Sunday, December 22, 2019

Thumbs up to Thambi

  Thirteen years ago there was a film called Thambi,starring Madhavan and the film directed by Seeman,ran well because of its powerful dialogues and effective narration.Here comes another film carrying the same title.But this is totally different from the former because of its genre,relevance to the title and riveting narration.
   Jeethu Joseph,the powerful maker of great Malayalm films like Detective,Memories, Drishyam and Oozham is not new to Tamil cinema.He has already become a name here,by his Papanasam  which was a Tamil remake of his Drishyam and in which Kamalahasan took up the lead role of Mohanlal of the Malayalam original.Papanasam became very popular with the Tamil audience. So can Thambi,on account of its vigorous narration and suspense elements kept intact,till the climax.The film lives on its four powerful pillars Karthik,Satyaraj,Jothika and Jeethu Joseph.
    Karthik Sivakumar does his title role with a clean mix up of natural ease,felicitous humour and power of muscles and mood.One can enjoy every shade of his breezy and buoyant role delivery. Satyaraj maintains his strong base and his energy levels in his screen presence.His demonstrative portrayal of roles was never found wanting in any of his films ever since he occupied the centre space in Tamil cinema.The climax of Thambi showing Satyaraj and Karthik in close confrontation,reflects how differently empowered these two actors of two generations are,in their grasp and control of contexts and their dynamism to fit into those contexts.This is the second time Satyaraj and Karthik come together after their memorable role play in Kadaikutti Singam.It is a meaty role for Satyaraj in Thambi and he meets it with consummate effortlessness in deliberation. Jyothika the dauntless performer of roles such as Naachiyaar and Raatchasi,perfectly steps into the role of the elder sister.It is a sweet experience to see Jyothika and Karthik as Sister and 'younger brother',without forgetting the fact that in real life too,they are elder brother's wife and husband's younger brother.
    A special tribute to the  last century's dynamic woman Sowcar Janaki,who paralyses paralysis,by her speechless perceptions of contexts through a perfect vision of what is happening around her.The way she looks at Karthik,her suppressed sense of suspicion about his bonafides,her mischievous and deliberate wheel chair fall to help him in time,are a real treat to watch.Three cheers to the old actress.Old is really more than gold.The same way,one has to say three cheers to Master Ashwant,who continues to remain a mini atom bomb for Kathik,until the poor boy gets sadly killed by an electrified fence.All other characters played by Nikhila Vimal, Bala,Harish Peradi,Ilavarasu and Anson Paul{the last two as cops,one corrupt and the other duty bound}will stay remembered.
   A film lives by its narration of events and depiction of characters.Both are impressive in Thambi to make it worthwhile,as a piece of high end entertainment. Drishyam and its remake Papanasam were effective crime-cum action thrillers,strictly bound to their theme and course of narration without any room for other factors of entertainment.But Thambi is a sparkling show of humour,family emotions and demonstration of the power of those emotions,to reform a person's motives and mindset.The underlying link between Papanasam{Drishyam}and Thambi is the desperate urge to save some one from a deed of crime,helplessly committed and make sustained moves to bury all sorts of evidence of the crime.In this particular respect,one could see the addiction of a film maker to certain types of creative concepts,that stay more relevant to them,than others. 
  Jithu Joseph's creative formula centres around acts of crime,the genesis of crime and the cathartic developments that continue to hold on to the moment of a criminal act.Committing a crime is easy.But the ordeal of concealing the act of crime eats away one's peace of mind the rest of one's life,unless and until the criminal deed is done to death.This is what Jeethu Joseph has focused on,during the narration of both Papanasam and Thambi.But the latter is strewn with humour sparks in the first half and is amply action packed in its second half.One could say Jithu Joseph has combined in himself a little bit of popular Malayalam movie makers Fazil and Joshy in making Thambi more a family entertainer and action drama,than a mere crime thriller.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Concept is the Hero


   P.S.Mithran's 'Hero'inspires the audience by its most absorbing concept,highly relevant to the existing realities of the educational system,that deserves less to be said but more to be criticized.The soul of the film is its concept and in this way the concept becomes the real hero.The film firmly highlights the fundamental flaws in the present educational system practised in India.
