Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Tribute to small-time actors of Tamil Cinema.


   It is human tendency to keep humming praise over famous stars, sidelining the small fries.There is a consistent and continued cry in everyone, to get duly recognized for what each one deserves. Those recognized, have to struggle for sustaining their place, so as to reach greater heights. As Thomas Gray said, there are many 'mute inglorious Miltons' in every field of human activity. In this regard, the longing for due recognition is more, in the film Industry.
   Tamil Cinema has its glorified heroes and heroines of cult status, its reputed list of actors, singers, lyricists, directors of films and music, cinematographers and film production houses. But how many small-time heroes and supporting actors, go unrecognized and unrewarded, till they meet their grave. The list is more and agonizing too. This post is a sincere tribute to such actors of the last era.
    There were small time heroes like Sri Ram, Ranjan,N.N.Kannapaa and P.V Narasimmha Bharadhi. Sriram was the dazzling hero of the great film Marma Veeran, released in 1956.His other films were Raji En Kanmani, Samsaram and Sivaji Ganesan’s Kodeeswaran &Pazhani. He also did a negative role in L.V.Prasad's Idhaya kamalam.Sri Ram's special attractions were his vibrating voice mould and convincing delivery of dialogues.Ranjan was the pet actor of the Gemini Studios, doing hero and villain roles in Mangamma Sabadham and Chandralekha. His dynamic role play as heinous Sanaangan in Chandralekha made him a charming and celebrated actor who later on appeared as hero in Sando M.M.A.Chinnapa Devar's Neelamalai Thirudan. He was very successful as a swashbuckler. 
   N.N.Kannappa's remarkable films were Devaki{with V.N.Janaki},Town Bus {with Anjali devi} Manidhanum Mirugamum, Mala Oru Mangala Vilakku and Patharai Maathu Thangam.Some of his last films were Kappalottiya Thamizhan{as the brother of Va.Vu. Chidambaranar}and later in the S.S Rajendran film Dheivathin Dheivam.
   The other graceful actor was P.V.Narasimha Bharathi,whose face was precisely fit for donning divine roles. He was Lord Krishna in Abhimanyu, Radhakrishnan in Krishna Vijayam, Naradhar in Naan Kanda Sorgam and Lakshmanan in Sampoorana Ramayanam.He did the lead role in Ponmudi and acted in MGR's En Thangai,Sivaji Ganesan's Thirumbi Paar and Gemini Ganesan's Penkulathin Perumai.
   There was another dynamic youth called Valaiyabadhi Muthukrishnan {the prefix Valaiyabadhi indicates his role in a film bearing it as title}who did a memorable role in Thookku Thooki as the trustworthy friend of the hero,played by Sivaji Ganesan.
    While the prominent supporting personalities have their own place, identified and preserved,there is a galaxy of unknown men and women,who worked for the growth and popularity of the cinema industry.Among these,there may be second line comedians,or main comedian's sidekicks,Villain's henchmen or sidekicks, small time character artists, one scene performers and stuntsmen who are mostly at the 'receiving'end.The list will be vast. But I shall try to recall here,as many names as possible, with due apology,for still ignoring some deserving individuals.
    Among actresses,the most notable but sadly less recognized face was that of E.V.Saroja who was a vibrant actor and good dancer.Starting her career as the younger sister of MGR in En Thangai {1952}she had acted in MGR films like Gulebhagavali,Madhurai Veeran,Puthumai Pithan and Koduthu Vaithaval.She had also acted in Sivaji Ganesan's films like Padikkaadha Medhai,Kathavarayan and Saaranga dhaaraa and Gemini Ganesan films like Sowbhagyavadhi and Bhagya latchumi.Her roles in Aaadavandha Dheivam,Enga Veettu Makalatchumi, Manapandhal and Veera Thirumagan also need a special mention. Though physically a bit short,her acting credentials were always tall.
 There were two other notable actors called Girija and Malini.While Girija acted in Padhaala Bhaueavi and was paired with Sivaji Gsnesan in Manohara,Malini was the successful pair of Sivaji Ganesan in Sabaash Meena and that of MGR in Sabash Mappillai.Both the Sabash films travelled on the comedy track.Malini had also acted in the film Ashagu Nila.
