Saturday, March 30, 2024

A weird and crude villain


                   Homage to Daniel Balaji

    Actor Daniel Balaji, born as T.C.Balaji is no more. With his acting spell encompassing Tamil,Malayalam,Telugu and Kannada films and a couple of TV serials, Daniel Balaji cut out a special profile for himself,to do negative roles. Between April Madhathil and his last film Ariyavan, his journey through the big screen was significantly impressive,though short lived. Balaji had his prefix appended to his name,after his prominent performance in the most popular television serial Chithi,which was his launch pad for acting. After playing the role of a character called Daniel in Chithi,at the beginning of this new millennium,he was cast as Daniel Balaji  in his next entry into the T.V serial Alaigal.

  Though his first two films were April Madhathil and Kadhal Kondein of Danush (in which he appeared as a cop), it was Gautham Menon's Kaakka Kaakka that stabilized him as a noticeable performer with thespian efficacy. His role play as police officer Srikanth along with Suriya, set the stage for his future film opportunities. Gautham Menon inducted him in three of his next projects like Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu,Ennai Arindhaal and Acham Enbadhu Madamaiyada.After playing as an honest and emotional cop in Kakka Kaakka, he did a despicably crude role in Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu,unnerving the poise of Kamal as cop,who was seen hunting down drug peddlers and kidnappers.Balaji's uncouth role in Ennai Arindhal was equally emphatic.

  Next to Gautham Menon, it was Vetrimaran who gave Balaji, gripping villain roles in Polladhavan and Vada Chennai,(in the latter, more as a reliable and compassionate henchman).His two Vijay films were Bigil and Bhairava.As an uxorious husband and as a brutal henchman of the main Villain Jegabadhi Babu,Balaji did a remarkable role-play in Bhairava.It was the paradoxical mix of the character of a psychopath and an adoring husband brilliantly displayed by Daniel Balaji, that added dramatic dynamism to the racy narration of Bhairava.Incidentally,his character was again named as Daniel in Vijay's Bigil.

   Balaji's other mentionable films were Vai Raja Vai,Ippadai Vellum and Maayavan.His character as the motivational speaker Rudhran in Maayavan,carried negative shades too mysterious for the hero cum police officer, to unearth a deep crime serial. It was yet another important film for Daniel Balaji.

   No doubt Daniel Balaji was offered certain stereotyped roles. But he made his roles deeply imprinted in the minds of the audience,through his bold,projecting and powerful eyes,and a special mode of tone delivery. He had a distinctly governing voice mould,with a sharply characteristic delivery of dialogues,that made him an easily identifiable performer of roles.It is doubtful whether he was a popular actor among the huge section of the Tamil audience. But those who have watched him perform, would definitely have watched him with a sense of awe and admiration, unable to retrieve themselves from their memory of this perfect performer of weird and crude villain roles.


Friday, March 22, 2024

A director-cum actor and a Kamal favourite

    Born of yester year's notable actor M.R.Santhanam and brother of  actor R.S,Shivaji [who is no more],R.S.Santhana bharathi is one of the most remarkable faces of Tamil Cinema. Starting his film career as an Assistant director of C.V.Sridhar,Santhana bharathi directed a couple of movies like Panneer Pushpangal and Mella Pesungal along with P.Vasu as the director duo Bharathi Vasu. Both the films were breezy in narration and were received as clean movies.

  Later Santhanabharadhi became the awardee for directing Kamal's films Guna and Mahanadhi.While Guna got a third place for best direction from the state of Tamil Nadu,Mahanadhi won the National award for the best feature film. From then on, Santhanabharathi's association with Kamalahasan was firmly rooted. His role in Michael Madhana Kamarajan, became a vigorous drive with Kamal on the comedy track, creating stomach curdling moments of laughter.

  Santhana Bharathi was seen with Kamal in a number of films like,Anbe Sivam, Dasa vadhaaram,Unnaipol Oruvan, Thoonga vanam,Nammavar,Magalir Mattum, Vasool Raja M.B.B.S,Panjathandhiram and Kamal's latest blockbuster Vikram.

