Friday, April 26, 2013

The Traditional Face of Tamil Cinema.




{Rededicated to the renowned Tamil film director KSG,on his passing away,as a tribute to his  immortality.}

     Tamil film making during the Sixties and Seventies of the last century, remained firmly rooted to the cultural moorings and traditional fundamentals of the Tamils to a large extent.As the electronic revolution was not still anticipated,its beneficiaries and victims were not yet born. Moreover,Tamil Nadu continued to celebrate its rural grandeur thanks to the vast expanse of arable lands not going into the hands of ambitious Real Estate mafias.Agriculture and its added values of life were the proud realities making the State a huge cluster of big villages or small towns.The concept of metropolis and corporation was confined to Madras [now Chennai] called Pattanam, with awe and fear of a deceptive lifestyle.Interestingly, Madras itself those days, had not expanded beyond Mylopore,Triplicane, Adayar,T.Nagar and Kodambakkam besides areas near Egmore and Central stations. One could always see films showing Egmore and Central Railway stations in addition to the fourteen storeyed L.I.C building and Marina beach as the main landmarks of Madras.
    These were the existing conditions till the late Seventies and films truly reflected the environment and prevalent ways of life that consisted of the longstanding joint family system looking upon the family patriarch for the daily routine.Most of the film directors either willingly or contextually represented themes and stories based on family values, predominating the huge rural block, riveted to age-old traditions and noble norms of life. But there was one staunch believer in native glory, who remained as an enlightened torchbearer of the nobler side of life, displaying vividly the traditional face of Tamil Cinema and he was the most venerable film director K.S.Gopalakrishnan.
     K.S.Gopalakrishnan has directed about fifty Tamil movies.His themes and story line were ever down to earth.Nothing artificial;nothing exaggerated.He did not stop with mere delineation of deep rooted family values.He ventured to focus on social taboos like puberty,man -woman marital intimacy, male impotence either congenital or accidental, the stigma attached to incapacity for motherhood suffered by a section of the women folk and the ordeals and issues relating to step motherhood.But he dealt with these restricted zones without crossing the sacred line drawn for decent description and interpretation. It was this rule abiding and partially revolutionary approach to  issues considered to be sensitive those days,made him a film maker with a new direction drawing  positive, popular response to his movies one after the other.Initially,he was a screen play writer or dialogue writer for films like 'Dheivapiravi' Kairaasi' and 'Padikkadha Medhai',[the historic movie of Sivaji Ganesan] after which he became a full fledged director.
   When his film 'Saratha' was released it was viewed as a major breakthrough in Tamil Cinema because of the controversial theme of remarriage of a wife, recommended by her own husband on account of himself becoming impotent following an accident. However, it was once again the traditional concept that won over the revolutionary direction as the wife not only rejected the proposal but also gave up her life as a mark of wifely nobility and meek womanhood.This movie won the State award for the poignant portrayal of a different theme.
       While his film 'Selvam' dwelt on the aspects of taboo attached to puberty and physical intimacy between husband and wife through a refined and subtle presentation of dialogues and events,the other movie 'Kulama Gunama' projected the plight of a woman incapable of attaining motherhood and the stigma related to that predicament. 'Karpagam' another memorable movie from the director's steadfast traditional mold of creativity, was an exalting experience in terms of family and cultural values coupled with the supreme significance of agriculture in promoting social virtues like mutual tolerance and a sacrificing mind frame.The same experience was repeated with different contexts and characterization in his successive ventures like 'Kankanda Dheivam' and 'Sinnanjiru Ulagam.'Panamaa Paasamaa' was one more grand show of K.S.G in immortalizing  love and humility as winning forces over the arrogance and snobbery of wealth.In thematic content and characterization it was similar to the film 'Poova Thalaiyaa' directed by K.Balachander a valued contemporary of K.S.G.In both the films, the hero was Gemini Ganesan and the negative character was performed by the same veteran actor S.Varalakshmi and the comedy support with challenging sequence of events was provided by the same comedian Nagesh. Both the films were received with great enthusiasm by the film goers of those days.
