Sunday, December 30, 2012

Some Powerful Police Stories.




























 















     Among the themes chosen for Tamil films,police stories have always remained a talking point because it is one of the most interesting topics for discussion and representation, like romance and family sentiment.Moreover,most of the police stories have to centre around varieties of human crimes including those perpetuated by some of the bad elements with in the department itself. The nature of crimes and the suspense element contributing to the action segment of a movie automatically contribute to wider reception if the presentation is fresh with speed and tempo ruling the show. Owing to its inherent attributes,a film on a cop story can hardly deviate from the action genre and it has to be conservative in the choice of actors to play lead roles so that what happens on the screen is believed to be a realistic manifestation of events in life.
      During the early days of Tamil Cinema police stories were less common because individual or group crimes were much less in a society that was striving to hold traditional values intact. Apart from family feuds and local rivalry,concerted moves on committing crimes for the sake of personal benefits were far too less.Besides, in the absence of advanced technology human brain's capacity for crime was also restricted.Perhaps that was why the film makers focused more on family stories rather than trying to present films on criminality,detective intricacies and vigorous law enforcement. It was the Modern Theatres' film production unit that seriously attempted at cop stories like 'Kaithi Kannaayiram' 'Valaavanukku Vallavan' and 'Vallavan Oruvan'.The advent of an action hero like MGR increased the scope for cop stories because Tamil Film industry came upon a physically able hero to don the role of a police officer that required  a stout body and fighting credentials.MGR was an impressive police officer in films like Thai Sollai Thattathe, Deivathai En Kadamai and Kavalkaran. Of these except En Kadamai all the other movies were great hits and Kavalkaaran in particular became an exceptional police story because the suspense element was  effectively preserved till the end.It included a lot of fiery stunt scenes including the initial boxing scene.MGR's 'Kavalkaran' became the first dynamic police story in Tamil.
      As decades advanced, there were more number of cop stories one outshining the other. Following MGR,Jai Shankar was found the fittest hero to take on police uniform in a couple of Modern Thatres films and the Sathya Movie release 'Kannipen'.Sathya Movies came out with another brilliant but brief presentation of a police officer Alex Pandian played with style and sheen by the superstar and that memorable  movie with a fine flash back was Moonru Mugam. Rajinikanth again appeared as a police officer in Balu Mahendra's Un Kannil Neervazhindal. Kamalahasan has got into the police uniform in his own unique style in films like 'Soora Samharam'  'VetriVizha', 'Kaaki Chattai' [another Sathya Movies Production ] and for a dare devil brief show in his home production film 'Aboorva Sagodharargal'.'Sattam' the other movie in which Kamal performed as a cop was more focused on friendship than on police activities. Later  in the differently conceived police stories like 'Kuruthippunal' directed by P.C.Sriram and Gautham Menon's 'Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu' we saw Kamalahasan as an agent,witness and victim of new modes of torture exhibited as sequences of departmental enquiries on the one hand and terrorists' brutality on the other.The last two movies mentioned here, were overloaded with crude forms of violence perpetrated on individuals and society.These two high quality films with their prefixed standard of presentation definitely deserved  consideration for awards, but were meant only for a selective audience and they can not be said to have created a mass appeal as the other conventional police stories like Vetrivizha and Kaakkichattai did.
      Of the eight movies of Kamal listed here,'Kaaki Chattai'  was extraordinary in theme because it  literally showed for the first time a youngster's passion for the police uniform so as to achieve a distinct position in honestly eradicating crime.A similar passion for the police service was forcefully pictured by Dharani in his Dil,though the hero could achieve his aim only at the end of the movie. The other film Pokkiri showed the dignity and dedication of the police department with great energy and tempo but it brought the hero in police uniform only in the climax because the story line of the movie was the projection of a young police officer as a street rowdy so as to enable him to mix with the gangsters and eliminate them .The approach was fresh and the film became a blockbuster.
     Sarathkumar is another hero who has frequently appeared as a chic and powerful cop and his strong well built physique makes it easier for him to impress in such roles. His role in 'Sooriyan' as a victimized police officer was a grand show and this film improved his image as an amazing action
hero .Following this he was shown as a smart police officer in films like 'Vedan','Gambeeram' and so on.Action king Arjun has performed smartly in cop stories like 'Pratab' 'Jaihind' 'Sengottai' 'Kurudhipunal' Otran' 'Marudhamalai' and a few other movies.This actor is specially known for the patriotic appeal he makes in films besides fighting the dons and criminals.Starting from MGR, all these heroes were perfect in form and spirit as police officers.
   More than all the actors mentioned above,it is  Vijayakanth who has made police stories as his special choice for a field show.He has periodically taken up the cop role as his pet character and contributed his might to the demonstration of authority as police officer with dynamism and majesty.Of the nearly fifteen films of Vijayakanth in this category, 'Pulan Visaranai', Vallarasu 'Managarakaval','Vanjinathan', 'HonestRaj' and 'Chatriyan' find a significant place in the archives of police roles played by Vijayakanth..The last in the list,a Manirathnam home production,excellently brought out the spirit of resilience in not losing the battle against criminality and injustice.The film categorically declared that every police man should be a warrior and even death should be scared of a brave policeman because there is no death for the relentless spirit of a warrior.The movie was a magnificent show of police might and mightily did Vijayakanth deliver his performance.Vijayakant's other fairly watchable movies in this category are Saatchi,Oomai Vizhigal,Nooravadhu Naal and Devan,though excepting the first film in this list,the other films had a cluster of stars like Mohan, Sathyaraj,Jaishankar and Arun Pandian. 
