Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Early Malayalam Movie Watch.




                   













  

      Multi lingual Indian Cinema with its regional  ramifications, was not fairly open to all sections of Indians until the emergence of the electronic age. Films in various  Indian languages had their local restrictions till television began to occupy Indian homes.During the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies, other language films used to be occasionally screened in some theatres located in selective urban areas in Tamil Nadu.The town where I was born and brought up, had a couple of theatres screening Hindi, English and Malayalam films, once a way. This is how I had the chance to watch films of other languages, particularly, those in Malayalam. Chemmeen was the first Malayalam movie I saw. It was a beautiful love story, with  the taboo theme of a married woman from a fisherman family, crossing the line of marital bond to realize the fruits of her premarital romance. The movie also emphasized the validity of the belief, that the fisherman husband betrayed by his wife would fall a prey to the shark in the sea.
    Thematic content, aesthetic component,tragic intensity, musical magnificence and poignant presentation in its totality, made the film an instant success, drawing powerful reviews, making it rightly eligible to draw a national award. Sathyan, the fisherman husband, Sheela the unfortunate woman caught in an enforced marriage against her love interest and Madhu the pathetic man in love, all became  helpless victims of tragic circumstances with their grandiose performance taking the movie to its epic status. Ramu Kariat, who directed the film based on Thagazhi Sivasankaran Pillai’s popular novel bearing the same title, proved to be an invaluable asset to the Malayalam film industry.
     The next film that I chanced to see was A.Vincent's Thulaabaaram, a left-oriented story celebrating the glory of selfless and dedicated trade unionism.The battle between self - centred  capitalist forces and the unrelenting watchdogs of socialism, was sharply focused and neatly told in an undeviating realistic perspective. Prem Nazir, the steadfast trade union leader and Saradha his hapless wife who married him, suppressing the pangs of untold love for another man before marriage, became immortal characters of a classic celluloid experience. The colossal  tragic undercurrents springing from the gruesome murder of the hero, leading to a suicide attempt by his wife after killing her kids, became the heartrending highlights of the movie,getting Saratha, the national best actor award on expected lines.No wonder that a grand film of this kind, was remade into Tamil with the same title with A.V.M.Rajan and Saratha playing the lead roles. The Tamil version was received with equal acclaim and audience support.
    This was followed by K.S.Sethumadhavan's Punar Jenmam starring Nazir and Jeyabarathi. A film based on a delicate theme of mother obsession in a grown up son, [ which is psychologically termed as Oedipus Complex] and its resultant impact on his married life, became the subject matter of the film. Certified for adult watch, the movie became an additional feather to  the ever creative and talent hungry Malayalam film makers.Owing to the significance of its sensational story line, the film was remade into Tamil as Marupiravi,starring Muthuraman and Manjula and the Tamil version also cast an indelible impression on the audience. The script for Punar Jenmam was penned by the well known psychiatrist A.T.Kovoor.
     K.S.Sethumadhavan's Chattakkaari, a romantic film narrating the plight of an Anglo Indian family was the other movie that I happened to see. Lakshmi who played the Anglo Indian girl falling in love with a Hindu guy and suffered the stigma of an unwed pregnancy, drew the sympathy and admiration of many, for her laudable performance.This film was later produced in Hindi as Julie and impressed the Hindi film watchers too.The memories of this film seem to be so vitally working on the imagination of the film makers that this film has been recently remade in Malayalam with the same title, by Santhosh Sethumadhavan,the inspired son of  the maker of the original version.Later, I saw Kanyakumari of Kamalahasan, that focused on the budding talents of the prospective world class actor. Incidentally, this too happened to be a product from the classic brain of [ Late ]K.S.Sethumadhavan.
    The other films that came in the line of  my movie minutes were Fazil’s Magnil Virigna Pookal starring Mohanlal, [his first film] Shankar and Poornima Jeyaram and Balu Mahendra's Olangal with Amol Paulekher and Poornima Jeyaram .After these, Barathan's two films Kattathe Kilikkodu, a fascinating film speaking about the self obsessed vagaries and possessive attitude of a young girl spoiling the peace and happiness of a professor’s family,composed like a bird’s nest and Vaisali,a mythical extravaganza, released during the Nineteen Eighties, were the other fascinating films that formed part of my early Malayalam movie watch.Two films that I watched in Kerala were,Aatakkalasam of Nazir and Mohanlal at a theatre in Koratti and Tharaavu with Madhu as protagonist, at the temple town of Guruvayur. These limited number of films were just a spec of the galaxy of the amazing Malayalam movie world, to which I  got introduced, just before and at the dawn of the Television Age.
    My theatre trips to watch Malayalam films could not be extended due to local restrictions and theatres not going forward to screen other language films in the Municipal towns in Tamil Nadu. Thanks to the arrival of television at one’s door step, one was at liberty to choose and watch other language films by a click of the remote control. However, the enchanting theatre watch of Malayalam films particularly of those, known for creative exuberance and aesthetic excellence, held one’s imagination at its zenith.Lack of speed in narration and inadequacy of entertainment quotient did not prevent those films from getting their due accord and recognition from the audience. 