    'Kai Kodutha Dheivam' was a different narration demonstrating the ruin of feminine innocence in the hands of manipulative evil minded forces.Whereas, 'Pesum Dheivam' pictured creditably how man's sheer faith in God would guide him through the times of trials and setbacks. 'Chithi', which hit the screens a little later became one of his most successful releases because of prioritizing the complexities involved in becoming a stepmother of grown up children and facing unexpected psychological problems on account of that. 'Padmini',the most dynamic actor during those days, was emotionally compact and adorable in that role,as the second wife of an ill mannered widower played by M.R.Radha. There were other popular films like 'Kurathi Mahan' that truly brought out the dreams and aspirations of a deprived tribe to derive the benefits of education and 'Vaazhaiyadi Vaazhai' which came to reinforce the cultural base cherished from generation to generation. 'Dheivathin Dheivam', 'Thabaalkaaran Thangai' 'Kulavilakku','Nathaiyil Muthu','Uyiraa Maanamaa 'Malathi', 'Padikkadha Pannaiyaar', 'Paalabishegam' 'Vaayilla Poochi', 'Rowdy Raakkamma' and 'Vandhaale Maharaasi' were subsequent meaningful additions to the movie archives of this exemplary film maker.
     K.S.Gopalakrishnan had amazing contenders in the field of film direction, like the earlier mentioned K.Balachander, and others like A.Bhimsingh, A.P.Nagarajan  P.Madhavan and the duo Krishnan Panju who were all identified as fine film makers of commendable standard and quality.Of these A.Bhimsingh, P.Madhavan and Krishnan Panju were also experts in dealing with cherished themes and rural subjects. In spite of this stiff competition,,KSG continued to produce successive hits with village- based stories.However, after some time, the attention of this winning creator turned to spiritual themes that formed the ever favourite zone of A.P.Nagarajan. It would have been completely a different subject for K.S.G. Nevertheless,even here, he could do his best in giving appealing movies like 'Dasaavadhaaram', 'Aadhi Parasakthi','Kanji Kaamaatchi' and 'Dheviyin Thiruvilaiyaadal'.
    K.S.G is one among the very few film makers who had never worked with MGR.His all time favourite hero was Gemini Ganesan followed by Sivaji Ganesan,Jaishankar and Muthuraman. Among heroines he most often went in preference for K.R.Vijaya  Padmini and Savithri,  with selective inclusion of female talents like Sarojadevi, Vaanisri,Pramila Sujatha and Jeyachithra. Like MGR the only movie of KSG, in which Jeyalalitha had acted was Vandhaale Maharaasi. Nagesh became the regular comedy source .The one character actor who periodically and powerfully provided the refreshing support base was S.V.Rengarao, whose spontaneous and brilliant performance became a clear winning factor for most of the films of K.S.G.No one can forget this veteran actor's magnificently energetic performance in films like Saratha, Karpagam,Kai Kodutha Dheivam and Kan Kanda Dheivam. Then there was the excellent acting stuff of M.R.Radha, whose combined show of villainy and comedy always enlivened the presentation of the action sequence.The equally merited talents were, actors like V.K.Ramasamy and V.Nagaiah whose acting substantially validated the quality stuff of  a KSG. film.
    K.S.G was a very thoughtful director because he always maintained his base very strong and his story line was true to life.Unlike  K.Balachander, who used to travel between zones of tradition and modernity,K.S.G firmly clung to his traditional moorings.The actors playing the main and supporting roles in his films, were proven men and women, whose dedicated participation ensured the victory of the project.Those were days of simple needs and genuine wants.Human behaviour in general, was unadulterated because goodness was more felt and experienced than seemed to exist.Socializing meant not just exchanging courtesies but sharing of emotions and facts of living.All that was shown in the films of K.S.G was the reality of human experience found in every nook and corner of the vast Tamil soil ,known for love and hospitality. Lucky  he was to be a film director for a quality bound generation.Luckier we were, to live and watch his movies that showed how we lived.It is this feeling of nostalgia that stays  as the sweetest legacy of K.S.G,the traditional face of Tamil Cinema.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Voice and Verve from Malaysia.