     Beyond the list of films discussed here,there is a special collection of four splendid police stories that we came across in different periods. What made the four films different from the others was a beautiful cluster of integrated segments like challenging situations,twists in narration,speed and force in dialogue delivery,solid emotional interlinks,clarity in presentation and above all, the roaring spirit of the police department as the legal watch dog. The first in the list is Sivajii Productions''Thanga Padhakkam'.Though Sivaji Ganesan had come in police uniform in films like 'Pudhiya Vaanam' and 'Vellai Roja',Thangapadhakkam stands as a monumental police story because of the grand emotional action sequences inseparably bound to the ethical fundamentals of the uniformed service. P.Vasu's 'Walter Vetrivel' the second in the list  showed Sathyaraj as an IPS officer with ferocious grit and invincible control of his character.This tall hero both in height and performance played as powerful cop in a few other films like Kadamai Ganniyam Kattuppadu, Pudhiya Vaanam and Malabar Police. But 'Walter Vetrivel' was of a gripping type of narration filled with freshness at all levels of its presentation.Both Thangapathakkam and Walter Vetrivel kept the audience glued to the screen with the validity of happenings on a solid base of family sentiment,and the passion governing the attitude and behaviour of the two police personnel.The actors,Sivaji Ganesan as SP Chaudhry, Sathyaraj as Walter Vetrivel IPS,never let down their gusto at any stage of their of their performance of the characters that they lived with heart and soul.While SP Chaudhri had to fight a departmental and emotional battle against his own beloved son Jagan,for Vetrivel,it was his younger brother who happened to be the source of crimes in his law enforcement division.Neither Chaudhry nor Vetrivel vacillated ever in dispensing with their respective agents of crime.
   'Saami' and 'Singam' the other two super cop stories from the same director [Hari],differed mainly in the characterization of the protagonists but the twists and sudden course of events appeared to be a similar governing factor of both the films.Rage and fire of fury dominated the narration of these two movies as in the other two. No doubt Vijayakanth's 'Vallarasu' also carried quite a few unexpected turn of events making the film eligible for a worthy watch. But in consistently maintaining speed and tempo and in mixing other relevant dynamics that made his two films meant for a family audience Hari seemed to score more than Maharajan,the director of Vallarasu.Both  Samy and  Duraisingam were presented as down to earth police officers with their focus on bringing the criminals to book more naturally than as a cinematic course of events.It was rejuvenating to see Vikram [Saamy] and Surya [Duraisingam] in police uniform. Vikram has done police stories in a few other movies ;but his role as Assistant Commissioner Saamy was more invigorating and arresting than the others.Similarly,Soorya as Duraisingam was full of force and ferocity than his earlier cop character in Gautham Menon's 'Kaakka Kaakka' which had an excessive demonstration of scary violence like Kamal's Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu ,another Gautham Menon show.The Himalayan victory of his two police stories made Hari come up with Singam ll but the lion roared next time, without the impact it created in part.l
     A majority of the police stories mentioned here reflected not only the sacrificing temper of the police personnel but also some sort of tragic happenings in their lives involving the loss of lives of their wives or parents or children and at times their own death.  However, the four special films spontaneously attracted the imagination of many people because they were an even blend of family emotion and fast action formula and struck the audience mood by a grand show of events as a natural follow up from beginning till the end.The entertainment factor was also taken care of in the interest of the larger section of the audience.Though all the films listed in this article carry their own merits as independently powerful police stories,'Thangapathakkam','Walter Vetrivel' 'Saamy' and 'Singam' have found an extraordinary place in the happy recall of my movie minutes.I am sure many will agree with me in my prioritization of these films as the best among the powerful police stories.
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Friday, December 21, 2012

A Brief Note on K.Sarangapani.






      K.Sarangapani,the noted comedian and character actor of Tamil Cinema deserves a special recognition and appreciation for his casual and effortless manner of acting.His distinct voice throw was always his special attraction. There was a winning vibration effect in his voice and he used to play with it while delivering dialogues,as if acting was a field sport .With his endearing looks and the fascinating gusto in his voice,he would play the deceptive role of a beggar as he did in Missiamma or a retired father happily enjoying his days with his children as he appeared in Sridhar's Sumaithangi. I would have seen more than a dozen movies of this wonderful actor for whom anger would be the last thing to resort to.
   Sarangapani was a favourite of director A.P.Nagarajan. This popular director of myths and family stories utilized the spontaneous thespian skill of Sarangapani for his films like 'Kulamagal Radai',[in which he was seen playing a negative role] 'Navarathiri' Thiruvilaiyaadal,'Saraswathi  Sabathaam' and 'Thillaanaa Mohanambal'. Sarangapani has acted with MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan.He was an adamant but affectionate father of Sivaji Ganesan in 'Naan Petra Selvam'.His characterization in 'Alibabavum Naarpathu Thirudar galum'  was another attractive addition to his career.I also remember his character portrayal felicitously delivered in 'Yaar Paiyan.' I remember to have enjoyed his acting in 'Rambaiyin Kadhal' in which K.A.Thangavel did the role of the hero.To me, this lively actor seemed to be the combination of V.Nagaia's modesty and V.K.Ramasamy's banter.He was another actor of the early years of Tamil Cinema who performed lovable roles and transmitted higher energy levels to the audience without ever losing control of his moods..
   Familiarity with the types of characters he played ,mastery over the kind of slang he used,natural voice modulation,the usual taunting element in his utterances, the unbridled flow of energy and his never sagging spirit of confidence, were the salient features of the acting style of Sarangapani. His dialogues would never hurt the ears or emotions of the audience.His comedy fundamentals were strong with ideas formulated in quality humour and vulgarity was never on the agenda of his comedy show.Looking always a bit old in appearance, but  ever young in acting spirit, this heart warming actor was a blessing for the Tamil film audience.Every one would genuinely feel that they really miss this kind of a pleasing acting model these days.This brief note is meant to celebrate the lasting memories of K.Sarangapani, the veteran actor closer to our hearts..
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Fine Flashes of V.K.R.















       V.K.Ramasamy popularly known as V.K.R was an ebullient actor who occupied a unique place for himself in Tamil cinema for nearly half a century.He was a villain,character actor and comedian and he specifically contributed his independent style of acting that abounded in humorous banter and beaming mode of delivery.He was always forthright in his approach and whether it was villainy or comedy or character performance,his direct and forceful portrayal of characters always placed him on the winning side.At times, he would even increase his decibel, but it was always needed for that particular scene adding merit to his sense of timing of dialogue delivery and natural deliberation of  relevant emotions. Some of the Tamil expressions that he enjoyed frequently using, were முண்டம் [torso] மூதேவி [disgraceful person] and அது கெடக்குது கழுத[ forget that nonsense or leave that useless thing ]
     V.K.R could be a lustful womanizer even in the role of a temple priest, as we saw him in 'Parasakthi'.He was an elderly,but, greedy and wicked  accountant, working with a rich landlord in 'Naan Petra Selvam'. He could represent the breed of lust prone elders, performed with a villainous frame of mind which he did in Sujatha Cine Arts' 'Thiagam'.He was equally impressive as an old man with a play boy attitude in Manirathnam's 'Agni Natchatram'. No one can easily forget  the hilarious and noisy porno banter that VKR displayed in that film,being aggressively teamed up with Janagaraj,the other self-styled comedian, whose talent, the Tamil film industry failed to recognize or properly utilize.There were similar hilarious scenes in Fazil's Varusham 16 also.The two new generation directors Manirathnam and Fazil. consistently and successfully used the grand stuff of V.K.Ramasamy to step up the gusto of their films. Pandiarajan began his first film 'Aanpaavam' enrolling V.K.R as his father.
