Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Malayalam Heroes in Tamil Cinema






















      It is a known fact, that the mega heroes of the Malayalam movie industry have now and then occupied the Tamil screen, as main heroes or shared the screen space with other heroes.The reason for this unique phenomenon, could be due to the fact, that unlike other language film institutions,Tamil film industry is more open to outside talents to play lead roles and most Malayalam heroes are more forthcoming to play lead or secondary level roles in Tamil, without allowing even their voices to get dubbed.
     Before going into the role of famous Malayalam heroes in Tamil films,it should be mentioned that  Malayalam villain and character actors have also displayed their might in Tamil cinema. Right from the outstanding Thilakan, other actors like Cochin Haneefa, Rajan B.Dev and Murali who are all no more now, have played vital roles to find a memorable place in Tamil cinema too.Besides these actors, Devan,  Kollam Thulasi, Kalabavan Mani, Saikumar, and Siddique Lal have also appeared on Tamil screen, to exemplify their acting credentials in films of another language. Among these, next to Thilakan, Kochin Haneefa  stays ever remembered for his crude role of villainy in Kamalahasan's 'Mahaanadhi' and his comedy mixed character of a thug in films like 'Kireedom' and 'Jeyam Kondan'  The most hilarious scene was in Vijay's 'Youth' in which Haneefa was seen arguing in a drunken mood with Vivek, that the bar in T.Nagar, in front of which they both were standing, was the bar in Vadapalani and he was also found chiding the auto driver for driving so fast from T.Nagar to Vadapalani, when the auto had not really  moved from the T.Nagar bar.
       Murali  whose voice was usually dubbed, played effective character roles in 'Dum Dum Dum' 'Gemini' [as a warm and friendly Police officer] and 'Adhavan'. He was very much compact as a deceptive villain in Vijayakanth's 'Rajjiyam' in which Malayalam hero Dileep also appeared as the dumb and deaf younger brother of Vijayakanth. Whereas, Kollam Thulasi {Vikram's'Arul'] Saikumar [ in Sarathkumar's 'Arasu' and Arunpandian's' Devan'] and Siddique Lal  [notably in Lingusamy's 'Sandakkozhi' Ezhil's 'Deepavali' Vijayakanth's Enga Anna and Simbu's 'Kaalai' ] have acted only as villains. Devan  and Rajan B.Dev were seen in a few films with the latter making an impact in P.Vasu's 'Vaimaye Vellum' as Parthiban's rude, police father and as a noisy father of daughters in movies like 'Love Today' 'Kushi', and 'Periya Idathu Mappilaai'. Kalabavan Mani has struck a note of popularity by his distinct style of performance in films like Gemini,Puthiya Geethai Bose and Yei. 
    It was Prem Nazeer  the ever green hero of Malayalam screen, who first moved closer to Tamil cinema. He was a favourite  actor of the Tamil movie makers and the Tamil audience during the Nineteen fifties and sixties. Nazeer  became close to the Tamil audience, by acting in about a dozen Tamil movies, of which 'Thilagam' 'Thenral Sudum'Vannakkili,'Anbukkor Anni''Thangam Manasu Thangam''Thai Pirandal Vazhi Pirakkum'and 'Paalum Pazhamum' find a great place in the archives, as his best Tamil movies.He was frequently paired with Mainavathi  a popular actress, those days.He had also acted with M.N.Rajam and Raja Sulochana.  Nazeer was loved and admired for his charming looks and delicate presentation of roles assigned to him.
     Among the present day Malayalam heroes, Jeyaram  tops the list as the most utilized talent in about twenty five movies,half of them  showing him as the protagonist, followed by Mammootty mostly as the main hero. Prithviraj has done about half a dozen films as hero or villain. Mohanlal  has effectively shared the  screen space with Prakash Raj in Mani Rathnam's 'Iruvar', with Prabu  in 'Siraichaalai' with Kamalahasan in 'Unnaipol Oruvan' and with Vijay in 'Jilla'.Tamil audience saw the ever forceful  Suresh Gopi   twice on the Tamil Screen with Ajith in 'Dheena' and with Sarathkumar in 'Samasthaanam.'Suresh Gopi who is never wanting in the show of physical might,made both the roles majestic in his usual style. Mukesh  another popular Malayalam hero was introduced to the Tamil audience by K. Balachander  in his 'Jadhimalli'.After a hiatus, Mukesh was again seen in Sunder.C's 'Aindhampadai' in a meek role,neatly performed.Beyond these men, Madhu  the magnificent face of the Malayalam movie world of the last millennium, donned the role of Rajinikanth's father in 'Dharmadurai'.
    Jeyaram like Prem Nazeer, has always been a charming hero with pleasing looks and convincing levels of performance in what ever roles were offered to him.He has been paired with Kushbu in 'Murai Maman' directed by Sundar.C  'Pathini' of P.Vasu   and 'Purusha Latchanam' in K.S.Ravikumar's direction. He also played a memorable role in 'Periya Idathu Mappillai' directed by Guru Danapal.  The other memorable movies of Jeyaram as hero, are 'Priyanka','Nila' and 'Julie Ganapathi'.The greatest thing about Jeyaram  is his modesty in acting,with an ever inseparable tinge of humour.
     It is not necessary for Jeyaram to generate humour through dialogues and comic gesticulations.His eyes can display the comedy sense, besides  transmitting an enchanting level of grace.His extraordinary merit is, the innate cheering look of humour  on his face.It is impossible to think of him as a villain though he has donned villain roles in films like 'Daam Doom' and 'Saroja' .With his endearing looks,he is the best bet, for a soothing delivery of character roles and is perfectly fit for the comedy mode.Joining  Kamal's  band wagon of comedy, he spontaneously added gusto to the hilarious moments in 'Tenali' and 'Pancha Thandhiram',Jeyaram  has carried his grand comedy show as an army officer in 'Thuppaakki' with great spontaneity, as he performed the role of a college principal in a similar vein in Ajith's 'Aegan' .
     Today's mega star Mammootty,  who made his first appearance as hero in Kovai Sezhiyan's 'Mounam Sammadham' impressed the Tamil audience by his natural performance as a CBI officer without exaggerating his role in any scene.This was followed by K.Balachander's 'Azhagan' in which as a dynamic business man of the catering sector,he essayed his role with utmost conviction, besides showing his emotions with control, when he got entangled between the orphan children he was bringing up, as his own, and the three women, who were vying with one another to win his love. Between his existing commitments and the entangling romantic predicament, it was really a difficult role that he played, with dignity and grace.
     Mammootty  became closer to the Tamil soil,by acting as the venerable big wig of a significant community in Tamil Nadu in 'Marumalarchi'. As Rasu Padayachi, it was a Tamil native role he played, that too, without getting his voice dubbed.One could say that he almost lived the character.It needs a lot of guts to play such a role, with genuine understanding of the linguistic and cultural nuances of a popular community of another state and Mammootty should be complimented for his neat performance.His next grand show was in 'Anandam' as the eldest son of a joint family.Though he would have performed this type of roles in many Malayalam movies,the emotional intricacies of that role, were poignantly interrelated to familial and cultural priorities of another region.This transition in characterization  should have involved a great deal of precision in terms of dialect and social attributes and naturally he would have  faced enormous difficulties in performing that character. But, Mammootty  was true to the core, not only to the requirements of the role but also towards creating a tremendous emotional impact, on the viewers.
    Mammootty did two movies with director R.K.Selvamani, of which,'Makkal Aatchi' showed him as an innocent person indulging in petty dishonest activities,who under unforeseen circumstances had to become Chief Minister of a State and the later developments transformed him into a dedicated politician concentrating on the welfare of the State. But during this process of ennobling transformation, he had to sacrifice so many things including his love of an understanding woman, whom he wanted to marry.The climax was one of inevitable vendetta, causing the death of his lover.The second movie 'Arasial' showed Mammootty as a district collector fighting political corruption and rowdyism that made him lose his sisters. The final moments of revenge, sent him to prison though the public honoured  him for getting rid if the anti social elements. The other films 'Senior Junior','Pudhayal'.'Ethirum Puthirum' and the recent 'Vande Madharam' all failed to make a mark at the box office and in all the four, Mammootty was seen as the second hero. Fazil's' Kilipechu Kekkava' [ remake of a Malayalam film] with Mammootty and Kanaka was also a modest show.
    When it comes to comparison of the two mighty stars Mammootty and Mohanlal  of the Malayalam film industry,with specific reference to Tamil films, it should be stated without prejudice that the former is closer  to the Tamil audience not because he has acted as the main hero in about six Tamil films but because he has proved his  acting stuff as something linguistically and culturally closer to the Tamils.The four movies that Mohanlal  did as one of the two heroes, could not provide him sufficient scope, to move closer to the larger section of Tamil audience.May be, the kind of roles that Mammootty  got, did not come in Mohanlal's way, or, this wonderful talent did not give priority to the Tamil big screen as the other equally talented actor did.
    Manirathnam,the outstanding director utilized the classic stuff of Mohanlal in 'Iruvar'  after tasting the dynamic calibre of Mammootty teamed up with the Superstar in 'Thalapathi'. While the former played the role of an actor- turned politician, in the line of  MGR, the latter performed as a well meaning gangster, giving up his life for the sake of his trusted lieutenant and friend Rajinikanth. Mammootty is yet to act with Kamalahasan as Mohanlal with Rajini. Tamil audience would in fact be happy, to see more of Mohanlal's  acting in their language as they would continue to watch the robust performance of Mammootty.
    Pritiviraj is another Malayalam hero who has made himself well known to the Tamil audience, by his stylish demonstration of acting mettle,both as villain and as single hero.He first came in K.V.Anand's  'Kanaakanden' as a suave and deceitful businessman with vulpine schemes for aggrandizing wealth through usury.As a merciless moneylender, his role made a disgusting beginning in Tamil films, But his sweet essaying of roles in 'Satham Podaathe' , 'Mozhi' [ cheerfully teamed up with Prakashraj ]'Kannamoochi Enada'[ ebulliently joining hands with Sathyaraj] and Paarijaadham made him the man next door, of the Tamil homes.Meanwhile, he did another role as a corrupt police officer in 'Kutrapirivu'  sharing the screen space with  Srikanth. His other movie 'Ninaithaale Inikkum'  a remake of Malayalam 'Classmates'which also showcased him in the same character,did not become a hit.
     When compared to Malayalam heroes, their Tamil counterparts have not acted as main heroes in Malayalam movies. Kamalahasan  is perhaps the only exception in this regard.The reason might be that Malayalam film industry is not as liberal as Kollywood  is, in encouraging talents from other regions particularly when it comes to heroes.Or,Tamil heroes are not as much open as their Malayalam counterparts in using opportunities available in other languages.Of late, we could see actors like Sarath Kumar,Pasupathy, Sathyaraj  and Parthiban acting in Malayalam films, using their own voices to deliver dialogue.It is a welcome move.In a muti-lingual country like India, cinema as a cosmopolitan medium, should naturally emerge as a conglomeration of interstate film talents for reinforcing the national base, from where the regional excellence blossoms, exhibiting the glory of a growing global force, in the midst of several constraints.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