      Film talents are omnipresent.A limb of an Indian family that migrated to Malaysia decades ago,came back to Tamil Nadu, to find a proud position in the Tamil film industry and to become closer to the hearts of thousands of fans all over the art- loving state. It was late Vasudevan, who was rechristened as Malaysia Vasudevan to claim a distinct identity for himself, based on his twin talents of singing and histrionics. It is difficult to classify him as an actor singer or singer actor because he has excelled in both the fields with equal amount of ease and zeal.In other words,his vigour exhibited in the two competitive areas has been a riveting experience not only for him who delivered outputs of extraordinary quality but also for those who received his performance as something truly and happily engaging.The Tamil audience remember him with genuine reverence and admiration.
     Vasudevan was always compact in two important categories of acting.Villainy was his natural forte.Character acting is the other zone that naturally suited his acting credentials.The most significant factor was his casual acting mode and controlled as well as subdued dialogue delivery.He hardly used to raise his voice unnecessarily while essaying villainous characters.May be the singer in him dominated every time, when he happened to record dialogues, reflecting different emotions like greed,envy,anger joy and grief. No one can forget his gripping performance as villain, in Barathi Raja's Oru Kaidhiyin Diary and Manivanna's Mudhal Vasandham. These two films are special pointers to his capacity for effortless walkover to the territory of remarkable villainy.The hidden element of lust forming part of the negative performance was integrated with a rapacious mindset and nothing looked artificial though hateful,the characters were. Vasudevan would have acted in a little more than fifty movies.The other characters that he portrayed periodically were that of village chieftain, landlord,corrupt politician or government official,and father roles.
     It is natural that such a talented actor was sought after during a period when Tamil film industry had lost great actors like S.V.Renga Rao,T.S.Balaiah S.V.Subbiah and M.R.Radha.Vasudevan effectively filled the gap, like Vinu Chakravarthy,the other wonderful actor of this period.It is no wonder that such a capable actor became a value addition in the films of Rajinikanth {Oorkavalan}
Kamalahasan {Oru Kaidhiyin Diary} Vijayakanth {Poonthotta Kaavalkaaran and Therkathikallan}
Sathyaraj {Mudhal Vasantham,Kadamai Ganniyam Kattuppadu, Jallikkattu and Amaidippadai}
Vijay {Poove Unakkaaga and Badri},and Pandiarajan {Kadhaanaayagan and Gopala Gopala}.
He has also made his presence greatly felt in films like Jallikkattu Kaalai, Dhinandorum and Punnagai Desam, besides acting in the movies of front line directors like Manirathnam {Thiruda Thiruda}and Rajeev Menon {Kandugondein Kandugondein}.The two films of Sivaji Ganesan that inducted the talent of Malasia Vasudevan were, Jallikattu and Pooparikka Varugirom.
    The musical contribution of Vasudevan has definitely enriched the quality and quantum of Tamil film music by his versatile style of singing and volume of albums.Starting with his 'Kodaikaala Kaatre' {Pannir Pushpangal} his melodies have occupied our souls with sweetness and warmth through solo and duet songs like 'Kovilmani Oesaidhannai' {Kizhakke Pogum Rayil}' Pattu Vanna Selaikkaari [Engeyo Kettakural] Oru Thangarathathil' ,'Ahaaya Gangai' {Dharma Yudham}'Sugam Sugame Thoda Thodathaane'{Naan Poetta Savaal}'Devadhai Poel Oru Pennonru' sung with Mano{Gopura Vaasalile} 'Devanin Koilile'{Vellai Roja} 'Oru Koottukkilyaaga' {Padikkadhavan}'Poove Ilaiya Poove'{Kozhi Koovudhu}'Malaiyorum Mayile' {Oruvar Vaazhum Aalayam}'Kaadhal Vaiboegame' {Suvar Illaadha Sithirangal}'Koodaluru Gundumalli'{Kumbakkarai Thangaiyya}and 'Anandha Theinkaatru Thaalaattudhu' {Manipur maamiyaar},the last one sung in the manner of Chidambaram Jayaraman,the famous singer of the last millennium.Malaysia Vasudevan has mostly remained as the sponsored pet singer of music maestro Ilayaraja and his brother Gangai Amaran. The only one popular duet number of Malaysia Vasudevan sung under A.R.Rehaman's composition was 'Poo Pookum Aasai' from Minsaara kanavu.
