Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Classical Trinity of Music, in Movie Mode.


     Tamil Cinema has not only travelled far ahead, on ever-changing highways and exits, but has also deviated to a considerable extent,from the cherished dimensions of themes,both in story line and music.Today,film music has become more unconventional than even themes of story lines and their narrative techniques. Everyone is quite sure that today's film music will hardly outlive its time, because of its ephemeral ingredients.But the epic grandeur of Tamil film music, still holds good on account of its classic foundation, firmly rooted to Carnatic music.In fact, the effervescence of music began to rule Tamil Cinema, from the pre-independent years, dating back to the early Nineteen Forties.There existed mighty voices of men and women making Tamil cinema relevant, more on account of vocal music than anything, including the script and its narration.
    Among women there were three monumental voices with a peerless wield of range and throw, immensely reverberating the essence and excellence of Carnatic music. Of the the three women,the first two were born during the same decade{1910 to 1920}and the third was born in the next decade{1928}.They were Madhurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi, Damal Krishnasamy Pattammaal and Madras Lalitangi Vasanthakumari, who were proudly called the Female Trinity of Carnatic Music.
     With no knowledge of Carnatic music,besides having been born much later, when compared to them, I really stand at a point of disadvantage to speak about their myriad musical  mastery. But actors like MGR and T.R.Mahalingam were also born during the two decades cited and this blog carries articles on them.So I decided to adorn my blog with a tribute to these three  women, with an exclusive reference to their contribution to Tamil Cinema, which was purely a sequel to their dedication to Carnatic music.I thought I could speak of them in my own way with my limited scope and knowledge of these early musical charmers of Tamil Cinema.
    The point of difference that keeps the first two singers on the one side and the third musical voice on the other, is not only a span of ten years, but also the fact that while the first two women chose to sing only for five and a dozen movies respectively, the third singer would have succeeded them as playback singer, for nearly one hundred films that include her Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada entries.The other notable fact is that of these three women, it was M.S.Subbulakshmi who acted as the heroine of five great films, Sevasadhanam, Savithri, Sakuntala,Meera and Meerabai {Hindi remake of Meera}of which the last three were directed by the eminent American director Ellis. R. Dungan. 
   M.S.S was called 'the queen of music' by Pandit Nehru,the first Prime Minister of India.She was an awardee of several titles including the most coveted Bharat Ratna that gloriously crowned her in 1998,six years before her demise.Her probing voice pattern,mastery over Carnatic music and her most enviable singing ability made her an outstanding performer of all times.God seemed to speak to the human soul through her divinely dignified voice, not only in her perfect delivery of Venkateswara Suprabhatam,Vishnu Sahasranaamam,Bhaja Govindam, and Kuraiyonrumillai Maraimurthy Kanna, but also through her felicitous singing of film songs like'Kaatrinile Varum Geetham''Brindhavanathil Kannan Valarndha''Giridhara Gopala'{all from Meera}and"Engum Nirainaadha Brammhame '{Shakuntala}.
     My most favoured songs of M.S.S are,'Kuraiyonrumillai Maraimurthy Kanna'and 'Kaatrinile Varum Geetham'.The latter, I believe, would neatly transport us into a world of absolute  ecstasy.There is a deep sense of longing reflected at the beginning of the song, with the nuances of the fabulous voice, travelling through multi layers of emotions and culminating with a state of union with Peace.It is a kind of song that pierces the soul and heals it with simultaneous hitting and soothing notes.What more can a God sent voice do, other than absolving one's mind of all its curse and offering it consummate joy, parallel to bliss?A voice becomes a legend with its inner rhythms, rightly laid by the breath of divinity.It is this spiritual intricacy that has made the voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi, the most desired of all voices and the one closer to the threshold of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
    The voice of D.K. Pattammaal is on the other hand bound to the soil, as one purifying the air we breathe in,the water we drink,the earth we are born on and the fire that passes through our emotions.Moreover,her perfect and exquisite rendition of Pallavis, rightly earned her the title Pallavi Pattammaal. If M.S.S could sing to the ears of God,D.K.P could lift her voice up to the skies and sing in praise of her country and the national flag.Hers was a bold patriotic voice and hence the songs of Maha Kavi Subramanya Bharathi, gained greater impetus and the power of patriotism,through her inspiring voice.
