Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Heroes as doctors in Tamil cinema



  Donning the role of a doctor is not a priority,unless the theme and storyline of a film warrant the presence of a doctor.That is why in quite a number of films,the role of doctors was assigned only to supporting actors.It was V.Gopalakrishnan who frequently took up the role of a doctor,as a supporting actor. Actors like V.Naigaiah S.V.Sahasranaamam Major Sundarajan and K.Balaji would have also been seen as doctors in a few  films.The most memorable role of a doctor taken up by a supporting actor,was that of S.A,Asokan, who as a friend of the hero,and as the one side lover of the hero's lost lover,gave an amazing performance in a few scenes,with emotion packed delivery of dialogues.

  Heroes who have the chance to do roles of umpteen positions and professions such as cops, lawyers,business tycoons,daily wage earners, teachers and family heads,were also seen as doctors,once a way.Some of the notable films that had heroes as doctors were, Paalum Pazhamum,Nenjil Oer Aalayam, Dharmam Thalaikaakkum,Puthiya Bhoomi, Dr.Siva and Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum.Of these six films, three went to the kitty of the Chevalier,who could causally excel in any role.While Dharmam Thalaikaakkum and Puthiya Bhoomi were MGR films,It was Kalyan Kumar who came as Dr.Murali in Nenjil Oer Aalayam.

  Paalum Pazhamum  starring Sivaji Ganesan and Saroja Devi which hit the theatres in Tamil Nadu on 9th September1961, was directed by A.Bhimsingh,one of the most popular film makers of those days.Sivaji Ganesan was cast in the role of Dr. Ravi who was seriously researching to invent a drug for curing cancer,with the assistance of his wife- cum-nurse Shanthi {Saroja devi}.As his wife was continuously assisting him in the lab,she developed tuberculosis,a disease that had  meagre chances for cure those days. Shanthi left home all of a sudden one day,to avoid being a nuisance to her husband who began to attend to her, instead of proceeding with his research.

  Later, Shanthi was presumed to be dead on a train journey and the rest of the film displayed the miseries falling on the life of the doctor that include a lab accident making him blind. The film however,ended on a happier note with the reunion of the doctor with his wife Shanthi who was cured of her tuberculosis following her visit to Switzerland with a well wisher.The major attractive features of Paalum Pazhamum were the emotional bonding between the doctor and his wife and the most fascinating songs composed by Kannadasan and tuned by Viswanathan and Ramamoorthi.The film was a remarkable success for Tamil cinema.

  Nenjil Oer Aalayam which was released six months after Paalum Pazhamum [24th Jan 1962} was made by the ace film director C.V.Sridhar within a short spell of time. But it made waves as a great film delving into the realm of humanism,with a deep romantic bonding between man and woman,and a traditional feminine dedication to the core values of life. Kalyankumar as Dr.Murali had to face the predicament of treating a cancer ridden man {very decently played by R,Muthuraman}who happened to be the husband of his former lover,{ a role very delicately performed by Devika}.

 The triangular entanglement of love humanism and professional ethics permeated throughout the film culminating in the death of the doctor after curing the patient.The grand success of the film made Sridhar do a Hindi version of the film entitled Dhil Ek Mandhir with Rajendrakumar,Meenakumari and Rajkumar taking up the characters of Kalyankumar,Devika and Muthuraman respectively.Interestingly,both the films became hits on account of best role play by all actors,exuberant music of Viswanathan Ramamoorthi in Tamil and Sankar Jaikishan in Hindi and above all,the most refined film making of Sridhar.

  MGR's role as Dr.Chandran in Dharmam Thalaikaakkum {1963} was superseded by his detective assistance to the police department in investigating cases of murder committed by masked criminals.The film focused more on thriller aspects and romantic element besides bringing out the over all goodness of the protagonist.The film was produced by Sando M.M..A. Chinnappa Thevar and directed M.A.Thirumugam. Whereas Puthiya Bhoomi,{1968} showed MGR as cardiologist Kathiravan medically treating even criminals with an impressive commitment to his profession and compassion for humanity.While Sarojadhevi was his pair in the former,Jeyalalitha joined him as his love interest in Puthiya Bhoomi which was made by Chanakya.

  Sivaji Ganesan again took up the role of a doctor in Dr.Siva [1975] which was a melodramatic film,passionately filmed by A.C Tirulokchander,acclaimed for mani victorious entries of the Chevalier.Besides narrating the hero's job as a doctor,Dr.Siva dealt with an element of conjugal mistrust felt by the doctor's wife{ Manjula},over the doctor's fraternal bonding with a hapless young woman.The film is still remembered for the wonderful song,"Malare Kurinji Malare"sung by K.J Yesudas and S.Janaki.M.S.Viswa nathan's music along with the emotional outbursts of Sivaji Ganesan,kept the film alive in the minds of Sivaji fans for a pretty long time.

  Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum [1981} from the hands of Muktha Srinivasan presented Sivaji Ganesan in the role of an esteemed ophthalmologist running the singular predicament of hiding an extraordinary fatal disease afflicting his daughter-in-law on the one hand,and the secret of his son's betrayal of a woman,whose blind brother was on a hell bent hunt for the guy.The doctor's dilemma was aggravated,because the blind prospective killer of his son was also his patient,awaiting the restoration of his eyesight.This was one of the best roles in the acting career of Sivaji Ganesan and he meritoriously held the job on his shoulders,being caught in a hide-and-seek game between two secrets,and his affectionate daughter-in-law.Saritha as his beloved daughter-in-law,gave a competitive performance with Siavji Ganesan.

  Unlike the roles of cops and lawyers which could open up interesting audio visual events for the audience,a film on doctors cannot be always stuck to the hospital,though Nenjil Oer Alayam did that to a great extent.A film on doctors,naturally takes into its ambit medical crimes such as organ theft,abuse of surrogate motherhood for other purposes,as shown in films like Mersel and Yasodha. S.J.Suriya and Unni Mukunthan were the evil side of medical profession in Vijay's Mersel and Samantha's Yasotha.Incidentally,one of the triple roles of Vijay in Mersel,was also that of a cardiologist. Siva karthikeyan as Major.Dr.Varun in the black comedy film filn Doctor,was after a gang of criminals indulging in child trafficking.

  Apart from the films mentioned above, Kamalahasan's Vasool Raaaja MBBS poignantly dealt with a few positive ingredients of the medical profession relating to the treatment of patients,especially those in coma status. The film also reflected the perfect mindset needed for performing an autopsy. As a satire on medical profession, Vasool Raja MBBS,stands apart as a unique film shattering the arrogance of some doctors into pieces.As a bogus doctor,the hero opened the eyes of the real doctors,to realize their purpose and function,as relevant and imperative segments of humanity.To sum up responsibly,it should be categorically stated here that Tamil film industry has substantially made its imprints,in vividly portraying the character of doctors on the big screen.

  Note.The examples of heroes as doctors in Tamil films shown here,are subject to the memory scale of this blog writer,and omissions of other such examples may please be condoned.



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