     I cherish those great moments, generating from the experience of  watching some of the best Malayalam films of those days, not influenced by the extraneous influence of incredible action segment and melodrama that  subsequently went on uprooting a richly qualitative film industry of the God’s own country, from its ideal and distinct base of exceptional standards. Those days,the uniqueness of the  Malayalam movie field was mostly identified by its constant focus on the principles of existentialism,stoicism,fatalism and stark realism.Prospective articles of this blog, will discuss the current status of the Malayalam film world with relevant inclusion of men and matters influencing profusely a classic creative foundation. 
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Not Just An Action King.

















      Speedy,spectacular physical feats have made Arjun an action king.But truly, his acting stuff is made up of much more talent than mere action segment.He has been a charming romantic hero and a great artist capable of both underplay and sensitive display of emotions.In expressing filial devotion,sibling attachment and ire against injustice of any kind Arjun has established a special place for himself in the Tamil film industry.His graceful smile is the other winning factor about him.
    The starting years of Arjun's career mostly went unnoticed.It was the AVM banner that gave him the status of an actor through its films 'Sankar Guru' and 'Sondhakkaaran'. The first of the two films revealed Arjun's Karate expertise more than his acting credentials.Then came two films 'Sevagan' and 'Pratap' directed by Arjun himself.Both the films set a solid ground for Arjun to grow further in directorial and histrionic dimensions.But it was Shankar's debut movie 'Gentleman' that made him a grand hero overnight.It was the combined might of Shankar and Arjun that made 'Gentleman' a film of epic grandeur.Action, sentiment, comedy and social concern all mixed in right proportion and narrated in a manner that Tamil Film audience had not witnessed till then, made the film not just a regular hit but an extraordinary product to be preserved in the annals of Tamil film history. Arjun's popularity as action king and an assiduous hero began to swell, with this role of a Robin hood type of gentleman.
    'Gentleman' was followed by 'Jai Hind' from Arjun's own direction.It was not just another police story, but a tribute to patriotism made in earnest form and spirit, through dedicated narration.It was not lacking in entertainment component too, thanks to the enjoyable comedy show provided by Goundamani and Senthil. The movie became a spontaneous hit and added additional feathers of pride to the growing popularity of Arjun. Two other later releases of Arjun also celebrated patriotic themes both in title and story value and they were 'Thayin Manikkodi', directed by Arjun and 'Vandhe Madharam' a Malayaalam movie dubbed in Tamil, in which Arjun and Mammooty were seen as police officers with unquestionable devotion to the motherland. 'Karna' which hit the screens after 'Jai Hind',continued the success journey of Arjun, because of its impressive story line and the dual roles neatly performed by Arjun. Like many other heroes, Arjun also faced the risk of being typecast in stereotyped roles.
    He played another cop story Sengottai,a moderate success. When repeated roles were offered and performed, Shankar once again enrolled Arjun for his most refreshing film 'Mudhalvan' that made Arjun play a one day match as Chief Minister accepting the challenge thrown by the existing corrupt Chief Minister, played by Raguvaran. Shankar- Arjun combination repeated the success of 'Gentleman', though not to that stupendous level. 'Mudhalvan' reestablished Arjun's sagging career. Following the success of 'Mudhalvan', many films continued to project Arjun, as a staunch fighter for justice, in  a variety of roles.However, two films came to make the audience breathe afresh, the breezy delineation of romance;one was Vedham,  directed by Arjun and the other was Rhythm, from Vasanth's direction.
    Besides directing about eight of his movies, Arjun has acted in the films of many reputed and commercially successful directors, apart from Shankar and Vasanth. Arjun has been the hero of P.Vasu's 'Sathu',K.S.Ravikumar's 'Kondaattam',Vikraman's 'Gokulam', R.K.Selva Mani's 'Adimaichangili',R.V.Udhayakumar's 'Subash',Marudhamalai directed by Suraaj, Perarasu's 'Thiruvannamalai'  Barathi Raja's 'Bommalaattam' and the three films 'Durai,' 'Vathiyaar' and 'Vallakkottai' directed by A.Venkatesh. He has also acted in in the recently released Kadal, from Manirathnam's production house.The other successful films of Arjun include 'Ayutha Poojai','Otran', Sundar.C's 'Giri' and 'Chinna', Sriram's 'Kuruthippunal' with Kamal, Manoj Kumar's 'Vaanavil' and 'Ezhumalai' directed by Arjun himself.Of the films listed here,Sadhu, Giri,Vaanavil, Otran,Vadhiyaar and Marudhamalai created a greater impact than the others. The freshness and twists in narration made Otran and Vaanavil specially captivating .In addition to these, Arjun has done the role of a match fixing,gambling police officer along with Ajith, in the most casual movie 'Mangaathaa', directed by Venkat Prabu. 