   Manimala who was also a known figure in Malayalam Cinema was a fascinating  heroine,second heroine and character actor in films like Periya Idathu Penn, Vallavanukku Vallavan,Thazhampoo,Anbu Karangal, Poojaikku Vandha Malar,and a few other Tamil films. Finally,she was seen as Suhasini's mother in Sindhu Bhairavi. Her graceful subdued acting skills were similar to those of Sri Vidya. 
   If we take the next generation heroes, Suresh,Sudhakar,Vijayan,Ramki and Karan became short time heroes. Suresh who started his career in Panneer Pushpangal went on to act in films like Adhisiya Piravigal,Vellai Roja and Kozhi Koovuthu and then disappeared to reappear in the film Amman.Then he became busy in Telugu cinema.Later he took up the role of a police officer in Vijay's Thalaiva.
    Sudhahar was a breezy romantic hero in Bharathi Raja's Kizhakke Pogum Rayil, Niram Maaraadha Pookal and in films like Manthoppu Kiliye.Later he was seen as the cranky son of Nagesh,in Rajini's Adhisiya Piravi.Vijayan who did romantic as well as anti-hero roles in films like Niram Maaradha Pookal,Ponnu Oorukku Pudhusu and portrayed an exceptional negative role in J.Magendran's Udhiri Pookal was a very talented actor.He was seen afterwards in negative roles,in films like Run and Ramana and as a police officer in Thiruppachi.
   Ramki whose voice mould is quite similar to that of Prabu,was a popular hero during the Nineteen Nineties.His films like Sendhoora Poove,Inaindha Kaikal,Vanaja Girija, Irattai Rija,Oru Thottil Sabadham,Thotttil Kuzhandhai and Thadayam made him,one of the most desired heroes of Tamil cinema.His open smile is another attractive feature as part of his physical profile.
   Karan who was a popular child artist in Malayalam cinema did prominent roles in Rajini's Annamalai,Kamal's Nammavar, Vijay's Coimbatore Mappillai,Love Today& Minsaara Kanna,Ajith's Kadhal Kottai, Kadhal Mannan and Unnai Thedi,,Karthik's Gokulathil Seethai,Murali's Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga,Prabu's Ponmanam & Tirunelveli,Vijayakanth's Vallarasu &Kannubada Pokudhaiyyaa, and Prashanth's Kannedhire Thonrinaal.Later, his independent hero roles in Karuppu samy Kuthakai dhaarar,Kokki,Koodi Vaazhndhaal Kodi Nanmai,Malayan, Kaathavarayan&Thambi Vettothi Sundaram reflected his capacity for powerful emotion packed roles with positive and negative characteristics. Ramki and Karan are the latest under utilized assets of Tamil Cinema.
   Among second line father characters reflecting positive and negative mind frames, there were actors like T.N.Sivathanu,D.Balasubramanyam, R.Balasubramanyam, K.D.Santhanam[both a lyricist and actor} M.R.Santhanam {both a producer and actor and the father of today's director-cum actor Santhana bharathi},and Trichy Sounda rajan {an M.G.R favourite}.There was yet another actor called P.D.Sambandham, whose dwarf like appearance would bring spontaneous laughter as dads of comediennes and he did his best with Nagesh,in quite a few rocking comedy scenes.
   Both D.Balasubramanyam and R.Balasubramanyam came to tamil cinema in the early Nineteen forties and both were compact as Dads and villains.D.Balasubra maniyam had acted in films like Jagadhala Pradhaban,Velaikari,Thigambara Samiyar, MGR's Abimanyu&Malaikallan,Sivaji Ganesan's Kaveri&Sabash Meena, Gemini Ganesan's Maman Magal and other films like Vannakili and Thilakam.
   R.Balasubramaniam acted as Kudialan in the historical fiction film Manonmani.His other famous films include Mohini,Vedhala Ulagam,Sorgavasal,Maya Bazar,Madhurai Veeran,MGR's Pudhumai Pithan,Chakravarthi Thirumagal,Thai Magalukku Kattiya Thali,Sivaji Ganesan'a Rani Lalithangi & Karnan,and Gemini Ganesan's Adhi Parasakthi.Both these namesake actors were known for their distinct dynamism, in the delivery of Tamil dialogues.