      V.K.R 's tremendous voice force would make his presence felt and the native vigour in his use of Tamil slang would make him more a real life person than an actor.The way he would pull down the ego of the over- bearing nature of some of  the characters in his films, would show him totally different from other actors.In expressing negative emotions like greed, jealousy and indulgence,he was an extraordinary actor. That, he was an expert in mixing these negative emotions with humour, put him at a scoring point. V.K.R had acted with all leading actors right from M.G.R and Sivaji Ganesan to Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan,Prabu, Karthik Muthuraman and many others.
   VKR's role as 'Ettayappan' betraying the provincial ruler Kattabomman to the British army in 'Veera Pandia Kattabomman' is remembered for the mood of revelry he displayed in celebrating his act of treachery.He joined Sivaji for quite a lot of films of which 'Kulamagal Raadhai' 'Pudhiya Paravai' 'Uyarndha Manithan' 'Gowravam','Thiagam' 'Ootivarai Uravu' Pattikkaada Pattanama' and Vasantha Maaligai, are pointers to his dynamic portrayal of different roles. He had acted only a few films with M.G.R and in this list 'Nadodi','Kavalkaran' 'Mattukkara Velan''Netru Inru Naalai' and 'Raman Thdeiya Seedhai' deserve a special mention.
      As a father character he was always dominant.Either he would powerfully control the family by raising his voice or resort to corrective steps through careful planning as he did in 'Pattikkadaa Pattanama' and 'Sakalakala Vallavan',the two films with a similar story line.When it comes to character acting,he was mostly seen as a trust worthy accountant of wealthy families or Zameens. He played a vibrant role of this kind in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's 'Karpagam' as the most trusted and grateful employee of the huge farm maintained by S.V.Renga Rao. The other repeated character he performed in a few movies was that of a chef in wealthy homes indulging in petty thefts here and there, leading to contextual comedy .He was frequently found performing comedy segment with Nagesh, and M.R.R.Vasu and finally with Janagaraj.
      The A.V.M.productions and Sathya Movies regularly inducted V.K.R whenever a character anticipated his performance as the right choice.He had acted with Kamalahasan in 'Kalyana Raman','Jappanil Kalyana' Raman','Sagalakala Vallavan','Uyarndha Ullam' to mention a few.He was Rajini's pet grandfather in 'Velaikaran' and his considerate father-in-law in 'Dharmathin Thalaivan'. As a reformed villain,V.K.R was seen raising Rajini as his adopted son in 'Thanga Magan'.He also came as Chitragupthan in Rajini's 'Adhisia Piravi'and finally appeared as one among the four member gang with an eye on Rajini's huge property in 'Arunachalam'. As V.K.R enjoyed endearing team spirit, he was equally comfortable with all his next generation actors like Prabu [Arangetravelai] Karthik Muthuraman[ 'Varusham 16' and 'Gopura Vasalile'] and Pandiarajan.
     V.K.Ramasamy would have acted in hundreds of movies of which,only a little list is mentioned here. This colossal actor whose facial features fitted perfectly into elderly characters even when he was very young,has created records as a villain without violence,as a character actor without unwanted sobriety and as a wholesome comedian with a throbbing spirit of untold energy, even when he crossed seventy years of age. Film lovers particularly those who are closer to the Tamil movie world, can hardly forget this veteran actor whose voice was always his asset, creating real life impressions through the celluloid transmission.The voice of V.K.R is one of the truest voices of Tamil Cinema ever reverberating in the memories of film watchers like me.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Never Tiring Nagesh.



   




 







    Nagesh was a special favourite of Tamil Cinema.He was not just an actor delivering his humour skits like other comedians.He did not have in his acting programme any social messages to be purposefully passed on to the film viewers like Kalaivanar N.S.Krishnan. Nor did he have the privilege of getting his comedy portions recorded separately, for the regular listening of people through the radio or gramophone as Thangavelu had for his 'Kalyana Parisu','AduthaVeetu Pen','Kaidhi Kannyiram' and 'Arivali'.{'Thiru vilaiyadal'  Dharumi scene was perhaps the only exception}.
   But Nagesh was meant for much more than other actors of the humour brand.From the days of 'Nenjil Oer Alayam' and 'Server Sundaram', this lean man with loud thoughts could dramatically transmit a variety of human emotions like love,disappointment,anger, pity revenge, mischief and villainy with spontaneity, dedication and involvement.No doubt he was a priority preference, in the list of epoch making directors like Sridhar,K.Balachander and K.S.Gopalakrishnan. These talent hungry makers of films,extracted the maximum stuff from Nagesh, as this born talent was ever ready to deliver the best in him.
     As a ward boy in 'Nenjil Oer Alayam' it was Nagesh  who literally provided the comic relief in an otherwise serious movie with a heavy theme of love and sacrifice.As a waiter- turned actor in 'Server Sundaram' he played the role of a hero though R.Muthuraman was also there,as his friend and lover of the girl whom he  too loved.. Nagesh  delivered his performance with amazing energy levels for providing  comedy moments, besides proving his capacity for donning  an emotion packed character. As a conductor in 'Madras to Pondichery', he provided an astounding road comedy joining the other talented comedian A.Karunanidhi. Nagesh's role as an Anglo Indian engine fireman with Sivaji as driver, generated natural humour in 'Pachai Vilakku' a film with a lot of tragic under currents. 'Halo Partner' was another Nagesh  hit in which along with MRR Vasu,our comedian showered hilarious moments with utmost priority for audience guffaws.
