Saturday, February 8, 2020

Two film makers with their three bests


     No film maker can say that all their films were hits.In fact even the most popular film makers like A.Bhimsingh,A.P.Nagarajan,K.S.Gopalakrishnan,K.Balachander and Mani Rathnam came out with dampeners like Paalaadai,Navarathinam,Malathi,Navagraham and Kadal respectively.During these days of a massive influx of film makers into the field,it is very difficult for any director to sustain their position with successive hits.In this respect,this article discusses the limited success story of R.V.Udhayakumar who stepped into film making with his debut film Urimai Geetham in 1988 and Dharani who launched his directorial vehicle in 1999 with his Mammootty and Napoleon starring film Edhirum Pudhirum.
    It can be categorically stated that both the film makers gained their solid ground with their initial entries.Both were action films,with double heroes Prabhu and Karthik in Urimai Geedham and Mammootty and Napoleon in Edhirum Pudhirum.While Urimai Geedham dealt with sensational political events,Edhirum Pudhirum discussed the power of bureaucracy in encountering terrorism. Both the films were fairly received while V.C.Ramani's{Dharani's original name}first film earned the third prize from the TN govt for best show.
   R.V Udhayakumar,senior to Dharani by a decade,has made a dozen films in Tamil.His other Tamil film Chinna Ramasamy Periya Ramasamy did not get its release for reasons not known. Of his dozen films almost ten films were received well. His Urimai Geedham,Pudhiya vaanam, Urudhimozhi,Singaravelan,Ponnumani and Nandhavantheru were all successful films. However, three of his makings were blockbusters making the silver jubilee mark.They were Kizhakku Vasal, Chinna Gounder and Ejaman.Though Udhayakumar dealt with a variety of themes in the action genre,all his best three were rural stories.His Rajakumaran which was Prabhu's one hundredth film and had a rural story back ground, did not go well with the audience.
    Similarly,though front line heroes like Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan,Vijayakanth and Sathyaraj have done one movie each with this successful director,Karthik and Prabhu seem to have been his favourite heroes,because of their frequent induction in his films.In the same way,it could be said that in spite of some of his films with urban background,he has been at his best,only when it comes to narration of events taking place in the rural soil.Perhaps it might be due to the fact that Udhayakumar himself hails from a village near Mettuppaalayam.
   R.V.Udhayakumar could take considerable pride for bridling an action hero like Vijayakanth to perform one of his best roles in his acting career,in a mood controlled,voice controlled and subdued mode.It was a classic performance of Vijayakanth in Chinna Gounder and the credit for this unforgettable role play,is due to both the actor and the director.In other words,until the release of Chinna Gounder no other film maker thought of driving the Captain into a mightily meek performance,in the role of  a veritable and laudable village chieftain.It was this single factor,that would have brought the State government award for best film{3rd place} for Chinna Gounder.I think the film also brought the best actress award for Suganya.Though this award cannot be either questioned or grudged it can be rightly said that Vijayakanth also deserved an award for his excellent portrayal as Chinna Gounder.
   Kizhakku Vaasal which hit the screens prior to Chinna Gounder could be called a rural epic with a clear depiction of the rustic grandeur in theme,scenic narration and demonstration of powerful characters. Karthik's tremendous perception of the inherent layers of the character of a socially down trodden youth and his dynamic portrayal of the same,through the ups and downs of his distinctly fluctuating voice mode,were the specially captivating features of this film. Revadhi as Thaayamma breezily lived through her enthralling characterization. Vijayakumar's silent and uncouth villainy,bearing  a different half bald look,paved the way for his prospective presentation of bodily buoyancy in films like Nadikan and Cheran Pandian. Janakaraj as the caretaker of Thayamma,looked totally different with his multi knotted cat o nine tails and became a commendable character actor,totally dismantling his comedy flair.
   On the whole Kizhakku Vaasal was a stupendous audio visual treat,taking us through every nook and corner of a hamlet,where abuse of the underdog and gender assault against women were deplorably prevalent.As the predecessor of Chinna Gounder it laid the road for award winning credentials and was duly recognized with awards from the State Government for best script and screen play for R.V.Udhayakumar,best actor and actress awards for Karthik and Revathi and best cinematographer award for Abdul Rahaman. Ilayaraja's exquisite music, enriched the quality of the end product of both Kizhakku Vaasal and Chinna Gounder.
   It was Ejaman starring the Superstar that became the next block buster,though Kamal's Singaravelan was an exceptional romantic comedy,unleashing shots of humour almost in every other scene,thanks to the presence of Goundamani,Mano and Vadivelu. However,Ejaman brought forth the rural splendour once again in full form,with names of characters like Vaanavaraayar and Vallavaraayar and a villain's henchman bearing a strange name like Sembattai. Besides these factors,while Tamil Cinema is well known for its punch dialogues including those of the Superstar,in Ejaman there was a very catchy punch dialogue from the mouth of Napoleon, playing the villain.The most memorable dialogue was "If it is a marriage I should be the bridegroom and if it is a funeral,I should be the corpse".It was a stout projection of the ego,from the antagonist.
  Ejaman was the first film in which Meena was paired with Rajinikanth after acting as a child artist in the most known Rajini film Anbulla Rajinikanth.The death of Meena in the film while delivering her baby became a tragic note of the film.Over all,as a rural action film Ejaman was a crowd puller in the line of Kizhakku Vaasal and Chinna Gounder and Ilayaraja's music once again stood stuck to the rural soil,as naturally as possible.
