonment.Those days it was really a new experience to keep excitedly waiting to see who the real criminal was.In fact,nobody would have ever thought that the suave Sahasranaamam would have so crudely committed a murder and thrust the load of crime on an innocent man.Till the end he would make clever attempts to escape,but finally get caught by the cleverer probe and presentation of the case, by the hero.
  Gemini Ganesan's more splendid performance as a barrister was amazingly witnessed in K.Balachander's monumental film Kaviya Thalaivi.The climax of the film  had a fifteen minutes court scene dealing dealt with murder of M.R.R.Vasu by his wife Sowcar Janaki who was forced to kill her drunkard and wayward husband,when he blackmailed her demanding a huge sum,failing which he would stop the marriage of their daughter.It was one of the smartest role play of Gemini Ganesan involving a bundle of heavy emotions and professionalism that he essayed with exuberance and won the best actor award from the Government of Tamil Nadu.
    The next interesting court scene that the Tamil audience would have vigorously watched was from the two climax scenes of the two outstanding Sivaji Ganesan films,Iruvar Ullam and Padithaal Mattum Pothuma.Though both the climaxes were about acts of murder,the first one was a clear case of planned murder and the latter was an unintentional emotional encounter between two cousins causing the death of the elder one.Unfortunately,the wife of the victim would come  in between them and the killing would take place in the midst of the melee.
   In Iruvar Ullam the murder of a woman dancer {Padmini Priyadharshani}would be committed by T.R.Ramachandran who would create a planned web for entangling the hero in the murder and cleverly escape from the scene .The hero who had his own notorious past as a playboy,would be in an unebviable situation,because his father {S.V.Renga Rao}who was a senior criminal lawyer would strongly believe that it was his son who had committed the murder.On the other hand the hero's elder brother {M.R.Radha} who was a lacklustre  lawyer arguing mostly for cases of divorce,would not endorse his father's view.So he would take up his brother's case,effectively argue in favour of his brother and win the case by carefully probing into the subtleties and nuances of the mystery behind the act of murder.Besides freeing his brother from the case,his arguments would also lift his image as a worthy lawyer.The film directed by L.V. Prasad was a run away hit,because of its emotional base, catchy narration of the veteran director,the beautiful dialogues of Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi and the amazing role play of Sivaji Ganesan teaming up with B. Sarojadevi and joined by inimitable actors like S.V. Renga Rao and M.R. Radha. 
    The climax court scene of Padithaal Mattum Podhuma was totally different.The film made by the winning,creative brilliance of A.Bhimsingh was an excellent family drama throwing Sivaji Ganesan into an emotional cauldron due to an act of betrayal by his cousin{K.Balajee} resulting in a wrong marriage of the hero with an educated ultra modern woman{Raja Sulochana}.When truth came to light,the turbulent,uneducated Sivaji Ganesan would take his hunting rifle with a rage to threaten his cousin who by his well  contrived scheme had married the uneducated,sweet mannered Savitri,actually proposed for the hero to marry.The chaotic climax would show Sivaji Ganesan holding the rifle against Balajee and the latter and his wife trying to prevent the hero from triggering the rifle.
  In this process the rifle would trigger the bullet and hit Balajee,killing him on the spot. Consequently, the hero would be arrested and only the words of Savitri who was a witness to the tragic event could say whether the hero triggered the rifle or not.To everyone's surprise the widowed woman would say that as all the three of them had their hands on the rifle she was not sure whose fingers triggered the rifle releasing the bullet.So the hero would be discharged from the case,on the benefit of doubt section of the IPC.
   Two of MGR's films are still remembered for their effective use of the court scenes.The first one was Devar Film's Needhikku Pin Paasam.It was a film beautifully stuffed with plentiful court scenes relating to the murder of M.R. Radha,the father of B. Sarojadevi. The film revolved around an elite family of a dutiful police officer {S.V. Renga Rao} as dad,S.A. Ashokan as the elder son cum public prosecutor and younger son M.G.R as defence lawyer.The mother was the accused in the case.Each one was committed to their duties as cop,public prosecutor and defence lawyer with their innate conviction that justice should always surpass family affection and justice should be rightly rendered.
  The hero as the younger son with devotion to his mother and dedication to his profession, ultimately succeeded in establishing the truth of innocence of his mother,by closing down the case upon the actual murderer{M.N.Nambiyar} who was a notorious wrong doer dismissed from the army,for committing crimes as a way of life.The film carried all the dynamics of an MGR story line and was specially complimented for the court scenes.The other MGR film Kavalkaran was a Silver Jubilee hit but it was mostly a suspense crime thriller culminating in a court scene to establish legal grounds for the prosecution and conviction of the antagonist, effectively played by M. N. Nambiyar as a wealthy criminal and father in law of the hero.