    Apart from her song 'Dhesa Sevai Seyya Vareer'{Thiyaaga Bhoomi},which was written by Kalki R.Krishnamurthy, the other patriotic songs like 'Vetri Ettu Thikkum''Aaduvome Pallu Paaduvome'{Naam Iruvar},'Thoondir Puzhuvinaipol'{Vedhala Ulakam} and 'Bharatha Samoodhaayam Vaazhgave'{Vaazhkai}were all from the mighty pen of poet Bharathi, whose poetic cry for freedom,feminism and patriotism would ever remain not only as the beautiful part of Tamil literature, but also as the documentary evidence of the poetic fervour of nationalism. The other immortal song of Bharathi that Pattammaal sang was,'Theeraadha Vilaiyaattu Pillai' {Vedhaala Ulagam}.It is a still mystery how all the songs dedicated to Kanna {Lord Krsina} are supremely pleasing to the ears.This one in particular from DKP's scintillating voice, would remain as the earliest and most delightful piece,sung in praise of Kanna.
   Interestingly Pattammaal has also sung the song 'Vaishnava Janato' for Kamalahasan's Hey Ram under the musical composition of A.R.Rehman and she subsequently made her vocal contribution to the 'Jana Gana Mana Album' composed by the Oscar winner.It was no wonder that DKP too was a recipient of the PadmaVibushan,Sangeedha Kalanidhi,Sangeedha Saraswathi and quiet a few other awards.
    M.L.Vasanthakumari,the junior most among the three, was a singer with a stentorian voice mould.She could vigorously sustain her position as an invincible play back singer, for nearly two decades.She had a governing voice among the three singers,with which she could effectively compete with male singers like C.S.Jeyaraman,{'Kaani Nilam Vendum Parasakthi Kaani Nilam Vendum'from Andaman Kaidhi and'Manjal Veyil Maalaiyile' from Kaveri},T.M.Soundarajan {'Aadaadha Manamum Undoe',from Mannaadhi Mannan} Sirkazhi S.Govidarajan{'Mohana Renga Ennai Paaradaa' from Maamiyaar Mechiya Marumagal,'Aadum Arul Jodhi', from Meenda Sorgam and the light minded song 'Manasukkulle Marachuvaikka Mudiyalle' from the film Thilakam} and with V.N.Sundaram {'Chinnanjiru Kiliye Kannammaa' from Manamagal}.In all these songs referred to, she would have proved to be a tough challenger for the male voices.Particularly the song 'Aadaatha Manamum Undoe' would show a marvellous merging of the male and female voices in seamless unison and would ever remain as an impeccable song.
     The most exciting solo songs of MLV are 'Ayya Saami Avoji Saamy'{Ezhai Padum Paadu} 'Kadhavai Saathadi' {Ratha Kanneer} 'Aadal Kaaneero','Senthamizhaa Ezhundhu Vaaraayo' {both from Madhurai Veeran},'Konjum Puraave' {Thaai Ullam},and 'Kalaiyodu Kalandhadhu Unmai'{Mannaadhi Mannan}.MLV's songs with other female singers were equally popular with the audience those days.With P.Leela MLV sang the immortal song Ellaam Inbamayam {Manamagal}.She joined Radha Jeyalakshmi for the soothing number Olipadaitha Kanninaai Va Va{President Panchacharam}and with Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi she rendered  the fabulous song 'Varukiraal Unaithedi' for the great Sivaji Ganesan film Thanga Padhumai. 
    MLV would have sung the maximum number of songs in films like Raja Mukthi,Manamagal, Raja Rani,MandhirikumariThai Ullam,Maamiyaar Mechiya Marumagal and a couple of more films. The ruling voice of MLV has fittingly conquered the musical kingdom of Tamil Cinema, by her forthright grasp of lyrics and dynamic rendition of the musical notes, to the extent of making her songs, eternally fascinating.Her consistent and remarkable career of  playback singing, certainly deserved more awards than a mere Padmabushan. But her voice will be heard enchanting the ears of music lovers, with robust vibration.
   What has been said here in this brief article, is not going to supplement in any way, the status of the classical trinity of music, which has solidly established its indisputable brilliance,through peaks of performance and perfection.But it is just a modest attempt or a spec of the vast sky of the grandeur of music, perceived, rejoiced and remembered through the decades and is going to last, as long as human ears are open to the musical notes of the exalting, angelic voices.Today, we have words without music, or music without words.There are creditable lyricists and commendable music makers.But somewhere something goes wrong, either depriving the lyrics of the merit they deserve, or distracting music from the precious goals it wants to reach.There is a huge galaxy of singers with enormous potential, to reach out to the audience.Unfortunately, the end result does not outlive the period of its delivery. Under these circumstances, this article has given me a chance for revisiting the awe inspiring and resplendent relics of our traditional portals, by recalling memories of the classical trinity of music.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Male Chauvinism in Tamil Cinema..