  His other list of films would include Villain,Vanavil,Dhost Winner,Varalaaru , Friends,Aasaiyil Oer Kadidham, Marudha malai, Kargaatak kaaran,Thamizh Selvan, Poojai,Kalakalappu, Padikkadhavan of Danush,Aambala LKG and so on.

 Santhana Bharathi has donned a variety of roles such as a politician,a secret agent,a church father,a thug and a judge. His huge physique with his bald head, takes him conveniently to his roles with his ever coarse and gruff voice pattern, that hardly fails to draw the attention of the audience. He is a natural actor playing on the screen, as if he directly comes on a live show. This is his most positive side, in role play.

   As his thespian lineage is drawn from his father M.R.Santhanam who played memorable roles in Sivaji Ganesan films like Annaiyin Anai,Veera Pandia Katta bomman,Pasamalar,Kappalottiya Thamizhan and many more films, Santhana Bharathi's acting credentials are well designed and vibrantly delivered both on the big and small screens.His contribution to T.V serials like Lakshmi, Ponnoonjal and Iniya,speaks of his significant flair for playing character roles, with a profound perception and grasp of the roles assigned to him.

  While as an actor he is quite familiar with a major section of the audience, he will be ever remembered for his awesome directorial touches on Mahanadhi that would ever remain as one of the foremost films of Kamalahasan.With the inherent tone of an agonized individual,who fell a victim to a vulpine, untrustworthy and betraying society Kamalahasan's role as a hapless father, drew the sympathy of one and all.

  This cathartic element made Santhana bharathi as the master craftsman,delving deep into life's inscrutable ills and hidden risks. For this blog writer,Mahanadhi is always a heart-rending film of Kamala hasan and the film's absolute value will be owned not just by Kamal alone, but also by this amazing film maker-cum actor Santhana Bharathi.


Monday, March 11, 2024

'எத்தனைை'யில் எத்தனை அழகு!


  " எத்தனைக்கோடி இன்பம் வைத்தாய் எங்கள் இறைவா." 

  என்று உள்ளத்து உவகையை வெளிப்படுத் தினார் மகாகவி பாரதி.'எத்தனை'எனும் சொல் எண்களையும் அளவீடுகளையும் குறித்தது மட்டுமல்லாது ஒரே நேரத்தில் நம்பிக்கையையும் ஏமாற்றத்தையும் வெளிப்படுத்த வல்லதாகும்.உதாரணத் திற்கு 'மலைக்கள்ளன்' திரைப்படத்தின், 

"எத்தனை காலம்தான் ஏமாற்றுவார் 

இந்த நாட்டிலே

சொந்த நாட்டிலே" 

  எனும் டி.எம்.சௌந்தராஜனின் உரத்த குரலில் எழுந்த பாடல்,சமூதாயம் தொடர்ந்து ஏமாற்றப்படும் நிலை விரைவில் முடிவுக்கு வரும் என்ற நம்பிக்கையை ஒருபுறமும், இன்னும் பலகாலம் ஏமாற்றப்படுமோ எனும் அச்சத்தை மறுபுறமும்,ஒரே வேளையில் உணரச் செய்யும்.தஞ்சை ராமைய்யா தா சின் கருத்தாழம் மிக்க இப்பாடல், எஸ்.எம். சுப்பைய்யா நாயுடுவின் இசையில், எம்.ஜி.ஆருக்கு புரட்சிப்பாதை வகுத்தது. 

  ஆனால்,'அன்பு எங்கே'திரைப்படத்தில் வேதாவின் இசையில்,பி.சுசீலா பாடிய கண்ணதாசனின், 

"எத்தனைக்கோடி பணமிருந்தாலும்

 நிம்மதி வேண்டும் வீட்டிலே" 

  எனும் தெளிவான பாடல்,பணத்தால் மனிதனுக்கு நிம்மதியை உறுதிசெய்ய முடியாது என்பதை,அறுதியிட்டுக் கூறியது. மாறாக,'யாருக்குச்சொந்தம்'திரைப்படத் தில் P.B.ஸ்ரீநிவாஸ் பாடிய மருதகாசியின் பாடலான, 

"எத்தனை எத்தனை இன்பமடா 

இவை எல்லாம் உனக்கே சொந்தமடா" 

  எனும் இதமான பாடல்,கே.வி,மகாதேவன் இசையில்,பாரதியின் சிந்தனையை சிறகடித்துப் பறக்கச் செய்தது. 

