Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Tamil Film Actor of Theatrical Excellence.



    






            
      During the last century, quite a number of actors gradually moved to the big screen from the stage like a cluster of stars. Starting from great heroes like P.U.Chinnappa,K.R.Ramasamy, MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, many villain and character actors also enriched Tamil Cinema with their theatrical experience.The list would include many actors like M.N.Nambiyar,M.R.Radha, TKS Brothers, S.V.Sahasranamam ,V.S.Raghavan and the most illustrious comedian N.S.Krishnan. In this list there was another amazing actor, well built in body frame and impressive in looks, with a pair of clear, bold eyes. That was R.S.Manohar, an exemplary stage artist who founded his own National Theatres and performed many stage plays of which remains, the immortal play Ilangeswaran eulogizing the epic grandeur of Raavana, the king of Sri Lanka who as per the epic Ramayana, kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita and kept her as captive. I have heard many of my friends telling that besides the deviation in narration and glorification of an anti hero,the unique technicalities involved in the stage presentation of a newer version of the epic resulted in a grand appreciation of the live show of a theatrical extravaganza. R.S.Manohar came to be known as Lankeswaran Manohar.
    As a film actor R.S.Manohar is rightly remembered as a dedicated, talented and diligent artist. The fact that he was closer to both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan and that he was a favoured actor of the Modern Theatres,R.R.Pictures,Sathya Movies , Gemini Pictures and Sujatha Cine Arts Pictures, are enough to prove his credentials as a remarkable performer. Manohar was good at fencing and boxing and had a face fit for playing mythological, historical and family roles. He was  equally convincing as a villain and character actor. He had a gruffly voice and with that he would deliver clear dialogues through calculated efforts.His well built physique added to his sparkling image as a powerful villain and henchman. His levels of sobriety in role performance were creditably high. But he had a face fit for performing humorous roles also, as he did it Vallavanukku Vallavan for the song sequence ‘’Paaradi Kanne Konjam/Paithiyamanadhu Nenjam’’.
    In mythological roles, be it that of Ravana or Lord Shiva, he was  facially compact like S.V.Rengarao,who had a perfect face to fit into any character from Hindu mythology. Manohar was magnificent as Lord Shiva in the film Datchayakgnam with Jamuna as Goddess Parvathi. It was almost like watching Sivaji Ganesan as Shiva in Thiruvilaiyaadal. Though the film was not a hit its memories are inerasable for those who had watched it. The other mythical films of Manohar were, Thiruneelakandar and Mahakavi Kalidas.  In royal garbs Manohar was greatly appealing in films like Raja Raja Cholan, Aayirathil Oruvan and Adimaippen. When it comes to villainy, Manohar had an independently fascinating style of performance  with regard to body language, dialogue delivery and aspects relating to stunt scenes. Nobody can forget the boxing scene at the start of the film Kaavalkaaran that showed MGR and R.S.Manohar  in a professionally rich form.The fencing scene between him and MGR in Aayirathil Oruvan was another treat.Almost all his fight sequences with MGR in films like Panakkaara Kudumbam,Parakkum Paavai,Panam Padiathavan, Olivilakku, Rickshawkaaran and Idhayakkani were full of fire and ferocity.
      R.S.Manohar performed villainy with force and brutality in several films like Naan,Parakkum Paavai, Raaja,Vallavan Oruvan,Idhayakkani and Rickshawkaaran. Like M.N.Nambiyar,He enjoyed equal intimacy with both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. If he would have acted in more than fifteen films with MGR, he had also shared screen space with Sivaji Ganesan in Raja,En Magan,Rojavin Raja , Sivagaamiyin Selvan,Raja Raja Cholan, Sangili, Paattum Baradhamum,Chitra Pournami and Mahakavi Kalidas.The other popular heroes with whom Manohar got into fisticuffs on the screen were Jaishankar and Ravichandran.The number will be more with Jaishankar because both of them were  favourite actors of the Modern Theatres.RS.Manohar would have acted in almost all Modern Theatres' releases including Chitraangi,Petra Maganai Vitra Annai and Konjum Kumari.Similarly he was a regular addition in the films of R.R.Pictures' films.The other memorable films of Manohar are the most historic Konjum Salangai,and the greatly valued film Idhayakamalam besides the children movie Pattanathil Bhoodham.
