Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bala's Throes


      Not all film makers are concerned about the pain of living.Even if they are concerned about life's deeper layers of agony, not all film makers consciously fill up their skits with solid roots of psychic turbulence, originating against  human and social disorder. K.Balachander used to move here and there to themes of human aberration and social crookedness in  his films like Avarkal, Arangetram and Thappu Thaalangal.The same Balachander delivered fine family dramas like Iru Kodukal,Bama Vijayam and Poovaa Thalaiyaa  and clean movies like Punnagai,Velli Vizha and Kaviya Thalaivi. His sense of humour was compact in several films like Edhir Neechal and Bama Vijayam. But some film makers can hardly extricate themselves from the pressures and pangs of the wrongs of life,of whom Bala leads the others by his consistent focus on the depressing social realities.
    Starting with his famous film Sethu that gave Vikram his sobriquet Chiyan,Bala has trodden on the thorns of life as an unpretentious builder of sordid towers on the big screen. Sethu narrated the sad tale of a rugged and macho youth making aggressive overtures to a timid and orthodox girl and both falling victims to the villainy of fate,thy guy being pushed to a mental asylum after a brutal attack by anti social elements and the girl committing suicide caused by depressions of untold love and anguish over her mentally deranged lover. It was a heart rending film, passing through phases of  robust routine of college  students,rare depiction of romance and crude villainy throwing the hero into unpremeditated madness .
   The most redeeming factor of the film was Ilayaraja's music.Both the piercing number Enge Sellum Indha Paadhai and the vigorous Gana Karunkuyile energetically choreographed for the dance sequence of yesteryear dancer Jothilatchumi formed an integral part of the immortal film.For that matter, all songs in the film were good. Besides securing several awards,Sethu became a tremendous success and  paved the way for Vikram  transforming into a specially performing actor. 
    Bala's next film Nanda was a pathetic narration of patricide on provocation, caused by filial devotion to mother and revolt against domestic violence.It was a great opportunity for Surya to prove his extraordinary mettle as an actor and he made the best use of it.The worst part of the story was that the mother for whose sake the son killed his father, hated her son for his brutal act.The hatred continued even after the son was let off from the reformatory after the stipulated period of juvenile confinement.The disowned son turned into a thug and finally met his end in the poisoning hands of his mother and dying in her lap.The significant comic relief provided by Karunas,could not in any way bring down  the tragic intensity of the theme and its tormenting narration.This film was also an award winner.
     Pithamagan the third film of Bala inducting the heroes of his first two films, was the story of an undertaker and a delinquent youth, both meeting in jail and developing deeper layers of friendship,much of it going unsaid.Both the heroes performed very well and Surya's beaming show of banter and mischief in association with Lila, created some exciting moments of film watch only to culminate in the most unexpected and gory death of the former in the hands of a born criminal {performed by Mahadhevan}.Vikram's partial underplay of emotions followed by bouts of ferocity, made his character evolution,a unique  process and consequently the whole movie got pushed up to an unusual category, to become eligible for awards.
     Bala's other film Naan Kadavul,a traumatic tale of enforced beggary under the inhuman clutches of its operators as profiteers, coupled with the nightmarish fact of the hero being an aghorie {performed impressively by Aarya}was a disturbing saga of human suffering,Only an audience with  a selective frame of mind  could withstand the horrid terrains of cruelty and gruesome social disorder, possessing the big screen. Bala's poignant perception of the  human and social deformities has proved to be an onslaught on the psyche of the audience despite the fact that Bala is so true to his creative purpose of exposing the darker side of life.Like the earlier films of Bala,Naan Kadavul also won awards. 
    Among  his other films like Avan Ivan,Thaarai Thappattai and Paradesi,the first one had a lot to reflect on the side of human deviation such as bigamy, half brothers and the murkier dimensions of the mind, with adequate additions of abnormal comedy.Both Arya and Vishal brought credit to their acting, though the latter outperformed the other,looking different with a deformed eyesight. Thaarai Thappattai was a horrid story of the street dance performers and their umpteen sufferings, ending up in the death of the female protagonist. Paradesi is a burdensome tale of bondage, taking us back to the pre independence years, with atrocities  of suppression and forced conversion dominating the scenario.It is a Dickensian kind of narration of poverty and mindless exploitation of the underdogs.This film was also an award winner. While Sasikumar and Varalakshmi Sarathkumar made their characters stay in memory in Thaarai Thappattai, the young Adharva struck a perfect note of involved role delivery in Paradesi, in the line of his unique actor father, Murali.