  தாய்மைப் பாடல்களுக்குத் தரமூட்டிய எம்.ஜி.ஆர்,அவரது 'தாயின் மடியில்' திரைப்படத்தில்,டி எம் சௌந்தராஜனைப் பாடவைத்த, 

"எத்தனை செல்வங்கள் வந்தாலுமே 

எத்தனை இன்பங்கள் தந்தாலுமே

அத்தனையும் ஒரு தாயாகுமா 

அம்மா,அம்மா,எனக்கது நீயாகுமா" 

   எனும் வாலியின் வரிகள் மூலம்,'எத்தனை' எனும் சொல்லுக்குட்பட்டது அல்ல தாய்மை. அது அத்தனையும் கடந்த அளவற்ற அன் பின்,பாசத்தின் அடையாளம் என்று,வலு வாக உணரவைத்தார்.இதே எம்.ஜி.ஆர், மனிதனை எள்ளி நகையாடும் வகையில், வாலியின் வரிகளால் வதம் செய்த பாடலே, 'ஆசை முகம்' திரைப்படத்தில் அவருக்காக டி.எம். எஸ் பாடிய, 

"எத்தனை பெரிய மனிதனுக்கு 

எத்தனை சிறிய மனமிருக்கு 

எத்தனை சிறிய பறவைக்கு, 

எத்தனை பெரிய அறிவிருக்கு." 

எனும் நைய்யாண்டிப்பாடல். 

  மேற்சொன்ன இருபாடல்களுக்கும்,எஸ்.எம் சுப்பைய்யா நாயுடு இசையமைத்திருந்தார் என்பது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

   மனித வாழ்க்கையில் அன்றாடம் ஏற்படும் மாற்றங்களையும்,மாறிவரும் உறவுகளை யும்,தத்துவரீதியாகச் சித்தரித்தப் பாடலே, 'பந்தபாசம்' திரைப்படத்தில் சீர்காழி கோவிந்தராஜன் ஆழ்ந்துணர்ந்து பாடிய, கவிஞர் மாயவநாதனின்,  

"நித்தம்  நித்தம் மாறுகின்றதெத்தனையோ 

நெஞ்சில் நினைத்ததிலே நடந்துதான் எத்தனையோ 

கோடுபோட்டு வாழ்ந்தவர்கள் எத்தனையோ. 

கொண்ட குறியும் தவறிப்போனவர்கள் எத்தனையோ" 

  எனும் காலத்தால் அழிக்கமுடியாதப பாடல். மெல்லிசை மன்னர்கள் இசையில் ஒலித்த இப்பாடல்,என்று கேட்டாலும்,சிந்தனையை இசையெனும் தேனில் முக்கி,செவிகளுக்கு தெவிட்டா  சுகம் தரும்.

   இதேபோன்றொரு தத்துவத்துளிகளை நம் நெஞ்சங்களில் இதமாக தெளித்த பாடலே, எம்.ஜி.ஆரின் 'நீதிக்குத் தலைவணங்கு' திரைப்படத்தில்,எம்.ஜி.ஆருடன் ஒரு ரயில் பயணத்தில் ஈடுபட்டிருக்கும் பல மனிதர் களின் நடவடிக்கைகளை சுட்டிக்காட்டி, பின்னணிப்பாடலாக,அதிர்வுக்குரல் நாயகன் ஜெயச்சந்திரன் பாடிய,நா.காம ராசனின் வரிகளில் அமைந்த, 

"எத்தனை மனிதர்கள் உலகத்திலே 

 அம்மா எத்தனை உலகங்கள் இதயத்திலே" 

   எனும் மெல்லிசை மன்னரின் மேலான இசையில்,ஏகாந்தம் பரப்பிய பாடல்.