    A few songs of joyous outburst from Vasudevan's voice were 'Aasai Nooruvagai{Adutha Vaarisu},'Aattukkutti Muttaiyittu'{16 Vayadhinile}''Aaha Vandituchu'{Kalyaana Raaman} 'Maamaavukku Kudumaa' {Punnagai Mannan}' Maappillaikku Maaman Manasu'{Netrikkan} and 'Ennama Kannu' sung  along with SPB {Mr.Barath}.There were also forceful numbers showing religious fervour, instructional lead and personal determination like' Maariammaa',' Ooruvittu Ooruvandhu' with Gangai Amaran.{both from Karahaatakkaaran} 'En Thaayinmeedhu Aanai' {Mr.Barath}'Singam Onru Purappattathe'{Arunaachalam}.Similarly we can hardly afford to ignore the grief laden songs like Ponmaana Thedi {Enga Oor Raasaathi},'Yaar Paadum Paadal Enraalum'[Paatukku Naan Adimai}and the ever fascinating 'Poongaatru Thirumbumaa'{Mudhal Mariyaadhai}.
   Unlike several other singers like TMS,Sirkazhi Govindarajan ,Chidambaram Jayaraman SPB and K.J.Yesudas Malaysia Vasudevan survived in the field of music without a prominent base of the Carnatic thrust.But he had a clear and sweet voice pattern that seemed to be a combination ofTMS, Tiruchi Loganathan and Chidambaram Jayaraman. If he had entered the Tamil film industry a couple of decades earlier, he would definitely have proved himself as a preferred singer for the movies of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan because his voice throw would have matched to a great extent the voices of those two legendary heroes.During these days, when the masculine verve is missing, in the voice and singing manner of many singers,the absence of a powerful male voice like that of Malaysia Vasudevan has created a void.
    Vasudevan was one who could sing like himself and also like TMS and Chidambaram Jayaraman. Without exerting himself he could create a musical impact that could create indelible impressions in the minds of the listeners.It is a known fact that but for the massive support and accommodation of Amma Creations and the musical prophet Ilayaraja, Vasudevan could not have grown to the levels that he had reached.But it could also be said that Vasudevan gave a lot of hits for his pet music director and made him proud.The other vital fact is that as an actor, he silently lived up to the expectations of the film makers who reposed faith in him, by making his roles reach the audience with their relevant dynamics and subtleties,thereby making himself, a potential asset to the ever growing Tamil film society. No doubt, the voice and verve of Vasudevan from Malaysia, enriched Tamil Cinema with an incomparable hold for a magnificent show, during the Nineteen eighties and nineties.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vijayakumar, the Outstanding Character Actor.















       Vijayakumar who began his career as a child artist in SriValli, made his first adult appearance in Ponnukku Thanga Manasu along with Sivakumar. His starting years showed him as a soft actor donning hero roles in heroine centric films like K.Balachander’s  Aval Oru Thodarkathai and Sridhar’s Azhage Unaai Aaradhikkirein. He then teamed up with Rajinikanth for movies like Aaru Pushpangal, Aayiram Jenmangal, Maangudi Minor,Sankar Saleem and Simon and En Kelvikku Enna Bathi. In this context, it should be mentioned here that Vijayakumar is the only actor who has shared screen space with Rajinikanth, the maximum number of times, as Muthuraman did with Sivaji Ganesan.
