Monday, July 26, 2021

Homage to a Multilingual Actress.


  Born as Kamala Kumari,the multi lingual actress Jeyanthi is no more today.Her popularity in Kannada cinema was an indicator of her brilliance in performing a variety of roles,that earned her many deserving awards from the state of Karnataka as well as a prestigious medal/award from the president of India.She had shown equal interest and vigour in taking up different roles in Kannada,Telugu,Tamil,Malayalam,Hindi and Marathi films.

  Her first Tamil entry was Yaanai Paagan.After that, she performed as second heroine or supporting actress in films like Mangaiyar Ullam Mangadha Selvam,Kaadhal Paduthum Paadu,Kalai Koil, Manippayal,Sivaji Ganesan's Annai Illam and Karnan{as Draupati} and MGR's Padagotti and Mugarasi.These roles were not mighty enough to exhibit her great acting skills.

  It was K.Balachander,the proud directorial face of Tamil cinema who brought the latent performance potential of Jeyanthi to the broad spectrum of the audience view.The six famous films that she worked for,under her task master,chiselled out her contribution to Tamil cinema in a fitting and fascinating way.Her first film was as a nurse in K.Balachander's Neerkumizhi.Then it was Edhir Neechal in which she was paired with Nagesh{besides Annai Illam}that displayed her ability to play the role of a mentally unsound girl,under enforced circumstances.This role made her get out of her state of insignificance on Tamil Silver screen.Her flair for comedy got enriched in her next film with the veteran comedian Nagesh,in Bama Vijayam.

   Bama Vijayam was a film of total fun from the beginning till the end. Sowcar Janaki,Kanchana and Jeyanthi as the wives of the three brothers Major Sundarajan,R.Muthuraman and Nagesh respectively,made every scene worthy of valuable humour.K.B.memorably handled the plot revolving around  the visit of a film actress Bama{played by Rajashree}and its influence on the routine of the joint family of the three brothers,effectively managed so far,by their disciplinarian father T.S.Baliah.How the three daughters in law controlled their husbands and how their husbands danced to their tunes,created hilarious moments for the audience and the way Jeyanthi controlled Nagesh was the funniest feature of the film.

  Jeyanthi's other three films with K.Balachander formed a totally different kind of journey for her in Tamil Cinema.The three films that amazingly altered the movie making process of Tamil cinema were,Punnagai,Iru Kodugal and Velli Vizha.In all the three films Jeyanthi played the role of a victim of different types and in all the three films Gemini Ganesan was her male pair.

  In Punnagai she was a rape victim whom Gemini Ganesan married not out of sympathy but out of his dedication to the value for truth,that he observed till the end of his life,due to failure of  both his kidneys.Punnagai was one of the finest films of Gemini Ganesan and the role of Jeyanthi as a forlorn woman with her son born of her rapist,being finally accepted by her father in law {S.V.Sahasranamam}into his family's fold,would still be haunting audience memory.It was the character of one of the most pathetic women,in a male centric society and Jeyanthi finely fixed her profile into that character.

   In Iru Kodukal and Velli Vizha,Jeyanthi had to do the role of  a devoted wife facing the predicament of another woman stepping into her conjugal routine.While in Iru Kodukal the other woman{Sowcar Janaki} was actually the first wife of her husband,the film Velli Vizha was about the frequent stormy moments caused as a daily event,by the visits of her husband's female friend {Vanishree}.Iru Kodukal ended up with a positive climax,that brought the two wives of the hero getting ready to give in their husband for the other and finally,the first wife who was a district collector,happily opted out of the conjugal mess.

   Whereas in Velli Vizha,Jeyanthi would die a natural death leaving her children in the hands of her husband to be distantly motivated and brought up by her husaband's friend.In both the films the two women who came in between Jeyanthi and her husband,were made of positive vibes. Inspite of frequent bouts of emotional turbulence between Sowcar Janaki and Jeyanthi,Iru Kodukal beautifully redefined the cult of Indian womanhood deeply rooted to family values.In that way the film proved that both Sowcar Janaki and Jeyanthi were high end performers.

  Whereas Velli Vizha was a breezy tale of  innocence and faith exuberantly reflected in their demonstrative role play,by both Jeyanthi and Vanisri.Velli Vizha could be called one of the cleanest Tamil films,reflecting the scope for maturity in human relationship.Both Jeyanthi and Vanisri with their cordial notes and mutual trust,made the film to be eternally cherished in audience memory.

  Though the pride of Jeyanthi as a meticulous and meritorious performer of roles in Tamil cinema could be atributed to the film making efficacy of K.Balachander,it is an irrefutable fact that Jeyanthi by herself was a greatly talented actress with felicitous feminine grace and enchanting delivery of roles.Her grumbling tone in managing her domestic core in Iru Kodukal and her whimpering style in dialogue delivery were of a unique kind that distinguished her from other actresses.

  Though Tamil cinema did not have many opportunities to bring into its fold,this exsquisite, performance oriented actress,the films of K.Balachander will always bear clear testimony to her ability as a wonderful actress of a special vibration.Her death today,will automatically take regular film viewers who watched those K.Balachander films,in which she did solid roles,for a nostalgic retrospection into the high quality of Tamil cinema,during the last century.


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