   As far as his performance is concerned, Arjun has effectively demonstrated filial devotion in films like  Gentleman, Mudhalvan Vaathiyaar and Vaanavil. The last in the list showcased a heart warming, extraordinary father-son relationship portrayed by Manivannan and Arjun. Arjun's love for his parents in 'Mudhalvan' was also beautifully narrated.His sibling attachment was witnessed as a wonderful experience in 'Ezhumalai' like that of Rajinikanth in 'Dharmadurai'. In stunt scenes, his dedication and level of participation, have always remained as something closer to his heart and soul.
    Arjun is not wanting in natural comedy sense  and humour content.He has provided spontaneously laughable comedy scenes, teaming up with Vadivelu, in films like Giri,Vadhiyar and Marudhamalai .As a police officer, he not only fits into the uniform in all perfection, but also carries on the role with utmost sobriety,dignity and smartness required for the role.One major positive feature about his acting, is his beautifully controlled voice modulation, that simultaneously preempts any attempt at reflecting tendencies of sentimental melodrama, leading to overacting. This fundamental voice control, also effectively suppresses needless outbursts irrelevant to the situation.Consequently, his acting turns out to be less dramatic and more realistic. Beyond all these,there is always an inherent, all pervading sense of patriotism that becomes part and parcel of this great actor, who is not just an action king but a fine blend of  commendable human emotions like love for mankind and fury born of concern for human values and impeccable dedication to the motherland. 
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Doyen of Native Notes.















      John Milton the noted English Poet complimented Shakespeare by addressing him as ''Fancy's child warbling his native wood notes wild''. In Tamil film music composition K.V.Mahadhevan remained as the doyen of native notes.In an age known for its commitment and dedication to classical music,he flew his traditional wings spreading the glory of the nativity spirit without compromising  the quality of his composition.
      K.V.Mahadhevan was the regular favourite of the Devar Films unit and thereby, it could be said that he was the chosen music director of all MGR movies that were released by M.M.A.Chinnappa Devar.All the mythological movies of A.P.Nagarajan derived their might from Mahadevan's magical numbers.Famous directors like APN and K.S.Gopalakrishnan could not think of any other person to compose music for their films.Besides,the Modern Theatres would frequently fall in for the felicitous flow of music from K.V.Mahadevan. The other famous director who preferred KVM to others was, L.V.Prasad and he did this particularly for his great hits like Iruvar Ullam and Idhyakkamalam.
    The music contribution of K.V.Mahadhevan to Tamil Cinema was voluminous and it would be very difficult to bring his work under a restricted scanner.Among the various mythological films of APN, Thiruvilaiyadal,Saraswathi Sabatham Kandhan Karunai andThiruvarutchelvar need a special mention.Moreover,his music composition for Thilaanaa Mohanaambaal,a movie of  epic grandeur, created a historic impact particularly in the two songs 'Maraindhirundhu Paarkkum Marmamenna' and 'Nalanthaanaa'.K.V.Mahadhevan also takes the credit for composing music for the only film that MGR and Sivaji acted together.[Koondukkili]
    Some of the most popular songs from MGR films like Thaikkuppin Thaaram,Thai Sollai Thattaathe, Parisu,Vivasayee,Arasa Kattalai,Adimaipen, Nalla Neram, En Annan and Pallaandu Vaazhga, have become the lasting musical additions of K.V.Mahadevan to the Tamil film music album.Songs like  Aahaanam Aasai Nirai Verumaa,Kaveri Karaiyirukku,Pattuvanna Chittu Padaguthurai Vittu, Kadavulenum Madhalaali,Aayiram Kaigal MaraithuNinraalum ,Aayiram Nilave Vaa, Oedi Oedi Uzhaikkanum,Nenjam Undu Nermaiyundu ,Onre Kulamenru and Poivaa Nadhi Alaiye from the movies mentioned above are the most energizing tunes of Mahadhevan.
   Among the Sivaji Ganesan movies,apart from those directed by APN,there were fascinating songs from films like Makkalai Petra Magaraasi, Iratha Ththilakam, Padikkadha Medhai, Annai Illam,Paavai Vilakku, Kungumam and Vasandha Maaligai. Some of the mesmerizing melodies from these movies are Onru Serndha Anbumaarumaa,Poravale Poravale Ponnurangam Pasumai Niraindha Ninaivugale,Ore Oru Oorile,Ennirendu Padhinaaru Vayasu,Aairam kan Poedhaadhu, Kaaviyamaa Nenjin Oeviyamaa, Thoongadha Kannenru Onru , Chinnanjiriya Vannapparavai  Kalaimagal Kaiporule and Mayakkamenna.
    The other great works of Mahadhevan were for the films Kumudham, Vaanambaadi, Mudhalaali Dheivathin Dheivam, Manappandal,Pangaaligal and Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum which were all movies of S.S.Rajendran playing the hero.Songs like 'Ennaivittu Oedippoga Mudyumaa', 'Thookanaan Kuruvi Koodu' ,'Yerikkaraiyinmele','Neeiyilladha Ulagathile,'Unakku Mattum Unakku Mattum Ragasiam Solven','Chinna Arumbu Malrum', 'Amudhum Thenum Edharku' and 'Aasaiye Alaipole'.Mahadhevan's fame is further sustained by his musical show in films like Kaidhi Kannayiram Vannakkili,Yaanaipaagan, Neela Malai Thirudan,Ponnithirunaal,Town Bus,Enga Veetu Mahaalatchumi and Aadavandha Dheivam.
