Saturday, November 20, 2021

Two Namesake Actresses from the Tamil soil


    Usually most of the actresses of Tamil cinema have been from the other South Indian regions like Malayalam,Telugu and Kannada cinema.Many of them continued to find a lasting place in the minds of the audience and became part and parcel of Tamil cinema.Only a few women from the Tamil soil stepped into the film world and carved a niche for themselves.While T.R.Raja kumari who contributed significantly to the Tamil film industry in the Nineteen forties and fifties hailed from Thanjavur,the other two great actresses C.R.Vijayakumari and Pushplatha were both born in Mettupalayam,Coimbatore.In this conncetion,there are two women bearing the same name Sakunthala with their intitlas G and A.While G.Sakunthala was from Sirkazhi Taluk of the early unified Thanjavur district,A.Sakunthala came from Arisipalayam of the Salem district. Besides being absolute Tamils,they carry not only the same name but also a few similarities in their acting profiles.

   Both the Sakunthalas first occupied the Tamil big screen in the Nineteen fifties.While G.Sakunthala was straight away paired with M.G.R in Mandhirikumari,A.Sakunthala first appeared as a dancer in the Sivaji Ganesan film Kathavarayan,released in1958. If G.Sakunthala was introduced by the Modern Theatres in Mandhiri Kumari,A.Sakunthala came to lime light as heroine paired with the Tamil James Bond hero Jaishankar, in the film CID Shankar,another impressive Modern Theatres' release.After this film,A.Sakunthala was graced with the title CID and came to be known as CID Sakunthala.If G.Sakunthala's first film was with MGR,her last film was also MGR's Idhaya Veenai.  

    G.Sakunthala was found in more than twenty films of MGR.Whereas,A.Sakunthala had the privilege of acting in many Sivaji Ganesan films,both as a dancer and as a supporting character . Some of the most popular MGR films in which G.Sakunthala had acted were,Mannadhi Mannan, Chakravarthi Thirumakal,Thaikkupin Thaaram,Thirudaadhe, Raja Rajan,Thaaiyai  Kaatha Thanayan,Needhipin Paasam,Nadodi Mannan, Koduthu Vaithaval ,Panakkaara Kudumbam, Parakkum Paavai,Kanchi Thalaivan,Rickshakaaran,Thalaivan,Sange Muzhangu,and Neerum Neruppum besides her first and last films.

  G.Sakunthal had also done solid supporting roles in Sivaji Ganesan's Edhiroli,Thillaana Mohanaambaal,Thruvarutchelvar,Thirumal Perumai,Niraikudam,Uyarndha Manidhan{how breezily she performed the role of a Brhamin woman and member of the Lady's club quite often throwing a piece of advice to Sowcar Janaki}},Kulama Gunama{as a doctor} and Vilaiyaattu Pillai.Her notable films with other heroes were,Nee,Adhe Kangal,Chinnanjiru Ulagam and Kulavilakku.

   A.Sakunthala's films with Sivaji Ganesan as a dancer were,Kaikodutha Dheivam,Thirudan, Vasantha Malaigai,Raja Raja Chozhan,Needhi and Avan Oru Sarithiram.Her well marked roles with Sivai Ganesan were,Padikkaadha Medhai,Bharatha Vilas,Thava Pudhalvan,Ponnoonjal, Engal Thanga Raja,Thaai,Vaira Nenjam,Rojavin Raja,Justice Gopinath,Naan Vaazhavaippen and Imayam.

   Both G.Sakunthala and A.Sakunthala were potential performers of negative roles,conspiring against others and spitting malice and venom in their dialogues.G.Sakunthala first did the role of a dancing girl steppig into the peaceful life of a fairly rich landlord,by alluring him to fall into her voluptuous schemes with the help of her own man.The film was Vazhavaitha Dheivam,produced by Devar films and directed by M.A.Thirumugam.S.V.Subbaiah was the rich farmer who went astray deserting his family to fulfill his concubine's demand.Gemini Ganesan played the role of the farmer's son and was paired with Sarojadevi,with P.Kannaamba playing a very compact role as the dutiful wife of an erring family head.

  After this G.Sakunthala played the roles of a victim and agent of evil designs as well as memorable character roles.With her bold eyes and commanding voice and with absolute clarity in dialogue delivery she was one of the most impressives actresses of Tamil Cinema.It was this special trait that made her don the role of a queen,in films like Kanchi Thalaivan,Vilayattu Pillai and Neerum Neruppum.

  A.Sakunthala's ruthless negative role was in Muktha Films' Thavapudhalvan in which she took advantage of the evening blindness of Sivaji Ganesan,who wanted to hide the fact of his health issue from his mother.She exploited this predicament of the hero,by threatening him every time that she would disclose this bitter fact to his mother.She played the role of a vamp in Bharatha Vilas and attempted to extract money from him,by conniving with her lover,to take a photo showing her and Sivaji Ganesa, in a compromising posture.In both the films the role assigned to her was that of a woman exploiting the wealth and weakness of men.

 The three MGR films in which A.Sakunthala found a space were Oli Vilakku,En Annan and Idhaya Veenai.Interestingly the film Idhaya Veenai was the last film of G.Sakuthala also.Both these actresses have acted in Sivaji Ganesan's Raja Raja Chozhan.If G.Sakuthala had acted in Gemini Studios' Vilaiyaattu Pillai,A.Sakunthala was given a slot in Gemini Pictures'Olivilakku.

   Unlike A.Sakunthala G.Sakunthala's career was effectively spread over a period of three decades under veteran film makers like T.R.Sundaram,Sridhar{Sumaithangi},A.P.Nagarajan {several films}K.Balachander,{Edhiroli and Navagraham}K.S.Gopalakrishnan{Kulavilakku& Kurathi Magan}T.R.Ramanna and P.Neelakandan.When compared to G.Sakunthala,her namesake's solid roles were not many.But A.Sakunthala has done her best under the stewardship of directors like T.R.Sundaram,Muktha V.Srinivasan,A.C.Thirulokchandar,K.Balachander {Punnakai},K.Vijayan {Vandi Chakaaram} C.V.Rajendran,and A.P.Nagarajan{Agathiyar}.

  The namesake actresses could almost be called contemporary actors with a gap of less than a decade in their time of entry into Tamil cinema.Both were known for their sharp and striking delivery of Tamil dialogues.While G.Sakunthala could be called a favourite addition in the films of MGR,A.Sakunthala had a considerable patronage of Sivaji Ganesan in his films.However,for playing historical and mythological roles G.Sakunthala was a better bet than A.Sakunthala.In terms of voluminous contribution,definitely G.Sakunthala could be said to have surpassed her namesake.But in quality of performance both these women could be found to weigh their acting skills and dedication to the stage and screen with equal power,poise and perfection.


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