   There are also other actors  who have played character roles or the roles of dads,with ease and grace. Some of them are Veera Raghavan,{Kamal's Naanum Oru Thozhilali &Rajini's Dharmayudham, Velaikkaran and  many more films} Gogulnath,{as Church father Adaikalam in Sivaji Ganesan's Gnana Oli}Vaathiyaar Raman,{Thanneer Thanner is a special film for him}Mohan Ram,{Sollamale,Thamizh Selvan, Padayappaa,Devan and quite a number of other films} ARS {Nayagan,Kodi Parakkudhu and a few other films}ISR {many films of which Mr.Bharath showed him as a kind of double agent in business, by betraying his employer Satyaraj to Rajinikanth,for the sake of money} and Kitty who played villain roles very effectively, in films like Kamal's Sathya,a convincing father of Vijay in Badri and a compact cop in Rajini's Baashaa and significant roles in quite a number of films.
   There were  third line comedians and so-called extra artists like Kottapuli Jeyaraman, Kali. N.Rethinam, Friend Ramasamy, Ezhumalai,Typist Gopu, Kaathaadi Ramamurthi,Maali,Loose Mohan {whose unique voice pattern and distinct delivery of the Madras slang was a special attraction}Idichapuli Selvaraj {brother of Paandu} Usilai Mani, Kumarimuthu,Oma Kuchi Narasimhan,ISR,Bakoda Kadhar,{who can forget his roleplay in the road comedy film Madras to Pndicherry?} Thayirvadai Deskan, Bonda Mani,Alwa Ravi,Kulla Mani, Ennathe Kannaiah,{the title Ennathe derived from his performance in the film Naan starring Ravichandran & Jeya lalitha}Dhideer Kannaiah,Madhanbab,and Haja Sherif {whose roles in Andha Ezhu Naatkal of Bhagyaraj and Visus's film  in Samsaram Adhu Minsaram were really impressive} 
  The other uncredited actors are Kallapetti Singaram,Pulimoottai Ramasamy{he was a very popular actor in the Nineteen Forties and his films like Mohini and Rajakumari  made him a highly noticeable performer }Meesai Murugesh,{His presence was significantly felt in Poove Unakkaga) and the name-not-known,many others.
    Of these Typist Gopu and Mali were frequent additions in the films of Sridhar and K.Balachander.Oma Kuchi Narasimhan created a flutter of laughter in films like Kudumbam Oru Kadhambam {With Visu on the latter's story of a doctor of the mad, getting mad},Adhisiya Piravi,Sooriyan and Mudhalvan.He created memorable comedy moments with Goundamani in the film Sooriyan and with Vadivelu in Arjun's Mudhalvan.Kalaapetti Singaram who started acting,ways back in the film Motor Sundaram Pillai,did a memorable role as the father of K.Bhagyaraj in the film Darling Darling.
   Banjamin's role in Tiruppaachi as the close village friend of Vijay, longing to see a film at a theatre in Chennai and getting killed in a theatre complex showed him as a memorable actor. Late Nellai Siva who has acted in a number of films is reputed for the sweet Nellai accent of Tamil. Muthukkalai has also done a lot of films and his role in Perarasu as a pretending blind beggar deserved a special notice. 
   Who can foget Kumarimuthu with his serial blast of laughter and wilful projection of his squint eye?He has proved to be a great verbal comedian and impressive character actor.Madhan Bab is always identified by his peculiar manner of talking through his laughter and laughing through his talks.Cell Murugan a close associate of late Vivek, has literally caused ruckus through rib tickling comedy scenes in films like Thirumalai, Run,Saamy, Padikkadhavan,Velaiyillaa Pattadhari 1&2, Manidhan of Udhayanidhi Stalin and a few other films. In most of Vivek's comedy scenes, Cell Murugan was a perfect foil to that late fabulous comedian. 
   Among second line villains, Kallapart Natarajan,K.M Nambirajan and K.Kannan are memorable. Nambirajan had acted  in Parasakthi, Amara Dheepam, Padikkadha Medhai,Padithaal Mattum Podhuma,Sinnajiru Ulakam,Kai Kodutha Dheivam and many others.His role as shop owner in Padikadha Medhai trying to cheat Sivaji Ganesan over the sale of a banana, would still travel on the memory lane of the audience. Nambirajan used to deliver his Tamil dialogues with a peculiar throat vibration and modulation.