 தான் நேசிக்கும் காதலை கண்ணனுடன் உருவகப்படுத்தி எம்.ஜி.ஆரின் 'வேட்டைக் காரன்'திரைப்படத்தில் பி சுசீலா பாடிய, 

"கண்ணனுக்கெத்தனை கோவிலோ 

காவலில் எத்தனை தெய்வமோ 

மன்னனுக்கெத்தனை உள்ளமோ 

மனதில் எத்தனை வெள்ளமோ 

அவன் தோட்டத்தில் எத்தனை மான்களோ 

அவன் தோள்களில் எத்தனை கிளிகளோ 

அவன் பாட்டுக்கு எத்தனை ராகமோ 

அவன் பார்வையில் எத்தனை பாவமோ"

  எனும் கண்ணதாசன் புனைந்து கே.வி. மகாதேவன் இசையூட்டிய,பாடலில்தான் எத்தனை அடுக்குகள்!. 

  இப்பாடலில் 'அவன் பார்வையில் எத்தனை பாவமோ'என்பதன் அடிப்படையில் சலன முள்ள ஆண்மகன்,பட்டாம்பூச்சியாய் எத்தனை மலர்கள் காண்பானோ,எனும் பெண் மன வேதனையை விளக்கும் பாடலே,

"எத்தனை மலர்கள் தாவும் பட்டாம் பூச்சி அது

எத்தனையோ தாவுமடி அன்பு மீனாட்சி

ஆடவரில் எத்தனைபேர் பட்டாம்பூச்சி

நான் ஆயிரம் பேர் பார்த்துவிட்டேன் அன்பு மீனாட்சி"

  'பட்டாம்பூச்சி' எனும் திரைப்படத்தில் டி.எம்.எஸ்ஸும் எஸ்.ஜானகியும் பாடிய கண்ணதாசனின் இப்பாடலுக்கு சோகம் பிழிந்தெடுத்து இசைவடித்தார் M.B ஸ்ரீநி வாசன்.

   தமிழ்த்திரைப்பாடல்களில் இதுபோல எத்தனையோ,'எத்தனைகள்' உண்டு.அதே கண்ணதாசன் 'அபூர்வ ராகங்கள்' திரைப்படத்திற்கு வரிவமைத்த, 

"ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களுக்குள் எத்தனை பாடல் 

இதயச்சுரங்கத்துள் எத்தனை கேள்வி" 

  எனும் எம்.எஸ்.விஸ்வநாதன் இசையில் வாணி ஜெயராம் குரலில் இதயம் நுழைந்த பாடல்,எத்தனை அழகுடன் வாழ்க்கைக்கு இசையால் இதிகாசம் படைத்தது.இப்பதி வில் கண்டது போல "எத்தனை" எனும் சொல்லடக்கிய  இன்னும் எத்தனை பாடல் களை எத்தனை பேர் அறிவரோ!.   

  "எத்தனை"என்பதில்தான்,எத்தனை அழகு கொட்டிக்கிடக்குது.எத்தனை வாழ்வியல் சித்தாந்தங்கள் குவிந்து கிடக்கின்றன.


Sunday, March 3, 2024

A film counted on its merits..


   Lifesaving friendship and humanism as the doubly reinforced theme of a film, can result in a kind of mass appeal, if the narration takes the right route with the help of enchanting visuals and a bedrock of background score.This is what a major chunk of the audience would be experiencing during their presence in the theatres,watching the Malayalam film Manjummel Boys.

  South Indian cinema including the Malayalam film industry, has been quite some time celebrating gory violence, as an offshoot of horrid,inhuman storylines,in the name of action thrillers. Théâtre visits became uncomfortable events on account of profuse blood,spilling on the big screen. In such a situation a film like Manjummel Boys delivers fresh hope of good cinema through the selection of a real-life storyline by Chidambaram S.Poduval.

  The initial moments of the film moving from the glowing Palani temple to a wedding celebration spot in Kerala,gives no clues about what was meant for the audience, during the rest of the film.The amount of gusto seen among the various guests at the marriage venue, followed by a scene of fisticuffs leading to a tug of war,keeps the audience guessing.