     Some of the hero-cum- character roles Manohar  performed were in films like Vannakkili, Vallavanukku Vallavan and Kaidhi Kannayiram. In Vannakkili it was a redeemable negative role that brought him a lot of accolades from the audience.Similarly,Manohar's character almost as hero carried a telling position as a cop in the old film with the lengthiest title''Thayaipoal Pillai Nolaippoal Selai''In Iru Vallavargal it was again a redeemable negative role, as the elder brother of Jaishankar. All these films became hits and Manohar’s contribution was noticeably on the higher side, in all these films. Manohar has acted with many heroes from MGR to Pandiarajan. His  films with Rajnikanth like Billa,Thee and Thangamagan were super hits. What is more significant in Manohar’s role assignment is that he would be a crucial character in carrying on the tempo or suspense in narration of the main plot ,however small his role was. This is how his role solved a ticklish issue of the husband suspecting the fidelity of the wife as seen in the film Vaazhkapadagu, {another Gemini pictures movie before the release of Olivilaaku}.Manohar’s character served a similar purpose in Thangamagan.In Rickshakkaran,as the wayward husband of Padmini,he would play a major role in finally exposing the darker side of a judge, played by Major Sundarajan.
    Whatever be the character that was offered to him and however small it was,R.S.Manohar was never lagging behind in his dedication and whole hearted contribution to the delivery of the role in its perfect presentation. The salient part of his acting mode was his calculated manner of dialogue delivery with relevant display of contextual emotion and flawless diction with proper stress and intonation. This must have been one of the positive impacts of his regular stage performance. It was his devotion to the stage that groomed his acting style on the screen with necessary changes incorporated on a modest scale. The over all impact was ultimately the audience getting closer to the nuances of theatrical excellence scrupulously  displayed on the screen  as the right kind of comprehensive evolution in acting.It was this factor that constantly projected R.S.Manohar as an actor different from  the others,who are making straight entry into Cinema, without  getting routed through the stage. The end result is R.S.Manohar is remembered today as a dramatist, stage colossus and film actor with infallible grace, embracing all his profiles.   
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dynamic Comedy Duo.



             
















    Tamil Cinema has not been lacking in dynamics of comedy and humour at any point of time, ever since its inception. Even during its founding years, Tamil films were reputed for vibrant comedy, displayed by amazing comedians such as N.S.Krishnan, Kali.N.Rathinam, T.S.Dorairaj and later  by great actors like K.A.Thangavelu, Nagesh and V.K.Ramasamy. It was these people who took verbal comedy to its decent and enjoyable heights. But even among these comedians, we would not have seen a continued team spirit, in the line of the Hollywood famous Laurel and Hardy.
   However, there are two comedians of Tamil Cinema,who launched a team show and went on well, with unusual gusto and exuberance, calling for spontaneous audience admiration, for nearly two decades. Strangely, both these actors began acting on an independent track.By a touch of fortune,they came together to reach new heights  in commendable verbal comedy with an intermittent spell of physical comedy necessitated by contextual compulsions.These two comedians Goundamani and Senthil  will ever stay tuned to the memory of a large section of the Tamil audience,who were fortunate as movie watchers, during the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties.
     As far as their independent comedy roles are concerned, Goundamani  would have scored more credits  than Sendhil because of his extraordinary verbal force, which he would have sensibly used teaming up with all heroes including Kamalahasan {Singaravelan and Indian need a special mention} and Rajinikanth [ Padhinaaru Vayadhinile, Uzhappaali, Mannan and Baabaa in particular}.Goundamani’s  grand show of verbal comedy took several U turns and stomach curdling curves whenever he joined the company of Sathyaraj. Some of the special films in this regard are Thirumadhi Pazhanichami,Vela Kidachuduchu,Walter Vetrivel, Bramma, Nadigan, Pangaali,Vallal,Thai Maaman,Kungumapottu Gounder,Maaman Magal and Malabar Police. I think Goundamani  would have acted maximum number of films with Sathyaraj as hero. Goundamani's  role as a political aspirant in Sooriyan {with Sarathkumar as hero} was another feather on his cap with a performance full of lively wit vibrant satire.He also celebrated his solo comedy in films like Payanagal Mudivadhillai and Naan Paadum Paadal. 