    Kallapart Natarajan played as thief in many films including the famous film Dheiva Piravi as the younger brother of Sivaji Ganesan. Later Kamalahasan made use of Kallapart Natarajan in an elegant character role in Devar Magan as the father of Revadhi.Sairaam was a great, villain's sidekick espcially to M.N.Nambiyar  P.S.Veerappa,and T.K.Ramachandran. An actor closely resembling the facial profile and physical stature of Sairam was Friend Ramasamy who brought cheers to the audience by his brief time comedy roles in many films.
   Then G.Srinivasan played an effective roleplay as villain,villain's helping advocate and supporting character.He did effective villain roles in films like Pudhiya Vaarpugal and Rajini's Rajadhi Raja.He was an appealing father in films like Vellai Roja and Rajini's Manidhan.His other notable films are Kanni Paruvathile,Ranuva Veeran, Kizhake Pogum Rayil,Murattu Kalai and the most recent Vengai
    There are stunstmen actors like Vikram Dharma,Rocky Rajesh,Super Subbarayan, Justin, Azhagu, Ponnambalam,Fefsi Vijayan,Dhilip Subbarayan,Kanal Kannan,Anal Arasu,Jaguar Thangam,,Peter Hein,Stunt Silva,Miracle Michael,Riaz Khan, Thalapadhi Dhinesh,Vikram Dharma,and Besant Nagar Ravi to whom Tamil cinema owes its fiery stunt moments.
  Among other character actors Saami Kannu {who was director P.Madhavan's favourite} and A.Veerasamy cast indelible impressions in their roleplay. A.Veerasamy's famous dialogue 'எசமான் எனக்கு ஒரு உண்ம தெரிஞ்சாகணும்' {"Master I need to know one truth''}in Mudhal Mariyadhai,will ever be heard in audience ears,with its agonizing reach.
    Among the old small time actresses C.T.Rajakantham,P.Shanthakumari,Lakshmi Praba,P.S.Gnanam, K.S.Angamuthu, Thambaram Lalitha,Padmini Priya dharshani M.S.S.Bhagyam,S.N.Parvadhi and many other forgotten names adorned the Tamil Screen with their independent acting mettle.Of these,C.T.Rajakantham played mother in law roles with both positive and negative shades like her contemporaries  M.S.Sundari Bai and C.K Saraswathi.{Her role as the mother of Kadothgaja in Maya Bazar is still in memory}P.S.Gnanam's characterization in many films,was ever stuffed with malice and foul play and no one would have forgotten her role as the crudest woman, causing total havoc to the lives of the most affectionate siblings in Paasamalar.
   Whereas,P.Shanthakumari played her mother roles beautifully in Vidivelli and Vasantha Maalaigai.{both Sivaji Ganesan films}.Lakshmi Prabha was another actress with great voice vibrations creating positive notes.Whereas,Thambaram Lalitha and Padmini Priyadharshani mostly played negative roles as vamps or concubines or woman characters with evil motives.K.S Angamuthu,an actress of the Pre independence period,was ever fit for the role of a gossip monger and news feeder with her heavy phsique and loud mouth.All these women need their distinct place in the archives of Tamil Cinema,for raising the capacity of its wield with the huge audience of Tamil cinema
    There might be a huge list of actors and other limbs of the Tamil film industry who did a great job on the big screen,whose physical identity and verbal thrust are very much known to the audience,but their names are not saved to their memory.But for the significant contribution of these most talented but less known actors, no movie would reach its deliverable dynamism.
  If only their names strike our minds and find a place in our memory like those of their counterparts, it would do them all a great service, that they earnestly deserve. I have to conclude this post with an apologetic note,for not mentioning the other significant contributors, whose names have unfortunately failed to strike my memory. All small-time actors rightly deserve a special salute from the audience.The forgotten names will appear in a sequel to this post.
     {To be continued as Part II}

1 comment:

  1. சமுத்திரத்தை, நாய் நக்கிக் குடித்துவிட முயல்வதற்கு ஒப்பானது இதற்கொரு கருத்துரை பதிவு செய்ய முற்படுவது. *Amazing Sr🙏🏻*