     Despite his handsome looks and acting caliber, soon he was shifted to the track of villainy from hero assignments. He performed as impressive villain in quite a few movies of Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth in their earlier years. He has  also donned villain and character roles with the legend Sivaji Ganesan in films such as Pilot Premnath,Viduthalai, Theerpu, Thyagi,Neethipathi,Viduthalai and later in a powerful villain role as Goetcha in Sathya Movies Puthiya Vaanam starring Sivaji Ganesan and Sathyaraj. His most poignant performance as villain was in R.V.Uthayakumar’s Kizhakku Vaasal in which he did the role of a womanizing village bigwig with an amazingly subtle underplay of crookedness .His patronizing attitude was hidden with a personal agenda for outraging the modesty of the girl  [played by Revathi] whom he financially supported. Later, he played another effective villain character in M.S.Madhu's’s Dheiva Vaakku as an exploiting elder brother of his adopted sister, played again by Revathi.
   Notwithstanding the variety show he delivered as hero and later as villain, it is in the character roles as a family elder, Vijayakumar stood to excel in a manner, similar to the grandiose performance of Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan. The wave actually started with films like Veteran BarathiRaja’s Kizhakku Cheemaiyile,Suresh krishna’s Aaaha,and K.S.Ravikumar’s Cheran Paandian .In a character combining communal virulence and sibling affection it was a masterly performance he delivered in Kizhakku Cheemayile .As a noble father of many children he was the embodiment of self  dignity and paternal perfection in Aahaa. Similarly, as  the caste- focused elder brother of Sarathkumar,with his rural approach to issues, he came out with a brilliant performance in Cheran Paandian that took him closer to both Sarathkumar and K.S.Ravikumar. Seemaan's Panjaalankurichi also projected Vijayakumar in a powerful rural frame and he delivered the role very effectively.The other poignant performance of Vijayakumar was in Manirathnam's Agni Natchatram as an aristocratic elder balancing his time between two families, as the loving husband of two wives and as an affectionate father of the children of both the families.
  The three-in-one success show of the three Kumars {Vijayakumar,Sarathkumar and K.S.Ravikumar}, gave the biggest hit of Supergood films with a powerful story line, dynamic narration and galvanizing action in the most remembered Naattaamai, that ran for twenty five weeks. This great team repeated the victory march through a deeply fascinating celebration of supreme friendship in Natpukkaaga. As the majestic village chieftain and father of Sarathkumar,Vijayakumar displayed an immortal exhibition of histrionics in Naattaamai. Again, as a  wealthy upper caste village elder,in Natpukkaga, he cherished an exemplary friendship with his boyhood, low caste friend, who always chose to remain as his most loyal and sacrificing servant. The intimate bond of friendship was realized as a living reality by the powerful role performance of both  Vijayakumar and Sarathkumar.The tragic climax of the film showing the two friends dying together, struck the mood of the audience, as an impenetrable homage being paid to friendship of the tallest order.
     Vijayakumar has been precisely compact and impressive in father or grand father roles in several films like Love Birds, WalterVetrivel, Mudhalvan,Baadsha,Barathi Kannamma,Ji,Sree  Panakkaaran,Youth,Ananda Poongaatre, Chandramugi, Poovellaam Keittuppaar, Saamy Kushi, Yejamaan,Ezhumalai, and London.In Ezhumalai,as the father of an innocent son [played by Arjun] he did a role similar to that of veteran Malayalam actor Madhu,in Dharmadhurai as the father of a naive son [Rajinikanth].While Madhu performed his role with suppressed rage and love,Vijayakumar did it with his usual aggressive show of anger and concern.Like [late] Muthuraman who would join as a team mate,the company of every other hero of his days for a joint performance,Vijayakumar too has never hesitated to join hands with all the popular heroes, either as a villain or as a character actor.Apart from Rajinikanth,the list includes leading actors of the last three decades, like Prabu,Karthik Muthurman ,Sarathkumar Sathyaraj,Vijayakanth,Ajith, Vijay,Vikram and Soorya.