   Veteran film maker K.Balachander who was a specialist in portraying family and  social values with  psychological intricacies and subtleties in narration,once tried his hand in dealing with a crime action thriller without deviating from his family roots as base for his story line. The film was Ethiroli released in 1968 and this was the only film of Sivaji Ganesan that K. Balachander directed. Sivaji Ganesan [named as Shankar} was an honest lawyer who laid down and displayed seven ethical conditions as the ways of one's life.Unfortunately, circumstances forced him to violate his own ethical yardsticks,one after the other and finally he would get entangled in a case of murder and the person who was killed was a taxi driver {Major Sundarajan}who used to blackmail the hero for a financial misappropriation that the lawyer was constrained to commit.Interestingly,the seventh condition stipulated by the lawyer was "Do not indulge in acts of murder"and it was the irony of fate that got him wrongly accused in a murder case.
   The lawyer's daughter would once witness the taxi driver blackmailing her father.So she would attempt to kill the taxi driver with her father's revolver.However,she would soon be overpowered by him.At this juncture the taxi driver's lover would come in between them and save the girl.The woman who had high regards for the lawyer would kill the taxi driver because she did not want him to blackmail her venerable lawyer anymore.On seeing the murder,the lawyer's daughter would become dumbfounded and literally lose her power of speech. Meanwhile,the killer woman would be house arrested by another gangster.As the revolver belonged to the lawyer,he would be arrested and his younger brother {S.S. Rajenran} would be the Public Prosecutor arguing the case towards getting him convicted,based on a tape recorded conversation in which the lawyer was heard threatening the blackmailer that he would kill him one day.
    It was an interesting and energetic narration of court scene procedures,with the public Prosecutor initially fumbling for relevant sections in the IPC and his elder brother {the accused in the case} duly prompting him,the hero's wife{K.R.Vijaya} cleverly tackling the questions of the Public Prosecutor and the Judge {V.S.Raghavan} interestingly watching the whole proceedings. Ultimately,the accused hero by using a clever ploy would restore speech to his daughter who would bring the truth of the murder,to light.
   The film 'Idhayakamalam' produced by L.V.Prasad contained a seies of fascinating court scenes wherein K.R,Vijaya believed to be dead by her husband Ravichandran, had to undergo great ordeals to prove to her husband that she was his real wife and the dead woman was her totally identical twin sister.The movie was beautifully pictured and the number of court scenes with S.V.Sahasranamam as the judge and R.S.Manohar as the Public prosecutor,were a treat to watch.Both K.R.Vijaya and Ravichandran had performed their roles with absolute dedication and involvement.Yet another inetersting aspect of the film was that the hero Ravichandran himself was an advocate and his presence in the court on all occasions,making stiff responses to all the queries made by his wife,who was suspected to be a member of a robber's group to which her dead twin sister belonged.      
     Sivaji Ganesan's other greatly successful film Gowravam was an exhaustive tale of the pride of a barrister{Barrister Rajinikanth}who bothered only about the victory of his arguments irrespective of the fact whether he argued and won the case for the perpetrator or victim of crimes.The Chevalier played dual roles as barrister Rajinikanth and as his adopted son working as a junior advocate under the barrister.The film was abounded in court scenes and the dialogue segment written by Vietnaam Veedu Sundaram added pep and power to the court scenes. Gowravam which was also directed by Sundaram narrated the course of events in the life of a murderer {Major Sundarajan once again} who killed his first lover in order to marry another woman.Though he was saved by barrister Rajinikanth in that case,he got framed for the death of his second woman whom he earnestly wanted to marry.
   A heavy insurance policy taken in the name of the second woman and her subsequent death on account of epilepsy while taking bath in a shower tub would land him in trouble.The nexus between the insurance amount and the death of the woman that followed,would make it a case of premeditated murder and get him death sentence.The barrister who defended the case could not tolerate defeat in the hands of his adopted son and junior lawyer who appeared for the case on behalf of the prosecution.The film will always be remembered as much for the court scenes as for the stunning performance of Sivaji Ganesan as barrister Rajinikanth.
   Later Sivaji Ganesan apeared as the elder brother of Rajinikanth and as a lawyer and judge in the film Padikadhavan.The climax of the film would show the judge stepping into the shoes of a defence lawyer in order to save the Superstar from a case of murder cleverly thrust upon him by the evil minded Jaishankar who would kill his elder brother Poornam Viswanathan for gaining control over his brother's property.
   The other interesting film that had climax court scenes was Modern Theatres' Kumutham starring S.S.Rajendran,Vijayakumari,Sowcar Janaki,M.R.Radha and S.V.Renga Rao.Here the hero would be entangled in a case of murder committed by M.R.Radha and the case would be handled by S.V.Rengarao as the Public Prosecutor and his daughter Vijayakumari as the defence lawyer.The Public Prosecutor would be bent upon getting the hero declared as the murderer because of his anger against him for marrying the visually challenged Sowcar Janaki, instead of Vijayakumari whom he originally loved.The straightforward daughter would intelligently argue the case and bring to book the real murderer and thereby get her former lover saved from an unjust punishment.