   The two potential factors causing futility of education are the parental misconceptions about the end result of education with least understanding of the dreams and aspirations of their wards  and the system promoters' money-oriented drive,with the single objective of enslaving the end product of education.Very few films would have struck the core failures of the system,as Hero has done,with hitting dialogues from P.S.Mithran and his team.In this particular way,Hero is a special movie.
   The first half of the film passes on with breezy narration taking us along,with the natural hero Siva Karthikeyan and his debut female star Kalyani Priyadarshan.It is a known fact that Sivakarthikeyan is a homely hero in the line of Dhanush,though he is a little more physically well built than the latter. But none of us would like to see these two actors as mass heroes because their acting vibes make them come closer to the audience as the guys next door.So does new comer Kalyani Priyadarshan with her very modest and true to the soil kind of acting.Both Sivakarthikeyan and Kalyani Priyardhan deliver a lot of freshness and appeal,making the first half of the film enjoyable,through flashes of clean romance and humour.The way how Sivakarthikeyan's imitation of the balloon theory of building self confidence boomerangs before the eyes of its originator,is one such interesting humour flash.
    It is really unfortunate that the expectations of the viewers about a great film get stuck during the course of its  stereotyped narration in the second half.The excessive instructive tone of narration especially in the climax,reminds us of the climax of Sivakarthikeyan's Velaikaran wherein Mohan Raja resorted to a similar approach,to expose the ills prevailing in multinational business houses that ruthlessly enslave the consumers through spurious food products.In fact,the second half becomes a mixture of Shankar's Gentleman and Sivaji,besides making the film share the theme and narration of Velaikaran,by the presence of the same hero and with the same tone of instruction.If Shankar made currency notes shower from a college building tower,P.S.Mithran lets a big balloon drop six hundred crores on a similar location.
   Hero suffers in the second half,purely on account of highly cinematic and incredible happenings making the audience doubt whether they are watching an action thriller or a science fiction film.Even in Mithran's first inimitable venture Irumbu Thirai,the narration was controlled and gripping,despite the fact that an incredible narration would have suited the plot.Though one could not fault Ruben's editing,a little more attention could have been paid in blending Arjun's past with his on going struggle to promote students' creative and innovative talents.There is certainly a layer of confusion in effecting a fusion,between events pertaining to the action king's dedicated role delivery. 
    Yuvan Shankar Raja's music has its fascinating strokes both in its background score and in the presentation of song sequences. Abhay Deol as educationist Mahadev,aptly symbolizes the devilish mindset of the bunch of gangsters abusing the educational structure,securely framed to serve their crude commercial objectives,at the cost of a gullible society,drowned in an ocean of wrong notions about educational goal posts.The other actor who needs an applause is Ivana, who as teen aged Madhi,naturally brings home the frustrations and anguishes of a talented youth, looking up for recognition.
     In the midst of the Shaktiman events,comes an interesting appeal to parents,to look into the rough note books of their children,which are like Biblical bench marks, of the inner fire running through the imagination of every youth,of what they really want to be and what their life's goals are.Before the film ends,there is another remarkable statement that would have gone unnoticed by many and the statement is,there are quite a lot of creative and innovative brains among the youth in India,but there are very few who try to discover them.This is yet another pointed perception that makes concepts,the real hero of the film. In spite of cliched narration Hero is worthy of a family watch,because of its message reflecting the truth of the diseased educational system,that lobotomizes the youth,by killing individuality and creativity in exchange for a cozy and comfortable routine.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mamangam Masterstrokes


    What makes the fairly big budget Mammootty starring Mamangam singularly different from the most recent Bahubali and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy,is its genuine and pointed mode of narration cutting down the audio visual magnificence that Rajamouli and Surendar Reddy delivered as pieces of awesome extravaganza. With profoundly committed performers like Mammootty,Unni Mukuntan,Master Achuthan and Siddique,Mamangam strikes the imagination of viewers,as real happenings,with adequate spicy ingredients such as captivating screen shots, scintillating music and fascinating choreography.In a movie of martial arts,women have less role to play{Of course Tamannah was an exception both in Bahubali and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy}.So women here have nothing to do other than exhibiting their subdued emotions of sorrow and power of endurance.