    Vijayakumar has also been very chic and smart in police uniform in movies like Chatriyan and Malabar Police. Vijayakumar’s most winning credentials are his proper blending of masculine assertiveness and human softness. Very often one can find in his essaying of character roles, an accurate amalgamation of aggressiveness and amicability. His voice modulation flawlessly processes the unification of mixed emotions as a natural corollary to the mood swings that form part of the character delineation. As a hero, his success rate would not have satisfied him; but as a villain he definitely carved a niche for himself. Finally, as a character actor, he has been closer to the delivery pattern and classic stuff of none other than Sivaji Ganesan .It is this status of a comparative recognition of acting splendour, that would position him in the proper mode of classification, he truly deserves.It could be affirmatively said that  Vijayakumar is an outstanding character actor, whose quality style of acting, has always proved to be an enriching factor of the movies that have inducted him for solid role performances.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Comedian with a Gusto in His Voice.




       Tamil Cinema has been dominated by one comedian or the other during different periods of time. The success and continued acceptability of a comedian depend upon the dimensions of comedy sense he possesses and the intensity of impact he creates with the audience. Audience preference may be for physical comedy involving ridiculous facial expressions and body movements; it may also include physical victimization of others and personal infliction.There is an equal reception of verbal comedy reflecting sense and satire,either for the sake of generating humour,or for influencing a kind of social awareness about critical issues. Some have moved to the slapstick track and others to contextual comedy.A few among them have taken to dark comedy encouraging specific scatological  lenience, under the mistaken notion of audience patronage.The fact is, starting from Kalaivanar NSK, there has been a successful line of comedians trying one track of comedy after the other, taking into account the prevailing scenario of popular mood.
      Notwithstanding the facts pertaining to audience sentiment, it is the comedy actor’s individual capacity to generate humour and his constituent physical and histrionic attributes that have governed the victory of the comedy track of a film. While J.B.Chandrababu and A.Karunanithi relied more on physical comedy, NSK,T.S.Dorairaj and Thangavelu chose to excel in verbal comedy.Whereas, Nagesh successfully shuttled between the two extremes. Goundamani resorted to a new genre of verbal comedy culminating at times, in the physical victimization of his stooges. Vivek and Vadivelu with their verbal acumen indulged in self humiliating comedy. Santhanam the new brand master of comedy seems to excel in verbal comedy,here and there, taking the audience to toilet humour.
   But in the nineteen eighties and nineties there came a comedian with a facial singularity of  a uniquely shaped pair of eyes [like those of K.K.Radhakrishnan, the veteran comedian of the nineteen forties and fifties] and a distinctly identifiable voice modulation, doing a round of decent comedy, besides taking to catchy character roles with freshness in appeal. Janagaraj, the great actor I am referring to, has somehow escaped the limelight because his prolific talent has not been reasonably utilized.
     The extraordinary thing about Janagaraj is the consummate gusto in his voice and the amount of vibration it creates. He made his first impact in Paalavanacholai but his performance became more memorable in Paalaivana Rojakkal because of the tragic impact created by his death in that movie. The song sequence ‘Kaadhalenbathu Podhuvudama’ assigned to him, still lingers in every one’s memory. That he remained a frequent addition in the films of Kamalahasan and Rajinikanth in equal proportion and that he was periodically inducted in the popular films of distinguished directors like K.Balachander { Puthu Puthu Arthangal, Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi and Sindhu Bhairavi }, Manirathnam { Rojai,Agni Natchatram ,Nayagan, Anjali and Ayudha Ezhuthu }and Barathiraja { Kizhakke Poegum Rayil,Kadalora  Kavidhaigal, Vedham Pudhithu and Mudhal Mariyadhai } became a solid proof of his great standing as an ingenious comedian and character actor.