   As a tailor with a jovial mindset in 'Major Chandrakanth',Nagesh  dramatically transformed himself into a vengeful elder brother waiting to kill the man who spoilt his sister's life. No one can forget Nagesh  as an office clerk with a hamper, for carrying his child along with his meal box, to office every day in Balachander's 'Iru Kodugal'. Like a waste paper thrown by the wind from one spot to the other, Nagesh was found, being shunted from one friend to another in' Punnagai' and as an orphan called Maadhu,he brought as much tears as laughter in 'Ethir Neechal'.One did not know whether to laugh at his pranks or sympathize with his terminal illness in 'Neerkumizhi', because he was both the cause and relief of tragic intensity in 'Neerkumizhi'.
    Nagesh was a robust rickshaw puller in 'Poova Thalaiya' casually throwing challenges to his rich mother-in-law and winning over her with manly grit mixing the events with humour  and enthusiasm in right proportion. Similarly, in 'Anubavi Raja Anubavi',in a dual role a rib tickling comedy show was let out by Nagesh. Again in 'Bama Vijayam' as the youngest son of T'S Balaiah he provided a lot of comedy moments joining his other two brothers Muthuraman and Major Sundarajan,  with their exclusively independent agenda of trying to establish a personal rapport with Bama a popular actress. Incidentally,all the films mentioned in this paragraph, were from K.Balachander's  intelligent creative brain and one could see the Nagesh- Balachander combination making success stories of different kinds.The other two movies in their combination were,'Navagraham' and 'Patham Pasali'
    Nagesh performed his different roles with his innate comedy dynamics.Though there were other heroes in his films, the presence of Nagesh could be seen as an energizing source, activating the course of events as a centrifugal force.Besides his clear voice throw Nagesh  possessed a natural ability to dance. Though he had fervently shown his dancing verve in films like 'Adhe Kanlgal','Anbe Va' and several other films, the one choreography he did in 'Neerkumizhi' still lives in my memory elevating the immortal actor to the level of a professional dancer.
     Unlike other comedians, who had a skit with humour and its interrelated segments as the core items on their acting agenda, Nagesh was a ready made talent, whose thespian paraphernalia was a folder of emotional varieties that could make  a comedian,a hero, a character actor and a comical or crude villain. Starting from MGR,Nagesh  has acted with all prominent heroes of his days as well as, with those belonging to his next generation.
   As a character actor in the role of a drunken poet making angry cries against poverty and social evils  Nagesh  made a sterling performance in 'Unakkaga Naan'.As a poverty stricken poet Dharumi, laid up with an acute want of money that made him fall a prey to plagiarism,this fantastic actor beautifully brought before us the plight and ordeal of that character in a most memorable role in 'Thiruvilaiyadal'. It was a scene of exhilaration and empathy he created by his marvellous portrayal as Dharumi.  His other brilliant role was that of the father of a criminal son in 'Padikkadhavan'.Nagesh enjoyed the privilege of acting as a make up man aiding the comical impersonation of Kamal in Avvai Shanmugi and earlier, that of Rajini in 'Thillumullu' Later as a loving father disappointed to know that his son was not a doctor but a thug, he was emotionally compact in Kamal's 'Vasool Raja MBBS'. Nagesh was also a sweet  grandfather  ever juvenile in spirit in films like' Poove Unakkaga',Poovellaam Un Vaasam', 'Minnale',and 'Saravana'.His inebriate revelry with Simbu in 'Saravana'  was a treat to watch.
    Nagesh was ever a perfect foil to his comedy team mates like Cho Ramasamy [Then Mazhai and Ninaivil Ninraval in particular] V.K.Ramasamy [ especially Vasantha Maaligai] A.Veerappan [Ponnu Mappille] and M.R.R.Vasu [Halo Partner].One of his best comedy performances was as T'S'Balaiah's son Chellappa in 'Kaadhalikka Neramilaai',the all time great comedy of Sridhar. Nagesh adorned that character  with his dreams of making a movie under the banner of his Oho Productions.The most interesting scene in that film was Nagesgh narrating a horror scene in his proposed film,to his father,whom he continued to pester for funds.The way he tried to narrate the story thrusting the element of horror and the way Balaiah responded to his narration are stuck to the memory of those who saw the film, as a monumental piece of hilarity. The other remarkable comedy performances of Nagesh were in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's 'Sinnajiru Ulagam' 'Panama Paasama' and 'Kankanda Deivam'.
     Nagesh could spontaneously generate villainy with mischief as lanky Vaidhy in Thillaanaa Mohanambal resembling 'the lean and hungry looking' Cassius of Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' He could make his villainy a comic affair as in 'Adhisiappiravi' and 'Mounam Sammatham' and transform himself into a murderous villain in 'Aboorva Sagotharargal'. He was also a side kick of villains as we saw him with Thilakan, in 'Bala'.
   Though Nagesh  was lean and feeble in looks, he was stout as a storehouse of acting.He did not shoot into fame on a single day.He was found growing everyday learning and performing new dimensions in acting that took him to taller levels of histrionics.It was his stable acting spirit that retained him as the most wanted actor at all times.The very fact that he was the favourite of creative brains like Balachander and Kamalahasan, one the maker of talents and the other the talent incarnation,shows that he was made of the extraordinary stuff that would add glorious moments to the stage and the larger screen. Nagesh  like many other trend setting Tamil screen actors is no more now.But his vivacious acting style and versatility of character personification have become the timeless treasures of the tinsel world. Nagesh  was one among the rare category of actors who would neither get tired of acting nor would make the audience get tired of his acting.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Distinct Features of Devar Films.





       Sando M.M.A Chinnappa Devar was a film producer, director and actor.His 'Devar Films' as a longstanding production unit carries certain special features that most other production houses do not have. Devar, as he is briefly called is known for his extraordinary devotion to the Tamil deity Lord Muruga, his unfailing intimacy with the late mass hero MGR ,his tribute to motherhood in his choice of titles and narration of stories, his consistent interest in the animal world and the continued priority for adventure in all his films. His films will begin with a word of prayer offered to his pet deity.We could find the involvement of at least one animal say a dog,a ram,a cow and a bull or a horse, an elephant and at times even a snake. Besides, K.V.Mahadevan would be the all time preference for the music component of Devar Films.These special traits always used to draw crowds to watch a Devar movie,in addition to a conventional script, with generally a rural  base, consisting of family feud,local rivalry,the feel good factor of the hero,a notable romantic thread and the ultimate victory of truth and justice.