  Mamangam means a period of twelve years both in Tamil and Malayalam.In Tamil Nadu it is a celebration marking the Hindu Pilgrimmage followed by a holy dip in the Mahamaha Thirtha every twelve years.Even now Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu remains as the unique temple town on account of the Maamaangam holy dip celebration.Whereas in Kerala it marks a prestigious festival,said to have been celebrated at Tirunavaya of the Malabar region on the banks of the Bharadhapuzha during the 18th century.The significant issue regarding the festival is the usurping of the festival rights by the Samoothri{Zamorin}from Valluvakonathri [known as Valluvanad} and the latter as Chaaverukal {warriors} and suicide squads.venturing to behead the Samoothri as a mark of revenge.The usual happenings are the defeat of the warriors in the hands of the fighting force of the Zamorins and the dead bodies of warriors being thrown in to the wells to make sure that none of the corpses returns home for cremation,after the massacre.
   M. Padmakumar's gripping narration with the glorious title song and the brave introduction of Mammooty as Chandroth Valiya Panicker is a sustaining factor through out the film.The fact that Chandroth Valiya Panicker has not killed the Samoothri even after reaching the latter's height prone seat,but simply flew from there, results in his being smeared as traitor and hated by his own kith and kin.Twenty four years later truth comes to light when two more warriors Chandroth Panicker{Unni Mukuntan} and a twelve year old boy Chandhunni{three cheers to Master Achudan for his mind blowing performance in consistent sobriety and mood fitness for warfare} leave their Chandroth Tharavaadu for a similar confrontation with the Zamorins,letting the family members both proud and frustrated.
    The second half  of the film traces the mysterious death of Zamar Koya{Tarun Arora}a foreign business man considered to be an important associate of the Zamorin.It is Thalachennor{Siddique} the right hand of the Zamorin who brutally investigates the killing of Zamor Koya.The later events reintroduce the Chandroth Valliya Panicker who has turned to a healer and yogi status,desisting from warfare,though its fire is still there with in.The healing episodes bring together the Chandroth trio and clears the stained perceptions of Chandroth Valiya Panicker's bravery and loyalty to his soil.The saluted death of Chandroth Panicker {Unni Mukuntan}and Chandunni {Achuthan}in the hands of Zamorins and the creditable climax of Mammootty transforming into a warlord again,in order to bring back the dead body of Chandunni after a horse pulling of Thalachennor to his deserving death,are the memorable moments of watching Mamangam.
   The film could be reputed for the entire team's unswerving dedication to its thematic content and visual imprints.There is no deviation from the task understood and deliberated. Besides Padmakumar's creative involvement and the actors' natural absorption of roles,Manoj Pillai's cinematography,Raja Mohammad's editing and M. Jeyachandran's music have all pulled the screen back to the days of the events,said to have taken place two centuries ago.The exceptional success of the film is,despite its grand visual exhibits,the film is less cinematic and shows events as really happening before us.It is in this way,the film travels on its well set track taking an exit totally different from  the celluloid glorification of bravery and patriotism,wonderfully watched as big cinema shows in Bahubali and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddi.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Factor of Disability,portrayed in Tamil Cinema.



    Cinema is an effective medium interpreting life's realities in terms of themes,events {both contextual and non contextual}and characters.In the treatment of above aspects,it is difference in narration,that lends an amount of variety and appeal.Sometimes the narration would lay a greater emphasis on events than on characters,or vice versa.The characters are usually weighed by their inherent elements of goodness and badness.Occasionally,the narration would also focus on the physical stature of characters,either as being physically stout,or vulnerable to disabilities on account of some bodily flaws,that draws a predicament to character delineation.
  The physical flaw may be one of colour or some sort of impediment such as a handicapped look or being visually challenged or hearing/speech impaired.If such a physical oddity falls on secondary or supporting characters,it usually goes unnoticed.Instead,if the physical flaw shadows the protagonist,it gains absolute importance,letting the audience emotionally empathise with the plight of the hero or heroine.Tamil cinema during its formative and following decades,effectively dealt with the trauma of the leading characters being laid up with a physical challenge,in the form of personal agony and social stigma.