    Janagaraj has happily joined Kamal’s company for films like Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi, Vetrivizha,Soora Samhaaram, Vikram, Guna, Aboorva Sagotharargal and Nayagan, the last one with the most celebrated song sequence ‘Nilaa Adhu Vaanukku Mele'.Similarly, it has been a robust inclusion that Janagaraj was, in many films of Rajinikanth such as Siva, Annamalai [from Balachander’s Kavithalaya production house] Baasha, Veera, Raajaathi Rajaa, Panakkaaran, Uzhaippali,Arunachalam and Padikkadhavan ,the last in the list is remembered for the popular dialogue'En Thangachiya nai kadichiduchuppaa’[a dog has bitten my younger sister] repeated by Janagaraj in a drunken mood. The amazing gusto of Janagaraj particularly in Annamalai, Raajaathi Raajaa, Uzhaippaali and Arunachalam contributed meaningfully to the ever fascinating base of a superstar movie. In all these movies, it is the special voice effect of Janagaraj that overtook his performing zeal.
    Janagaraj has also made his contribution significant in films of other heroes like, Karthik Muthuraman [ Kizhakku Vaasal,Gopura Vaasalile, and Harischandra] Prabu {Arangetravelai   Agninatchatram and Nalaiya Manithan] Sathyaraj [Anna Nagar Mudhal Theru and Paalaivana Rojakkal ] and Pandiarajan {Aanpaavam and Gopala Gopala].One can hardly forget the robust sensual comedy parade he made with veteran V.K.R in Agni Natchatram and the scene that showed him shouting hilariously at the  top of his voice,that his wife had gone to her native town  {Empondaatti Oorukku Poittaa}.Lakshmipathi [Husband of Goddess Lakshmi] the name of his character in that film lives in our memory, not only because of his vigorous performance, but also because of the vociferous manner in which VKR addressed him every time.It was a solid show the duo made in Agninatchatram. But totally in contrast to this role, was the heavily emotional character he played in Kizhakku Vasal that portrayed him as the committed custodian of the orphan girl Thaayammaa. Both  these movies stand clear testimony to his versatile talent and vibrant delivery as an actor of timeless merit .
    Most of the characters that Janagaraj performed, were meaty in frame and form and Janagaraj never failed to perceive the distinct nature of each role and came out with his best. His vein of acting and the kind of roles offered to him, were mostly a combination of sobriety and levity.This is because Janagaraj could easily and seamlessly mix up his humour sense and seriousness and could smoothly switch over from one end to the other through a gliding process.His comfort levels in the acting zone have been effortlessly maintained by his  exceptionally gifted voice, that would always reach the audience even before he delivered his role. It is really a pity, that such a worthy actor has not been creditably accommodated in the ever growing Tamil film industry.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Mani Ratnam Upscale






      When the film Pagal Nilavu hit the screens sometime in 1985, presenting Murali as a rugged lover falling for young and charming Revadhi, the moderate success of the film depended more on the dynamic performance of Sathyaraj as a village elder with a negative frame of mind, trying to protect his notorious sons.The climax of the film had a telling impact on the audience and people began to talk seriously about who the director of the film was. When Idhayakoil was released  during the same year,it was looked upon as a prospective hit of the Motherland pictures, with the mesmerizing numbers of music maestro Ilayaraja, because other films like Payanagal Mudivadillai, Naan Paadum Paadal and Udhaya Geetham from this production house, were silver jubilee hits.It was also seen as yet another film, showing actor Mohan as a young passionate lover, with a boundless quest for becoming a popular singer.But the film with its tragic undertones, was just a modest show and nobody seriously noticed the name of the director. 
     The next year when Mounaragam began to attract rave reviews and was selected for the National award,Tamil film industry and film goers began to discuss excitedly about the higher credentials of the director and Mani Ratnam set his feet firmly on ground as a creator of high quality stuff, that would make the entire Indian Film world applaud in standing ovation, for a repeated number of occasions. No doubt, Mounaragam was an amazing movie with clean narration, involving the brilliant performance of Karthik Muthuraman, Revathi and the wonderfully subdued role play of Mohan. There was a lot of freshness in narration revolving around a fascinating flashback and delicate touches on the conjugal core very decently told.The music of Ilayaraja was a bonus.