     Unlike R.V. Udhayakumar,Dharanai made only half a dozen films of which Kuruvi and Osthe did not do well at the box office.But after his first successful venture Edhirum Pudhirum,he gave three consecutive hits between 2001 and 2004 with the three outstanding films Dhill,Dhool and Ghilli. Dharani was an exclusive action movie maker focusing on political and social crimes. Dharani's two repeated heroes were Vikram and Vijay.Both Dhill and Dhool of Vikram stamped the victory march.Whereas Vijay's Kuruvi failed to create the historic impact that Ghilli did. Dhill was a police story fiercely spotlighting the battle of a youth who aspired to become an honest cop,against a criminal police officer. Vikram with his passion for the police uniform,performed his role with stiff crease and his encounters with Ashish Vidyarthi,the corrupt cop,were powerfully pictured.
    Vikram's Dhool was once again a war against a political criminal {wonderfully played by Sayaji Shinde and his gang headed by Telangana Shakunthala as Sornakkaa and Pasupathy as her brother Aadhi}dealing with the most hazardous issue of water pollution,caused by industrial back waters,for which mostly the insensitive,industrial houses and pollution control bodies are responsible. Vikram as an illiterate and belligerent youth from a remote village in Southern Tamil Nadu,took up this public cause on his shoulders and in this process chanced to expose the most corrupt and murderous politician and his notorious gang.Both Dhill and Dhool were mass entertainers with the comedy segment creating amazing laughter moments for the audience. Vivek took the credit for displaying exuberant humour that caused instant laughter in both Dhil and Dhool.His teaming up with Mayilsamy in Dhool led to exceedingly rib tickling comedy scenes.
    Vijay's Ghilli was a sports bonanza,dipped in boundless romance,beaming through the sparkling eyes of Trisha,playing the role of a helpless village girl. Prakash Raj cast a unique niche for himself as a vociferous and raucous villain,doting on the girl whom he wanted to marry.It was a deviating travel on the track of villainy that Prakashraj made,with his mocking tongue uttering the word "Chellam"{my dearest} frequently.The multi dimensional actor recorded a fresh vibe in villainy,carrying his bullying stance to the urban crowd and the rural street corners, at one go.It was a monumental occasion for Vijay to spread his wings into the high sky of the celluloid space,transforming himself from a regular romantic hero,to a full fledged action star. Ghilli was certainly a proud milestone not only for Dharani but also for Vijay and Prakashraj.
    This article is not aimed at making any note of comparison between Udhayakumar and Dharani as film makers.Nevertheless,there is an element of comparison to the effect that both these directors made success stories within a short period,but abruptly got stuck somewhere at some point of time,letting their creative spark half driven.On the other hand,there remain a host of differences between them. 
   Dharani is absolutely confined to the action genre with an intention to keep the audience glued to the big screen,with mega events denoting the might of the body and mind.His heroes are bent upon reaching their goal,through a display of macho nonchalance.This is certainly a calculated move to conquer the mood of the audience especially that of the youth.There is family sentiment,there is graceful romance and there are powerful stunts in all his films.Some of the scenes in his three blockbusters specified in this article were memorably mood capturing. {like the one showing Lyla travelling on a bike with Vikram with a back and back posture in Dhill,or the scene in Dhool wherein Jyothika is shown as being caught unwittingly with Vikram in a huge almyrah,or the endearing scene in Ghilli showing Trisha along with a galaxy of dolls and made to look as one among them}
   Unlike Dharani his senior film maker Udhayakumar keeps his action sequences and romance component under control,because he believes in evolution of characters into representative positions,in almost a true to life form. Karthik as Ponnurangam,Vijayakanth as Chinna Gounder Thavasi and Rajinikanth as Vaanavaraayar exist in their own capacity,as exemplary human beings of their respective rural domain.For Udhayakumar,action is sequential to character evolution.But for Dharani,action is the life breath of lively cinematic presentation of events.His heroes are powerful performers of their assigned roles and are not specially branded individuals like the ones in Udhayakumar's three major hits.
    As an entertainer Dharani definitely scores higher than his senior colleague.But as a story teller Udhayakumar pushes flesh and blood into his characters and makes them leave the screen to peep into the hearts of the audience,sharing their sweeter moments and agonizing strides. Dharani makes his film viewers  pointedly sit up and watch his films not letting the vigour of narration sag at any moment. Udhayakumar probes into the minds of the audience and forces them to brood over his narration.Even in choosing their musical partners,Dharani went in for the most vibrating tunes of Vidhyasagar,while Udhayakumar stuck to the mesmerizing rural melodies of the musical maestro Ilayaraja. 
    As cinema is not only watching big events on the screen but also thinking about themes, stories and characters,the audience can very well choose between these two reputed film makers. Eventually both Udhayakumar and Dharani deserve a distinct place in Tamil Cinema, however short their contribution would have been.No doubt Udhayakumar is highly credited for his other popular films Urudhi mozhi,Singaravelan,Ponnumani and Nandavana Theru.But he is specially esteemed for his highly qualitative Kizhakku Vaasal,Chinna Gounder and Ejamaan as Dharani is cherished in audience memory for his three best films Dhill,Dhool and Ghilli. Above all, it is not the number of films that keep a film maker remembered.Even if a single film leaves a lasting impact,the maker outlives his time.One cannot forget the  historic fact that it is the film Puthiya Paravai that perpetuates the memory of Dada Mirasi, as an exemplary film maker,though he would have made nearly a dozen interesting films.


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