    Bala's latest film Naachiyaar has come out as an impressive action show, taking singer-cum actor G.V.Prakash Kumar to exuberant levels of acting.It is surprising that Bala's films could also be entertaining with energizing action segments.So breezy and beautiful is Bala's  narration that I could find myself travelling through the narration scene by scene.The film deals with the now prevalent rape conundrum afflicting women, not excluding even minor girls and kids.Bala has approached the issue in a different perspective,depicting the grandeur of innocent, all giving love of a teenager, in contrast to the dirtiest, sex oriented mindset of a rotten section of the male.
    My only grudge against Bala here, is that the titular, best performing woman Jyothika,could have been given some more space to steal a greater show of her talent capable of expressing emotions, in their authentic and characteristic pattern.However,being an ardent, action film watcher, I would rate Naachiyaar as the most vibrant of all the films of Bala, because the negative side of humanity is far less shown here, than in his other films.
    On the whole,Bala has been fledged with distinct wings to fly into zones forlorn by most other film makers.It needs greater courage to consistently stick to the Macabre mode choosing a variety of themes that could hardly leave the audience undisturbed.Getting awards for one's films almost every time is also not an easy task.The all pervading tone of irony and pungent satire projected through the dialogues of his films is another asset of his peerless stamp of creativity.Above all,the fact remains that Bala's throes are born of the inner urge to expose the evil side of humanity without any excuses.It is equally true that he devoutly throws the throes into the heads of his specially targeted audience, to keep them perpetually awe struck and unnerved.It is like passing the pain to others, at their preference.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Sterling Younger Brother of Sridhar

                                                     { Homage to C. V. Rajendran.}


       C. V. Rajendran,one of the stylish Tamil film makers, is no more.His elder brother C.V.Sridhar who was associated with Tamil Cinema as a story and dialogue writer from 1954, directed and released his first block buster film Kalyana Parisu in 1959.Among his entries as a story and dialogue writer,Enga Veettu Mahalatchumi,Yaar Paiyyan,Amara Dheepam and Uthama Puthiran were very successful and their success was also due to the weight of his story and dialogues. C.V.Rajendran first joined Sridhar's creative crew, as an Assistant director for the famous Hindi film Dil Ekh Mandhir and worked in this capacity for nearly half a dozen films starting from Nenjam Marappadhillai to Nenjirukkumvarai, directed by Sridhar. Then C.V.Rajendran independently directed his first film Anubhavam Pudhumai, starring R.Muthuraman and Rajashri.
     Like his brother Sridhar,C.V.R was also fond of the acting calibre of Muthuraman.But unlike his brother who gave greater preference to Muthuraman than Sivaji Gabesan,and did a couple of films with MGR too, C.V.Rajendran never worked with MGR but soon shifted his focus on the Chevalier and went on to make more than a dozen films with him,starting from Galaattaa Kalyaanam to Vaazhkai. C.V.R's most prominent films with Sivaji Ganesan were Galaattaa Kalyaanam {remake of a Malayalam film},Raja,{Hindi Johnny Mera Naam}Needhi{Hindi Dushman}En Magan{Hindi Be Imaan} Sivakamiyin Selvan{Hindi Aaradhanaa}Vaani Raani {Hindi Seeta Aur Geeta}Unakkaaga Naan{Hindi Namak Haraam}Ponnoonjal, Manidharil Manickam, Sandhippu {Hindi Nazeeb} and Vaazhkai{Hindi Avataar}.His less popular Sivaji Ganesan films were Sangili{Hindi Kaalicharan} and Thiaagi. It is the unprecedented victory march of this duo that made me include C.V.R's contribution in my earlier article 'The Main Makers of Sivaji Movies"posted in my blog some time ago.
     C.V.R's other memorable films were Pudhiya Vaazhkai,Veettukku Veedu {both with Jai Shankar and Muthuraman},Maalai Sood Vaa, Ullaasa Paravaikal{both with Kamalahasan} Garjanai {with Rajinikanth}Raaja Veettu Kannukutti,Anand{both with Prabu}and Chinnappadas with Sathyaraj.One could find A.V.M Rajan and Muthuraman in quite a few well known films of this sleek director.The distinct dimension of C.V.R's  art of film making was the inclusion of  slapstick comedy and rib tickling romance blended with moderate action quotient.As a Sivaji Ganesan director,he carefully avoided the element of sentimental melodrama of A.C.Thirulogchandar,the sober sensibility of P.Madhavan and the family emotions of A.Bhimsingh.