       Among the popular themes meant for emphatic narration through the film medium, male chauvinism has been as much in focus as feminism.Tamil cinema has projected the power of feminism both vociferously and vibrantly through several films like Penn,Pudhumai Penn,Vaazhvu En Pakkam,Vaazndhu Kaatukirein and the most recent 36 Vayadhinile. In the same manner,ever since the beginning of Tamil cinema, the negative factors of male chauvinism have also been significantly and substantially portrayed as the evil face of men casting a blot on the mirrors of the family and society.The face of the male chauvinist might be that of the villain or even the hero.But cinematic imagination has never failed to expose its deplorable sight,both in long and closeup shots.
     The moment one thinks of the male chauvinist in Tamil Cinema,there appears the ruthless face of M.R.Radha either as a domineering,or as an ill-treating husband.How naturally he performed the role of a reckless wastrel and wayward husband, showing brutal indifference to the feelings of his wife, in films like Nalla Idathu Sambandham and Ratha Kanneer. Both Sowcar Janaki and Sriranjini,were found to be mere puppets in the hands of this masculine warlord.Rudeness became the synonym of Radha,in these films and he essayed these roles with a devil-may-care attitude and an itch for debauchery.
     Was it not the role of a powerful male chauvinist that he portrayed in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's most critically reviewed film Sithi?As the father of grown up children as well as a kid in that film,Radha was looking for a second wife,after the death of his first wife and brazenly married the socially disadvantaged Padmini,just for the sake of fulfilling his sexual desires.It was one of the most dynamic films of Radha and confidently did he expose the ugly face of the male chauvinist. Padmini would plead with him to escape from his chauvinistic moves and hardly would he ever budge to her pleading. As a dominating husband and wife beater, Radha was always invincible.
     Next to M.R.Radha it was the Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan, who tried to assert male superiority in quite a few films like Motor Sundarampillai,Paar Magale Paar,Baratha Vilas and Dheiva Magan.In all these films it was the impact of wealth coupled with the arrogance of being the male, that brought out the effective inner layers of his characterization.However, in Sivaji Ganesan's display of male chauvinism,one could always notice an inherent weakness of the ultimate surrender of the male to a kind of emotional cauldron, that would purify the character of the male and  evolve it into a form of dignified manhood.
      In other words what Sivaji Ganesan would largely portray as the male chauvinist, was a kind of male pride strutting and fretting and finally hitting the ground realities,through a reforming late realization.Most of the characters he played in family dramas,were those of a male patriarch, with the majesty of heading the family tree,with its roots of gentle and soft emotions ultimately getting warmed up,to a strengthening family bond.In this respect,Sivaji Ganesan's Male Chauvinist roles never failed to stamp their positive image of the hierarchic and esteemed position of the male,as the head of the family. Such a spirit of patriarchal supremacy was vibrantly reflected in the role delivery of great actors like S.V.Rengarao and S.V.Subbiah.
      R.Muthuraman,the close contemporary and intimate fellow actor of Sivaji Ganesan,also poignantly demonstrated the element of male chauvinism, by his inspiring performance in films like Veettukku Veedu,Dheivam,Sooriya Kandhi,Sondham and Raman Ethanai Ramanadi.Dheerga Sumangali was another film in which his character beautifully combined the traits of an uxorious and chauvinistic husband.As a dynamic, chauvinistic husband Muthuraman's roles always travelled between the male supremacy of Sivaji Ganesan and the male arrogance of M.R.Radha.
     Rajinikanth was seen as a repulsively erring male chauvinist in films like Thappu Thaalangal and Gayathri.Vijayakanth did such oppressive characters in films like Naane Raaja Naane Mandhiri and Amman Koil Kizhakkaale.But excepting Gayatri, in the other three movies the heroes were made to realize their negative inner self and set positive goals for a new lease of life. In Gayatri, it was the role of a confirmed, nasty villain that Rajinikanth played, indulging in a trade of  wife- selling.
    The present trends are very much against the male chauvinist.The male would not be shown as undermining the rightful claims of the female, in any field, at the cost self esteem of the female.Characters such as misogynists, sadistic males and the Casanovas, come and go on the big screen,on a selective basis.But in a civilized world, heading towards gender equality norms,feminism appears to be a more acceptable term than male chauvinism.Hence male chauvinism is doubtlessly becoming an old theme in cinema,though in real life, male chauvinists still do exist as vocally,as feminists.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Brief time Hero of Buoyancy and Style.

