Friday, March 24, 2023

Four Major Comedy shows of Sivaji Ganesan


    Heroes of the last century were mostly doing characters,hovering around family stories, myths and histories,action dramas and thrillers. It was mostly comedians like N.S.Krishnan, T.S.Dorairaju, K.A.Thangavelu, J.P.Chandrababu, A.Karunanidhi and Nagesh who were taking care of the comedy segment of films.Later a stream of comedians like Vennira Aadai Murthi,Gounda mani,Senthil,Vadivelu,Vivek and Santhanam occupied the centre stage of comedies.

   Among heroes,MGR's contribution to comedy was much less,because he was always seen as a mass action hero.Even Gemni Ganesan was focussing mostly on the romantic genre mostly with tragic undertones excepting films like Missiamma,Then Nilavu and Avvai Shanmugi that contained vibes of humour.R.Muthuraman exhibited a special flair for comedy in films like Kaadhalikka Neramillai,Anubavi Raja Anubavi Bhama Vijayam and Kaasedhaan Kadavulada. But of all the heroes,it was Sivaji Ganesan who comfortably excelled in all genres of acting and felicitously travelled on the comedy track.At least four of his films were rib-tickling comedies.They were,Manamagan Thevai, Sabaash Meena,Oottivarai Uravu and Galaattaa Kalyanam.

   One interesting fact about these four films,was the unnoticed  link in their time of release.Like the first two films which were released with a gap of one year in 1957 {Manamagan Thevai} and 1958 {Sabash Meena}the second pair of films were also released with one year gap.Ootivarai Uravu hit the screens in 1967 and Galaatta Kalyanam came to the theatres in 1968.It could be seen that one comedy followed the other,the next year and there was a gap of ten years between Manamagan Thevai and Oottivarai Uravu and between Sabash Meena and Galaattaa Kalyanam. Excepting Oottivarai Uravu which was made in Eastman colur,the other three were made in black and white.

  Manamagan Thevai was made by P.Bhanumathi's Bharani studios and was directed by her husband P.S Ramakrishna Rao.Sabash Meena was produced and directed by B.R.Panthulu under his production house called Padmini Pictures.It was Kovai Chezhiyan who produced Oottivarai Uravu which was beautifully made by ace film maker C.V.Sridhar. As a sequel of coincidence, Galaatta Kalayanam was directed by Sridhar's younger brother C.V.Rajendran and it was produced under Sivaji Ganesan's own production house the Ramkumar Pictures 

  All the four films impressively dealt with the vagaries of youth.Manamagan Thevai,based on the American film The Fabulous Senorita{1952} dealt with the independent mind frame of a woman {P.Bhanumathi}who stubbornly rejected the bridegroom of her father's choice and resorted to a kind of impersonation by creating the fake identity of a twin sister.The story hilariously travelled around screen events beautifully contrived and breezily enacted by Sivaji Ganesan, P.Bhanumathi,T .R. Rama chandran, J.P.Chandrababu,Devika,Ragini and Javar {Javert } Seetharaman.Each scene was frilled with humour and the film turned out to be a piece of wholesome entertainment.The movie became a freak hit and ran for one hundred days in theatres.It was G.Ramanathan who composed the tunes and Chandrababu's Bambara Kannaale song,overtook all the other numbers and even now it continues to haunt our imagination,as film title and a remix of musical merryment.

   Sabash Meena with the teaming spirit of Sivaji Ganesan and Chandrababu,really created  a special comedy ruckus effect for the audience.It was an exuberant situational comedy follwing a rejoicing scheme of impersonation,executed with remarkable intelligence and ready wittedness.Here the vagary of youth was vested with Sivaji Ganesan,a rich happy-go-lucky son of a disciplined father.The humorously engrossing story line,later on inspired director Sundar.C who made his most successful comedy film Ullathai Allithaa {1996}on a similar comedy skit,with Karthik Muthu raman and Goundamani,in the place of Sivaji Ganesan and Chandrababu.