    Then came the most incredible picture Nayagan, that was one of the grandest creations in several respects. Poignant picturing of the underworld with its interrelated sequences of crude violence and bloody horror, the paradox of positive intentions lying behind nefarious activities and the never- seen- before action magnificence on screen, made the film, a gripping event from beginning till end. Kamalahasan lived the character of Velu Naicker with its varied dimensions of love, vengeance, philanthropy and planned destruction of evil.But for the over doze of violence, demonstrated as an inevitable contextual reality,the film would have made an epic impact.But Maniratnam as director, was moving on an upscale, touching newer heights in his creative formulation and was infusing greater levels of expectations from the audience, about every one of his upcoming projects.
    After tasting the unsurpassed acting potentials of Kamalahasan, Maniratnam was perhaps ignited to try the stylish richness of Rajinikanth in his later venture Thalapathi that glorified the supremacy of true friendship, in the manner of the unparalleled bond of friendship between Duriyodhana and Karna, in the most celebrated myth Mahabaratha. Though there was an element of gangster war  as experienced in Nayagan,the unquestionable trust characterizing the friendship between Rajini and Mammootty, enriched the quality of the film, making it another worthy creation from the Maniratnam banner.
    Some of the themes that seem to be closer to Maniratnam's creative sense are, romance with an all embracing throw of ruggedness as well as refined and exalting emotional factors as experienced exhaustively in his Pagal Nilavu, Mounaraagam,Bombay and Alai Paayudhe,  the openness and subtleties of gang war seen in Naayagan and Thalapathi, religious hatred and terrorism and their tentacles of inhuman violence, delineated vigorously in Roja, Uyire, Bombay, Kannathil Muthamittaal and Raavanan and a distinct grasp of political intricacies and subtleties pictured differently in Iruvar and Aayudha Ezhuthu. In between, he has also visited rarer areas like pediatric emotions with special focus on spastic childhood [Anjali ] half brother animosity as witnessed in Agni Natchatram and a naive and innocent attraction for juvenile aberrations delightfully focused in Thiruda Thiruda. 
   The uncommonest thing about Maniratnam is his enlightened handling of themes and issues, with a mature intellectual perception, capable of interpreting his chosen subject matter with a precise blending of realistic and cinematic vision. At times he is a Bala chander, at times a Balu Mahendra and in a few frames a Barathiraja. On the whole, he is the summit of excellence in creativity. There is no sound and fury in his presentation.But the impact hardly ever goes missing. Both Ilayaraja and A.R.Rehaman have reinforced  his art base with their compact musical backing. Over all cinematography, has always remained a salient source of strength for all the films of Maniratnam. Most of  his films have targeted the elite educated sections of the audience. But films like Agni Natchatram with an album of all hit songs, Bombay with an eventful inter- religious love story, with its its exuberance of music and profound romantic appeal and Naayagan and Thalapathi with their heroes' popularity and histrionic grandeur, continued to draw crowds to the theatres, catering to the curiosity of a whole, entertainment -hungry audience and made Maniratnam a unique kind of mass director.
   Manirathnam has to his credit the introduction of two handsome and charming romantic heroes like Arvindsamy and Madhavan to the Tamil film industry.The greatness of Maniratnam is in his enchanting creative width that keeps a specific section of the audience eagerly looking forward to his next release.Once the production of his new movie begins and the title is announced people begin to wait enthusiastically for the date of its release, as they were looking forward to the release of his 'Kadal'.The reviews of this recent movie not being positive,the audience would be solemnly looking forward to his next venture with the solid hope, that their enlightened director would not fail to fulfill their expectations. He is one of those qualitative film makers,whose films are watched not for the hero or heroine value, but purely for the ever fresh directorial component driving the audience every time to a new experience in film watching.The Maniratnam upscale has certainly been a measured,stable and successful vertical growth, with an all inclusive stuff of quality, evolved with a balanced promotion of emotional and intellectual attributes.Besides, it has been as much a matter of pride for people to work in his movies, as it has been a point of privilege and pleasure for the viewers to watch his films.It is in this particular aspect, Maniratnam scores his higher credits for creativity.
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