     As most of C.V.R's films on Sivaji Ganesan were Hindi remakes,his filming process was almost a ready made journey and what he had to do was to add some Tamil cultural substance to his tone of narration. His inherent skills of film making were explicit through his breezy touches of comedy,love and action as  beautiful moments of film watch,especially in his great films like Galaattaa Kalyaanam,Raja,Veettukku Veedu,Vaani Raani and Ullaasa Payanam. While his Nil Kavani Kaadhali{another Jai Shankar film} and Chinnappadas were casual action films, Raaja belonged to the exuberant mode. Vaani Raani was almost a street show. En Magan was a serious and sincere adaptation of the Hindi original.His unique piece of tragedy was Vaazhkai,with a genuine and realistic portrayal of events and characters. Sumathi En Sundari and Ponnoonjal were exciting tales of romance enriched by the enthralling numbers Pottuvaitha Mugamo{rendered in the captivating voice of SPB during the earliest decade of his career, for Sumathi En Sundhari}and Aakaaya Pandhalile{an immortal duet in the voice of TMS and P.Susheela for Ponnoonjal}.Unakaaga Naan was a grand show of friendship surpassing filial requirements.
      C.V.Rajendran started his career of film making in the line of his elder brother reputed for  his extraordinary concepts of love and humour. But he slowly moved from this track to carve an individual status and position for himself. Luckily a vibrant producer like K.Balaji with an innate love for remaking films from other languages,joined hands with him and they both remade more than a dozen films without letting down the core of the original or the expectation of the Tamil audience.Their team spirit  precisely reflected a perfect grasping of the thumb rules of remaking other skits and it worked out very well.Consequently C.V.R proved to be the sterling brother of Sridhar in learning the art of making films and learning to make it as rightly as possible.There is no doubt that Tamil Cinema will cherish in its archives the wonderful contribution of this great director and the fact that a world class hero like Sivai Ganesan continued to patronize C.V.Rajendran is enough proof to speak of the grandeur of this film maker, who is no more today.

Two Unique Heroes of Tamil Cinema


       To be unique is to be distinct.In every field we have distinct men and women.When I say unique heroes I mean those belonging to a specific category, not simply stamping a special path in acting, as MGR and Rajinikanth or not like Sivaji Ganesan and Kamalahasan who are known for adorning the very profession of acting, by their galaxy and grandeur of role performance.What I mean here is, some persons are different from their colleagues and coevals in an all inclusive frame, that incorporates one's parentage, family and social background, educational aspects,individual charm and then their levels of performance in a particular field.When it includes similarities, such as the spot from where they begin their career and the roles in which they are cast,it makes the comparison of such personalities more interesting and worthwhile.It is in this singular perspective, I think of bringing R.Madhavan and Arvind Swamy together on a joint focus.
     It is quite interesting to note that both Madhavan and Arvind Swamy were born the same year and same month.The former is just a couple of weeks older than the latter.Both hail from fairly well to do families.While Madhavan's parents are former executive heads of the industrial and banking sectors, Arvind Swamy's father is a noted industrialist.As far as their educational background is concerned, Madhavan is an Electronics graduate with a Masters in Public Speaking;whereas Arvind Swamy holds a US Master's Degree in international business, following his graduation in commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. However,Madhavan who grew up in Jamshedpur and Mumbai, had his school and college education in the Northern States and also holds the special pride of having undergone training with the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.Apart from their elitist background the fact remains that Arvind Swamy is an entrepreneur with a flair for modelling.Both Madhavan and Arvin Swamy share the credit of occupying the small screen in compering T.V.shows and conducting programmes such as Neengalulm Vellalaam Oru Kodi respectively.
     Though they started their career in Tamil Cinema during different periods,both were introduced with a chocolate boy image, by the ace director Mani Rathnam.While Arvind Swamy stepped into Tamil cinema at the age of 21, as the half brother of Rajinikanth in Thalabathi in 1991, Madhavan embraced the Tamil big Screen only in the new millennium {2000},straight away as the charming hero of Mani Rathnam's illustrious romance Alai Payudhe.Madhavan continued the dream boy image in films like Minnale Ennavale, Parthaale Pravasam,Jay Jay,Run,Dum Dum Dum,Priyasakhi,Ariya,Priyamaana Thozhi and so on.He also had quite a few memorable action films in his kitty, like Thambi, Edhiri, Rendu , Vettai and Vikram Vedha.Some of his unusual films were Kannathil Muthamittaal,Ayudha Ezhuthu,Guru,{all Mani Rathnam films}Anbe Sivam,Nala Thamayandhi,Yevano Oruvan, Vaazhthungal and the horror film Yaavarum Nalam.
