Monday, May 2, 2022

MGR's two last spell heroines.

   MGR's acumen regarding fim making yardsticks,was deeper and sounder than his preference for variety in role play.It was his strong political base that very much influenced his acting career and sustained his popularity as an ever green hero.He had a perfect peception of both the audience mood and his fan's expectations.He drove through the roads of film making,with a participatory sense at various levels,towards affording a minimum guarantee for the success of almost all his films.His costume sense and knowledge of editing were said to have played a key role,in formulating an exhaustive and all inclusive programming of the film making process,of all his movies.

  Though MGR had the regular inclusion of actors like M.N.Nambiar,S.A.Asokan and R.S.Manohar to do villain roles,as far as comedians were concerned,he moved from J.B.Chandrababu to Nagesh and later to Cho,Thengai Srinivasan and Isarivelan. Similarly,he was very clear headed in changing his heroines to coincide with the changing times.That is how he moved from his V.N.Janaki&B.S Saroja days to P.Bhamumathi,Padmini,Sarojadevi and Jeyalalitha.

    It was in 1972 MGR's political career underwent a sea change.After his departure from the DMK, he had to form his own political outfit in the name of his beloved leader. However, despite his hectic political schedule of  activities he continued his acting because it was his films that gave him a greater leverage in the process of converting his fan base into an electoral battery.

  The period between 1971 and 1977,{in which year MGR had his historic victory in politics and became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu}could be called the years of transition for MGR,both in politics and cinema.It was really a momentous time for the mass hero,because inspite of the vigorous installation and propagation of his party,the ADMK {which he subsequently renamed as AIADMK to avoid the issue of his newly fledged party being branded as a regional political outfit}he was able to act in almost one fifth of the total number of his films.

  Twenty six films of MGR were released between 1971 and 1977.But his last film Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan had to be released only in 1978 and MGR had the onus of completing the film whose production was started before he became the Chief Minister.Of the 26 films, Jeyalalitha was his pair in five {Kumarikottam, Annamitta Kai,Oruthaai Makkal,Raman Thediya Seethai and Pattikkaattu Ponnaiah.K.R Vijaya and Radha Saluja joined him in two of his films each{Nalla Neram &Naan Yein Piranthein Idhayakkani and Inrupol Enrum Vaazhka respectively}and Lakshmi and Vanisri became his pair in one each.{Sange Muzhangu and Oorukku Uzhaippavan}.

  It was during this last spell of MGR's film career,two other women joined his film wagon as his fascinating pairs.They were Manjula and Latha.While Latha is a year older than Manjula,it was Manjula who first joined as MGR's pair in the most successful film Rickshakaaran,made by Sathya Movies.The film released in 1972,became a block buster.Manjula's debut film was Shanthi Nilayam {1971 }starring Gemini Ganesan and Kanchana.Whereas,Latha's first film itself was with MGR in Ulagam Sutrum Valiban {1973} directed by MGR himself.Manjula who was born a year after Latha's year of birth,began her acting career two years before Latha but had an unfortunate accidental death in 2013.

   There are certain interesting facts about these two popular heroines.Though Manjula joined as an enviable pair of MGR prior to Latha,it is the latter who acted a dozen films with MGR.Latha's films with MGR were,Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban,Naalai Namadhe, Urimaikural,Meenava Nanban,Sirithu Vaazhavendum,Uzhaikkum Karangal,Needhikku Thalai Vanangu,Netru Inru Naalai,Navarathinam,Neethikku Thlai Vanangu, Ninaithathai Mudippavan and MGR's last film Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan.

  Whereas Manjula did more films with Sivaji Ganesan than Latha.Manjula's notable films with Sivaji Ganesan were,Engal Thangaraajaa,En Makan,Anbe Aaruyire,Dr.Siva Uthaman,Sathyam,Avan Oru Sarithiram,Mannavan Vanthaanadi and Avanthaan Manithan.On the other hand Latha's single film with Sivaji Ganesan was Sivakamiyin Selvan. Manjula's film with MGR as his solo pair was Idhaya Veenai,besides Rickshakaaran.Her rest of the films with MGR such as Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban, Netru Inru Naalai and Ninaithathai Mudippavan which were MGR's twin role films,had Latha also as another pair of MGR.Later Manjula and Latha were seen together in films like  Shankar Saleem and Simon,Neeya and Amaran.Both of them had also acted with the next generation's great heroes, Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan.

  Apart from acting with Sivaji Ganesan, Manjula also acted with M.K.Muthu son of Mr.M.Karunanidhi in the film Pookaari, when MGR was heading DMK's rival party AIADMK.Manjula did two films with R.Muthuraman{Maru Piravi& Ellorum Nallavare}.Latha who is busy with the small screen today,did not do many elderly roles other than Rettai Jadai Vayasu and Jena which were both the films of Ajithkumar. Manjula appeared in elder characters in films like Cheran Pandiyan, Puthu Vasantham,Senthamizh Paattu,Sooriya Vamsam and Samuthram,

  As far as portrayal of roles is concerned,both Manjula and Latha wonderfully enriched the glamour component of Tamil cinema.In a hero centric world,their scope for powerful depiction of character was much restricted.However,Manjula made her performance memorable in films like Marupiravi,in which she had to take on a very delicate character and Dr.Siva which contained enormous scope for sentimentality,that was one of the most creditable aspects of A.C Thirulokchandar's art of film making. The other two notable films of Manjula were Uthaman and Anbe Aaruyire,with emotions and spot humour dominating in the two films respectively.

  Similarly,Latha's two outstanding films with MGR were Urimaikkural and Pallaandu Vaazhka because,while the former under the ace direction of Sridhar, beautifully brought out the romantic and family elements,the latter which was the remake of the Hindi film 'Do Ankhen Barah Haath',powerfully pictured the plight of a woman caught in between a noble police officer and the six brutal criminals he was trying to reform.

  But more than these two films it was Latha's exuberant demonstration of acting skill in Durai's Ayiram Jenmangal,Sridhar's Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkirein and S.P.Muthuraman's Vattathukkul Sathuram,that made her a solid actress of merit, when compared to her co-star Manjula.In the last two films,she appeared as the incarnation of sacrifice reflecting a power packed emotional mindset.Latha certainly had substantial acting stuff to get into the root of the character and transform herself from an actor to the character in context.   

  MGR's last spell in cinema did include other actresses like Chandrakala and Padmapriya in a couple of films. Nevertheless,Manjula and Latha breezily filled the gap left by MGR's ever compatible and highly talented pair Jeyalalitha.While placing on record the fact that the untimely death of Manjula did leave deep impressions about her child like voice and graceful portrayal of roles,this blog righly celebrates the continued presence of Latha,doing prominent roles,in Tamil television serials.


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