  'Sabash Meena'became a talking point for quite some time,on account of its vigorous narration by Bandhulu with the excellent acting of Ganesan,Chandrababu,D.Balasubramaniyan, Malini,S.V.Rengarao and B.Sarojadevi.Unlike Manamagan Thevai,some of the songs like Kaana Inbam Kanindhadheno,{Sung by T.A.Modhi and P.Susheela} and Aasai Kilye Kobama,happily rendered by T.M.S and Seerkazhi Govindarajan, became great hits.T.G.Lingappa's music was self-sustaining,though Chandrababu could not do a number like Bambara Kannaale.The other hidden fact about Manamagan Thevai and Sabash Meena is that,both the films as per their story line,gave a pat for the female characters, by giving credit to the shrewdness of character evolution of Bhanumathi,in the former and the intelligent role play of Malini as Meena,in the latter.

  Between the other two films,which were released one after the other after a decade, Ootivarai Uravu became another blockbuster for Sridhar like his Kaadhalikka Neramillai.The grandeur of the film was the outcome of the spontaneous gusto of humour embedded in the fascinating composition of events,carrying tons of comedy gusto reflected in the casually stylish acting of Sivaji Ganesan,K.R.Vijaya,R.Muthu raman,L.Vijayalatchumi,Nagesh,T.S.Balaiah,M.S Sundharibhai, and V.K.Ramasamy.All the songs enchangingly tuned by M.S.Viswanathan,were specially heard, admired and cherished in memory.

  Songs like Thedinen Vandhadhu,with the sprightly dance movements of K.R.Vijaya,the humour generating number Ange Malai Mayakkam Yaarukkaaga,helplessly watched by T.S.Balaiah and the exalting Poo Maalaiyil Oer Mallikai,were supreme musical treats of the film.For Sivaji his role was a cake walk and for T.S.Balaiah, it was a rattling role that he nervously delivered,with a perfect grasp of the nerve pulling situations.All was well about the film,that made Ootivarai Uravu one of the most celebrated comedies in Tamil Cinema.

   Galaatta Kalyanam which was released next year,was a fantastic farce like Sabaash Meena. Actually of all the four comedies mentioned here,it was in this film,Sivaji Ganesan was loaded with the huge responsibility of bearing the comedy skit on his shoulders.On account of his love for Jeyalalitha,he was burdened with the onus of finding bridegrooms for all her sisters as per the condition imposed on him,by K.A.Thangavelu,who was profusely blessed with daughters and wanted to have the marriage of all his daughters on the same day.

  Apart from Sivaji Ganesan and A.V.M Rajan the film had a bunch of comedians like Nagesh, Cho,Maali and V.Gopalakrishnan.On the female cast besides Jeyalaitha,the film had Manorama, Jothilatchumi,Kumari Sachu and M.S.Sundari Bai.Though the songs were not  major hits like those of Oottivarai Uravu,M.S.Viswanathan made songs like Nalla Idam,Appappaa Naan Appnallada and Engal Kalyanam Galaattaa Kalyanam pleasing to the ears.

  Though the comedy situations were contrived as per audience prediction,on the whole,the film remained as a major piece of entertainement thanks to Sivaji Ganesan's spontaneous comedy flair and the vital contribution of other artists. Sivaji Ganesan's Bale Pandia is not included in this list because Ganesan did three roles in that film with varied dimensions.The film had a plethora of situations to generate spot humour but the stroyline was a bit intertwined to call it a full fledged comedy or a farce.Similarly,Arivali has been left out because the film's comedy side rested more on the role of K.A.Thangavelu and T.P.Muthulakshmi than with Sivaji Ganesan and P.Bhanumathi.The very fact that the separate comedy track of Thangavelu was frequently heard on the All India Radio would vouchsafe this view point.

  The objective of this post is to focus on the fact that Sivaji Ganesan felicitously excelled in the comedy genre,as he did in any other character frame.This kind of comedy flair,is very rare to come across in the case of many heroes.To be a liitle more specific to today's context,a superstar like Rajikanth who shares some amount of the mass apeal of MGR,surpassed the latter on the comedy track.An actor like Kamal,who has very great acumen for acting like Sivaji Ganesan, cannot be said to have outshone the Chevalier on the comedy track.An astounding classic hero like Sivaji Ganesan,had comfortably strolled on the comedy lanes of Tamil Cinema,with breeze and ease.