     Arvind Swamy's initial innings were with Mani Rathnam. Following Thalabadhi,he teamed up with the aesthetic film maker, for greatly credited movies like Roja and Bombay. Both these films carried his romantic image of charm and grace which he continued later, in En Swaasa Kaatre and Rajiv Menon's unforgettable romance Minsaara Kanavu.He was also the hero of Indhira, directed by Suhasini Manirathnam. Unlike Madhavan,Arvind Swamy had frequent spells of hiatus from acting.After several years he appeared in Manirathnam's Alai Paayudhe in 2000 and again in this director's failure film Kadal.Some of the other films of Swamy like Thaalaattu and Pudhaiyal were not received well by the audience.But he was reborn again with a revitalized profile, in M.Raja's Thani Oruvan with an enchanting,negative role package.The film was a grand show and made him come back to Tamil cinema with a big bang. It was followed by Bogan in which he once again joined hands with Jeyam Ravi.
     One could see a lot of underplay and subtle ecstasy, in the performance of Arvind Swamy whether he dons the role of a hero or villain.He is ever an actor with well regulated moves in his body and a remarkable control in his utterances of dialogues.He is an embodiment of visual grandeur in romantic sequences, with the felicity of imagination governing his role play, portrayed with perfect elegance as we witnessed in Bombay and Minsaara Kanavu. There would be romantic breeze gliding through his face, reflecting a beautiful blend of shyness, innocence and consummate joy,whenever he is shown falling in love.In Minsara Kanavu,when Prabu Deva is sent to Kajole as a proxy wooer,the amount of imagined romantic vibrations that Arvind Swamy silently exhibits on his face, was a classic visual treat to the audience.As a lover Arvind Swamy certainly scores a bit higher than Madhavan, because his face becomes a map of the integrated dimensions of love.
     On the other hand, the energy levels of Madhavan are always higher. He is ever a robust performer with an aggressive and emphatic tone delivery, coupled with a kind of proclaimed macho dominance in deliberation to the extent of putting others in a spot. Even the intermittent shaking vibration in his voice, animates his dialogue delivery by creating a turbulent throbbing effect. His romantic journey is also on tough tracks never letting down his fighting instinct.It is this vital side of the romantic, that came to his grip, in films like Run and Ariya.At the same time he is equally capable of revealing the softer side of romance, delicately displayed in Alai Paayedhe,Jay Jay,Paarthaale Paravasam and Priyasakhi. 
    Besides this, Madhavan's splendour in doing the role of a police officer has been shown in two extremes, one as a chicken hearted guy in kakhi uniform in Vettai and the other, as the 'brave new heart'of the cop without wearing kakhi, in Vikram Vedha.There is ever an attitude of determination and forbearance in Madhavan, with which he takes his characters closer to the heart of the audience, as he did in Thambi and Irudhi Chutru.As a restless and self prone youth in Anbe Sivam his character had a lot to learn from Kamalahasan,the main hero of the film. The immaturity of the character he played was very much in contrast to the character of a responsible husband of an understanding wife[beautifully played by Jyothika}in Priyamaana Thozhi.These films are samples of Madhavan's capacity for travelling through different zones in acting.
     On the emotional side Madhavan could explode spontaneously, unlike Arvind Swamy whose low profile emotional show, ever remains his singular asset.Though Madhavan has tried a negative role play in Manirathnam's Aayudha Ezhuthu,he has not been that impressive as Arvind Swamy who did  his negative role in Thani Oruvan by cutely mixing venom with warmth.Both Madhavan and Arvind Swamy are reputed for their English accent and it is no wonder that recently a Whatsapp message showing Madhavan delivering a lecture in an American University went viral. Madavan's proficiency in English has enabled him to act in a couple of English films.{Inferno,Nothing but Life}.His native familiarity with Hindi, has made him do a score of Hindi movies of which Three Idiots is very popular. As close contemporary heroes of Tamil cinema,both Madhavan and Arvind Swamy belong to an elite class of actors, with their distinct attributes and performance levels, that would hardly keep them off the centre stage of the celluloid world.

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 the music prophet Ilayaraja and she subsequently made her artistic contribution to the 'Jana Gana Mana Video Album' composed by the A.R.Rehman, 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.