      It is not known why the two other leading directors Sridhar and Balachander of those days made use of the musical talent of KVM only once, i.e for Vennira Aadai and Ethiroli respectively. Mahadhevan believed in his inspiration for native notes that always put him on the leading track, making success waves with traditional musical instruments.One could categorically say that the impact of the Western genre of music was a rare phenomenon during the entire course of his musical career.Listening to the music of Mahadhevan was like breathing in fresh air in a natural,unpolluted environment.It was a distinct pattern of music soothing the ears without any jarring note anywhere.It would be right to say that Mahadevan paved the right direction to be willingly and effectively taken over by Ilayaraja the  prophet of Tamil film music.But Raja went one step ahead,mixing the genres of the East and West without ever losing his native hold.
    The other remarkable aspect of K.V.M's compositions was the instrumental sustenance of melody and sweetness without interfering with the clarity of lyrics so that the songs were clearly heard and enjoyed  along with the flow of music that adorned the lyrics with a sense of charm and grandeur. The music of Mahadhevan always takes us to the grandeur of the past with a passion for the soil to which he belonged.It leaves a deepening nostalgic endurance in the line of great film makers like APN and K.S Gopalakrishnan in whose films Mahadhevan also found an inseparable hold. No doubt, this doyen of native notes, is the darling of those who have an ear for the kind of music, that promotes a sense of belonging.
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Heirs of M.R.Radha.


















    M.R.Radha is perhaps the only Tamil actor whose memory is being perpetuated not only by his legendary performance in a vast number of films,some of them celebrated for his actions alone, but also by his four children, who have also proved their acting brilliance that they seem to have genetically inherited from their father.They are M.R.R.Vasu who is also no more,Radha Ravi who is doing his best as villain and character actor,and  Radhika and Nirosha the two daughters of M.R.Radha,the elder one claiming an inimitable place as a woman of power and dynamism.
    Of the two male heirs,M.R.R.Vasu was almost a replica of Radha in his unique voice modulation and adherence to intonation in dialogue delivery.Again like his father he could excel in performing as villain,comedian and character actor.As a villain he was very crude and cunning in Balachander's Kaviathalaivi and Muktha Pictures'Thavapudhalvan. Unlike M.R.Radha who had acted in the films of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan,Vasu preferred to act mostly with Sivaji Ganesan. He would have acted in more than a dozen films of Sivaji Ganesan. Of these,besides Thavapudhalvan,his performance in a character role in Baratha Vilas,with Manorama as his wife,made a remarkable impact in terms of emotional content and presentation.It was in fact one of the best characters that came in his way and he made best use of the opportunity.
      Vasu's performance in films like Gnaana Oli, Pattikkaadaa Pattanamaa, Thiagam, Dr.Shiva, Ennai Pol Oruvan,Sorgam,Neethi, Nalladhoru Kudumbam, Avandhaan Manithan and Manithanum Dheivamaagalaam was generally an even mix of comedy and villainy and  in all these movies Sivaji Ganesan was the hero.Vasu's characterization was a prominent portrayal in films like Sooriyakanthi  Kai Niraya Kaasu and Halo Partner.Like M.R.Radha, Vasu could also switch over between villainy and comedy combined in one character, with ease, felicity and perfection. It was the untimely death of M.R.R.Vasu that clipped his thespian wings.The film viewers were truly deprived of his acting grandeur, similar to his father's.
    Radha Ravi the junior son of M.R.Radha,has established himself as an actor of longstanding abilities on account of his independent and individual perceptions of the basic ingredients of acting, that would be different from those of his father or elder brother.One of the interesting factors concerning the two actor sons of Radha is their favoured position in the hands of veteran director K.Balachander, unlike their father who occupied a powerful position in the hands of K.S.Gopalakrishnan the other famous director of those days.K.B offered vital roles for Vasu in his films like Punnagai and Kaaviathalaivi, besides giving him a place for comedy in films like Edhir Neechal and Poova Thalaiyaa.Vasu made a very impressive show as a practical and opportunistic business man in Punnagai and as the crudest,wife- torturing villain, in Kaviya Thalaivi.
     It wasBalachander who introduced Radha Ravi into TamilCinema through his film Manmadha Leelai and he continued to induct him in his other films like Thanneer Thanneer, Achamilai Achamillai, Poovilangu, Annaamalai,[in which he performed a memorable role as Sarath Babu's father,trying heaven and earth to split the childhood friendship between his son and the milkman Annamalai]and Muthu  the last two,starring Rajinikanth.
    A couple of more telling roles of Radha Ravi were as Prabu Ganeasan's erring brother in law in the film Paandithurai and a womanizing butcher in Karthik Muthuraman's Dheiva Vaaku, but in both the films he became redeemed and ennobled to become a willing follower of justice. Radha Ravi has remained as the chosen actor of  K.S.Ravikumar and P.Vasu,the two great film makers of the last two decades. P.Vasu has offered meaty villainous and character roles to Radha Ravi in his  most successful movies like Chinna Thambi, Kizhakkukkarai, Coolie, Rickshaw Maama, Sadhu, Uzhaippali and Ponnu Veetukaaran. Similarly some of the significant performances of Radha Ravi were in films like Muthu and Padayappa directed by K.S.Ravikumar.