The Popular Sibling Stories.





































      A family becomes a dynamic, full fledged emotional institution only with a healthy and happy addition of children into its fold.The lateral dimensions of a family gain their actual significance with the interpretation of paternal,maternal,filial and sibling intricacies in addition to the most vital husband and wife relationship in  meaningful matrimony.But the family spirit reflects its shades of enjoyable gusto mainly with the addition of sibling fundamentals in proper form.The sibling emotional bond with its varied layers of love, competition, jealousy, rivalry,misunderstanding,and the supreme elements of flexibility and sacrifice teach every one, new lessons in the process of one's growing up into adulthood,with maturity in perceptions of human psychology, starting the process from one's home front.Every one learns happy and painful lessons from one's own blood relations as brothers and sisters.In most contexts, it is the feeling of love that overtakes all other factors The truly fulfilling aspects of the sibling core, are flexibility,tolerance and willingness to  forego material considerations for the sake of sibling unity.The spirit of sacrifice is eventually the yardstick for strengthening sibling intimacy.
      Starting from the days of MGR's 'En Thangai' and Sivaji Ganesan's 'Parasakthi  brotherly devotion to sisters particularly the younger ones has been one of the most celebrated themes of Tamil Cinema.Unlike the modern days prone to mobile ways of life, until at least the Nineteen eighties, family sentiments and sibling emotions were not only the strong driving force of life but were also the chosen scripts of films in most Indian languages especially in those of Tamil. MGR who is known for his mother attachment in films, had also acted as a loving elder brother of his visually impaired sister in 'Engal Thangam' and  his physically disabled sister in 'Ninaitathai Mudippavan'.
       For Sivaji,though his other films 'Thangai' and 'Thangaikkaga' showed him as a melting elder brother of sisters,it was 'Paasamalar' that created history as a wonderful monument of sibling bond between a mutually longing brother and sister left orphaned in childhood and made to live for each other's happiness.It was a story of exemplary fraternal formulation that could not be shaken by any external forces including their prospective spouses.The emotional pang of suffering and the level of sacrifice that the elder brother exhibited towards his sister were depicted in such a way as to bring genuine tears from the eyes of the audience as a whole.The younger sister too,did not consider anything anywhere superior to her most cherished brother's affection.Their inseparable bond of  extraordinary sibling love and concern pulled them together in death too and made them eternal models for a true sibling story.Both Sivaji Ganesan and Savithri as his sister, transported the entire audience to a platonic zone, for a short sojourn,by their stunning performance.
     Sivaji Ganesan's next successful venture that showed him as a sister- bound soul was 'Annan Oru Koil'    in which Sumitra joined him as younger sister evoking emotional responses from the audience,The song 'annan oru koilenral thangai oru dheebamanro' was heard ringing in the ears of the viewers like 'malarndum malaraadha paadhi malar pole' of 'Paasamalar'. Though the story line was not so grand as the previous one,this film also had its sentimental impact as a true delineation of brother sister love.After a few years, Rajinikanth appeared as an impressive elder brother of sisters in movies like 'Dharma Yutham','Naan Mahan Alla' and 'Payum Puli'.Malaysia Vasudevan's song 'Oru thanga radhathil oru manjal nilavu' from the first of the three, spoke of  a true brother's attachment for his sister.The depth of understanding and mutual concern between a brother and sister has most often struck the imagination of film makers as a positive energy drive.
      T.R.Rajender's 'Thangaikor Geetham' and 'En Thangai Kalyani', with Rajender himself playing elder brother in both the films,showed sibling commitment and sacrificing temper melodramatically,with the first one doing much better at the box office.As TRR mostly represented the old school of thought with regard to individual and family emotions,sentiments always carried a higher place of value in his films, driving the protagonist quite often, into a melting point .
    Among brothers,the mutually supporting frame of mind and faith in united spirit of brotherhood have been frequently focused by film makers with a view to spearheading the merits of the joint family system, as a comprehensive move, towards gaining independent goals collectively, without giving room for vested interests. Vikraman's 'Vaanathai Pola'Lingusamy's 'Anandam' and K.S.Ravikumar's 'Samuthram' were drawn in this line and all these films successfully showcased the positive results of united brotherhood rightly blended with mutual respect and mutual trust.Such a theme was depicted earlier with equal emotional thrust in films like 'Bagapirivinai','Pazhani' and 'Anbu Sagodharargal' with a brief spell of ripples in fraternal love ending up in happy reunion.
   As a brother, Sivaji was generally shown at the receiving end, especially from his male siblings.It was Balaji and Gemini Ganesan who formed the fraternal team with Sivaji Ganesan. Gemini Ganesan would be a suspicious elder or younger brother of Sivaji Ganesan in films like 'Paava Mannippu' and 'Bantha paasam' and the suspicion was always on account of circumstantial misunderstandings.Whereas Baalaaji would be either a scheming elder brother as in 'Padithaal Mattum Podhuma' 'Engirundho Vandhal',and 'Vasantha Maaligai' or an unruly younger brother as in 'En Thambi'.This kind of sibling inconsistencies would constitute the plot with an awesome scope for emotional outbursts, creating captivating sentimental melodramas.The story line would consist of greed for money and family assets,fancy for the girl who has been proposed for his brother or attempting to brand the brother as a disgrace to the family..Balaji used to deliver these negative characteristics with habitual ease and Sivaji Ganesan as the pathetic victim,would steal the hearts of the audience by his spontaneous emotional deliberations besides his portrayal of goodness, reforming the bad in his brother.
    MGR was perfect as the younger brother of  S.A.Asokan in films like 'Periya Idathu Pen' 'Kudumbathalaivan', and 'Thaikuthalaimagan'. In all these movies, MGR would be an amenable son and brother,with a flexible mindset to give in to the pressures of his elder brother, at the same time, upholding his own individual values of integrity and quest for justice.The team spirit and understanding between MGR and S.A.Asokan facilitated their joint show not only as hero and villain but also as affectionate brothers.Some of the movies of MGR and a few of Sivaji Ganesan showed brothers separated in childhood by the foul play of villains, getting reunited later in their life to launch a joint course of revenge against the offenders.MGR's 'Kudiyirundha Koil' and'Naalai Namadhe' and Sivaji's 'Raaja' were a few remarkable films in this list.The later additions in this list were Balu Mahendra's 'Neengal Kettavai' and Kamal's 'Abborva Sagodharargal'
     Lingusamy recently came out with a different sibling story line in his 'Vettai' with a lot of positive energy that the dynamic director is capable of. It was an enticing narration of the tale of two brothers,the elder one, a born coward and the younger, an unending fountain of courage and bravery.From their childhood,the younger one would save the elder by fighting with those who troubled the elder.Subsequently,when the younger brother was beaten by the father,the elder would cry.Imagine the elder turning into a police inspector on compulsion and shivering ever,in his boots.The follow up is,the younger brother would toughly deal with all the thugs and the credit would go to the police, elder brother. Finally, under enforcing circumstances,the police inspector had to transform himself into a man of bravery and it was the younger one who emboldened the police uniform with its most wanted brave stuff. The movie was a great fun to watch and Lingusamy takes the full credit for telling a sibling story with  pomp and power.Director Bagyaraj had of course dealt with a similar theme in his 'Avasara Police 100' but it was a story of twins, one, a fear struck police officer and  the other a street rowdy but the roots of sibling intimacy were not deeper or emotional as in 'Vettai'.
   While Kamalahasan, has not so far got into the emotional entanglement of sibling stories,Rajini,like Sivaji,not only loved his screen sisters and brothers but also performed as a sacrificing elder brother in quite a few movies.From 'Aarilirundhu Arubadhuvarai' Rajini continued to portray such noble characters in 'Padikkadhavan' and 'Darmadurai'.In all these films, the younger brothers were selfish and greedy bringing moments of agony and depression to the one who did everything for them.However, the goodness in the protagonist won over their negative projections and made them surrender to goodness in the end .Arjun's 'Ezhumalai' also described the story of ungrateful younger brothers teasing and ill treating their elder one whose  exemplary spirit of understanding and sacrifice finally redeemed them from ruin.
  The invaluable traits of nobility and sacrifice, were also evinced by intimate sisters, in films like 'Kalyana Parisu' and 'Bagyalakshmi'.K.S.Gopalakrishnan's 'Kulavilakku' presented the sorrowful tale of an eldest sister sacrificing her lot for the sake of her younger siblings. K.Balachander continued this kind of script for his two movies 'Arangetram' and 'Aval Oru Thodar Kadhai'.The former showed the eldest daughter taking to prostitution, to support her siblings and the latter told the sad story of a dedicated elder sister, sacrificing even her marriage with her lover, for the sake of her sister.
  The sibling stories are many and their impact on society is vast.But in an  age of globalization,the world has become one's home and the smaller home that has been inherited, remains as a resort for periodical visits. Mankind today, is actively searching for newer definitions of family emotions and sibling concepts, through its chosen websites and through the most popular Facebook.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