      Tamil Cinema was once dominated by a small group of heroes staying strong for a longer period with lasting fame and fan base.The list could be easily bifurcated as first line and second line heroes.The first position was held by MGR and Sivaji Ganesan for a quarter century to be joined later by Jai Shankar and Ravichandran. While S.S.Rajendran and Gemini Ganesan held the second place during the period of the former Sivakumar held the second position with Jaishankar and Ravichandran. Muthuraman was the second level hero both during days of MGR/Sivaji Ganesan and Jai Shankar/ Ravichandran.
     But these second level heroes also gave quite a lot of hit films as main heroes,with quality and richness in presentation.The only difference was in the fan base and the large scale audience support that went with the first level heroes.Otherwise, all these heroes had their unquestionable individual positions in the film industry and they also remained busy throughout their film career. However most of these actors could not be said to have commanded the Tamil film industry, as MGR and Sivaji Ganesan did.
    During those decades of restrictive scope to turn to be an acceptable hero, there came in the early Sixties a brand new hero of style, charm and appeal,as a refreshing breeze.In appearance,costume sense and presentation, he was a trend setting hero showing his dynamic skill in fencing, horse riding and sprightly portrayal of character.That was the most impressive C.L Anandan, who unfortunately had his brief stint as hero and was soon pushed to villain and character roles.
    After doing supportive roles in films like 'Thandhai' and 'Senkottai Singam',C.L Anandan was born as a fascinating agile hero, in Citadel Films' 'Vijayapuri Veeran', directed by Joseph Thaliath Jr.The film became an instant hit because of Anandan's new appeal in body language, hairstyle, costume fitness and the speed he exhibited in horse riding and fencing.For those who were watching all the while,the unique show of MGR in royal costumes and his nimble display of mounting on horses and sword swirling,Anandan dawned on the big screen, with a new wave of dynamism.'Vijayapuri Veeran'became a box office blast and gave immense promise of a new arrival into Tamil Cinema.
    Unfortunately, the next two films 'Rathinapuri Ilavarasi' and 'Kongu Naattu Thangam' did not continue the starting magic spell of the new hero, because both the films were moderate shows.Then came the most memorable 'Veera Thiruman' from the AVM banner. With this film A.C.Thirulokchander who wrote the story for 'Vijayapuri Veeran' became a director, to continue his journey in film making for a couple decades, giving us many great films with Sivaji Ganesan as his chosen hero. 
    Anandan regained momentum and the movie became a special treat, with the scintillating music of Viswanathan Ramamurthi. Songs like 'Roja Malare Rajakumari' and 'Padaatha Paatellaam Paadavandhal' in the voices of P.B. Srinivas,P. Suseela and S. Janaki are still making rounds, soothing our ears with their  eternal  musical richness.The song 'Vethalapotta Pathini  Ponnu' rendered by TMS with a group of added voices,set a new trend in group song composition. Anandan paired with Kumari Chachu, took the film to its expected romantic heights with charm and grace.The film firmly got fixed in audience frenzy and found a lasting place in the archives of Tamil Cinema.
      After this film there was another period of lull because the nearly half a dozen films of Anandan that followed 'Veera Thirumagan' did not do any miracle at the theaters.Films like 'Sengamala Theevu','Neeyaa Naanaa','Kubera Theevu','Kaattu Maina','Naanum Manidhan Thaan' and 'Magale Un Samathu' were mere additions of numbers into Tamil Cinema.Soon this small time hero of style and charm, was sidelined and was compelled to move to character or villain roles.As his stout body form was fitter for villain roles, he did more villain roles or that of a villain's  henchman .He had acted in Jai Shankar's films 'Yaar Nee','Ponnu Maappile''Athai Magal','Manasaatchi' and 'CID Shankar'. 
    He also appeared in Ravichandran's'Edhirigal Jaakiradhai' 'Ninaivil Ninraval','Naangu Killaadikal' and'Moonrezhuthu' Interestingly, Ananadan who initially appeared to be an alternative for MGR in royal roles, was found to play either villain or character roles in MGR films like'Thani Piravi' and 'Neerum Neruppum.' Later Anandan also appeared in Rajinikanth films such as 'Naan Potta Savaal' 'Thanikkaattu Raja' and 'Adutha Varisu'. He also appeared in a character role in Vijayakanth's 'Sendhoora Poove'.Action King Arjun's'Thaaimel Aanai' was the last film of this small time hero.
