Sunday, July 5, 2015

In praise of an Actor - Ulaganayakan 

Take an extremely well written script , assemble a Team of great technicians then ??? With the script being the hero what does the "actor" bring to the Table ?
If you want a master class lesson on that then you study the case of "Drishyam".
A competent actor brings himself into the role and then dissolves himself to still leave a trace or a shade or sometimes even a tan or more on to the colour of the character - obviously with the OK of the Director who cast him for precisely this reason.
I must agree with my friend Bharadwaj Rangan who said that he envied those who had not seen the Malayalam/Telugu versions as they would have fully experienced the thrill and excitement of the plot as it steadily unravelled.
Comparisons are always odious - should never be done for each is as original as the other - which is the "Holier" Ramayana ? Kalidasa , Kambar or Thulasidas ?? Each Poet brought out the essence through his vision and Language to narrate the same Epic.
Only a man supremely confident of his own skills and technique will agree to do any role already essayed by another great actor. There was this story of how Dilip Kumar cautioned Sanjeev Kumar not to do any Sivaji film remake - he is supposed to have said - " we will be fooled into thinking there is a great script and story because of the films success but remove Sivaji and there will be nothing we can play on". Yet Sanjeev did Navarathri and became a great friend of the Sivaji family.
Coming back to comparisons can you compare Becket , Pasa Malar and Namak Haram or the Anniversary Waltz by Strauss , Jeena Yahan from Mera Naam Joker and Kaathoduthaan naan [paaduven ??? Did not each delight you in its own unique way ? It did for me. O'Toole and Burton < Sivaji and Gemini , Rajesh and the Big B - all were class acts. In my opinion it is extremely unfair to both Mohan Lal and Kamal if we try to draw comparisons.
Lal's George Kutty was so different from Kamal's Swayambulingam. Did he refer to his ability to constantly keep rising up on his own after each difficult phase in life ? That his chief tormentor is "Perumal" is another autobiographical reference to his personal views - which he freely takes a dig at when he says "Nee enna karuppu chattaya ?" having worn a fluck black shirt earlier in the film. These little references apart....these two characters are as distinct as Chalk and Cheese.
Lal's George Kutty was pretty self assured , a Rock of a man , rarely given to great display of emotion - almost infallible and self assured - not so our Hero - he weeps when the master says Kaiveesamma Kaiveesu and pays his personal encomiums too with the words _ Paasamalar paaerthuttu azhuvaadhavan manusana ?? Or the reference to Padikkaadha Medhai.
When I spoke to Kamal this evening he asked me specifically if I enjoyed the "encomiums to Periyavar" - hence I use the same words. Swayambu is one given to tearing up when his family suffers or is unhappy whereas George becomes the Strong loving father, Both were totally committed to saving their family - there I feel the similarity ends. This helped in the totally oppposing approaches to the Climax.
What a performer ?? What depth ? So much said and yet unsaid. This earlier fallibility and weakness helped in ensuring that this was not over the Top but almost exactly what Swayambhu would have done - NOT GEORGE KUTTY.... but Swayambhu. So let us not compare. There are many parts in the movie where he shows this ever so subtly - watch the scene as he comes out of his house to see off the Police officers who land up there from his daughter's School. He is not fearless but well aware of what the Cops can do. Hence that classic shot of George Kutty on the floor telling his family by signs that he is Ok - even though beaten up is not there - Swayambhu was more frustrated and in pain as he kept bashing the Floor. THEY ARE TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT CHARACTERS caught in the same web.
Today is Guru Peyarchi - we saw the Guru of Acting move from one house to another - he will continue to move. This was a film where ONLY Kamal the Actor was Only Kamal the Actor could have done it.
When we spoke he said it is another version of Mahanadhi , I am telling you because you were part of it - the difference being Mahanadhi left everyone with a heavy heart and this was a feel good film.
My appeal to ACTOR Kamal - while we love all your Avatars we yearn for the Actor to surface more. This happens when you dont take on the burden of Producing?Writing and Directing - so every now and then do delight us with such delectable performances.
I must congratulate Mohan Lal who , by essaying the role, gave this script Life.
The Producers , of the Tamil version , to take a huge risk by choosing such a simple subject most unfilmy.
The entire cast and Team of technicians who have all done a brilliant job.
Finally the Reviewers and the audience for giving this film a total Thumbs Up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NOM DU FILM - or film names.