C.V.Sridhar's Sterling Face of Romance



















                                                                                                                                      Nenjil Oer
                                                                                                                                              Aalayam











     





      Walt Whitman,the renowned American poet said  ''Every atom belonging to me as well as belongs to you''.Lord Krishna seemed to tell the hero of Chaman Lal Nahal's' My True Faces''All the faces here, are my faces and all my faces are my true faces''.The principle of oneness or non duality called 'Advaidha' is the unifying factor of the Globe.It is the spirit of love that binds humanity as one face with a variety of expressions.The changing expressions constitute the substance of diversity, as we find in the difference in treatment of human emotions like love, compassion and empathy on the positive side and hatred,greed and jealousy on the other.The supreme positive emotions and the deplorable negative emotions are portrayed differently in  various art forms especially in the audiovisual medium of cinema.Love, as the most preferred human emotion has been pictured more prominently, by most film directors through each one's aesthetic binocular vision. C.V.Sridhar,the noted Tamil film director legitimately deserves an adorable place, for idealizing the romantic experience as an exalting,reforming,cathartic and humanizing activity.
       Sridhar's directorial face of romance, was rooted to the soil of sacrifice.It always said, without openly saying, that one's love for the other,should be reinforced with the soul- sustaining layers of sacrificial tendencies The heroes and heroines of Sridhar's films, were never portrayed as aggressive characters in their understanding and expression of love.Even the choice of actors to do romantic roles, showed the softer perspective of Sridhar's concept of romance.
      Right  from his first film 'Kalyana Parisu', Sridhar has dealt with the theme of sacrifice, with single- minded conviction.He has convincingly portrayed the concept of triangular love, in films of great value like,'Kalyana Parisu','Nenjil Oer Aalayam',Nenjirukkumvarai','Vennira Aadai; 'Avalukkenru Oru Manam' and 'Ilamai Oonjaladugirathu'.One of the three characters in the love game, became a loser, but won the hearts of the viewers, as the striking symbol of sacrifice.In the first of the lot,the two sisters vied with each other, in a competitive spirit of sacrifice,to give up their love interest for the sake of the other,thereby, making the hero almost a victim of their sacrificing spirit of sibling intimacy.
     In the second movie listed here,the doctor- hero, became the incarnation of sacrifice, giving his life itself to prove the platonic quality of his love. In the third,the hero had to kill himself, to prove the innocence of the woman he once loved ,before her suspicious husband ,who also happened to be the hero's close friend. 'Vennira Aadai excitingly portrayed the plight of a victim of child marriage- turned young widow, falling in love with the psychiatrist, who came to treat her mental illness and ultimately getting desolate, when she came to know that the doctor was in love with another girl.The movie showed the final predicament of the love dejected woman, choosing permanent widowhood. 'Avalukkenru Oer Manam', spoke of the nobility of  a woman who went to the extent of giving her life, in the hands of a womanizing villain, in order to protect the integrity and chastity of her lover's wife, so that, her lover's family would be saved from disgrace.Sridhar's later venture 'Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkiren' was almost a repeat of the story line of 'Avalukkenru Oru Manam'.'Ilamai Oonjaladugiradhu' youthfully described two men falling in love with the same girl .One was a stage dancer and singer and the other a doctor.Here,it was the doctor who had to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment.All these movies, were profoundly interlinked with themes of selflessness, as the base of an ennobling romantic experience.
     Sridhar was never found wanting in dealing with other intricacies of the romantic portrait.He had poignantly exposed, the risk of credulousness in romance, leading to disappointments and ruin of the victim betrayed by someone unworthy of being loved.This is what we witnessed in 'Policekaran Magal', in which the innocent daughter of an honest police man, was deceived in the name of love, by a Casanova kind of man, causing her suicide.This popular film with its powerful tragic element, was an emotionally tormenting experience for the audience.Later, K.Balachaner handled a similar theme, in his 'Major Chandrakanth'. This kind love stories, were clear indicators of the wrong choices, of the road to romantic destinations and they were also meant to uphold, the traditional values cherished for a long time .
    Family conditions forcing individuals, to relinquish love for the sake of their family members, also formed part of the delineation of romance, in Sridhar's 'Sumaithangi'.In that, it was the exploiting, selfish, family base, that shook a fine foundation of romance, between the soft- tempered hero and his lady love, with a fickle mind.The sad course of events, finally drove the hero to embrace priesthood as the right choice, in the midst of contextual vagaries.It was another unforgettable romantic face, that Sridhar unveiled.
   The usual factor of parental objection to love and prevention of lovers from getting united, also formed the subject matter of one of Sridhar's movies.No one, who had  been regularly watching the films of Sridhar, could forget 'Nenjam Marappadhillai' the enchanting love story of a wealthy Zameendar's son, with the daughter of an ordinary worker in the Zameen.M.N.Nambiyar, as the proud and formidable Zameendar,  swore that he would not let the lovers unite, any time, anywhere, on the earth. The killing of the girl arranged by the Zameendar, was followed by the death of his son.Interestingly,the unrelenting Zameendaar, lived long, to prevent the same lovers joining each other as life partners, even in their next birth.However, the old man could not succeed  in his mission this time.The theme of the film was that, true love could always regenerate and it was unstoppable.
    The lighter side of romance was breezily pictured by Sridhar in 'Kadhalikka Neramillai' and 'Ootivarai Uravu' .The comedy element superseded the romantic segment and so the tragic undercurrent running through the many romantic tales of Sridhar, was given a break, making his face of romance, cheerfully endearing.Two of Sridhar's films that I missed and want to watch are 'Vidivelli'  and 'Meenda Sorgam'.
    'Alaigal' was again a modest picture of dignified romance, with the Kannada hero Vishnuvardhan making his debut,as hero in a Tamil film..But 'Urimaikkural ' could claim a unique place, because it could change the MGR formula of love and present the mass hero, as a delicate performer of romance, in accordance with the interpretation of love as an all absorbing emotional power, that could be exercised only by those, who fell in love. Sridhar's  directorial guidelines, made MGR budge to a different dimension of displaying the basics of romance. However,Sridhar too had to compromise his idealistic yardstick for a while, and resort to shooting the physical intimacy of those making love, that had already been popular as the MGR formula of the depiction of romance. Sridhar could not repeat his success formula in his other M.G.R film Meenava Nanban which was a moderate show.The reason for this modest reach of Meenava Nanban could be due to the tremendous success of the other fisherman story 'Padahotti' of MGR that had already hit the screens with felicitous music and fiery narration.
     A comprehensive rewind of Sridhar's romantic face would automatically unfold its decent,refined and ideally integrated circuit, capable of recharging the sagging nobler side of the human mind.His portrayal of romance,firmly pushed the fire of the physical side of love, to the  back burner, in order to present love as a fine feeling, supremely riveted to the soul.For the true lover, it is the feeling of love, that beats like one's heart beat, that matters.This strong base, captured Sridhar's sterling face of romance as a radiant stuff, transmitting its rays of hope to humanity, as the Sun does to the earth.
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tamil Film Heroines of the Nineteen Nineties and the New Millennium.