     Be it a hero or villain or character actor,C.L Anandan hardly failed to stamp his image as an exclusive actor of style and charm. His sharp looks,alluring smile, awesome speed and lively delivery of roles, never failed to make indelible impressions.This exceptional actor would ever stay strong in the memories of those, who had a chance to see him as hero on the silver screen.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sridevi,the Subdued Charmer


       Among Tamil heroines Sridevi was the rarest among the rare.She was a combination of Savithri,K,R,Vijaya,Lakshmi and Sri Vidhya in her looks and manner of acting.Absolute feminine grace and subdued charm were synonymous of Sridevi.Starting her career as a child artist in 1969 with M.G.R's Nam Naadu and Devar's spiritual film Thunaivan {as Lord Muruga},Sridevi made her cutest innings in Tamil cinema.She again appeared as Lord Muruga in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's Aadhi Parasakthi and as Lord Krishna in P.Madhavan's critically acclaimed film Sabadham. She then went on to act in a number of Tamil films as a child artist of which En Annan,Babu,Bharatha Vilas,Kula Vilakku,Vasantha Maaligai  Kanimuthu Papa and Agathiyar were remarkable shows.
      Like Kamalahasan,Sridevi also continued her prominent demonstration of role play on the big screen, from childhood till date.As a heroine her first appearance was in K.Balachander's Moonru Mudichu in which both Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth made their first dynamic joint parade {after Rajinikanth's meek debut appearance in K.B's Aboorva Raagangal starring Kamalahasan as hero},with Rajini taking the lead in a negative role.With this beginning, Sridevi went on to become one of the brilliant pairs of Kamalahasan sharing effective screen space with him, in most popular films like Padhinaaru Vayadhinile,Manitharil Ithanai Nirangalaa ,Kalyana Raman,Saaindhaadamma Saaindhaadu,Meendum Kokila, Guru, Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu, Sigappu Rojaakkal,Vaazhve Mayam, and the award winning  Moonraam Pirai. Incidentally Sridevi was the only heroine who had acted in maximum number of films with Kamalahasan.With Rajinikath,her great entries were Gayathri,Dharma Yudham, Adutha Varisu,Pokkiri Raja, Thanikaattu Raja,Ranuva Veeran,Johnny and Naan Adimai Illai. In the other film Priya, though Rajinikanth was the hero,she was not paired with him.
      Later she was also seen with Sivaji Ganesan in films like Pattaakathi Bhairavan,Sandhippu Vishvaroopam Pilot Premnath and Kavariman.What is distinct about this voluminous actress is the fact that she  not  only remained as a South Indian top star during a particular period but also moved to Bollywood to carve an incomparable celluloid space for herself, in the line of her South Indian predecessors Vaijayanthi Mala,Padmini, Rekha and Hema Malini.In fact, her Hindi films are more than those in Tamil.But she has made a special contribution to Telugu Cinema by her more than ninety films.In contrast her Malayalam films were perhaps one third of her Telugu movies and her least participation was in Kannada films.
   Tamil Cinema last saw her in Vijay's 'Puli'in the role of a queen under a negative spell, making her look like the notorious witch Bellatrix in the Harry Potter series.Even here, her performance was really captivating with the charm of evil that the character demanded.The extraordinary thing about this fabulous star, was the eternal presence of feminine grandeur, truly personified.Her only drawback was the kind of voice she had,that would make it an ordeal for her to make emotional outbursts.But in reflecting modesty and exquisite poise she always remained unbeatable.Though she quit Tamil Cinema long back to hit larger fame and fortune in Bollywood,she would ever remain as the dream girl of Tamil Cinema too.Her loss is sudden but her position as a luminous star will ever glitter in the firmament of Indian Cinema, with the pages of film history speaking of her inimitable glory.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

S.A. Asokan,An Actor of Decibel and Dynamism.

    Among villains of early Tamil Cinema,no one would have been so loud as S.A. Asokan in articulating words of villainy. No doubt M.N.Nambiar also used to increase his decibel here and there. P.S.Veerappa felicitously performed his bad roles with his crude looks and serial serpentine laugh. S.A.Asokan with his hefty body and high profile appearance, came into Tamil Cinema during the early Nineteen Fifties and enjoyed the loudness in his voice as his potential trait of villainy, reflecting detestable fury on his face.May be he had to cleverly manipulate his voice vigor because he had a pair of eyes as obvious indicators of compassion and love.It was his soft looks that made him perform character roles in a much better way than the other two villain actors.
    The magnitude of Asokan's voice was a piece of challenge to the ears of audience in films like Veera Thirumagan, Kaaval kaaran Adimai Penn and Rickshakaaran. As a henchman of M.N.Nambiar,the irredeemable villain of the film Kavalkaran,I still remember how Asokan would angrily shout at his master who betrayed him.The way he loudly uttered the name 'Marudhachalam'{that was Nambiyar's name in Kavalkaran} is still echoing in my ears.The decibel that he created as a villain in Adimai Penn was exceedingly characteristic of his villainy.Perhaps it is the innate fury in his voice that enabled him to perform evil, mythological characters such as Dhuriyodhana and Soorapadman in the films Karnan and Kandan Karunai. Asokan's voice blasted in the theaters especially, while watching the film Kandan Karunai.