   Tamil films specifically proved that more than social stigma,family prejudices and parental neglect made the physically challenged persons,victims of insult and disgrace,leading to a status of depression and insecurity.In 1962, P. Madhavan's Mani Osai narrated the tragic tale of a hunch backed youth,disowned by his wealthy father{well played by M.R.Radha},owing to reasons of stigma falling on the family as a curse. It was a poignantly pictured film with realities governing the core of narration and the flow of sentiments rooted to the ground.Last century's famous Kannada hero Kalyankumar gave a riveting role delivery,delving deep into the hearts of the viewers.The climax of the film showed the noble minded hero giving his pair of eyes,to his haggard younger brother{R.Muthuraman} before his death and the guilty father confessing to everybody,that the hunch backed hero was his elder son.The song Devan Kovil Mani Osai in the clarion voice of Sirkazhi S.Govindarajan,will eternally stay in the memory of those who watched the film,or heard the song,amazingly composed by the veteran musical duo Viswanathan &Ramamurthy.
   Four decades after the release of Mani Osai,there came another film on a hunch backed guy. This film Perazhagan {2004} produced under the AVM banner and directed by Sasi Shankar dealt with the subject in a humorous vein,making us feel that not all physically challenged people visibly let out their agonised feelings over their physical deformity.This film starring Suriya and Jyothika,both in dual roles,was a clean entertainer with Vivek and the hunch back Suriya with his protruding upper teeth,creating quite a few laughter moments,.The audience derived a lot of fun rising from the cheekiness of Suriya and the mocking tone of Vivek.The other interesting fact about the film is that,one of the dual roles played by Jyothika was that of a visually challenged woman.Besides this physically challenged pair,there was the other pair of a Sober Suriya and his fiancee,the fair looking Jyothika,who got killed in a road accident and whose eyes gave vision to the visually impaired Jyothika. Besides depicting deformities and mistaken identities,the film also threw light on the burdening pangs of deprivation of beauty and love.On the whole,the film had more fun to watch than sentiments to cry about.
    The AVM's mega production house had released two other films on the frustrations of being physically disfigured or deformed. Naanum Oru Penn directed by A.C.Thirulokchandar {1934] memorably portrayed the sufferings of the woman protagonist who was hated by her father in law for her black complexion.The film starring C.R.Vijayakumari in the leading role, gave her an opportunity for a stellar performance,drawing huge crowds to the theatres,for this singular reason.The song Kannaa Karumai Nira Kannaa{tuned by Sudadharsanam} in the captivating voice of P.Suseela,could be called another point of reference to the success of the film. S.V.Rengarao as the prejudiced father in law,gave a neat performance in his usual unique style of role delivery.
   AVM's other film Ramu brought forth the sufferings of a young boy{Master Rajkumar} who loses his power of speech following a shocking incident and regains it later.Incidentally, C.R.Rajakumari also played as a speech impaired woman,not happily received by her mother in law {M.V.Rajamma}in the film Kodimalar directed by C.V Sridhar.
   Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan had brilliantly demonstrated the tormented mindset of a physically challenged person with his incomparable stamp of spontaneity,originality,and substance. The immortal film Bhagapirivinai,showed him as a man with one arm invalidated following an electric shock,while trying to pull out a kite stuck on a live wire.Despite this handicap and the consequent shame and abuses thrown by others on this physical deformity,he demonstrated his strength of personality with robust energy.It was only during an occasion when he was not able to lift his child by himself,did he break down. However,the film ended on a happier note with the hero regaining his normal limbs after a another electric shock.