     If Radha Ravi performed as a vulpine villain, taking innocent Kamal for a ride in A.V.M's Uyarnda Ullam,his villainy combined with comedy, proved to be a striking deal in Rajini's films like Siva, Guru Sishyan, Raajaathi Raajaa and Uzhaippaali. However, Radha Ravi has positively won our hearts in clean character roles in Chembaruthi,Kaadhalullu Mariyadhai, Chinna Thambi,Solla Thudikkidhu Manasu, Poomagal Oorvalam, Chinna Maapile[in which he proved his flair for spot comedy] and Ezhil's Raajaa,the last three projecting him more as a comedy prone person in father roles.He has also appeared as an honest police officer in Sivaji Productions Vetri Vizha starring Kamal and Prabu Ganesan.
    The most creditable aspects of Radha Ravi's acting have been his grasp and control of roles and maturity and sobriety in delivery of dialogues and portrayal of characters..If M.R.R.Vasu was the embodiment of spontaneity and exuberance,Radha Ravi stays stuck to his cool headed nature and underplay of emotions as an ever growing actor of merit.During the first half of his career he was travelling on the acting track of his father with M.R.Radha's voice pattern and manner of acting, but later changed track to carve a niche for himself as an actor of individual might and mark.
    Between the two daughters of M.R.Radha,Radhika has already found a place in this blog under the article 'The R Series Heroines and Others'.However she deserves a place here too, in terms of her position as the most powerful woman representing the Radha family as an actor of distinction.
     Her energy levels inherited from a family of acting hierarchy have always been to her advantage from the days of introduction to Tamil Cinema by the richly creative hands of Barathiraja. During the early years of her career,she was vigorous, at times even vociferous, in delivering her roles in many films.She has been paired with all leading men of Tamil films.Some of her top ranking performances were in Oorkaavalan,Nallavanukku Nallavan [both with Rajini] Thaavani Kanavugal and Poi Saatchi  [with Bagyaraj] Sippikkul Muthu [with Kamal] Ninaivu Chinnam [with Prabu Ganesan] Naane Raja Naane Mandhiri, Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran and Uzhavan Magal [ all with Vijayakanth] Keladi Kanamani [with S.P.Balasubramanyam] and later in her best shows of acting in Barathi Raja's Kizhakku Cheemayile and Pasumpon.
    In mother roles Radhika has never failed to reflect poise and dignity in various films particularly, Rojakoottam, Amarkalam and Uyirile Kalandhadhu. She has also performed a brilliant role as a termagant in Shankar's Jeans. She holds a leading position in the long list of fascinating women of Tamil Cinema in the line of Bhanumathi, Padmini, Savithri, Sowkar Janaki K.R.Vijaya, Jayalalitha Lakhsmi and Vanisri.
    Nirosha the youngest and the last from M.R.Radha's fold,was introduced by none other than the most dynamic Manirathnam in his film Agni Natchatram,paired with Karthik Muthuraman .She did another film Pandinattu Thangam with the Junior Muthuraman. She has been Kamal's pair in Soora Samhaaram.Then she was the heroine of two of Abaavaanan's movies Sendhoorapoove and Inaindha Kaigal. Recently she was seen in the role of an elder sister in Padikkadhavan of Danush. Unlike her elder siblings,Nirosha did not come with a performance that could place her as a front liner among the heroines of her time.Perhaps her meekness and the roles that came in her way, could not project her as an actor of varied dimensions and dynamism.
   Not all actors could be lucky in leaving a progeny, imbibing talents and skills as heritage from their amazingly talented father and improvising their own additional dimensions for a field show, in establishing moments of pride and glory, as powerful interlinks of the family's acting hierarchy. M.R.Radha was gifted not only as an actor but also as a proud father to have his heirs perpetuate his memory by following his path, making their own footprints deeper,and intensifying the scope and purpose of their journey to their desired destinations, creating records of name and fame.
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Positive Power of Motherhood.



P.Kannaambaa                                                           M.V.Rajammaa











                                                                               
Pandaribai.









                   S.N.Lakshmi.





                 


   The positive power of motherhood is a passion for protecting its progeny with love, kindness, sympathy, control and responsibility, cautiously keeping off negative fundamentals encroaching the system of maternal upbringing.Positive mothers are protective mothers who eventually turn into proud mothers.This blog has already made two entries, one on Powerful Father Figures and another on Formidable Mothers portrayed through the medium of Tamil Cinema.This article will focus on the impact of positive motherhood and the actors who made a mark as positive mothers in Tamil Cinema.