    But this guy could also perform villainy with an exemplary sense of humor in films like Naan, Moonrezhuthu,Namnaadu, Neelagiri Express and Vairom. Humor-prone villainy not only reduced the loudness of his voice but also changed the profile of the villain, that he played.He would deliver dialogues in a sweet coated way and crush his traitors and enemies.In most of his later movies Asokan demonstrated  the strength of his villainy through this fresh dimension. 
    Asokan became an inseparable part of quite a number of MGR films.He not only did the character of a baddie but also adorned roles such as MGR's father {Dheivathai&Thanipiravi} father-in-law {Panakkaara Kudumbam} and elder brother {Thaai Sollai Thattaadhe, Kudumba Thalaivan & Thaaiku Thalai Magan}.Even in these roles he usually stood on the wrong side,waiting to be corrected or at times even killed by the hero. Asokan also did subtle villain roles in films like Kannan En Kaadhalan, Sange Muzhangu and Thedivandha Mappillai. Besides acting with MGR, he also produced a couple of MGR films like Thalaivan and Netru, Inru, Naalai.
    But Asokan was not always a villain.In royal roles, he was always dynamic as the Chola King in Paarthiban Kanavu and as the Chalukya King Pulikesi in Kanchi Thalaivan.He was a chic police officer in perfect form, in films like Aanandha Jodhi,Naan Anaiyittaal and Kuzhaindhakkaaga.His mysterious role play in the most popular thriller movie Adhe Kangal from the AVM banner, was a different character assigned to him and he performed it as impressively, as he did the other roles.
   Who can forget his role as hero in Modern Theatres' Vallavanukku Vallavan' in which Gemini Ganesan starred as villain.He also came as hero in the film Idhu Sathiyam paired with Chandrakantha,an actress with expressive eyes and ability to deliver Tamil dialogues with force and clarity. Some of the character roles he performed were as the elder brother of S.S.Rajentan in Manapandal and as Gemini Ganesan's elder brother in Paadha Kaanikkai.In both the films he was taken to bad ways and then reformed.He was also seen singing songs in the voice of T.M.Soundarajan and P.B.Srinivas. Songs such as 'Oer Aayiram Paarvaiyile' Udalukku Uyir Kaaval,'Sathiyam Idhu Sathiyam'and 'Veeduvarai Uravu'are not only thoughtful, philosophical melodies, but also valuable musical treasures of Tamil Cinema. 
      One of the unforgettable roles he performed was as Dr. Gopal, the soulmate of the hero Sivaji Ganesan, in A.V.M's Uyarndha Manidhan. It was a film wherein both the friends would love the same girl;but once Asokan comes to know that his love is one sided, he gulps the disappointment at one stroke and remains as the steadfast friend of the hero till the end.At one point in a drunken mood he would say "the day I came to know that Paarvathi was not to be there in my life, my heart became void and started beating like an old unusable watch" and that was usually, one of the most meaningful dialogues to be heard, only from a hero's mouth, in Tamil Cinema.
   Asokan has acted in a vast number of films with MGR,Sivaji Ganesan,Gemini Ganesan Jai Shankar and Ravichandran. Later he also did a couple of films each with Rajinikanth {Billa&Thee} and Kamalahasan {Ram Lakshman&Savaal} I would have seen a lot of his films.It is not necessary to record all the films here, because surpassing the number of films,the fact remains that Asokan is not just an actor of loud voice but is made of very many layers of action, hitting the roots of a galaxy of characters and capable of alluring the audience with eternal charm, style and steam. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Two Young Playback Singers with their Clarion Voices.


     The new age of Tamil Cinema can be proud of its position in a vast variety of its form, growth dimension and sense of purpose.It has achieved a state of magnificence in its musical appeal with a plethora of music composers and playback singers,occupying the center stage. This blog has already provided ample scope for the rightful recognition of great talents in the field of music, who have glorified the Tamil film industry ever since its inception.It includes a commendable list of music directors starting from G. Ramanathan and singers from M. K. Thiagaraja Bhagavadhar and T.R.Mahalingam. There are also articles adoring many of the enchanting women playback singers. 