    For Sendhil  without  Goundamani, it is not that easy to display his intrinsic  humour potential. It is the presence of Goundamani  that inspires him to make a marvelous show of his cheeky side of humour taking his senior comedian casually for a ride, every now and then. Tamil audience can never erase from their memory hard drive, the most hilarious scenes from films like Kattabomman, Chinna Gounder, Chinnavar, Manasukketha Maharaasaa, Thangamana Rasa, Naattaamai , Gentleman,Jaihind. Karna, Indian, and the most famous Karagaattakkaran. The banana scene from the last film mentioned here, would stay as an epoch making comedy scene like that  of K.A.Thangavelu narrating his bogus award winning function to his wife M.Saroja, in Kalyana Parisu and  Naagesh narrating the ghost tale in his proposed film to his father T.S.Balaiah, in Kadhalikka Neramillai.
   There is a remarkable scene in a movie in which Goundamani  would have explained the meaning of cholera as an evil spirit. Subsequently fearing the spread of cholera, Goundamani will travel on the pillion of the cycle pedaled by Sendhil . When Goundamani’s foot gets stuck to the back wheel, he will shout ‘kaalraa Kaalra’[my foot man! my foot] Senthil  will coolly say that he knows it is cholera and that is why he is riding fast so that both of them can escape from it. In another film, Sendhil  will watch Goundamani consoling a bereaved son at a funeral, stating that the dead man was not only a father to his son but also a venerable father to everybody in the village. Soon in  a similar context,Sendhil  will be seen consoling a bereaved husband, stating that the departed wife was not only a beloved wife of her husband but a loving wife of everyone.How much Sendhil   gets thrashed for this, is anybody’s guess. Senthil  will then innocently think, why when Goundamani says such things he is not beaten by anybody, forgetting the context and its requirements of behaviour and manner of talk.
    In another film Goundamani  will  be selling tender coconuts and Sendhil as his assistant driven by the temptation to become a coconut seller will soon indulge in stealing Goundamani’s tender coconuts, using a rope and pulling them one after the other, to another place installed by him as a shop. He will do this with the help of Vadivelu.  In Jai Hind, every time when Goundamani{ a cop, in that film}goes to sleep, Sendhil will appear in his dreams, goading him to do the unwanted, thereby causing a demotion or some other punishment in his job. Through out the film, Senthil will be a nightmare for Goundamani. Who, other than Sendhil ,will have the temerity to argue that  he an  eight standard passed out candidate, is superior to Goundamani, a tenth standard failed person, because a pass is always superior to  failure in an examination.
    The collateral damage that Senthil  causes to Goundamani in several movies, is the creamy layer of hilarious comic situations ending up in thunderous applause from the audience. The most unforgettable comedy in this category is from K.S.Ravikumar’s Naattaamai  wherein, Sendhil plays the notorious womanizing father of Goundamani. While Goundamani will be helplessly looking for  a girl for himself to be his wife Sendhil will effectively thwart the former's attemptsThe other noteworthy aspect of Goundamani's search is his desire to know who his mother is. Whenever Sendhil addresses Goundamani as'My son' Goundamani will retort by calling him'Dei Thagappa'}.Though Naattaamai was a grand show in all respects, one could firmly acknowledge the dynamic reach of Goundamani Senthil comic anecdotes adding to its historic victory at the box office.
   At one point of time or the other any trend  has to meet its natural end. This dynamic duo could not be said to have parted ways. But  the audience preference began to move towards newer display of laughter quotient and comedians like Vivek and Vadivelu took over the screen for the evolution of  social concepts and contextual display of physical comedy combined with verbal banter. However, Sendhil  like Goundamani ,established his  individual might of comedy, by his special association with the Superstar in films like Muthu,Arunachalam and Padayappa and the comedy segment of these films was a clear indicator of what Senthil is  independently capable of .