Music maestro Ilayaraja , probably struggling for a suitable name in sheer desperation called his classic album –“ How to name it ?”

I wonder how to name a name ? It is not a nickname and yet it is not the person’s given name…. It is not a surname or a middle name or even a first name. It is a combination of all of these. You take a person’s name ( or part thereof) and add another name , a kind of nickname in front of it and lo behold you get a totally different name. Villupuram Chinnaiah Mandrayar Ganesha Murthy becomes Sivaji Ganesan. This new avatar becomes legend  in the world of Tamil films. It is this new name that I choose to call “Nom du film” or simply put – A film name. This phenomenon is fairly unique to the Tamil Film Industry , at least more prevalent. We can find similar names in the world of American sports -  Tiger Woods , Magic Johnson to name a few. The old Chicago gangster world too had its fair share – Scarface Capone , Bugsy Malone and so on.

These added “Names” can be divided into various categories based on -

Some Attribute – usually Physical  like “Gundu” was added to both a Karuppaiah and a Kalyanam , Semia Mani , Kulla Mani, Omakuchi Narasimhan. Smitha , had skin as smooth as silk and became “Silk Smitha” – that is why her character in the film “Vandichakkram” was called “Silk”. Some refer to the actor’s ability. Mani , a comic on stage had the ability to repartee and thus was christened “Counter” Mani - The man who could give a counter dialogue. This over time and mispronouncing became Gounder a more familiar word to the public and thus was born Gounda Mani , who together with Senthil ruled Tamil Cinema for a long time. “Kutty” Padmini , remained so even when she grew up. Since there were quite a few Subbiah’s we have a “Vellai” Subbiah as opposed to a Karuppu Subbiah or the more famous S.V.Subbiah. “Sandow” Chinnappa Thevar – as is obvious was a wrestler but “Payilvan” Ranganathan was not – but looked like a wrestler. One of Tamil’s earliest action hero was “Battling” Mani – a leading action Star like the Hindi lady counterpart “Fearless” Nadia.”Pulimoottai” or a sack of Tamarind was what they thought Ramaswamy looked like and became Pulimoottai Ramaswamy. “Yadhartham” Ponnuswamy was given that name for his “natural” acting.

A film that made them famous – We have the brothers Raja and Ravi , Director and hero of the film “Jeyam” respectively adding the films name to their name thus making them Jeyam Raja and Jeyam Ravi. Nizhalgal Ravi being a different person. The film Vennira Adai was added to Murthy the Comedian and Nirmala one of the female leads. The film “Pasi”to both Narayanan and Ms. Sathya . “Nizhalgal” Ravie ,“Poovilangu” Mohan , “Thalaivasal Vijay” , “Sangili” Murugan all derive their name from the film that made them popular. The film CID Shankar gave us CID Shakunthala. Kuladeivam Rajagopal is another example.

The Telugu film “Shahukaar launched a young girl Janaki and thus became “Sowcar” Janaki. Another Telugu film “Sakshi” was added to Ranga Rao , to differentiate him from S.V.Ranga Rao , his son Siva , a popular TV Star has added it to his name , a rare case of 2nd generation “Nom du film”. The only other case being “Isari” Velan and his son Ganesh. “Isari” being how a dialogue spoken “Adhu Seri” sounded. Which drings us to the next category.