   During the Nineteen Eighties Sujatha Cine Arts production house came out with a block buster film called Vidhi involving a plethora of court scenes to establish the veracity of a womanizer {casually played by Mohan}who had spoilt the lives of several women including that of the heroine{Poornima Jeyaram}.The pregnant heroine would take the issue to the court of law and prove the legitimacy of her pregnancy caused by the womanizer besides getting him suitable punishment.Jaishankar {a lawyer with a shady past} played the role of a dishonest lawyer and Sujatha donned the role of another lawyer struggling to defend the case of the heroine regarding her pregnancy caused by the hero.As an activist of women'd rights,Sujatha gave a galvanizing performance.This film ran with crowd packed theatres chiefly for the dynamism and dramatic efficacy of the court scenes.
   There were memorable climax court scenes in Thulaabaaram in which Oorvasi Sharadha would be arrested for killing her child on account of her trade unionist husband's death in the hands of killers arranged by the mill owner and the consequent threats of poverty and attack on her modesty.Her close friend{Kanchana} and daughter of the mill owner would take up the case and argue in her favour.The other notable film Aval{remake of Hindi Dhoraha} would end up with a court scene taking up the case of murder committed by the heroine {Vennira Aadai Nirmala} who had been forced to kill her husband's fake friend {Srikanth} for repeatedly raping her.
   Some of the recent films that had relevant court scenes were Thamizhan,Priyanka,Devan, Manithan and Nerkonda Paarvai.In Thamizhan the hero{Vijay} himself was a lawyer and he would take up the case of the ill treated estate workers for whose sake his sister's husband {Naaser} fought and got killed by the capitalist lobby.Yet another interesting feature of the film was the importance the hero would give,in educating the common man about the legal recourse available to individuals for several day to day issues.His argument at the consumer court and later in dealing with the murder case of his brother in law in the High Court,were on the track of reality with a mark of the stout voice,for justice.
   Priyanka was a thought provoking film depicting the ordeal of a woman{Revathi} married to a wealthy man{Jeyaram} in taking up the rape case of their servant maid who got raped my her husband's younger brother and his ruthless friends,It was Prabu who would argue the case on behalf of the affected girl and bring justice to her.The most ticklish aspects of the court scenes would be the highly indecent questions put forward to the raped girl by the lawyer{Nasser} arguing on behalf of the accused rogues. 
   Devan was mostly a cop story with Vijayakanth playing the role of an honest police officer who would be struggling to nab the criminal{Sai Kumar} for the wrongs done to the witnesses{Arun Pandian and his sister Kausalya}of his shady rice business.There were lively court interactions centering around an eminent lawyer{stylishly performed by Karthik Muthuraman}who would take up the case on behalf of the wronged man and the honest police officer. 
   Manithan was an exceptional film narrating a prolonged legal batttle between an established corrupt lawyer and a budding young lawyer struggling to find his professional base in the court.With initial temptation for fraudulent money given to him,for not pressing the extraction of truth from an eye witness,over a hit and run multi murder case,the young lawyer wakes up to the call of his conscience and reopens the case to get justice rendered to the victims,besides bringing the wealthy culprit of the case,to book.The court scenes involving the corrupt lawyer{played by Prakash Raj with his reputed dynamism}the young advocate{neatly role played by Udhayanidhi Stalin}and the fairest judge{ casually performed by Radha Ravi with his veteran excellence in acting]were a great treat to watch.Manidhan was a brilliant legal battle held in the court premises and would ever remain as one of the finest films of Udhayanidhi Stalin. 
   The most recently watched legal drama film was Nerkonda Paarvai,a remake of the Hindi film Pink.It was a power packed legal battle shouldered by an upright lawyer with his straight forward gaze.Ajith took up this role with prfound dedication and did absolute justice to his role by the way he argued a sexual harassment and molestation case revoving around three independent women and a brazen gang of youth.Rengaraj Pande as the public prosecutor spat venom in every scene with the deliberate intention of diverting the case and saving the offenders. Like Manithan,the court scenes were pictured as naturally as possible.The sober and very sensible performance of Ajith,took the film to its desired end.Both I Ahamed of Manithan and H.Vinodh of Nerkonda Parvai,deserve a distinct place,for giving us two beautiful Tamil films with their story background inseparably woven to the legal base.
   I would have listed here a line of films that crossed my memory lanes with impressive portrayals of court scenes in Tamil films.I would have missed quite a lot.However the purpose of the article is to throw light on this important segment of scenic narration of court events by Tamil film makers.While films like Thanga Padhakkam,Walter Vetrivel,Manakara Kaaval, Kamala hasan's Kaaki sattai,Suriya's Singam and many other impressive police stories would have concentrated mainly on the hide and seek &chase and run concepts,there were also films like Nalla Theerpu,Needhikku Pin Paasam,Gowravam,Vidhi,Manidhan and Nerkonda Paarvai that had the legal and judiciary zones as their specific areas of interest for captivating cinematic presentation.Such movies definitely took the audience on a different track of film journey and substantially impressed them with powerful dialogues and resourceful handling of cases by a team of intelligent lawyers,whose roles were delightfully performed by the popular heroes and heroines of the periods concerned.