   Mothers who motivate their children during their formative years, in the right direction, are not just makers of the right kind of generation but are the founders of the proper form of civilization that finds a permanent place in the annals of history.We have heard of historical examples of mothers who infused the spirit of bravery in their sons and daughters and made them fight for justice and freedom towards liberating their country from  forces of aggression and imperialism. Most of the Tamil films released during the Nineteen fifties and sixties threw their weight with such mother characters beautifully portrayed by talented actors like P.Kannaambaa ,M.V.Rajamma, Pandari Bai and S.N.Lakshmi.
   P.Kannaambaa was the most impressive performer with penetrating power in her voice that would reveal the relevant emotions of pride and bravery evenly mixed with softer tendencies of maternal love and kindness.Everything would simultaneously come together through the changing patterns of voice modulation and exact throw of intonation. She had a charming voice that would rouse and quell emotions in an effortless manner.Be it a royal theme or a social one, depending upon the story line she would participate in the emotional process like a cake walk.Films like Manohara and Vanagamudi stand clear testimony to her vocal capacity for arousing the warring spirit against the evil aggressive forces.Her voice was full of fire and rage raising every now and then against the sinister designs of the greedy power monger Vasantha Sena in Manohara and against the foul machinations of the Senathipathi in Vanagamudi. Like Sivaji Ganesan, Kannaambaa was also talented in delivering lengthy ranting dialogues with a felicitous flow.For Kannaambaa, her clear and grand voice thrust was ever her greatest histrionic asset.
    She had been the positive mother of Sivaji Ganesan in several movies besides the two films mentioned above.Some of the unforgettable movies in their combination as mother and son were Nichaya Thamboolam,Punar Jenmam,Makkalai Petra Magaraasi,Padikkadha Medhai[Sivaji,an orphan adopted by S.V.Rengarao and Kannaambaa] Kathavarayan and Padhithaal Mattum Podhuma . Her death in Makkalai Petra Magarasi ,with a terminal, sad song bearing the title, would have made many people feel as if they had lost their own mother.This was because of the emotional impact she had created by her powerful portrayal of mother characters.Her genuine agony and anger over her children being made undue victims of circumstances caused  by the selfish designs of others had precisely projected her maternal plight when she came to know the truth of the course of events in a few movies. Padithaal Mattum Podhuma is one such film in which,she could be seen boiling with despair and anger over the selfishness of her nephew, making her son a scapegoat .One could always see her suffering with fury against the suppression of truth and justice.
    Kannaambaa had also been MGR's mother in Thaikkuppin Thaaram ,Thai Magalukku Kattiya Thaali,Thirudaathe and Neethikkuppin Paasam. Besides, she had acted in notable Gemini Ganesan films like Nalla Theerpu, Kudumba Gauravam,Vaazha Vaitha Dheivam and the epic level film Vanjikottai Vaaliban.Her other great films were Maadharkula Manickam, Enga Veettu Mahalakshmi and Manjal Mahimai.In an era of family stories, mother characters formed the core of narration  and the image of Kannaambaa would ever appear as the most outstanding mother character consolidating the various emotional constituents of the family drama.No woman has replaced the position of Kannaamba as the positive symbol of noble motherhood both in appearance and demonstration, ever stealing the show on the big screen.
   M.V.Rajamma was a model of meek motherhood with suppressed emotions making periodical spouts of emotional outbursts for a feel of cathartic relief.Her voice was made up of a peculiar mould capable of controlling the mind of the audience with a voice modulation embracing and revealing the right mood at the right time.Later Sujatha,who is also no more,reflected a similar kind of firm and anguished voice pattern.From Rajammaa's remarkable dialogue delivery,her relevant mood and understanding of situation could be implied and interpreted.She was the special favourite  performer of mother roles, for the movies of B.R.Pantulu. We would have seen her perform brilliantly the role of Kundhi Devi the mother of  Karna and the Panja Paandavas,in Pantulu's Karnan in which Sivaji's marvellous performance as Karnan proved to be an overwhelming experience for the viewers.She had also acted in other Pantulu movies like Muradan Muthu, Namma Veetu Lakshmi, Thendivandha Mappillai,Ragasia Police.and Devar Film's Vettaikkaran.[the last three were MGR films] Rajamma's performance in Thayillappillai andAVM's Paava Mannippu was also a memorable one.Like Pandari Bai she too would have made many young men those days,long for a mother like her.Like Kannaambaa she too was  a mother actor with both protective and controlling layers of motherhood.
     Pandarbai was one mother actor who knew only to love her children.Whether her children were good or bad she would protect them as she would try to do in Vellai Roja,as the mother of Prabu. Panaribai donned the role of a mother ways back in the most popular film Annaiyin Aanai in which Sivaji played the dual roles of father and son.As the younger Sivaji's mother, she would command her son to take revenge upon the one who killed his father and wronged his mother's life. Sivaji would do so, but in the end would lose his mother too.The final song in the famous voice of TMS stating that there was no god like one's mother, became the most famous one.Decades later, the same Pandaribai acted as Rajinikanth's mother in Mannan and the most popular song in the vibrant voice of jesudoss would say that there is no life on the earth that does not worship its mother.Both these songs have established the fact that mothers are adorable characters and Pandaribai in particular, made herself a venerable mother in several movies including the Sathya Movies' block buster Dheivathai in which Pandaribai acted as the passionate and pathetic mother of MGR and other hits like Thaayin Madiyil and Netru Inru Naalai.She had also been the elder sister of MGR in the most successful Enga Veettu Pillai. Some of the other notable mother characters she had played were in Thavaputhalvan and in Sooryakanthi. I have provided only a small list of this longstanding  mother actor.