    MGR has acted in a majority of Devar films releases.The exceptions were perhaps Gemini Ganesan's'Vaazhavaitha Deivam',Udhayakumar's'Yanaipagan' Ranjan's'Neelamalai Thirudan' and 'C.L.Anandan's' 'Kongunaattu Thangam'. These were of course the early films of Devar Starting from 'Thaikkuppin Thaaram',which was a great hit, MGR dominated as the one and only hero of Devar films until he left the film world to play active role in politics. Devar could not think of any other actor to play hero in any of his films because the success formula worked out by the duo was strong to make all the films commercially viable. All the films were made without loss of time and outdoor shootings were much less.Moreover,except 'Nalla Neram',which happened to be the last movie of MGR with Devar films,all the other films were in black and white.With the cost of production  being restricted  and need based,it was thought that even if the released movie ran for four or five weeks,it would yield the expected profit.Perhaps Devar thought that the name of MGR would just be enough to sell his films and his unflinching faith in his hero never lost ground. Some of the success stories of the Devar- MGR combination were'Thai Sollai Thattadhe', 'Dharmam Thalakakkum','Thaiyai Katha Thanayan', 'Vettaikkaran' ,'Thanippiravi', 'Kannithai' 'Vivasayee' and 'Nalla Neram'.
     After MGR  left acting for active  politics,Devar started using the next popular hero,the superstar. Rajikanth acted in Devar films' releases like 'Thai Veedu','Anbukku Naan Adimai' and 'Renga' and Kamalahasan in 'Thayillamal Naanillai' and 'Ram Laxman'.All these films were made in colour because black and white concept became outmoded by then. However,Devar's parallel film making unit Dandayuthabani Pictures was busy inducting many old and new faces even during the days of MGR. Films like Deivathirumagal,Akka Thangai,Thaayum Magalum, Maanavan Thunaivan, Deivam, 'Vellikkizhamai Viradham' 'Ko Madha En Kulamadha''Aatukkara Alamelu' 'Sorgam Naragam''Adhisiyappiravigal' and a few more,were produced during and after the acting career of MGR. Heroes like Jaishankar, Muthuraman, A.V.M.Rajan, Sivakumar, Prabu and Karthik Muthuraman have all acted in these films. Of these 'Thunaivan' and 'Deivam' were movies devoted to Lord Muruga in script and narration and 'Vellikkizhamai Viradham' depicted a woman's supreme faith in the worship of cobras. 'Aatukkara Alamelu' beautifully exhibited the intelligence of a domestic animal like a ram. All these hits and the other great movie 'Maanavan' became memorable audience preferences. During the post MGR period Dhandayuthapani pictures also produced Rajinikanth's 'Annai Oer Alayam' and 'Thai Meethu Sathyam' '.If Devar Films patronized K.V.Mahadevan,the Dhandayudhapani  Pictures mostly booked  the duo Shankar Ganesh for composing music in its movies.
    Though Devar had directed one or two of his movies like 'NerVazhi' and 'Dheivam',he mostly passed on the onus of direction to M.A.Thirumugam,who directed nearly fifteen films of MGR. The films produced under the banner of Dhandayudhapaani Pictures were  usually directed by R.Thiagarajan. Three fourth of movies of this other film production unit of the Devar family were made in colour prints.Stunt scenes formed the other dynamic characteristic of Devar films.The entertainment factor always weighed high with this veteran film maker.Being chiefly of the action genre, none of the Devar Films' movies, could be called boring.It was the right perception of the economic fundamentals of film making and the profound faith in his pet deity that sustained the life breath and victory march of the dauntless Devar Films Circuit. Dever deserves a special applause in this regard.The only surprising fact of the Devar Films is the significant exclusion of Sivaji Ganesan in all their films. One can not believe how a successful film production enterprise could fail to utilize the world famous acting stuff of a classic actor like Sivaji Ganesan.
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Captain Vijayakanth's One Man Army.













          Vijayakanth is a name for magnetic victory. The spirit of the hero in Vijayakanth, is always a force to reckon with. He became a hero three decades ago, when the celluloid world was obsessed with norms of appearance and complexion, for the choice of actors doing heroes on screen. Like  Rajinikanth, Vijayakanth  should also  have faced the hurdle of fighting his complexion, for entry into the tinsel world.But unlike the Superstar, Vijayakanth did  not have a Balachander to introduce and groom him. Nor could  he stun the audience, with miraculous body language and freshness in dynamic,stylish expositions in acting,such as smoking,walking and talking differently. So the hurdles would have been more for him.But,Vijayakanth framed his own style, like every other actor and delivered his roles, with force and clarity in dialogue delivery and speed and  flow of energy in the stunt scenes. He needs a special recognition, for facing all the obstructions and surmounting them with grit to reach the position, he holds now. 
      Unlike all other heroes, Vijayakanth holds the unique distinction of acting under the direction of nearly sixty directors. I do not think any other hero had the privilege of working with so many people.It was M.A.Kaja who introduced him straight as a hero in his 'Inikkum Ilamai'. During the initial years,apart from this director,it was S.A.Chandrasekar who patronized Vijayakanth and established him as a formidable face with a fire for fighting injustice of any kind. Right from 'Sattam Oru Iruttarai',films like 'Saatchi','Vetri','Enakku Naane Neethipathi' and 'Neethiyin Marupakkam' S.A.Chandrasekar sponsored and utilized the talent of Vijayakanth in almost twenty films and thereby earned the title of the Captain's director. It is similar to P.Neelakandan directing about the same number of films of MGR.This was followed by R.Sundarajan, who directed about half a dozen films of Vijayakanth and gave Silver Jubilee hits like 'Vaidhehi Kaathirundhal' and 'Amman Koil Kishakkaale' [ for which the hero got State Government's best actor award].