   Goundamani, who was introduced by Barathiraja, continued to remain a constant addition in most of the films of this  epoch making film maker. His talent has also been successfully utilized by many able hands like R.Sundarajan, Manivannan, Ramarajan, Ve.Sekar, P.Vasu, K.S.Ravikumar,R.V.Udhyakumar and Shankar. Besides he was  regularly included in the films of the Motherland pictures. Sendhil being almost the alter ego of Goundamani would have been there in most of the films directed by the above film makers.Perhaps Shankar would have inducted him in a few more films like Jeans and Boys.Sendhil has also been a special favourite of actor Thiagarajan who gave him the first opportunity in Malayur mambattiyaan.
    Like Nagesh whose comedy show dominated Tamil Cinema for more than two decades, the humour  component of Goundamani and Senthil  flew high  wielding their welded wings to newer zones. Trends might change every now and then. But each age has a special message to pass over to posterity. It is this message that makes history. In this regard  the message passed on by the duo is that, if two individuals set aside their ego, they can create new records in joint ventures  with a dynamic reach of their joint show.
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Friday, September 5, 2014

The "Innocent" Face of Malayalam Cinema.

    




















     Malayalam Cinema owes its credibility in creativity and success in status, to many veteran film makers, script writers, actors, cinematographers, musicians, singers and so on. There is always a unique stamp of originality governing the entire gamut of Malayalam film making. Among heroes, from Prem  Nazir to the most recent entrant, many would take credit for lifting the creative face of Malayalam film industry, each one unfolding a distinct dimension to character delineation. But among character actors, mixing a celebrated   gusto of comedy, there are only a few actors who have made a long standing impact with a constant display of spontaneity, individuality and variety.
    There was Adoor Bhasi who occupied the centre stage as one of the prominent  faces of Malayalam Cinema, nearly for four decades from the Nineteen Fifties. Luckily,there was no vacuum left by him because immediately, there came another ebullient actor, who amazingly mixed up comedy with character portrayal and sustained the tempo maintained by Adoor Bhasi. The grandeur in Bhasi was due to the impeccable mark of innocence coupled with mischief and there was no decline in this extraordinary brand of character fixation, thanks to the emergence of yet another master of the craft, carrying innocence in his name too. Innocent Vareed Thekkethala, shortly called Innocent, is the steadfast actor- turned politician and Member of Parliament, who has  attained the singular position of an inseparable segment of the Malayalee movie routine.
    Those who have acquainted themselves with the inception, emergence and progress of Tamil Cinema would  compare  Innocent without prejudice, to the prestigious position held by actors like S.V.Subbiah, S.V.Rengarao,T.S.Balaiah,V.K.Ramasamy and M.R.Radha of the last century. Innocent has in him, a trait or two of all these actors and with his own  masterly strokes has added pep and dynamism to each of his role performances. Voice is the greatest asset of Innocent. It is a tremendous voice pattern capable of churning out several emotions at one stroke. In expressing anxiety and nervousness, he may resemble T.S.Balaiah and in increasing his decibel he may be closer to V.K.Ramasamy. In moments of dignified silence he will bring the veteran SV.Subbiaha to our memory. In deliberation of hasty dialogues ending up  in a sudden switch off, he will be like S.V.Rengarao and Radha. It is my remarkable association with Tamil Cinema, that makes  me equate Innocent with the stalwart character actors in Tamil films. Otherwise, one could simply say he is an actor in the line of Adoor Bhasi,  opening up newer channels and intricacies in acting, through his independent creative formulations .