      From the beginning of Nineteen Nineties,the high tech invasion of the globe,began to penetrate deeply into all systems of activities.The Tamil film making process instantly came under its productive control and influence.This facilitated a substantial reduction in wastage of time and human energy and enriched the quality of the final output.The increased levels of speed in narration and the stunning realization of audio visual effects were a corollary to the all pervading high tech grasp.As a sequel to these growing trends of dynamism,the film makers' direction shifted more to the beneficial use of technology,making human endeavour and talent in fields like acting a subsidiary requirement. The reason being, the capacity of technology can lessen,at times even hide, the imbalance and deficiency in human output.Photographic manipulations and magnifications, came to the vital support of film making. Consequently,the shortcomings in acting could also be set right, through the high tech facilities available.
       Above all, in an age of feminism, it is strangely anomalous, that women are made just glamour pieces to appease the sensual anticipation of a large section of the audience. Accordingly, the hero can be handsome or not; but the heroine should always be shown as a product of the beauty manufacturing sector.She is needed mostly for a couple of duet sequences and to be seen in a few scenes with the hero,delivering her dubbed voice now and then.This has been perhaps the plight of the heroines being driven to a state of redundancy in acting.
        Previously,only South Indian female artists would occupy the Tamil acting stage due to their proximity to the Tamil soil and its language.Except one or two, all the others gave their own voice in delivering their dialogues.When it is their own voice,the quality of intonation and emotion would be more natural and truer to the spirit of acting. But with an exodus of women talents from every where,the easy way has been to make them deliver dialogues through their proxy voices.There are dubbing artists professionally dynamic, to make voice recording not only easier but also perfectly in sync with the lip movement of the linguistically alien actors.The omission side is normally set right through long shots and other photographic loopholes so that heroines have their say,without saying anything from their larynx, to be recorded and to be heard.
      The heroines of the fag end of the last millennium, and those who started the new age are a mixed lot, from the South and from Mumbai and Calcutta. A few women escaped the onslaught of new age norms, by gaining more acting space besides fitting themselves  effectively for the glamour parade.Of these, Roja, Meena, Meera Jasmine,Kausalya, Rambha and Sneha were from the South. Kushbu Nagma,Simran ,Devayani, Suvalaksmi and Jothika were  either from Mumbai or from other regions.
     Starting with R.K.Selvamani's 'Chembaruthi',an elegant story of romance in the manner of the Nineteen Seventies' Hindi blockbuster 'Bobby', Roja was more popular as a glamour girl because she continued this trend in movies like 'Athiradipadai' 'Sooriyan',Indhu,'Veera' and 'Uzhaipaali'.She has acted with Rajini, Sarath kumar,Prabu,Prabudeva, Prashanth,Karthik and Vijayakanth. She also costarred with Mammooty in R.K.Selvamani's Makkal Aatchi' [in which she played a memorable role].Roja's brief appearance in 'Vallal' with Sathyaraj, and her telling role performance in 'Unnidathil Ennai Koduthein',deserve a special mention. However,Tamil audience will remember her only as a glamour girl.
       Meena who appeared on the big screen as a child artist in a few films including Rajini's 'Engeyo Kettakural' and 'Anbulla Rajinikanth', later became a heroine in Raj Kiran's En Raasaavin Manasile'.Interestingly after her impressive show as a child artist  with Rajinikanth,she also acted with the Superstar as his lover and wife in 'Ejaman','Veera' and 'Muthu'. She was also attractively paired with Kamal in 'Avvai Shanmugi', with Sarath Kumar in 'Coolie' Nadodi mannan and Naattaamai,with Prabu in 'Rajakumaran',with Sathyaraj in'Thai Maaman' and 'Maaman Magal' with Vijayakanth in 'Sethupathi IPS' and Vaanathai Pola, with Prabu Deva in 'Naan Iruvar and Namakkitiruvar' and with Karthik in 'Harischandra'. She too  was endowed with the glamour wings to dance with alluring costumes and steal the imagination of the youth. However,her performance in films like 'Barathi Kannamma'  'Aanandha Poongatre'  'Unnaruge Naan Irundhal'   'Porkaalam' and 'Oru Oorla Oru Rajakumari' [of Bagyaraj]was gracefully effective.  
     Kausalya who appeared first with Murali in 'Kaalamellaam Kaadal Vaazhga' is glamour- free actor who has the capacity to deliver deeper emotions in a subtle and subdued manner.Her character delineation in films like 'Aasayil Oer Kaditham','Sandhitha Velai' 'Pooveli' [which got her the Filmfare award] and 'Devan' was remarkable. Among the younger heroes ,she has costarred with Vijay, Prashanth, and Prabudeva. Presently,she is acting in smaller,character roles.
    Rambha,a glamour prototype and a fascinating dancer, though introduced early,became a sudden glamour attraction through  Sundar. C's 'Ullathai Allitha'. This film put her predominantly on the glamour side.But  she did come out with the best of her emotional side, in films like 'Raasi','Anandam' and 'Kungumapottu Gounder'.She has acted with prominent heroes like Vijay,Ajith, Karthik,Arjun, and Sathyaraj besides acting in one movie each, of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan .It is her glamour, that had its sustaining impact on the audience.
    Meera Jasmin is another young talent with acting potential and her performance in films like 'Sandakkozhi','Kasturimaan', 'Nepali' and 'Mercuripookal' needs special mention.She too has acted with Vijay, Ajith, Vishal, Barath, Prasanna and Srikanth. If  given the right opportunity and direction she will do pretty much, to prove her worth as an actor, in the line of SriVidya and Ambika.   
      Sneha's acting skill  became indisputable through her striking performance in 'Virumbugiren' 'Ennavale' 'Pathiban Knavu', 'Unnai Ninaithu' 'Autograph' and 'Pallikudam'.She is another refined actress with a sense of control on her glamour sequence and has always added grace to her performance with clarity in compre- hending  her role requirements and meeting them convincingly, without strain.Her performance has always been true to life,starting from 'Ennavale'. Her other notable films are, 'Vaseegara' with Vijay,'Vasool Raja MBBS' and 'Pammal K.Sambandam' with Kamal  and 'April Madhathil' with Srkanth.
    Kushboo  came as the Hindi speaking girl from Mumbai, to create a wave in her favour by her chubby cheeks and sanguine looks. She was especially fortunate to see many of her movies become success stories and big money spinners at the box office.Her victory march was through movies like 'Varusham16','Kizhakkuvasal', the everlasting  'Chinna Thambi' and other remarkable films like  'Bramma', 'Nadigan', 'Singara Velan', 'Annamalai' Pandian, Vedan and 'Naattaamai'.She had her acting spell equally divided between graceful glamour and creditable acting. Though her voice was dubbed,she must be complimented for learning to speak Tamil as the natives would do and settle down here with a love for the soil and its people. 
    Jyothika from Mumbai, is another value addition to the Tamil film Industry. Like most South Indian stars and like Kushboo from her home state,she too attained the status of a great actor and her borrowed voice did not become a stumbling block to her process of emoting relevantly to the scene required. Her focus was not on glamour parading.She had challenging roles in 'Chandramugi' and 'Mozhi' and she performed wonderfully as the psychologically possessed woman in the former and a speech and hearing impaired person in the latter.She also joined Kamal for a humour session in 'Thenaali'. Her characterization in films like 'Kushi','Poovellaam Un Vaasam' 'Thirumalai' and 'Dum Dum Dum' did her a lot of good. She was a perfect pair with Soorya in 'Kaakka Kaakka' Poovellam Kettuppar'  'Uyirile Kalandhadhu'' 'Perazhagan' J'illenru Oru Kadhal' and finally she became his life partner too.She is one actress who has successfully displayed an intelligent perception of her characters and her elegance in emotional scenes, has been her other salient feature.Unlike her sister Nagma, who had a brief stint in Tamil Cinema, Jothika stuck to the ground,established her position as an able performer and like Kushboo,got herself rooted to the Tamil soil.
   Simran the other Mumbai talent in Tamil Cinema,became an instant VIP here,after her first Tamil hit VIP with Prabu Deva. Besides her capacity to get into highly emotional roles for an arresting performance,she is an extraordinarily talented dancer like Vijay among men.She has been more glamour- conscious than Kushbu and Jothika,the other Mumbai stars.But this did not affect her other priorities towards making her roles a solid deal.No one can forget her best acting in films like  'Priyamanavale''Thullatha Manamum Thullum'[both with Vijay],'Aval Varuvaala',[with Ajith]'Kan Ethire Thonrinal'[with Prashanth] and her comedy show with Kamal in 'Panja Thandiram'. She has also gracefully paired with Arjun in 'Ezhumalai' and with Sarath Kumar in 'Arasu' and 'Natpukkaga.'But she did not get a chance to act with the Superstar
 Devayani from Mumbai and Suvalakshmi from West Bengal, were both known as homely figures and considered fit for characters representing traditional womanhood. Both Devayani and Suvalakshmi had a chance to do memorable roles in Director Agathiyan's films  'Kadalkottai' and 'Gokulathil Seethai' respectively. But Suvalakshmi became known to Tamil audience even before that through her catchy performance in her first Tamil film 'Aasai'  with Ajith and then her other Tamil movie 'Love Today' with Vijay. Her other creditable roles were with Murali in 'Dhinandorum' and with Prabu in 'Ponmanam'. For Devayani, it was an enduring big spell in Tamil Film industry,though she too,like  Simran, was not paired with Rajini. Nor did she get a chance to be the co star of Kamal despite acting with him in 'Thenali' and 'Panchathandhiram'. For Devayani, besides 'Kaadal Kottai',there were other hits like 'Marumalarchi' 'Soorya Vamsam' 'Vallarasu' 'Friends' 'Barathi',[for which she got the best actor award] 'Azahgi' 'Aanandam' and 'Thenkasipattinam'.She is another Mumbai star to settle down in Tamil Nadu. 
     In addition to these female film faces,there was Sangavi who acted one movie with Ajith and about four with Vijay during their early years of acting and did not continue here for long.
Trisha who has paired with Vijay as his fascinating pair in four movies,has also been beautifully paired with other heroes like Ajith,Vikram,Soorya,Jeyam Ravi,Srikanth and Simbu .Her performance in Radha Mohan's 'Abhiyum Naanum' and Gautham Menon's 'Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya' has been adjudged the best,for which she has received awards too. She needs opportunities to move beyond her ratings of grace and glamour, to heavier roles, to emote end express new dimensions in acting.
       Asin  has been the preferred heroine of Vijay and acted with him in about three movies.She has also acted with Ajith and Vikram and is known for her dancing skill and subtle portrayal of both traditional and modern womanhood. She was equally a charming pair of Soorya in Gajini. Her character in that movie was full of vivacity that ultimately ended up on a tragic note.She also did a solid role in Vijay's 'Kaavalan' With her grace, glamour and histrionic skill it is no wonder that she has been able to attract the attention of the Bollywood film makers.
     Nayantara who appeared as a modest girl in 'Chandramugi' and then in 'Yaaradi Nee Mohini' has more been on the glamour track in films like 'Yee' 'Vallavan' and 'Villu'.She has not yet got an opportunity to prove her real acting stuff. There were a line of new faces, from Aiswarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra who won the Miss World title in different years, to Sushmita Sen and Laura Dutta who became eligible for the Miss Universe title at different times.While Aiswarya acted two times each in the films of Manirathnam and S.Shankar besides doing one movie for Rajeev Menon,the other three have acted  in one Tamil film each. Abirami who acted with Arjun in 'Vanavil',with Kamal in 'Virumandi' and with Sarathkumar in 'Dost' is not to be seen in Tamil  films now.Similarly,Sandya  who acted with Barath in 'Kadal' has not been offered solid roles here. 
    Among the new entrants Amala Paul did a very good job in 'Myna',but she too has been pulled to the glamour side . Anjali whose performance was rated well in 'Angaditheru', is  becoming a glamour piece, Priyamani  who did her best in 'Paruthiveeran' seems not to be bothered about choice of characters and her scope for acting.Others like Malavika,Reema Sen, Nameetha,Hansika, Tamana, and Sreya have all filled the bill as mere glamour additions,with Anushka being a little more serious about the scope for displaying their histrionic skill.
    In the name of looking for fresh talents, the Tamil Film field is becoming alarmingly competitive, for a greater show of glamour and a higher score for the acting skill. On the whole, an impartial assessment of the films of the last decade of the last millennium, and those belonging to the first decade of the new age, would provide the spreadsheet of facts, on reduced allocation of screen space, for the participation of women as actors and the growing photographic width, to project them as physically ravishing  additions, either to compensate loopholes, or enrich the existing quality of their creative exhibits.The other spreadsheet revelation is that, barring a few movie makers, the majority of the celluloid  world is increasingly becoming male-oriented and male dominant. More over, some of the actresses themselves find it convenient, to walk through the fast track glamour gates and make easy money, rather than undergoing the acid test of acting for a name.  
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two Similar Men of Different Times.