    Think of a hero in police uniform and there comes this indomitable hero, as the only man born  to be a cop. Directors like S.A.Chandrasekar [Satchi and Vetri],Aabaavaanan [Oomai Vizhigal], R.K.Selvamani [ Pulan Visaaranai], Manivannan [Nooravathu Naal],Subash [Chathriyan] P.Vasu [Sethupathi IPS another film of AVM banner, after its earlier hit 'Managarakaval' with Vijayakanth as a cop ],Maharajan [Vallarasu],Shaji Kailash [Vaanchinathan] K.S.Ravi [ Honest Raj],] Udhayan ,[Perarasu] and Aru Pandian [Devan] have all used him for a grand show of the police department depicting this magnificent hero, as a one man army from the law enforcing, uniformed service. All the films mentioned here,were hits,in one way or the other.
    Vijayakanth who earned the title 'Captain' from R.K.Selvamani's 'Captain Prabakaran' in which he acted as IFS officer, fitted into the police uniform with pep and power and transmitted a lot of force and energy needed for a police officer. No other actor has contributed their histrionic might to this dignified uniform as Vijayakanth did.He deserves a special salute in this regard. In addition to this exclusive character,Vijayakanth has donned a variety of roles to prove his inherent capacity for displaying a distinct acting stuff.
    It was R.V.Udhayakumar who used him in a totally different frame as a village chieftain, endowed with a singular quality of justice in his blood, that made him a leading person of the village.The entire village looked upon his highly esteemed neutrality to deliver verdicts on many crucial issues. He was the mobile court  with its truest voice of justice.The trendsetting movie was 'Chinna Gaunder' in which Viajayakanth acted for the first time in a role full of poise, control and a calm frame of mind.It was an eventful film in the acting career of Vijayakanth. No doubt, there was an over doze of  of violence in the film ;but the over all impact of the movie was one of a Vijayakanth movie, in an unseen perspective.Following this, there were similar films centering round rural themes like 'Veeram Velanja Mannu' 'Thavasi' and 'Kannupadapoguthaiyya'
     K.Bagyaraj  joined Vijayakanth to direct the latter's 'Sokka Thangam' which became a clean movie with the passionate but controlled performance of both Vijayakanth and Prakashraj. Director Vikraman,the positive face of Tamil cinema produced a box office hit with Vijayakanth and the memorable film was 'Vaanathai Pola' It was another film of Vijayakanth in dual roles but was a grand show of united brotherhood and male sibling love.Later, new director Samuthirakani presented one more rural story,with Vijayakanth leading the action in 'Neranja Manasu' .Siddiq's 'Enga Anna' a remake of Malayalam block buster 'Chronic Bachelor' was yet another hit of Vijayakanth, with a neat story line and comedy element, making it a wonderful entertainer.
    Besides Police stories and rustic characters, the Captain has appeared as Chief election commissioner in 'Thennavan' and as District collector in Barathi Raja's 'Thamizh Selvan' .His role as a college professor in 'Ramana' directed by A.R.Murugadoss who has been making waves through his regular hits, was another extraordinary movie that showed our hero in a totally different perspective.The catchy story line and the captivating presentation made the film a block buster.It was a treat to watch the captain perform with the power of dignity as he did earlier in 'Chinna Gaunder'.This was another milestone in the acting career of Vijayakanth. We also saw him as an expert cardiologist in 'Sabari'  fighting in his usual style, the atrocities prevalent in the medical profession. His other hits include 'Ezhai Jaathi'  'Paatuukkoru Thalaivan'[Liaquet Ali Khan] 'Poonthotta Kaavalkaran.'Barathan' and 'Sendhoorapoove'
   The Captain is different in several aspects.As said earlier,he has acted with a vast variety of directors, of whom some belonged to the old school .He had been directed by the old stalwarts like K.S.Gopalakrishnan, [ 'Kaviathalaivan'] K.Vijayan ['Dhoorathu Idimuzhakkam'] P.Madhavan,[Sathiyam Neeye' ] K.Shankar ['Meenakshi Thiruvilaiadal' and 'Velundu Vinaiyilla'], S.P.Muthuraman [ 'Dharma Devathi', 'Nallavan'] A.Jeganathan [ 'Naalai Unathu Naal'] C.V.Rajendran [ 'Puthiya Theerpu '] and T.R.Ramanna.['Sattam Sirikkiradhu']. 
     After MGR,it is Vijayakanth for whom characterization has been framed with dedication to themes of social justice and relentless resistance against political and administrative corruption. This seems to have been done  with the conviction of creating a hero for a mass base. As in the case of MGR, this base has preceded the formation of a political front.Unlike most other heroes and unlike even MGR,Vijayakanth has hardly shared his screen space with other popular heroes [except Mohan in a couple of films, Murali in 'En Asai Machan',Soorya in 'Periyanna' and  Karthik Muthuraman in 'Devan'].Almost all  his films, have been of the action genre and speed in narration, has always remained the chief factor of success of his films.If logic is not insisted upon,majority of Vijayakanth movies were safely out of the boring category.It should also be said here, that it is Vijayakanth who can resort to  loud and forceful exhortation of values to the corrupt people of the service sectors and immediately bring down his voice to a modest appeal to them to think of what the society at large expects of them. The supremacy of the captain as an actor,  could be established only after a stout struggle to consistently portray himself as a one man army , with an independent vision, that would place him not just as a popular mass hero,but as the leading political voice of  millions of his fans.  
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Some Formidable Mother Characters.



























         We generally believe that men govern households with the able support of women.But at times the system of family governance takes a U turn, seeing women rule their homes, with the simple submission of their spouses.Such women soon become unbridled, to turn to formidable mothers in future.The concept of formidable mothers, has been suitably handled in Tamil Cinema, to depict gynocracy and matriarchy with a catchy story line and characterization involving electrifying performance of actresses fit for playing such roles.
       As Tamil Cinema has never faced dearth of talents to play any kind of character with ability and force, it could conveniently enroll women to transform into ruling prototypes of motherhood, anticipating simple obedience from children,particularly daughters. However,in such contexts,submission of husbands precedes that of children.The leading mothers of Tamil films were Sundaribai, P.SGnanam, C.K.Saraswathi, G.Varalakshmi and S.Varalakshmi. The later additions to this category of dominant women were, Sukumari Pushpalatha and Jeyachitra..