     As far as quality of role performance is concerned, Innocent heralds fresh throws and trends in acting by injecting hilarity and emotions relevantly to the context, thereby making himself incomparable. One could say he is unbeatable in combining comedy with character projection.The salient humour shots of Innocent, generate more from his physical demonstration [otherwise known as body language]than from his utterances. It is a kind of immobile, stony stance he periodically maintains in his body language, resulting in instant laughter.His face is a symbolic exterior,shuffling expressions and emotions in a sequence, through the calculated movement of his eyes and lips. Most often, one could perceive an ostensible stubbornness in his body mould and gesticulations, that would successfully reflect him as an unrelenting talent. Yes, as an aggressive artist, he would not surrender his position  to anyone in any context. Be it in the midst of reputed Malayalam big screen comedians ,or great heroes like Mammootty,Mohanlal Jeyaram and Dileep, the presence of Innocent, will be a poignant indicator of the shot that stays glued to the memory of the audience.
       Malayalam films abound in rib tickling physical and verbal comedy scenes vigorously carried on by a hearty tribe of humour mongers, like[ late] Cochin Haneefa,Jagathy Sreekumar,Harisree Ashokan,Salim Kumar, and Sooraj Venjaramoodu. Among these seasoned comedians, the first two have excelled in character acting too. But Innocent belongs to a specific category of actors capable of establishing an endearing link with the audience, demanding an invisible personal acceptance. It is difficult to bring in the list of all his great movies because the number itself is great. However, there are some special films, that would force the audience to keep thinking not only about those films, but also about Innocent’s contribution towards enriching the quality of the films.
      In this regard, my memory archive could release from storage films like Kilukkam, Devasuram, Life is Beautiful,Vietnam Veedu,Ravanaprabu ,Mithunam, Rasathandhiram, Manichithrathaazhu, Balettan,Naran,Madampi,Ustaad, Alibhai,Baba Kalyani,Maambazhakkaalam,Snehaveedu, Gitanjali [all with Mohanlal}Hitler, Pattaalam Valiettan, Chronic Bachelor, Kaazhcha,Vesham,Kadha Parayumbol, Pranchiettan &the Saint with Mammootty,Verudhe Oru Bharya,Bagyadhevadha with Jeyaram,Nandanam and Vellithira with Prithviraj and Chandran Udhikkunna Dhikkil,Vettam, Ishtam Marykkundoru Kugnaadu,Paapy Appachan,and Aagathan with Dileep, apart from the mega hit multi-starring Twenty Twenty produced by Dileep.
      I have given here only the list of significant movies that I have watched. I have not seen his most popular films like Mannar Mathai Speaking l and ll and Husbands in Goa.The eventful scenes of comedy and character performance of Innocent, are an on-the-spot  quick fix, refusing to leave the memory slot. The periodical  quarrels between him and his wife in’ Life is Beautiful’ ending up in a sweet course of romance, thanks to Mohanlal, his helplessness in preserving secrets in ‘Rasa Thandhram' his comedy time presented in association with  Mukesh and Harishree Ashokan in ‘Chronic Bachelor’ and in almost a similar role as a confirmed bachelor with a craving for women in Ishtam,,his rigid approach towards his son in ‘Pappy Appachan’ and his self-centered clandestine banking  activities in ‘Chandran Udikkunna Dikkil’are a few samples of the variety dimensions of characters he played on screen with precision and perfection.Besides these memorable performances, it was a pleasure to see him in priestly roles in a few movies and the way he fixed himself compactly,with unfailing look of dignity and sanctity in the character of God, in ‘Philips and the Monkey’s Pen’.
     Innocent’s progress and sustenance in the field of acting has been both stable and substantially qualitative like the unobstructed acting career of the Tamil comedienne Manorama.The presence of this amazing actor in several Malayalam films is not due to any special favour shown to him, but because of his indispensability for adding certain amount of valid vibration to the narration of the main story. Above all, his amiable frame of innocence, capable of delivering the perennial flow of mischief and humour, is his potential  market value, selling himself lovably into the hands of many film makers as an inevitable value addition.The really complicated issue in the case of this renowned Malayalam movie lord is the difficulty in assessing, when actually Mr.Innocent is mischievous and when this cheeky mischief maker is helplessly innocent.This is certainly the piquant side of the 'Innocent' face of Malayalam Cinema.
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