             



















     Very short in stature but never running short of talents.Both endowed with crazy looks carrying a world of mischief and width of comedy. One is T.R.Ramachandran, the ever vibrant natural comedian, who was flying his vigorous wings, from the early Forties to the late Sixties of the last millennium.The other popular film personality is the new generation director-cum actor R.Pandiarajan who has been to us to us, an every day source of warmth, willfully projecting himself, in a nincompoop's frame of mind.
       I saw T.R.Ramachandran during my childhood days, only after he had acted in quite a few films and become famous by his own merits. It was in the classic comedy,'Adutha Veetuppen' he reached my imagination to rest there,for ever,as one of my pet actors on the Tamil big screen. How he conquers the heart of the feminist- oriented, music- loving girl next door, through a series of manipulated humour-filled situations,  was the interesting story line of that film.The hilarious scenes he did, in association with K.A.Thangavelu  and his wordy war with Anjalidevi, were the special attractions of that movie.The other comedy super hit film in which he acted along with Sivaji Ganesan,was Manamagan Thevai. The film showed him as the ladies' hostel warden with his usual reflection of nincompoop characteristics showing him as a great performer.His frequent bouts of a peculiar brand of serial laugh, was an added attraction of his character, in that film.
      I continued to visit T.R.R on the screens, of the touring talkies and theatres in my small town.Some of the other roles that made me remember him were, his playboy role in 'Padikkadha Medhai',with scant regard for his father[played by S.V.Rengarao ] ,the villain role he did in 'Iruvar Ullam' [a Sivaji Ganesan film],and the humorous father role [as Saroja Devi's father Punnaakku Punyakodi] in 'AnbeVa'm [the only MGR movie under the AVM banner].Then came the most successful 'Saadhu Mirandal' in which he literally made everyone understand,that smallness and softness have their stronger side too and being soft should not be misconstrued as being weak.In other words, he made the maxim 'small is powerful' a living reality.
     Strangely,I saw his big hits 'Sabapathi' an early forties' release and 'Vaazhkai' released in the late forties, only after his death,that too on the small screen at home.Both these movies came from the mega AVM production house and in both TRR was uniquely appealing as an actor of distinct stuff, blending humour and sobriety at equal length. It was in these two films, he struck my imagination like Pandiarajan, who became fascinating in his very first movie 'Aanpaavam' with his naive jokes.But the major point of difference between the two actors is the frequent use of broken English used by T.R.Ramachandran to show him big and the half-baked jokes of Pandiarajan to claim his supremacy.But they look almost alike, in their helpless blinks, whenever they are exposed and their wits cornered..My last visit of TRR  at the theatre was in 'Thillana Mohanaambal' as a dance assistant of Padmini and he performed it with meekness and dignity.
      Pandiarajan was a striking contrast with Sivaji Ganesan and Sathyaraj in 'Muthukkal Moonru' in appearance and stature. That itself was a contributory factor to the feel of comedy in an  otherwise serious film.This small but strong actor gave us creditable movies like 'Kadhanaayagan' 'Oora Therinjukitten' 'Gopala Gopala' and 'Paati Solla Thattaadhe'.He has recently been occupying small but significant comedy portions  in films like 'Vaseegara',  'Giri  'Enga Anna'.'London' and 'Perarasu'. Pandiarajan like T.R.R, has also tried a villain role in 'Anjaathe'.As a sub-inspector of police, Pandiarajan gave a humorously vibrant role in the latest Vijay block buster 'Velaayudham''.Both TRR and Pandiarajan,as actors of unusual standing, have displayed acting stuff, that has surpassed their size and structure.They belong to different times.But they are similar men in their looks and acting styles.
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Brief Time with Hindi Cinema






