   The early decades of Tamil Cinema, did not find a high inflow of talents into its fold on account of the fact,that both the stage and the screen were considered to be undesirable avenues for display of talents, due to conservative tendencies prevailing as mind blockers.In fact, most of the creative areas reflecting a socializing mindset, were treated as taboos.Nevertheless, there came into being a powerful body of creative human beings, giving a huge thrust and considerable impetus to the growth of drama and cinema. Music played its biggest role in supporting the growth trajectory of Tamil Cinema.
     As the film industry grew, it began to receive more and more participation of persons in the relevant areas.The number of music directors and playback singers increased correspondingly, so as to yield refreshing tunes with competitive vigor.With the birth of the new millennium accompanied by the technology boom, the focus on film music began to grow by leaps and bounds, with a variety of voices capable of delivering vocal dynamism with lyrical clarity and nuances in voice modulation.
   There are today loud and clear voices,soft and shrill voices and those that soothe and pierce.This blog has already given due credit to new wave singers like Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan,Unni Krishnan and Udit Narayan  besides paying floral tributes to old time singers and their close followers like K.J.Yesudas, S.P.B, Mano and Unni Menon. Among the new comers there are two youngsters with  considerable age difference between themselves, who have made their clear voices talk to the soul of the audience, with their musical grandeur. They are Karthik and Haricharan, of whom the former is older by seven years than the latter and made his entry into Tamil playback singing, three years before his junior.
      Karthik who  sang his first song in the film 'Star', under the auspices of the Oscar winning A.R.Rehman, began to busily divide his time among the equally busy music composers A.R.Rehaman, Harris Jeyaraj,Yuvan Shankar Raja, Vidhyasagar, Ilayaraja,Deva and D.Imman. Haricharan who was introduced by Joshua Sridhar, with the mind blowing song "Unakkena Iruppein Uyiraiyum Koduppein"in the blockbuster film Kaadhal,has also sung for Yuvan Shankar Raja,A.R.Rehman,D.Imman,Ilayaraja and Vidya Sagar.I have brought these two young singers together, because both have beautifully brought the lyrical ecstasy of songs by their clarion voices.No one can say that they have missed words or not heard them in the clear, 'full -throated' voices of these two young talents. If Hari Charan's 'Unakkena Iruppein' has pierced our heart, so has the voice of Karthik in the song "Sakthi Kodu"from Baba for which A.R.Rehaman composed music.The other song "Maya Maya"was also an energetic number of Karthik in Baba.
     Some of the most memorable songs of Karthik are "Theradi Veedhiyil Dhevadha Vandhaa Thiruvizhaannu Therinjukko"{Movie:- 'Run'Music director Vidhya Sagar}"Suthudhe Suthudhe Bhoomi Podhumada Podhumada Sami""Kan Pesum Vaarthaikal"{ Payya and 7 G Rainbow Colony, both songs composed by Music director Yuvan Shankar Raja}"Orumaalai Ilaiyudhirkaalam"{Movie:-Gijini and song composed by Harris Jeyaraj}"Oliyile Therivadhu Devadhaiya"{Composed by Ilayaraja for the film Azhagi}July Malarkale {Film:-Bagavadhi Music by Deva} and "Maduhra Jillaa"{D.Imman's song for Thiruvilaiyaadal Arambam}
     Haricharan has also come out with quite a few invigorating songs like"Ayyayo Aanandame" {Kumki}"Paravaiyaa Porakkanum"and"Unna Ippo Paakkanum"{Kayal},both Prabu Solomon's films and for both the films, music was tuned by D.Imman.The song from Kumki mentioned here, was a paradoxical outburst of extreme joy with a negative word thrust and the way the song goes,shows how much the singer enjoys singing that song.It is one of my pet songs too.With the same vigor in voice Haricharan sings the song "Pookale Satru Oivedungal"for the film 'I'under the music composition of A.R.Rehaman, like the other soul making song "Usire Povudhu Usire Povudhu"sung by Karthik, in Raavanan and this song was also born of music composed by A.R.Rehman. Hari Charan's other notable songs under A.R.Rehman's composition are "Yei Sandi Kudhira"{Kaviya Thalaivan} and "Unmai Orunaal Vellum"{Linga}
      If Karthik mesmerized us by his song "Suthudhe Suthudhe Bhoomi"in Payya, Haricharan's "Thuli Thuli Thuli Mazhaiyaai Vandhaale"for the same film, took us on a ravishing journey of music with alluring ups and downs on the musical track.Similarly if Karthik sang the powerful "Unnaale Unnale" for the film carrying the same words as its title,Haricharan sang the heart warming song "Vaikaasi Nilave"for the same film.We were equally rejoiced over the two songs "Vizhi Moodi" and "Oh Aayiye Aayiye"sung by Karthik and Haricharan respectively for the film Ayyan.The other two vibrant numbers of Karthik and Haricharan are "Aadaatha Aattamellaam" of the former and "Thalivaa Thalaivaa" by the latter for the films Mounam Pesiyadhe and Thalaiva. While Yuvan Shankar Raja composed music for Mounam Pesiyadhe, G.V.Prakash Kumar took up the musical score for Thalaiva.