      Actresses like Kannaamba. M.V.Rajamma and Pandaribai belonged to the meekest brand of women and they could never be imagined to play as rough and tough women.Among the next generation women artists,Sujatha and Srividya have been seen only as docile women.But even Srividya,once appeared as the mother of Amala in the film 'Mappillai' and as a rich and snobbish mother,she was found influencing her daughter and throwing challenges to her son-in law played by the Superstar.The first thing she did was discarding her husband, who did not toe her line of arrogance.
      Among the senior artists listed here,Sundaribai was always seen as a noisy woman quarrelling with her husband and dominating the domestic core.Whenever directors thought of the role of a harassing  mother-in- law,they would immediately ask for the call sheet of Sundaribai or C.K.Sarawathi.These two women would deplorably demonstrate third level scheming and cruelty both as step mothers and as mothers-in law. Sundaribai was also capable of playing grumbling type of characters,interested in gossiping and finding fault with others.Her role in Padikkaadha Medhai is a memorable one. C.K.Saraswathi as Vadivu, in 'Thillaanaa Mohanaambaal' was the dominating, greedy mother of Padmini .She had played as a greedy mother and mother-in-law in several films and it was her greed that used to make her ill treat her daughter-in-law, in most of the films. P.S.Gnanam would frequently play the role of a scheming woman disturbing the peace of not only her family, but also that of others.Her most detestable role was in 'Paasamalar' as an elder relative of Gemini Ganesan,with her devilish moves leading to the separation of the most loving siblings [Sivaji and Savithri] and then causing their death.She acted as the most formidable and despicable woman in that film.
     G.Varalakshmi performed the role of a dominant mother, trying to break  her rich daughter's love marriage with a man from a socially modest background, in A.V.M's 'Kuzhandhaiyum Dheivamum'.She went to the extent of influencing her daughter to get divorced from her husband and separating her twin grand daughters from their father.How the formidable mother was finally reformed, came as the sweet climax of the story.She had earlier played the role of Kaigeyi very impressively in Sampooreana Ramayanam.The other cruel mother on screen was S.Varalakshmi,who was even ready to see her daughter as a widow, rather than watching her live with her financially poor son- in- law and this story line was witnessed in the emotion packed film 'Panama Paasama' directed by the most esteemed K.S.Gopalakrishnan. The same actress performed a similar role in K.Balachander's 'Poova Thalaiya' with a lot of manipulations to control her widower son- in- law and his uncontrollable younger brother.Interestingly,in both the films,it was Gemini Ganesan who played the role of the son-in-law.Unlike G.Varalakshmi,whose character of female arrogance was hidden in graceful silence and look of pride,S.Varalaksmi's arrogant stuff was bigger in looks and louder in thoughts and words.
    In dealing with such adamant and unruly mothers. the male heads in some films were shown as shrewder and invincible.For instance,V.K.Ramasamy brought in through the backdoor his nephew [Sivaji Ganesan] to handle his virago type of wife  [played by Sugumari] in 'Pattikaadaa Pattanama'.Through a manipulative arrangement, the maternal uncle and his nephew not only reformed the lady of the house, but also her pampered daughter.The same theme was repeated in AVM's 'Sakalakala Vallavan' with the same V.K.Ramasamy, using the services of his nephew Kamalahasan to tame his formidable wife Pushpalatha who had successfully groomed her son [Ravindar]and daughter Ambika to follow her haughty and status- conscious frame of mind.In both the films, the female domination was brought down, by contrived sequences of events, stage managed by the male head, with the genuine support of the younger relative.
    A decade later,director Guru Danapal did a similar hat trick using the smartness and style of Manivannan and Sathyaraj to bring down the matriarchy of Jeyachitra in 'Maaman Magal'.In this fresh venture, the maternal uncle and nephew game was played to save the formidable mother's perverted daughter Meena, from getting married to any undesirable person, in the name of status and riches. For Jeyachithra, who had impressively portrayed the role of an arrogant girl of riches in a few films earlier, this character of a wealthy snobbish mother was a cake walk and she did it with convincing elegance.
    Really, starting from Sugumari ,all the three actresses performed the role of imperfect motherhood in their own independent style, delivering a portrait of hateful mothers.The directors of all these movies, should be applauded for invigorating freshness in the treatment of a repeated theme in a new dimension and making the outputs different from one another.The over all impact of the portrayal of formidable mothers, has always been towards bringing out the intrinsic softer side of motherhood, winning over the harder exterior.The logical and most welcome culmination has ever been, the reformation of formidable women, into endearing and acceptable individuals, with a true understanding of the spirit of maternal love.This could be achieved only by  subtle handling of situations by the understanding male heads, without complicating issues that come on the way. Shakespeare wrote a wonderful play called 'Taming of the Shrew.' Tamil film directors have once a way turned their attention to project many such shrews in the guise of domineering women and their show of supremacy, only to be cowed down by their clever ,well meaning husbands.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Some Tall Stories of Twins.


















                                                                











       Actors playing dual roles is a common feature in Indian Cinema, particularly in Hindi,Telugu and Tamil films.Besides, Sivaji Ganeasan and Rajinikanth have taken up even three roles in 'Deivamagan' and 'Moonru Mugam' respectively.Kamalahasan took ten avatars in 'Dasavadharam' as Sivaji did nine in 'Navarathiri'. But stories revolving around the plight and predicament of twins are totally different.The objective of this article is to revisit the treatment of the ordeal of twins through a variety of perception and vision, in some popular Tamil films and express their special impact on my movie minutes.
      Some of the striking themes related to the depiction of stories of twins were sibling rivalry for love or power,separation of twins in childhood and reunion, leading to united revenge against wrong doers, parental disposal of one of the twin kids, on account of its physical deformity and the most recent focus on the predicament of conjoined twins
      The first major hit in this genre was Venus Pictures' 'Uthamaputhiran' starring Sivaji Ganesan  appearing in  dual roles as  twin brothers, Vikraman and Parthiban, born as princes of Malarpuri kingdom.The twins were separated in childhood, and  one of the twins was groomed in promiscuity by his wicked maternal uncle who had plans to kill both the twins and usurp the kingdom but could not execute his conspiracy because the king had read his mind and made him the guardian of the younger of the twins. The elder of the twins whose killing was already arranged  was not actually killed but brought up by a loyal servant, with his identity hidden  from his uncle anticipating threat to his life. Vikraman taken into irredeemably bad  ways saw his brother as a rival and ultimately it was Parthiban who acceded to the throne defeating the evil designs of his twin brother and their crooked maternal uncle. The film was known for brilliant narration, sustenance of tempo and wonderful acting of Sivaji Ganesan, marking a marvellous difference between the two roles. The same story was later parodied by director Simbudevan, with  comedian Vadivelu playing the roles of twins in the ridiculously titled film 'Imsai Arasan Irubathu Moonraam Pulikesi'. Interestingly, this film also became a box office hit.