            Bollywood is the biggest film industry in India.Hindi films have always dominated Indian Cinema both in terms of investment and entertainment quotient.Hindi films are popular throughout India and people of all other Indian languages, have always shown a great fancy for Hindi films because of their exquisite quality of output.Even four decades ago, when the Indian film industry suffered from financial constraints it was the Hindi production houses that would venture to move out of India for shooting scenes abroad. Competitive zeal and commercial viability have ever remained the positive factors of Hindi Cinema.
         My enthusiasm has not been that strong as far as Hindi films are concerned.I would have watched only about a score of Hindi movies during my entire span of film watching, spread over a period of five decades. Whereas, I would have viewed not less than one thousand movies on the whole.It was my elder brother who first introduced me to Hindi Cinema.He took me [when I was a boy of fifteen years] to a local theater to watch the film  'Mere Mehboob' starring Rajendrakumar and Sadhana. That was a clean movie narrating the beautiful story of a guy in love with a girl whose face he had not seen because her face was always hidden in the traditional burkha .Though it was a pain to watch a film without knowing its language,the over all impact of the movie could be felt by tracing the missing link through a process of imagination and logic of coherence.Besides,it was  a matter of pride those days, to tell  friends that one had seen an English or Hindi film ,So it was an exciting experience to begin with.
         I stood again indebted to my brother for taking me to two more Hindi films 'Love in Tokyo' starred by Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh and 'An Evening in Paris' with Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore leading the show.Both these films were of the extraordinary category, because, they were completely shot abroad.For people who could not move out of their local town to see the rest of the zones of their own state or country, this was an amazing opportunity, to see counties that they would hardly be able to visit in their life.That too, for a throw away price.The movies were enjoyed and talked about .The enjoyment was greater when they were talked about, than when they were watched .It gained more friends to talk to and talk about Hindi films.The circle of friends got widened, because, the eligibility criterion was reached.
      I became fledged, to fly to theaters on my own, and watch Hindi films of my own choice.Meanwhile, a friend and colleague of mine, began to inspire me more in this new direction.The way he talked about Hindi stars and directors, was of an enlightening kind. He would talk endlessly of Sanjeev Kumar,Shatrughun Sinha and villain actors like Pran,Prem Chopra,Premnath and so on.He was not only my friend but also my 'philosopher and guide' in telling me which movies were worth watching and he would do that only after careful reviews of movies.He was a voracious reader of magazines too and he would tell beforehand which movies would be box office hits and which would be dampeners.His knowledge of the production houses was so erudite, that I decided to blindly follow his movie path.
    Both of us would frequent theaters nearer to his brother's house for a night show, so that we could easily adjourn to the nearby sleep spot, get up early the next day and report to work.We saw 'Sachai' of Sanjjev kumar and Shammi Kapoor and 'Jugnu' of Darmendra. Our next visit was to see 'Johnny Mera Naam' the famous DevAanth movie, directed by his brother. I was introduced to Hemamalini on screen for the first time.The subtle acting dimension of .Dev Anand was again watched in his' Hare Rama Hare Krishna'. Then came the historic love story 'Bobby' produced by Raj Kappor and acted by his son Rishi with Dimple Kapadia. I saw it three times, after watching it first with  my friend. This was immediately followed by 'Yadhon Ki Baarat', the racy revenge film. Both these movies were silver jubilee hits,even in my small town.
    My theater trips with my well informed friend, continued to benefit me with a few more fascinating films like Shammi Kappor's [and Rajesh Khanna in a brief role] 'Andaaz', Rajesh Khanna's 'Aaradana', and Sasi Kappor's  'Aa Gale Lag Ja',' and 'Sharmilee'. Later, 'Sholay',with Amjad Khan as villain Gabbar Singh, created a new opening for demonstration of villainy. Amitab and Sanjeev Kumar played magnificent  roles as brave men, defying a gang of outlaws. 'Zanjeer' showed Amitab, as a hero in a very sober mood, with the fire of revenge burning from with in.The same Amitab came in a different appearance in 'Abimaan', as a singer with innate jealousy towards his wife Jeya, for overtaking him in his musical career.
    Though I am temperamentally made for the action stuff in films, once a way, I enjoyed taking a dip in the stream of clean cinema. 'Abimaan' and 'Chhoti Si Baat' [Starring Amol Paleker] were such sweet aberrations. In between,my friend and I were also drawn to the local theater that screened only Hindi movies to watch Manoj Kumar's 'Shor'  and 'Roti Kapda Aur Makkaan' and .I think the last Hindi movie I saw with my friend was, Raj Kapoor's 'Mera Naam Joker'.Listening to the songs of Mukesh ['Jeena yahan marna yahan' and 'Jane kahan Gaye woh dhin'] in that film, would any time bring to one's memory the love- lorn face of Raj Kapoor with the underlying tragic element, penetrating deep into our heart and piercing it with the pang of agony that this fantastic romantic hero displayed on screen. One could not help watching this lengthy movie, though  it was  painful to see sorrow laden Raj perform as a clown,hiding his personal moments of despair.It should be added here, that the voice of Mukesh seemed  to fit into the larynx of Raj Kappor as naturally as the colourful icing sugar on cakes.
     Music has ever remained  the most vital factor for popularizing Hindi cinema among Non-Hindi speaking regions.Hindi film songs with their varied rhythms mixing Hindustani notes intricately, with those of the Western genre of music, never failed to reach the Indian ears as a whole, making even people who have no love for music,whisper the tunes once a way.The stentorian voice of Mohammed Rafi, the mellifluous voice of Mukesh and Mannade,the ever juvenile singing style of kishore Kumar, the vibrant  song numbers of Mahendra Gapoor, the soul making melodies of Latha Mankeshkar and the titillating voice of Asha Bhosle are the immortal treasures of Indian music.Who will not be drawn to Hindi music and who will fail to watch Hindi films at least for their musical component?
    The last Hindi movie that I saw at the theater was the Amitab starring 'Amar Akbar Anthony' .The small town where I lived had only two theaters releasing Hindi Movies.Both the theaters stopped releasing Hindi films for want of patronage.In the mean time the speed and action levels of Tamil films turned highly competitive winning the support of the audience besides the fact that except metropolitan cities,the smaller towns began to think that releasing movies of one's own region was commercially more viable than screening films of other languages.Moreover,the hit movies in one language soon got dubbed or remade in other languages.
    However, I chanced to see on the small screen,Anil Kapoor's 'Mr.India'.Later during one of my visits abroad,my son took me to watch movies like Sharukh Khan's 'Chak De India' Aamir Khan's'Three Idiots', and Danny Boyle's'Slum Dog Millionnaire'.All these movies were of very high quality and two of them ['Mr.India' and 'Three Idiots']  were remade in Tamil.
     My intermittent trips to Hindi cinema running through a time span of nearly two decades, made me see Darmendra as an action hero to the stature of MGR in Tami and  Sanjeev Kumar with the acting stuff of Sivaji Ganeasan. Rajendra Kumar and Rajesh Kanna appeared to be alike for me, not only in their looks but also in their depiction of romantic moods.I used to equate them with the Tamil romantic hero Gemini Ganesan. Amitab to me, was always a portrait of grandeur, not only in his height but also in his acting range As a towering hero, he has been the sum total of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan in Tamil . Shammi Kapoor was the embodiment of juvenile energy and gusto and I used to see his gesticulations particularly  his dancing movements,in our actors Ravichandren and Jaishankar. Sasikapoor and Dev Anand  resembled each other at times in their looks and most often in their acting style.To me, they appeared to be under the histrionic influence of some Western actors under whose inspiration they would have groomed their acting pattern.
      The macho element seemed to reflect itself more predominantly in Satruhun Sinha [not that he was one among the very few Hindi heroes sporting a moustache ] Dharmendra,Sanjeev Kumar and Amitab, much more than in other heroes, those days. Raj Kappor was the softest soul, whose monumental romantic stuff was found a little bit in our[ late ] Murali in terms of demonstration of  emotional sufferings caused  by unrequited love. Vijay Arora whom I saw only in 'Yadon ki Baraat' seemed to me, a bubbly romantic actor full of juvenile charm and I could find his chubby cheeks in our present day Tamil actor Abbas.
    Among Hindi villains,I could see M.N.Nambiar in Pran,S.A.Asokan in Premnath, R.S.Manohar  in Ajit and Prem Chopra appeared to be a combination of Nambiar and Asokan. But all the Hindi Villain actors were stylish prototypes with a subtle inheritance of the stuff of villainy from English films.Among the character actors,Ashokumar, Iftikher and Omprakash attracted my imagination .As far as actresses were concerned, most of the Hindi heroines were more open to the acceptance of glamour exhibitionism than their South Indian counterparts. Hemamalini was a symbol of feminine grace and charm, Asha Parekh,was bolder in appearance and character delineation and Sharmila Tagore was an edifice of glamour and mellowed performance as seen in Aradhana. Rakhee was a model of feminine courage and Jeya Badhuri was fit for meek but firm roles as we saw later in Sujatha and Revathi of Tamil films. Moushmi Chatterjee's smile was ever a treat to watch.
        This nostalgic reverie of my brief time with Hindi cinema,has pointedly recalled memories of some best  Hindi films I saw, and the happy time I spent with my brother and with one of my intimate friends.These memories are not alarm bells but chosen ring tones.Besides, these are just a few drops, of the oceanic volume of the dynamic Hindi movie world. They are capable of percolating into my imagination for eternally enchanting, rewinding sessions .Their numbers may not be big but their impact is.
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Soft,Firm Hero, Who Died Young.




          
          Murali,the short,black tinted hero, who showed his face in K.Balachander's 'Poovilangu',grew to greater heights as a wonderful performer on the Tamil big screen.The most lovable aspect of this modest actor was his clear voice, delivering dialogues with intonations, never hurting one's ears.It was a soothingly firm voice, that distinctly carried the emotional overtones to be transferred to the audience, in an authentic manner, without missing their myriad exits for reaching the destination.From Manirathnam's 'Pagal Nilavu' he continued this fascinating journey, as the main or second level hero of several films.
      Murali as a love-lorn hero, was always captivating.The softness and decency beautifully blended with his characterization as a romantic person, and presented with a profound sense of warmth,  made the audience genuinely feel for him and sympathize with him.Films like 'Idhayam' and 'Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vazhga' were a clear testimony to this kind of audience response to his plight as a lover.But Murali was also an ardent and vigorous lover in films like 'Pagal Nilavu' and 'En Assai Machan'  and was capable of seriously essaying other types of characters ,with equal conviction and involvement.
      No one would have expected this soft actor, to perform the role of a rebel against police atrocities and wage a tough struggle for justice, in films like 'Adharmam' and 'Iranyan.'The former, modeled on the life story of the forest brigand Veerappan, showed the struggles of two brothers, Nasser and Murali, against the nexus of a  corrupt section of the police force with a gang, cutting and trading in red sanders.'Iranyan' also narrated the story of a villager, fighting for the basic rights of the poor and socially down trodden people.In both the movies, Murali showed his force and might needed for a leader,  fighting against authoritarianism and corruption, defying his death.
      This soft romantic hero, who proved his strength in taking up heavier,dynamic roles, neatly fitted into family roles too,as a meek younger brother completely in tune with the expectation of the elders at home.His sibling characters, mostly as an understanding and amicable younger brother were gracefully delivered in movies like 'Anandam' and 'Samuthiram'.Lingusamy's 'Anandam', a pleasing and heartwarming movie in all respects,exhibited one of the best performances of Murali,as a younger brother not budging to the negative expectations of his wife or brother-in-law, in matters concerning the family business and his unquestionable faith in his most loving and lovable elder brother,beautifully played by Mammooty. Similarly, in the latter film, as the younger brother of Sarath Kumar and as a responsible elder brother of their beloved sister, Murali's performance was compact in every frame.In both the films, the family was a sweet nest and Murali was a lovely bird cozily bound to the nest, never willing to break its base of unity and peace.
    Some of the other notable films of Murali were those mixed with comedy such as 'Thangamani Rengamani' and 'Sundara Travels' and the most memorable character roles he performed again, as a loving and responsible brother in Cheran's 'Porkaalam' and 'Vetrkodikattu'. Both the films were laden with tragic undercurrent running throughout and Murali essayed these heavier roles, with dignity and charm. Murali's other popular movies were, 'Dinandhorum' 'Unnudan' 'Ooty'and 'Kamarasu' Besides these, he had acted in Vikraman's 'Pudhu Vasantham', that celebrated the friendship of four men with a woman and their united efforts to make her as a singer. Murali had also acted with the grand star Sivaji Ganesan ,in 'En Aasai Raasaave', directed by Kasturi Raja. The one movie that fetched him  award for best acting, was 'Kaadhal Pookal', directed by Barathi Raaja.
    The sad thing is, this actor of latent acting stuff, with its grand histrionic patterns, could not live long, to bring out more of his wonderful calibre. The one undeniable fact is,  a selected group of the audience eagerly looked forward to his delivery of roles, as those with a flavour for soft food, fervently waiting for the next supply of their delicious pudding or plum packed pieces of cakes, that would smoothly pass through the alimentary canal. It is really unfortunate, that a firm and soft hero like Murali, died young.    