     I have mentioned here only a few songs of these two dynamic playback singers of the new age.What is special about them is their open voice and the dynamics of its clarity and characteristic reach.They sing to be heard,understood and enjoyed.They do not sing for themselves, swallowing syllables in the process of singing.They add relevant emotions to their voices and make the lyrical component of their songs carry the emotions in genuine proportion, as beautifully as possible.When one hears the song ''Yei Sandi Kudhira''one could feel the impact of a great voice like that of T.M.Soundarajan.The same impact is there in the song "Mundaasu Sooriyane"{Sanda Kozhi}that Karthik sings with Sriram. 
     The lovable voices of Karthik and Haricharan  are capable of generating both melodies and high sounding songs without spoiling lyrics at the cost of music, by any undue vocal valor or mindless voice manipulation ,during their singing process.With their clarion voices,they take us back to the glorious path of music, established by the monumental singers of the last millennium.They both have imbibed a note of modesty in their voices and it is this modesty that carries them closer to the audience, with the might of music.To conclude, the two songs of these two great singers, that I keep murmuring most of the time are,"Suthudhe Suthudhe" and "Thuli Thuli"  in Payya, a remarkable film of Karthik Sivakumar, directed by Lingusamy -- a film that will be ever remembered for its enriching musical core composed by the sweet musical heir {Yuvan Shankar Raja} of the prophet of music{Ilayaraja}.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Mascot is back on Surya's Shoulders.


       Theme of reform and tone of rebellion are not new to Tamil Cinema.We have seen it enough.But here comes the movie Thaanaa Serndha Koottam with absolute irreverence to conventional norms in narration.Dialogues and body language resort to a total devil-may-care mode.There is enough humor but nothing through the straight door.It hits characters through the back doors with a lot of subtle and suggestive strokes.Starting from the hero's introduction,many things happen belying the expectation of the audience.While one would expect Thambi Ramaiah to commit suicide it is Kalaiyarasan who does that.However the unconventional pattern of progress of events  soon leaves the audience with their comfortable guessing about the climax of the movie.
    Suriya is both a natural actor and one who can blow up his role play with substantial hero image.While he performed naturally in films like Nanda,Pidhamagan Gajini,and Perazhagan, he could roar his might in the Singam series.After some serial failures this film definitely gives him a break.He is smart enough to  take himself perfectly to role delivery both naturally and with blown up demonstrations.'The self gathered gang' as the English version of the title would go,consists of five hardcore task performers with Suriya taking up the lead,followed by the 'iron lady' Remya Krishnan and unfailing guys like Sathyan, Sendhil and Sivasankar. Each of them does a very neat job too. Yesteryear romantic hero Sudhahar as the husband of Remya Krishnan escapes notice for want of poor close up shots. Keerthi Suresh gracefully utilizes the not too much scope given for role play.Both Nanda and Vinodhini Vaidhyanadhan are compact as cops. The menacing villainy of Anandaraj has been contained by meek moments, blended with a self defeating comedy element.
   Between Suresh Chandra Menon and Karthik Muthuraman,the former is wolfish but the latter steals the sheen of the wolf.The evil of Suresh Menon and the forthright handling of evil by Karthik, as officers of the same Bureau,carries a striking note of contrast. Anirudh contributes greatly to the success of the film by his most energetic numbers and impressive background score.The song 'Sodakkumele' with the high voltage rendering by Anthony dasan is in the line of Anirudh's 'Aalumaa Dolumaa' in Vedhaalam.'Sodakku' has not only the power of music but also comes out with meaningfully worded lyrics.A special mention has to be made about the cheeky mouth of R.J.Balaji who adds an endearing momentum to the film, whenever he appears.In fact, on stage while handling the crew of this film in a program, telecast on the Sun T.V, he showed  greater strength of spontaneity and dynamism of his presence of mind
   After Naanum Rowdidhaan, Vignesh Shivan has travelled more vigorously on his pet zone of unconventional narration without losing the core factors of entertainment. Dinesh Krishnan's cinematography seems to have significantly helped Vignesh Shivan, in achieving his desired results.Here and there there are a couple of scenes leading to a slackening of tempo.But on the whole, it comes as a mascot on Surya's shoulders after a slap of the jinx.