    S.N.Lakshmi,is different from the other three women in two respects.Firstly,she was an actor of her native soil;secondly,her contribution to the Tamil film field had been outstandingly voluminous. She had acted as mother and grandmother, besides taking up character roles time and again.She was a frequent addition into AVM films.Her versatility in displaying a variety of emotions  was a well known fact.Some of the films have made her performance more memorable than that of others. AVM's Server Sundaram was one such movie,in which as the mother of Nagesh she played a vital role showing abundant affection for her only son who was the embodiment of innocence.Her death in the movie not only shook Nagesh driving him to an emotional performance but also made the audience an emotionally affected lot.The other powerful role of hers was in Agni Natchatram as the grand mother of Prabu and Karthik Muthuraman. Her anxieties about her son Vijayakumar living with two families were naturally portrayed. Again as the mother-in-law of widowed Kamalahaasan, she did a heavy role in Mahanathi that left a profound tragic impact on the audience.She had also acted in Kamal's Virumandi, Michael Madhana Kamarajan and Kaadhalaa Kaadhalaa. While it was a serious role she played in Virumandi, as a Muslim Caretaker of a huge bungalow in Kaadhala Khadalaa  and as a Kleptomaniac in MMK she proved her mettle for high end comedy performance.
      SN.Lakshmi was perfect as a grumbling mother or family elder not being able to digest things going wrong or her near and dear suffering on account of tragic happenings.Her power as a mother was found in partaking her children's sufferings with meek submission and unpretentious love for her children.To put it shortly, she had always been a mother living next door and in doing mother characters she had been her natural self without trying to be cinematic or without creating the impression of some one acting the role of a mother.This has been the most meaningful aspect of the acting career of S.N.Lakshmi spread over a period of more than five decades.
    During the Nineteen Nineties as well as during the first decade of the new millennium,Manorama wonderfully took over the mantle of exemplary motherhood in quite a number of films.She has performed very impressively as an inspiring,bold,righteous and compassionate mother, in several frames and became almost a living mother prototype.She has been the lovely mother of all leading heroes like Rajinikanth,Kamalahasan,Vijayakanth,Sathyaraj,Prabu,Karthik Muthuraman,Arjun and Sarathkumar.Aachi Manorama has definitely surpassed all other actors as a new generation mother with inexhaustible positive energy.
   As said at the beginning, motherhood involves the myriad paradoxical intricacies of love and control,kindness and rigidity protective and preventive portfolios.More than anything else, it is a perennial source of positive energy driving its creations towards the attainment of dynamic objectives.Positive mothers never get into a formidable frame of mind with the negative parameters of womanhood.The inherent spirit of love permeates in them as the governing factor that makes motherhood an energizing and revitalizing state meant for emulation and adoration.A mother is always an irreplaceable phenomenon in the law of nature and the positive power of motherhood stands ever as an invincible proposition.Unfortunately,during these days of technical predominance and the contagious choice of love and crime as major subjects for depiction in celluloid form,family emotions and the supremacy of motherhood are rarities to be experienced on the big screen The last time we underwent such a dignifying experience, was in Lingusamy's Anandam and P.Vasu's Mannan. As Queen Elizabeth once said,'computers can not generate compassion';but motherhood can.That is the positive spirit of motherhood.
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Flashes and Forms of Creative Brilliance.


































      Creativity can not excel at all times.The path of a creative artist has it own ups and downs. To sustain and stabilize, one needs constant shows of brilliance to establish a place for oneself in a field of one's choice.The film field in particular, throws a lot of challenges by way of competition and struggle besides pet projects at times getting stuck or becoming failures.The riskiest position is always that of a film director because,once a film makes waves with the audience and attracts awesome reviews the director becomes a darling of creativity and the future attention  of the film world turns to him with greater expectation and respect.This naturally increases the director's nervousness as much as his responsibility in film making.
    The previous millennium for quite long was actor oriented.There were MGR directors and the makers of Siivaji Ganesan movies. P.Neelagandan,M.A.Thirumugam K.Shankar were some conventional directors of MGR.Though film makers like A.Bhimsingh,A.P.Nagarajan P.Madhavan and A.C.Thirilogchandar were primarily known as makers of Sivaji Ganesan films,they were both voluminous and qualitative, as directors, through out their career. Directors like J.Mahendran and S.P.Muthuraman held Rajini as their most favourite hero. Other directors like C.V.Sridhar, K.S.Gopalakrishnan, K,Balachander,Balumahendra and Barathiraja had all carved a niche for themselves as directors of themes and makers of  stories open to performance by any kind of talented actors. K.Balachander and Barathiraja in particular  carry the singular credit for making not only great films but also for transforming their chosen men and women into longstanding actors of distinct merit. Later Shankar  became synonymous of grandeur in presentation with his single minded dedication to big budget projects. Eight out of his ten movies released so far, made a stupendous impression on the viewers.The other two movies 'Jeans' and 'Boys' too cannot be said to have failed to reflect his distinct film making zeal. 