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two Contemporary Directors in a Contrast.


















          The two individuals belonging to the same period but reflecting a different quest for creativity, are the two most reputed film directors, P.Vasu and K.S.Ravikumar. One is a maker of action,family and police stories and the other, more dedicated to the family emotions and values of the rural block like K.S.Gopalakrishnan, the best of directors of the Sixties ans Seventies of the last millennium.
        P.Vasu started his career joining hands with director Santhana Barathi and came out with good films like, 'Panneer Pushpangal' and 'Mella Pesungal'.His early hits with independent direction,were 'EnThangachi Padichava' with Prabu in the lead and with Sathyaraj as hero in 'Vaadhiyaar Veettupilaai' and 'Vela Kidachiduchu.' But his greatest box office shows were'Walter Vetrivel',the astounding police story with Sathyaraj doing a magnificent performance and 'Chinna Thambi',the all time brilliant film, with Prabu and Kushbu taking the audience to a romantic experience never visited earlier.His latest grand film was 'Chandramugi' starring Rajini and a remake of Fazil's Malayalam venture 'Manichitrathaazh'.Vasu's other films 'Panakkaaran','Uzhaippaali' and 'Mannan' all with the Superstar were big actions films and entertainers. Kaarthik, Arjun Ajith and Jeyaram have done one movie each,as hero in Vasu's films.Parthiban was inducted twice for 'Kaakkaichiraginile' and 'Vaimaye Vellum',another film with a base of police story in negative frame. Vasu's 'Malabar Police' was once again a meritorious depiction of  the dedication to police uniform.
    Starting his career with a thriller,['Puriyadha Pudhir']K.S.Ravikumar has been a different creator, in choice of themes,character delineation and directorial diction.He is a constant lover of rural themes portraying poignantly,human emotions, intricately linked to the vital segments of the family institution.The patriarchal show he has made with Vijayakumar as family head in movies like 'Cheran Pandian','Naataamai' and 'Napukkaga' splendidly revealed Ravikumar's felicitous access to higher levels of human emotions.
     The other two patriarchal heads projected by Ravikumar, were those of his pet heroes Sarath Kumar,and Prabu. Sarath beautifully took over the Zameen governance in 'Naattaamai' and as the ruling head he was equally convincing in 'Samuthiram'.In 'Paattali'Sarath's right to the Zameen was hidden by his aunt Sujatha,to save him from getting killed and this led to a meek show of Sarath and he essayed the role with ease .Prabu , brought home the dynamic spirit of governance in  'Periya Kudumbam'and 'Parambarai' in the style of his father,the stalwart actor Sivaji. The two films that showed P.Vasu and K.S. Ravikumar in a similar creative wavelength were 'Pathini' and 'Purushalatchanam' dealing with wifely devotion to the conjugal core and interestingly,it was Kushbu   who acted with Jeyaram, in both the films in a similar role.
     P.Vasu seems to enjoy greater warmth of friendship and team spirit with Sathyaraj and Prabu as K.S.Ravikumar does with Sarathkumar and Prabu. Ravikumar has done five films with   Kamal,of which, four are comedies with difference in story line,like  'Avvai Shanmugi'  'Tenali' and 'Pancha Thandram' and 'Manmadhan Ambu'. The fifth film 'Dasavadharam' showed Kamalahasan in ten different characters with extraordinary make up sense to mark difference in appearance and this freshness in creativity added merit to this movie of international acclaim .If Ravikumar has done five movies with the world star,Vasu has worked for the same number of movies with the Superstar starting with 'Panakkaaran' followed by 'Mannan','Uzhaippali','Chandramugi' and 'Kuselan'.All these films were worthy entertainers and commercial hits. K.S.Ravikumar has also given two blockbusters ['Muthu' which had an epic level of grandeur and 'Padayappa' ]with Rajini. But Vasu has not yet used Kamal's fantastic creativity as an actor.
     K.S.Ravikumar has not directed a full length police story like P.Vasu's grandiose 'Walter Vetrivel' and 'Malabar Police'. Similarly, P.Vasu has not yet tried his hand in full length comedies as K.S. Ravi- kumar has done. K.S.Ravikumar has not so far, used the talent of Sathyaraj as Vasu,that of Kamal and Sarathkumar.  While Ravikumar has utilized the acting skills of both Ajith and Vijay,Vasu has not yet worked with Vijay. Vasu has mostly concentrated on the dramatic impact of individual sentiments and emotions in the manner of A.C.Thirulokchander and P.Madhavan and the galaxy of emotions like love,jealousy, and commitment to one's career and its inter related values have always remained Vasu's specialty,
   Instead,K.S.Ravikumar reveled in the unified structure of family emotions with a governing impetus of the dignity of the self and the amount of public and family esteem it commands on account of one's self dignity. Similarly,the grandeur of emotional drama and exotic picturing of scenic sequences  have represented the specific directorial merits of K.S.Ravikumar. Villains are there in the films of both the directors as open threats and not as hidden dangers.The creative formula and its open appeal during the process of screen play, are their common assets as film makers and their success march is interlinked with their conviction to deliver the product with speed,action and tempo as the basic requirements to win the confidence of the audience.
      Both Vasu and Ravikumar have shown their heads in their films with Ravikumar leading the cameo in almost all his films. Ravikumar is always seen with a sense of humour and a vigorous voice of satire. But Vasu has generally maintained a mood of sobriety both as a character actor and as villain.The jealousy stuff  that he revealed in 'Seenu' against his musically more talented younger brother  was natural and impressive,and it was his love for his sibling that ultimately survived. Starting from the days of ''Putham Puthu Payanam' and 'CheranPandian',Ravikumar has usually tried to be a rude villain with a taunting frame of mind.The comedy substance of Ravikumar makes him an endearing character actor even if he makes a brief appearance as he did in Hari's 'Arul' But Vasu scores at least one or two points higher in terms of clarity and force of dialogue delivery and he too was a villain of ferocity in 'Thenkasipattinam'.
    The difference between these two eminent contemporaries in the same field, is their inbuilt lenience towards themes and the creative directions that they naturally moved to.The temperamental predominance in the choice of independent genres of creativity and  the selection of heroes to fit into the characters suitably, makes these two directors of the same period as two distinct creators with their respective contrary profiles. However,in treatment of their individual themes and characters, both these men have indisputably registered efficacy and imaginative excellence in a similar degree of acceptability and both of them have made success stories to find a permanent place in the line of  directors of high quality and standard, making the Tamil film industry proud.
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Perfect Father Figures of Tamil Films





