  Then follows the hurly burly planning among a group of friends proposing a tour to goa, which is subsequently shifted to Kodaikanal via Palani. One of the friends planning the tour also casually refers to the Guna Cave [named so, after the release of Kamalahasan's film Guna which depicted a grand romantic journey in a cave  at Kodaikanal through a letter episode}

  In retrospect one could think that the film's title show which begins with the famous letter song from Guna,is perhaps a prelude to the prospective core scene of action at Kodaikanal. The rest of the film stands purely on its merits of grand visuals, excellent photography the mighty musical content of Sushin Shyam and the spontaneous display of collective emotions simultaneously shown by the entire group of friends.What makes the film more special is the cast of many unfamiliar faces, who certainly affirm that they have something positive to contribute for  Malayalam cinema in the future

  Among the actors Soubin Shahir as a co producer and as almost the protagonist character Kuttan,and Sreenath Bhasi as Subash, are pointedly noticeable in their roles. However,no actor forming part of the group of friends could be called insignificant. There are no specific women characters, other than those playing the role of Subash's mother and the lady doctor who appears in the climax.No duets!. No comedy!. No villainy!. But still the films is counted on its strong base of immaculate humanism and impeccable narration. It is yet another proud moment for Malayalam cinema.

Note:- Realistically,the title'Manjummel men' would have been the right choice for the film.But the high voltage energy level displayed by the group of friends has made 'Boys'a better option than'men'.This review will be incomplete, without any mention about the Tamil speaking characters in Kodaikanal and in this respect, George Maryan deserves an earnest acknowledgement.  



Friday, March 1, 2024

The theme of challenge in Tamil films

   Life is full of challenges. Fear challenges hope. Hatred challenges love. Defeat challenges victory. Rivalry is both an interesting and injurious factor of life,involving excitement  rancour and risks.However,in every field of rivalry,how each one surmounts the risks, becomes a delightful experience.We can shortly say that life would become an insipid course, without vows and challenges.

  Nevertheless,if ego alone becomes the challenging factor,the person holding ego as their top most priority,would finally fall into the ditch of defeat and humiliation.This article discusses the success of good will challenges, against the ghastly force of wealth,power and ill conceived ideological superiority,or ego-loaded self-supremacy. 

  Some of the films of K.R.Vijaya,like Sabadham (Vow),and Mayor Meenatchi had a lot of challenges thrown and won by this stalwart actress. Especially her challenges against T.K.Bhagavadhi in Sabadham,and those against V.K Ramasamy in Mayor Meenatchi,were quite fascinating with entanglements and knots, unfolding the way by which this brave woman character disentangled them and achieved her goals.In Sabadham she smartly exposed the foul designs of the evil twin brother(T.K.Bhagavadhi) and in Mayor Meenatchi,she successfully brought to light,the corrupt activities of the politician,played by V.K.R.

  Films like Savaal, Savale Samali,Panama Paasama,Kulama Gunama,Uyiraa Maanama, Poovaa Thalaiyaa,and Pattikkaadaa pattanama, carried the undercurrent of challenging tones in their titles too.Similarly films like Pandhayam, Annamalai, Mr.Bharath,Thiruvilaiyaadal Aarambam and the two versions of Maappillai, dynamically carried on the spirit of challenge.

  In all these films,the challenges were between most intimate friends who became arch rivals under vicious circumstances,{Pandhayam& Annamalai} between husband and wife,with ideoligical and biased notions,(Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa& Savaale Samaai)between brothers over misconstrued contexts (Kulama Gunama), between father and son in establishing the truth(Mr.Bharath),between a mother-in-law and son-in-law,{Panamaa Paasamaa,Poovaa Thalaiyaa and Maapillai} or between two prospective brothers- in -law,concerning love and marriage {Thiruvilaiyaadal Aarambam} . Mostly,ideological differences or social status differences would form the crux of any film, dealing with the theme of challenge.

  Both in Panama Paasama and Poovaa Thalaiyaa,it was the veteran actress S.Vara lakshmi who as an arrogant mother in law,threw tough challenges,born of the weight of wealth against her sons-in-law,who were economically very poor.It was Gemini Ganesan in Panama Paasamaa and  Nagesh in Poova Thalaiya. However in the latter,her challenges were more strongly thrown against her docile son-in-law's (Gemini Ganesan again) younger brother.  (decently played by Jai Shankar).In both the films,the well-contrived situations,and the powerfully written dialogues to suit those situations,made the challenge component,both compact and convincing.Finally,the challenging woman was made to feel humble,in both the films.

