Monday, August 10, 2020

Two Contemporary Tamil Comediennes of the last century


    A woman who performs comedy roles is called a comedienne. Aachi Manorama was the outstanding comedienne of Tamil Cinema.During her days  there were other comediennes like Madhavi and Kumari Chachu.However, there were two other prominent comediennes of Tamil Cinema,who stepped into Tamil film industry later than T.A.Madhuram {wife of Kalivanar}but a little earlier than Manorama,because both these actresses were senior to Manorama both in terms of age and entry into Tamil Cinema.There were T.P.Muthulakshmi and M.Saroja. 
   Between these two comediennes Muthulakshmi was two years older than M.Saroja.Even in death the former preceded the latter,by four years.But they adorned the comedy track of Tamil cinema very vibrantly,during its early and mid periods of Tamil film industry's progress and popularity.
   Unlike Manorama who made her entry into Tamil cinema as a heroine in films like'Malaiyitta Manngai'and'Konjum Kumari',both T.P.Muthulakhmi and M.Saroja were first seen only as low profile actors.T.P.Muthulakshmi appeared as a group dancer[prominent in the group}in Gemini Studios' 'Chandralekha' and M.Saroja was first seen in the M.G.R swash buckler film 'Sarvadhikari' produced by Modern Theatres.
   While glamour quotient is the priority of cinema in general during these days,the early decades of Indian cinema focused more on the dancing and singing skills of most artistes.In this way both T.P.Muthulakshmi and M.Saroja were moderate dancers.As far as performance is concerned, both were dynamic and distinct performers.If Muthulakshmi was capable of jumbling with words,with her taunting mode of dialogue delivery,M.Saroja was celebrated for her categorical thrust and clarity in uttering dialogues,to the extent of trouncing her male partner in acting. Muthulakshmi was known for her unique patterns of intonation;but M.Saroja's bold tongue would crack words like coconuts and thereby break the strength of her opponent.
    Both these women could have acted in nearly 300 films,each.While Muthulakshmi has acted in Modern Theatres' films like Mandhirikumari,Ponmudi,Sarvadhikari,Valaiyabadhi,Sugam Enge, Aaravalli, Thirumbipaar,Vannakili,Petra Makanai Vitra Annai and Vallavanukku Vallavan, M.Saroja's entry was with Modern Theatres' Sarvadhikari. M.Saroja has also acted with Muthulakshmi in films like Sarvadhikari,Aaravalli,Vannakkili,Adutha Veetu Penn and Arivaali.Muthulaksmi was paired with T.R.Ramachandran{Anbe Vaa},K.A.Thangavelu, A.Karunanidhi, J.P.Chandrababu and M.R.Radha.Whereas M.Saroja was mostly paired with K.A.Thangavelu,besides J.P.Chandrababu in a few films.
    Some of the most remembered films of T.P.Muthulakshmi are,Town Bus,Aaravalli, Naan Petra Selvam,Mahadhevi,Adutha Veetu Penn, Rambaiyin kadhal,Veera Pandiya Kattabomman,  Padikkadha Medhai{as the wife of T.S.Dorairaj}Iruvar Ullam[as the wife of M.R.Radha} and the most remembered film Arivali,as the wife of K.A.Thangavelu.Similarly the best roles of M.Saroja were in Karpukarasi,Vanangamudi,Thenilavu,Boologa Rambai,Adutha Veetu Pen,Dheiva Piravi, Thirudaadhe,Arasilankumari,Paarthaal Pasi Theerum and the ever green Kalyana Parisu.
   M.Saroja was also a recipient of the prestigious Kalaimamani Award.During the last century,the comedy skits of some of the films were frequently broadcast by All India Radio besides selling as gramaphone records and they absorbed the audio moments of people living in the towns and villages of Tamil Nadu.In this regard,some of the noteworthy comedy sound tracks were from the films Dheiva Piravi,Adutha Veettu Penn, Kalyana Parisu{ all with K.A.Thangavelu &M.Saroja comedy parade}and Arivaali{with Thangavelu and T.P.Muthulakshmi}.In fact,these comedy sound tracks were as powerful as the full length sound tracks of films like Parasakthi,Manohara,Madhurai Veeran,Veera Pandiya Kattabpmman and Vidhi, to mention a few.
   M.Saroja married K.A.Thangavelu and remained as his,life partner.Like N.S.K&T.A.Madhuram, K.A.Thangavelu&M.Saroja were the exuberant pair both on the silver screen and in real life.Those were years of decent comedy shows and both T.P.Muthulakshmi and M.Saroja,maintained the high score comedy spirit,during their entire film career.The only difference between these two women was,the audience would feel like laughing,the moment they saw Muthulakshmi but it would take a little more time for laughter in the case of M.Saroja,because she was bent upon cutting down slices of humour,through her sharp and powerful delivery of dialogues.Can any one forget the scene in Kalyanaparisu,that showed her,perfectly dealing with her far-from-truth husband,by unnerving him through her exacting interrogations? While K.A.Thangavelu casually dealt with his docile and illierate wife{T.P.Muthulakshmi} in Arivaali,how much he struggled to deal with his shrewd wife M.Saroja,in films like Dheiva Piravi,Adutha Veettu Pen and {and M.Saroja as his most annoying wife} in Kalyana Parisu.
   In recalling the memories of comediennes like T.PMuthulakshmi and M.Saroja,every senior citizen in Tamil Nadu with a love for Tamil films,will spontaneously turn on the nostalgic switch and start masticating magnificent moments of humour and laughter,that they witnessed both in the theatres and at homes,listening to their grand gramaphone records as well as the repeated radio broadcasts.


  1. I still remember Mannaar&Co and "adhaan enakku theriyume". Thanks for the article.

    1. As expected,Mr.LKD would make his selective response to topics of his interest pertaining to features of Tamil cinema during the last century.