     Decades ago, Gemini Studios released a twin story movie 'Aboorva Sagodharargal' with veteran M.K.Radha playing the twin roles. This film was later remade as 'Neerum Neruppum' with MGR donning the twin roles of M.K.Radha. Both the films portrayed the predicament of twins having similar feelings and symptoms of  aggressive sensuousness.The twins in 'Neerum Neruppum' were called Karikalan and Manivannan  and it was the theme of revenge besides the sensuous predicament of the twins that both the movies focused.Though the later version was considered to be inferior to its original ,MGR definitely did well to differentiate between the two characters, but he was more convincing as Karikalan than as Manivannan.
    MGR tops the list of actors who did the maximum number of dual roles, half of which as twins.His other box office hits showing him perform as twins  were ,'Enga Veetu Pillai','Kudiyirunda Koil, and 'Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban' The first in the list showed the twins as reforming their maternal uncle who had enslaved one of them and brought him up as a coward.The second movie pictured the twins taking a united revenge against a smuggler who had killed their  parents and brought up one of the twins as a criminal. The third category portrayed one of the twins as a dedicated scientist and the other as a CBI officer both struggling to get the criminals booked before law and punished.In all these films, it was the MGR formula of virtue conquering vice that became the central theme and winning proposition.The difference in make up and the range of style in acting, added to the freshness and made the films, eligible for repeated viewing as most other MGR films ever did.
    Following the footsteps of MGR, Bagyaraj retrieved from the bin an unfinished film of his model hero and made it into a full length action movie worthy of a happy watch.The film was titled as 'Avasara Police 100' and was endowed with a story line of twins,one a cowardly police man and the other a formidable street fighter. It became another entertainer of the Bagyaraj brand.When the twins came to know each other,the strong one emboldened the coward and both fought a united battle against the wrong doers.
    The same revenge theme by employing the twins concept was also tried in showcasing women as twins in films like 'Vaani Raani'[ a remake of 'Hindi Seetha Aur Geetha' acted by Hemamalini] and 'Irulum Oliyum', both films going into hands of Vaanisri one of the most talented actresses of the sixties and seventies. Vanisri literally repeated what MGR did in 'Enga Veettu Pillai', in mending the wrongs of the elder relatives and  made her performance as twins,commendable in both the films. AVM's 'Kaathirundha Kangal' showed Savithri in dual roles as twins, both in an entanglement of love with the same man  followed by attempts of impersonation by one of the twins and the sorrowful complications it caused. In all these films, including those of MGR, the twins were separated in childhood by unforeseen circumstances and were reunited, years later.
     Sivaji's 'Deivamagan' and Arjun's 'Karna' focused on a similar theme but different from what has been discussed so far.In 'Deivamgan',the father disposed one of his twin sons who was born like him, with a scarred cheek on one side giving a horrid look.As the father did not want his son to undergo the insulting moments and the attached trauma that he had suffered, he decided to part with his son resembling him in ugliness.Finally,the neglected son came to know the truth and troubles hit back  making situations untenable both for the father and son.The emotional conflicts between the father and son were excellently delivered by the massively talented Sivaji. In addition to this, Sivaji also showed his pranks and playboy attitude as the second of the twins. Arjun's 'Karna' showed a rich father disowning one of his new born twins on account of a congenital physical deformity.After years,the son with a stunted growth, reappeared  to disturb his father's conscience.The forlorn son came back as a rich lawyer and finally it was he who saved his father from gangsters.As in 'Deivamagan',here too, the second among the twins had grown up as a pampered son.However, in emotional display and demonstration of paternal love and filial devotion, 'Deivamagan' remained unbeatable.
     Director Shankar gave a new thrust and dimension to the  portrayal of twins in his film 'Jeans', which mooted the idea of twins marrying only twins, but the proposal finally got nullified .The film effectively brought home the sufferings of the twin brothers Nachiappan and Pechiappan, played by Nasser and it was the fish mongering attitude of Pechiappan's wife that caused all the problems culminating in the death Nachiappan's wife. So,Nachiappan decided that his twin sons Viswanathan and Ramamurthy should take only some twin sisters as their wives.However, the film had a different climax with one of the twins marrying the girl whom both of them loved,on account of a technically manipulated drama showing the same girl as twin sisters. While Viswanathan married the girl, Ramamurthy had to gulp the disappointment.The film was dipped in humour and sentiment in equal degree and proved to be a great entertainer,like all other Sankar movies.
      The two recent releases 'Charulatha' and 'Maatraan' have taken us on a new track to watch the plight of conjoined  twins.While the former deals with rivalry between two sisters in marrying the man whom both of them love,the latter though has a similar romantic element,projects the twin brothers as brave fighters for a great cause.In both these films one of the twins gets killed ,while the other person has to undergo the ordeal of deprivation of the erstwhile conjoined self who remained part and parcel of the daily routine ever since they were born.However, the nature of struggle of the protagonists of both the films, was completely different. 'Maatraan' was a little more appealing than 'Charulatha' because of Soorya's dedicated efforts to bring out the routine physical and psychological anguish of the twins being inseparable and the later sufferings of the one living without the other. However, this movie too was lacking in tempo and coherence and the happenings were hardly gripping for a worthy watch.The morbid climax,though would have been considered as a nemesis meted out to the anti human, paternal antagonist,the film could have been given a decent, different and meaningful end .On the whole, the  movie disappointed the audience, who expected freshness and clarity in delineation of events from the maker of a great movie like 'Ko'
    The  stories of twins have taken discursive routes and destinations, picturing problems and situations in a variety of mind fixing portrayals and claiming tall positions.The creative imagination of film makers, deserves a special pat  for adding a new sense of dimension and appeal in story line and presentation, among movies dealing with a similar subject matter.
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