   Sivaji Ganesan was shown in Paalum Pazhamum as an eminent doctor losing his vision during the course of a medical research in a chemical laboratory.The presumed death of the doctor's wife on account of tuberculosis made the doctor strenuously research on a medicine to cure the disease during when the doctor temporarily lost his vision.In Muktha Pictures' Thava Pudhalvan Sivaji Ganesan suffered from evening blindness and the film beautifully showed how he struggled to hide this infirmity from his mother while at the same time suffering in the hands of an immoral woman,who exploited his helplessness and went on extorting money from him.The Chevalier also appeared as a victim of epilepsy in Raman Ethanai Ramanadi and performed his role in a way,gripping the minds the viewers and lasting in their memories with the imprints of his perfect role delivery
     Sivaji Ganesan was also portrayed as a speech impaired person in the film Valarpirai directed by Daasari Yoganand.It was a meek show of the hero silently undergoing the deep pangs of his speech disability.In P.S.V Pictures's Aalayamani he was a very rich man who would be bound to a wheel chair following a car accident.Previously his domestic servants used to admire his stylish gait and after becoming lame,he would ask them how stylish his gait was in his wheel chair, thereby symbolically expressing the throes of a disabled person.Incidentally,in all the above four films It was B.Sarojadevi who was paired with him as the female leading character.
   In 1969, there came Deivamagan, one of the masterpieces of the Chevalier,showing him in triple roles as father and twin sons.It was almost a cult film under the inspiring direction of A.C Thirulokchandar. Like Mani Osai, it was also a story of father who disowned his facially disfigured son.But unlike in Mani Osai,in Dheiva Magan the father who himself had a disfigured face,did not like to see a replica of himself constantly re experiencing all the tormenting moments of his life through his son suffering a similar disability.Luckily,the younger of the twins grew up as a handsome guy.In a particular scene,all the three characters would be shown being present in the same room,with the father writing a blank cheque for his disowned elder son,the play boy younger son thanking his dad for keeping a blank cheque ready for him and the hiding elder brother pleading with his father through his eyes,to give the cheque to his younger brother.
     It was one of the grandest scenes in Tamil cinema history and to see the Chevalier perform three roles with no trace of semblance in appearance or expression.Those were splendid days of Tamil cinema,governed by creative imagination and performance excellence,without the far reaching technical advancement and assistance that are available for making films today.How much the make up personnel would have worked hard to make the same actor appear in the same situation without an iota of similarity either in looks or in role play.The present generation of film making units should certainly look back in retrospect and salute their predecessors for the amount of perfection that they struggled to maintain in their projects.
    Arjun's Karna {1995} released 26 years after Dheivamagan also narrated the paternal neglect of a physically challenged son between the twins because of his legs becoming invalid.Years later the disowned son who turns a highly sought after advocate comes to the help of his mindless father and happy go lucky younger brother.Recently Radhamohan's Mozhi came out with a fine portrayal of a speech impaired woman of self esteem and uncompromising dignity powerfully projected by Jyothika as the leading character of the film.
    Kamalahasan was lame in Padhinaaru Vayadhinile {1977},visually impaired in Raaja Paarvai {1981} and was a dwarf by birth,caused by villains physically attacking his mother during her pregnancy, in Abhoorva Sagodhararkal {1989}.He excelled in all the three roles reflecting spontaneity and positive vibes,besides experiencing suppressed emotions resulting from his disabilities.While he was both docile and rebellious with a rustic exterior in Padhiraaru Vayadhinile,he exhibited dignity as a person without vision,being ill treated by his step mother in Raaja Paarvai.In Abhoorva Sagothararkal he delivered a classic performance as a dwarf undergoing the frustration of rejected love and revengeful ire,against those who killed his father and made him physically disabled.All these were wonderful shows of Kamalahasan.
   During these days of social advancement and civilized thinking, words like 'blind''dumb'and 'deaf' have all become pejorative terms,subject to disapproval.In order to establish the right of a human being to lead a socially respectable life,a lot of positive thinking is infused into familial and social perceptions of individuals,to avoid prejudices against persons laid up with some kind of shortfall in appearance, stature and movement,depriving them of the prospects of a normal life like others.This sensitive human issue bearing serious psychological implications,is being viewed with more considerate and refined attitudes,so as to build self confidence among the victims of disability and substantially motivate them to rise up as other physically privileged lot and see success notes in their lives,by achieving the impossible, setting aside their shortcomings. After all,how many of us live here,without any physical or psychological disability,at one stage or other in our lives!
   The welcome transition in personal and social outlook regarding physical disabilities,could be seen not only on the big and small screens but also in real life today.I have listed here some of the striking cases of disabled characters portrayed in Tamil Cinema.It is not the number that matters.It is the types of disabilities that do.In that case,this article I believe,has done some justice to its theme and purpose.