     Manirathnam the other consistent maker of a special variety of films, seems to share with Balu Mahendra a similar platform of perspectives at least in a few aspects. Like his senior, Manirathnam also has an unruffled perception of the aesthetic yardsticks of creativity and  firmly believes in the dynamic,unfailing application of subtle photographic strategies in his films. As in Balu Mahendra films, one could always come across a feel of poise in narration and the absence of exaggeration in tone and tenor, in the movies of Manirathnam .Both these men seem to have in their creative galleries,a preferred rack for themes of aberrations,though such a theme more frequently occupies the films of Balu Mehendra. Besides these stable makers of brilliant shows, K.S.Ravikumar P.Vasu and Lingusamy have established a name for themselves as makers of commercial hits on a regular basis. Baghyaraj another energizing creative potential,ruled the to the roost for a considerable period and made his mark as a conventional film maker with a mass appeal.
     But there are many in the line of directors who ignited fire,kick started  their journey with brilliance but got stuck here and there,unable to sustain their show of their brilliance. Even an intelligent and richly imaginative director like Parthiban did not move beyond his 'Puthiya Paathai' and became contented with his histrionic display inspite of the fact that he has directed nearly a dozen movies. Similarly, director Ezhil who started with a bang in 'Thulladha Manamum Thullum' had to be satisfied with his moderate show of stuff in Pennin Manadhai Thottu, Poovellaam Un Vaasam, and Raja . His other two films Deepavali and Manam Kothiparavai were rated much lower than the others.
    Dharani whose flash of brilliance starting with Dhil,continued in Dhool and Ghilli  fizzled out later in his Kuruvi and Gusthi. R.V.Uthayakumar who made a moderate impression to begin with,suddenly rose to glory with his Kizhakku Vaasal,Chinna Gounder, his fine comedy show in Kamal's Singaravelan and later in Rajini's Ejaman. But after that he got hindered in his journey. Agathyan who was highly estimated for his two brilliant movies Kadhal Kottai and Gogulathil Seethai began to fly low. R.K.Selvamani who made waves with his Pulan Visaaranai ,Captain Prabakaran and Makkal Atchi got himself frequently entangled with the censor board due to choice of  politically sensitive issues as his themes for narration and so his projects were either delayed or given up.His Chembaruthi, one of his earlier releases and a fresh narration of an enchanting love story almost similar to the Hindi blockbuster Bobby was received very well by the audience.
   Sundar.C who is reputed for his great comedy entertainers like Murai Maaman,Ullathai Allitha,Mettukkudi  Unakkaga Ellaam Unakkaga Winner Giri and London, moved to acting as hero from directing movies. K.V.Anand who started well with his Kana Kandein improved his show in Ayan and made a brilliant record with his 'Ko' but fumbled subsequently in Maatraan  for want of  cohesion and impressive narration.S.J.Surya whose brilliance was noticed in Vaali and Kushi could not sustain his refreshing levels of creativity. Vasanth the earnest disciple of K.Balachander,made a glazing mark in his  Nee Paathi Naan Paathi  Aaasai and Keladi Kanmani but, is yet to accelerate further in his drive as a director of timeless merit. 
     Saran's sanguine directorial approach has made most of his films like succulent fruits, ripe with juvenile juice capable of energizing the viewers to a great extent.His Kaadhal Mannan, Amarkalam  and Vasool Raja MBBS are definitely his best creations;Parthein Rasithein,J.J,  Attakaasam and Asal made moderate entries.Even his so-called dampeners Alli Arjuna and Modhi Vilaiyaadu, could not  be said to be lacking in the vigorous display of youth. Energy is his criterion and each of his movies could be called a brilliant energy drink. Thangar Bachan the other, more than a decade old director always leaves his impressions of the native touch solidly felt by the audience.His flash of brilliance is in the realistic narration with individual and social emotions dominating throughout his narration. His Azhagi,Solla Marandha Kadai, the award winner Pallikkodam and the latest Ammavin Kaipesi deal with different themes with  native innocence and genuine emotions. There are other potential contenders for a form of brilliance, like Gautham Menon, Baala, Radha Mohan Vikraman and A.R.Muruga doss. New forces like Vasantha Balan, Vetrimaran, Mysskin,Prabu Solomon 'Pasanga'  fame Pandiraj and the duo M.Sasikumar and Samuthrakani are all in the race.
    So long the creative wind is in one's favour one can shine as a brilliant star.The most difficult thing in one's career is to  remain at all times, as the most wanted and best received artist.Brief flashes no doubt, vindicate one's positive creative urge with in. If the flashes collect into a constant shining pattern,one feels that they have lived up to their creative aspirations.If the brilliance continues, recognition becomes a natural sequel. Individual satisfaction and popular sentiment and acclaim, always precede awards and honours.
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