The word Chevalier became closer to the Tamil soil, only after Sivaji Ganesan,the legacy of Tamil Cinema, was awarded that title.The French word Chevalier means Knight.The French award, given in the name of Chevalier,was instituted in 1957 and it is an Order of Arts and Letters, awarded to those, for their achievements in and their propagation of, the field of arts and literature.Who in Tamil Cinema, other than Sivaji Ganesan,would have rightly deserved such a prestigious award?That Sivaji Ganesan became a Chevalier was a matter of pride more to Tamil film industry, than to the Samsonite hero.The fame of Sivaji Ganesan as an edifice of acting, is not a news to any one.It is a historic fact.But the Sivaji hierarchy,that is,the line of actors from the genes of that actor prototype,certainly deserves the focus it needs.
As far as hierarchy is concerned,this blog has already thrown some light on the heirs of another colossal actor M.R.Radha, besides discussing the acting stuff of Prabu Ganesan and Karthik Muthuraman,under the caption 'Two Chips of their Old Block'.But now, the third generation actors in the Chevalier lineage, are slowly moving for a space on the big screen.This becomes a very interesting phenomenon, because it calls for a mood of comparison in terms of perfect role play and flawless display of character dimensions, in an all inclusive format of the acting grandeur of Sivaji Gnesan. I am sure, very often the second and third generation actors from the Sivaji Ganesan family, would have felt humbled by the ever performing exemplary actor, as the founding father of the whole gamut of acting.
Ramkumar Ganesan and Prabu Ganesan,the two sons of the Chevalier, set their feet on the celluloid stage, at different times,the elder sibling in Aruvadai Naal in 1986 and the younger one four years earlier in 1982 in the film Sangili along with his father.While Ramkumar played the role of a Christian priest making a mark in Aruvadai Naal, starring Prabhu as hero, the latter's debut movie Sangili, was not a good start for him.However,it was Prabhu who could get into his father's shoes, despite the fact that his feet could not compactly fit into them.Whereas Ramkumar coolly withdrew from the race, after My Dear Maarthaandan, to reappear after a long time,as one of the four villains in Shankar's 'I'.
Prabhu definitely made his innings with a clear awareness of his comfort zones in acting.His inbuilt geniality in appearance and a voice pattern inherited from his father no doubt showcased him as a successful hero for nearly two decades.But he knows the fact that he is far behind his father, in maintaining the naturally imbibed thumb rules of acting, devoutly followed by the family patriarch.Acting ran as blood in the arteries of Sivaji Ganesan and he breathed acting as his life breath.Whereas, what Prabhu could achieve was a felicity in playing innocent characters, as in Chinna Thambi, Sethamizh Paattu and Vanna Thamizh Paattu, besides shuttling between sober and comic depiction of characters . His levels of maturity in acting, became more poignant once he started playing the role of an elder, which keeps him going with the flow.
While Dushyanth Ramkumar stayed away after a couple of films, Shivaji Dev. Ramkumar seems to be still in the race.But it is Prabhu's son Vikram Prabhu who has started making his mettle after his successful debut hit Kumki, directed by Prabu Solomon.This young hero has sown his credentials, to sprout as an unruffled and natural actor, with an innate stuff to carve a niche for himself,in the race for survival on the big screen.But even here, there is a growing fear of seeing him more as a hero of the thriller genre, rather than being blessed with opportunities for showing his capabilities, for playing a variety of roles.Starting from Ivan Vera Madhiri,Vikram Prabhu has been seen only in action thrillers like Arima Nambi and Sigaram Thodu.
His latest movie Vellakkara Thorai has proved to be a flop not because the actor is a misfit for the comedy genre but because of a very poor course of narration by Ezhil who gave a mega hit film like Thullaadha Manamum Thullum and made a good show of his directorial flair in films like Pennin Manadhai Thottu, Poovellaam Un Vasam Raajaa and Manam Kothi Paravai.The trouble with Vikram Prabu seems to be his fixation in playing roles with a natural frame of mind, rather than doing characters with a cinematic thrust, in body language and dialogue delivery, as his grandfather and father did.It is good to be natural in performing.But it is always more desirable to imbibe a vigorous gusto in presentation for a consistent screen image.Hope Vikram Prabu makes sure, that he reinforces the histrionic parameters for a greater thrust of the hero in him.
Vikram Prabu's growth as an actor, should be dynamic, challenging and inspiring, in the line of becoming a versatile actor; it is not only the director's job to make him become an achiever, but is also the actor's responsibility to choose characters calling for greater challenges in performance and portrayal. Otherwise,in a field of alarming competition, the race is going to be very tough and I am sure, this young talent, may not be unaware of the dangling threat to survival.Personally I believe, the future of the Chevalier hierarchy, rests more with Vikram Prabhu than others, to establish the fact, that he is not just like other actors who come and go, but is a promising guy, to make the posterity continue to glorify the Sivaji dynasty, not just for name sake, but for the base on which the hierarchy is built and the way it stands proud, as an eternal monument of the Chevalier substance and splendour.