        Tamil society has always remained patriarchal with regard to family as an institution.Tamil films have not failed to project the father character as a symbol of love respect and dignity.Many famous actors have seriously taken to this role and added merit to the state of fatherhood.This article  intends to showcase such men who successfully represented this masculine tribe on the higher ladder.
      The movies of the early decades of independent India,depicted fathers as joint family heads being respected and adored by all their children.Veteran actors like S.V.Rengarao, S.V.Subbiah, V.K.Rama samy T.S.Balaiah V.Nagaiah and at times M.R.Radha were the usual father figures those days. S.V.Rengarao rightly fitted into the role of a rich aristocratic father commanding respect from all his children.When it came to daughters,he was mostly shown as a pampering dad.S.V Subbiah was  a father of subdued dignity running the family with discipline and control.V.K.Ramasamy was ever a robust,humorous and at times  noisy dad.T.S.Balaiah would appear as a tension ridden and occasionally even a comedy piece of father .Nagaiah usually showed his head as a modest father from a poor social back ground. M.R.Radha was always a combination of mischief and banter, in essaying his roles as the family head.All the father figures during this period,were leaders of the joint family system and any symptoms of its breakdown would put their spirits down.
    It was Sivaji Ganesan,the actor par excellence,who surprised everyone by taking up elderly roles in his late thirties itself,as the father of grown up sons and daughters.Every such father role was an additional feather on his crown of acting potential.It is a delightful experience to recall his role in 'Paar Magale Paar', directed by one of his pet film makers A.Bhimsingh. In that film Sivaji donned the role of a rich,status conscious father of two grown up daughters [Vijayakumari and Pushpa latha]. The secret that only one daughter was his and the other girl born of a dancer had to be adopted by his wife because,the two nurses who took the babies for cleaning, died unexpectedly on account of an electric short circuit and the identities of the kids could not be established.Meanwhile the dancer also left the hospital not willing to take the kid born of  shameful  motherhood.The father was told that both the kids were his and finally when the truth came out,it created a storm in the family causing a great amount of emotional hurt and trauma to the family head. Sivaji Ganesan portrayed this character with his usual show of majesty and grandeur.
     Sivaji's performance as a stylish father in Gemini Studios'Motor Sundaram Pillai' and later in
A.C Thirilokchander's 'Baratha Vilas' was equally commendable. In both the films,he was shown as growing to riches from scrap  and the richness bringing with it the added evils of snobbery and arrogance of wealth. Sivaji was the aptest choice to play these roles and he made the characters live by his way of acting.But the best of his father roles was in his family production'Thangapadhakkam' that described the conflicting moments of an IPS father and his criminal son forming the plot for a memorable family drama.The movie was an emotional thunderstorm of the classic actor, categorically disowning his gangster son but at the same time melting down with the pressures of emotional attachment for his only son.When at the end, he had to either capture or kill his son it was the latter alternative he chose on confirming that his son had become irredeemably wicked.The father roared like a lion with paternal love on the one side and police pride on the other.The other impressive father characters of Sivaji include that of a disciplinarian father Prestige Padmanaban, in 'Vietnaam Veedu',  a jealous father on the musical growth of his son in 'Mridhanga Chakravarthi' and finally the most affectionate father of Kamalahasan in 'Devar Magan' and that of Rajini in 'Padayappa',both, with poise and grace.
      Among the new group of actors doing father portrayals, Prakashraj,Naasar Delhi Ganesh, Manivannan Vijayakumar ,Raguvaran and Rajkiran have been in their best,  giving us a variety picture of father characters in each one's distinct  attitude and style. Prakashraj leads the rest, by his vigorous voice throw and varied mood swings and he is another actor like Sivaji playing elderly roles much early in his life.He fascinated everyone by his most dynamic performance as family head in M.Raja's 'Santosh Subramanyam'.In that,we saw him as a father extremely concerned about the routine of his grown up sons and daughters to the extent of choosing everything for them as per his liking, without bothering about what actually they wanted.Ultimately, when his youngest son Santosh fell in love and brought his girl of choice home for a trial period to help his dad approve of his choice,there was a turmoil in the family.The climax of the movie showed how Santosh  made his father realize, that the facts of life are as important as family affection and that in the family unit each one's aspirations, desires and choices should be respected instead of making authoritarian choices, in the name of parental love and control.
     In 'Veerappu', [a remake of the Malayalam mega movie 'Spatikam']directed and acted by Sundar.C, PrakashRaj appeared as a rigid father and school teacher showing utter indifference to the dreams and aspirations of his  son,crushing the boy's highly innovative brain and making him a street rowdy.As a rude and conventional father, tied to the traditional concepts of  education, rather than the emergence of originality in a budding brain,he was almost a foolish father stunting the growth of his own son and spoiling his life.However, he realized the true value of his son and began to love him when the later developments brought home his own failings as man and father. Prakashraj gave a very impressive picture of the negative dimensions of fatherhood in 'Veerappu'.
     Prakashraj,as a petty criminal with a heart full of love for his son[Krishna]in 'Alibaba',beautifully exhibited the fears and anxieties when he came to know that his son was going to be trapped in a third party banking fraud, indirectly entangling his son, by a gang of criminals.Hid did almost a similar role in 'Arindhum Ariyamalum' as a rowdy with norms and a soft heart for his son, from whom he had been separated long ago, by his wife and in laws, on account of his bad ways of life.It was an affectionate journey of a father shunting between his real son and the one he had adopted after his separation from family.
    Above all,Radha Mohan  offered him the wonderful role of a soft father undergoing tormenting moments in the midst of arranging the marriage of his most beloved daughter whom he brought up as a a widower.Though he approved his daughter's love with a Punjabi guy,the agony of the impending separation  from his daughter,more than the probable consequences of her marriage with a man belonging to an unfamiliar social group,dominated each and every movement of this most affectionate dad.The mixed emotions of joy [to see his daughter being married]and sorrow [the separation that the marriage would cause]were naturally delivered by Prakash Raj with ripeness and maturity, greatly required for that character delineation.The variety of emotions, the difference in character types and the ability of PrakashRaj, to easily fit into various types of characters and express emotions in their true form, made him an emphatic father figure.
     Nassar  has always been his natural stuff in his presentation of father characters. 'Emton Magan' of Director Thirumurugan presented Nassar as a father full of love, evenly blended with strictness, looking for simple submission from his  devoted son[Barath] It was a beautiful narration of events, mixed with a right sense of natural family love, with an underlying fear for the family head.But the intolerance of the father against his son's unacceptable marriage, separated the father and son and finally the son's independent growth in business and life brought the father and son into a fine bond of love .Nassar was a communal father in Manirathnam's  'Bombay' rejecting his son's love marriage with a Muslim girl and refusing to own him any more.But the birth of grand children became a natural precedent to family reunion,made feelings of anger and hatred mellow down into an unbridled flow of paternal concern. Prabu Deva pictured Nassar as  a dignified police officer,  devoutly grooming his son in that line and protectively hiding his identity from the hell bent gangsters It was a role combining dedication to police service with deep love for his only son.In all the roles, he played, Nassar  has never failed to reflect  the subtle dimensions of fatherhood, with  elegance and depth.
      Delhi Ganesh  with his modest voice modulation, succinct underplay of emotions and balanced approach, has drawn a specific line for himself as a preferred actor to do father characters in a real   life mode. All those who saw 'Anadam'  would have been carried away by his true portrayal of the head of a joint family, after a pretty long gap of watching a joint family show on the big screen.There are many father characters in real life, who literally belong to the chain of governance of families and happily refrain from owning full authority, for running the routine of a family, either big, or small. Delhi Ganesh is the true representative of this breed of meek fathers and he has never faltered to create a mark, how ever brief his appearance has been.One would see in Delhi Ganesh,  a sweet mixture of S.V.Subbiah and V.Nagaiah,the veteran father actors of the previous millennium. 
     Director and actor Manivannan has been a lovely father, in quite a lot of movies.In taking up father characters,Manivannan  seems to have T.S.Balaiah's frame of mind and M.R.Radha's form of delivery.His frequent mood swings belong to those of Balaiah and voice shift would echo those of M.R.Radha. Very often one can notice him, shuttling between humour and  anger but it is his strong paternal show that matters for us.This is because,Manivannan shows his anger only to others and not to his children.In 'Vaanavil' he was a devoted father motivating his son [Arjun]in  all respects,in order to see him as an IAS officer.He would passionately attend to all the needs of his son,sometimes making it delicate for his son. His paternal affection and friendliness made a sweep in films like 'Vaseegara','Minsaarakanna' [Vijay as his son]and 'Sullan'[Danush as son].But as a doting father of daughters,he would not hesitate to show his angry outbursts against their lovers in 'Ennavale'  and 'Youth'.In 'Ellaam Avan Seyal'  he was a poor helpless father like his predecessor father actor V.Nagaiah. 
     Vijayakumar   revelled in father roles roaring like Sivaji Ganesan in 'Aaaha' [directed by Suresh Krishna],'Naattaamai',and 'Natpukkaga'. In a totally opposite frame, as a subdued father, he did a very good job in films like 'Mudhalvan','Aanadha  Poongatre' .The pattern of his voice and its captivating modulation have been the supporting factors for revealing  affection and authority in a clear presentation. 
    Raj Kiran  a rugged hero of the Eighties has transformed himself into an actor capable of donning daddy roles with dignity,dynamism and a power source in films like 'Sandakkozhi' and 'Kaavalan'  . The same actor beautifully portrayed the role of a most loving but disciplined father and police head- constable with the only ambition of seeing his son as a police officer and this film 'Kreedom' [of Balaji's Sujatha Cine Arts' production and a remake of a Malayalam movie with the same title] was an interesting addition to the list of films of this budding father actor.
    Raguvaran's genuine portrayal of the softer side of fatherhood showed his uniqueness in doing father roles.He was a friendly, tolerant father enduring the sad impact of the vagaries of his sons both in 'Love Today'[Vijay as  son] and in 'Yaaradi Nee Mohini' [Danush].In both the films,his sudden death brought a positive change in attitude and behaviour of his sons.The spirit of understanding and outstanding affection evinced by this endearing father made his sons long more for him in his absence  Even as a father with a criminal background, one could find his love for his daughters as a redeeming trait in films like 'Amarkalam'  and 'Baadsha'.Raguvaran's  sudden death in real life too, has made us long for this tall man with talent for roles of fatherhood.
     Along with this line of father actors have joined recently, heroes of name like Prabu and  Bagyaraj to create paternal footprints of their own.But what has always surprised us is the puzzle of most villain actors doing wonders in father characters.How come, a mindset for villainy gets conveniently  shifted to softer emotions like love,concern and sympathy mingled with the might of male  authority. Starting from M.R.Radha to the latest Manivannan, all those who were distinct  villains in their respective independent acting mode, have struck indelible impressions, each one marking an identity of their own .The inherent attributes of fatherhood are the ability to mix affection with authority in right proportion and govern the family with confidence in oneself and faith in the integral segments of the love-knit institution.If any actor is found capable of fixing his mood and attitude in a right mix and sells himself as a father with a pattern and punch of presentation,one becomes a perfect father figure.

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