   Credit should be given to  K.S.GopalaKrishnan and K.Balachander,the excellent makers of the two films,for taking the tone of challenge to its height,through fiery dialogues reflecting profuse levels of confidence and dynamism,between the challenging individuals,in making their challenges deeply grooved to the core of narration.

  K.Balchander's Thamarai Nenjam was a challenge between two intimate women friends who silently and mutually struggled to forego their love for the same man,by sacrificing their love for the benefit of the other.Ironically,the challenge ultimately led to the suicide of one of them, to establish the exaltation of sacrifice through a challenging catharsis.Conversely,on a humorous track,in another Balachander film, Nagesh would challenge Major Sundarajan that he would make the latter call him "worst rascal" and finally win his challenge.

  Both Savaale Samali and Pattikkadaa Pattanama were based on challenges between husband and wife,one regarding emotional and familial values and the other about the superiority of rural grandeur over urban takeaways.In both the films,Sivaji Ganesan and Jeyalalitha were the power-backed,quarrelsome couple.Finally,the victory of the hero implied not the victory of male chauvinism,but that of traditional,social and moral values,against caste prejudices and negative modern perceptions. 

  While the challenge was between the two friends Gemini Ganesan and A.V.M.Rajan in Pandhayam,consequent upon each of them taking the other's route to carve their future,in Annamalai the challenge between two close friends was a sequel to one of them falling into the trap of the evil designs of his father.The second half of'Annamalai'was a sequence of vigorous challenges thrown by Annamalai, (amazingly portrayed by Rajinikanth) against his rich friend Ashok,(meekly played by Sarath Babu,with dignity and firmness).Savaal was a challenge between brothers separated in childhood.

  Films like Vanjikkottai Vaaliban and Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal focused on the challenging, competitive spirit displayed in dancing.While the challenge was between two women dancers in the former,the latter,dynamically exhibited the male,musical pride of a Naadhawaram expert and a queen of dancing.These two films created moments of tremendous pleasure for the audience,who were involved in watching the challenging spirit,with their eyes glued to the big screen.

  An ace film maker like A.P.Nagarajan fascinatingly brought to light the divine challenging modes of gods and goddesses in a couple of his films,through his mythological delineation.In Thiruvilaiyaadal he powerfully captured the challenging spirit between Lord Shiva and his consort Shakthi.

  Besides that,there was also a poetic debate between the court's chief poet Nakkeeran and Lord Shiva in the guise of another poet,about the issue of aroma found in the hair of women. The debate ended up in fiery challenges between the two.It went to the extent of Nakkeerar authentically insisting upon his view,that natural aroma of hair was impossible in the hair of women and the same yardstick was applicable to Goddess Parvathi too.This resulted in the infuriated Lord Shiva burning Nakkeera, with his third eye from his forehead.When all this drama was over,Lord Shiva finally admired the poetic integrity of the court poet and restored life to him,besides exhibiting his divine profile to the poet. 

  In A.P.Nagarajan's Saraswathi Sabatham it was a mighty declaration of challenge pronounced by the three goddesses of art,wealth and bravery to emphatically establish the relevance and value of one field over the other.The challenges of the three goddesses were enacted through human characters,by transforming them from their original status and frame of mind,into new born representatives of the power of art,wealth and bravery. 

  Each human representative of the aforesaid values would be seen challenging and counter challenging one another,and finally the goddesses themselves would appear before the human characters,for a proper settlement of the issue on hand.The ultimate settlement was that only a perfect unison of the three values,could afford completeness and glory for any society. 

  The examples mentioned in this post are just a few.One could recall many more Tamil films, wherein,the theme of challenge was deftly handled by highly imaginative,and effectively creative film makers.As throwing challenges is one of the most interesting aspects of life,many among the audience would have thoroughly enjoyed the whole lot of narration in such films, unfolding lovely challenges and their characteristic culmination.