From Dialogues or Phrases that they said -
“Ennatha”Kanniah,“Danaal”Thangavelu,”Kaakka” Radhakrishnan, “Ayyatheriyaadhayya” Rama Rao , “Pakodah” Khadar,  “Aleik” Nirmala , who later dropped “Aleik” and became just Vijayanirmala – The Guiness record holder for the Lady Director with the maximum number of films in the World , are some. “Fatafat” Jayalakshmi and “Achchacho” Chithra are some others. The Hindu is responsible for one such name – a young comedian , playing a film producer called Dhandapani repeated the lines “Thai ( the month) porandhaal picture start”… The character in the play was called Thai Dhandapani – The Hindu gave him a rave review and the month of Thai when re written in Tamil was written as Thaai or mother and thus was born “Thaai” Nagesh.

The place they came from – We have the most famous of them all “Gemini” Ganesh , who took the name of the Studio that he came from. AVM Rajan too added the Studio name , but as his Initials. Some like the famous Stage actor Visvanathan added the City he lived in – Calcutta. Delhi Ganesh was christened so by his mentor K.Balachander to distinguish him from Sivaji , Gemini and Jai , all other Ganeshs. TV has another from Delhi , Delhi Kumar. Balachander’s cpmpany gave birth to “Kavithalaya” Krishnan. We are not considering names like “Sirkaazhi” Govindarajan , ‘Trichy” Loganathan or “Chidambaram” Jayaraman all of whom took their Native Town as part of their Initials.

Ganesan as Sivaji
C.N.Annadorai as Kaagabhattar - the Guru.

Characters that they immortalized – “Major Sundarrajan played Major Chandrakanth in both the Play and the film by K.Balachander. “Nawab” Rajamanickam , “Typist” Gopu , “Thengai” Srinivasan, “Kaththadi” Ramamurthy , Inspector Javert of Les Miserables when played in Tamil by Seetharaman became Jhaver Seetharaman. For playing lady characters like “Avvai” and “Kaali” (the godess) both T.K.Shanmugam and Rathinam were given these “Titles”. Even the Road is called Avvai Shanmugam Salai today. For his role as the Title Character “ Captain Prabhakar” Vijaykanth is known as Captain Vijaykanth and the other popular hero Vikram – “Chiyaan” Vikram from the character he played in the National award winning “Sethu”. The most famous of them all being “Sivaji” Ganesan from the title role in a play by C.N.Annadorai. Periyar saw his performance and christened him Sivaji Ganesan.

 (Late) Vikram Dharma

The Work done - Some like Judo Rathinam , Stunt Somu , Gana Ulaganathan , Joker Ramudu , Clown Sindaram , Bufoon Shankara Iyer are indicative of their field of acticity. Various action choreographer have  adopted such names – Rambo Rajkumar , Super Subbarayan , Stunt Siva , Jaquar Thangam to name a few. In case you wonder why Jaguar is spelt that way it is another Thaai Nagesh case – Jaguar when written in Tamil is written with a ‘q’ as there is no equivalent sounding alphabet. The late Dharma became “Vikram” Dharma after his work in the Kamalhaasan starrer - Vikram.

“Crazy” Mohan got his name from his play “Crazy Thieves of Palavakkam” – this was a name given to him by the then editor of Ananda Vikatan , The other Mohan was “Loose” Mohan who specialized in Madras Baashai (slang). The hero Mohan was fondly called “Mike” Mohan as he belted out hit songs one after the other , sung mostly by SPB , always holding a Mike on stage. I am grateful that I have been spared a tag – remaining plain.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all Tamil “Nom du Film”. As the Bard of Avon  said in Romeo and Juliet – “What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet “.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sachin - The Legend Retires , an article in Tamil Published in November 2013

This article was Published in Namma Chennai - A year ago in Novemeber 2013. This was told by me in Tamil and written down ( and polished) by S.Gopalakrishnan.

அந்த அழகு மீண்டும் வராது

கடந்த மாதம் இந்தியக் கிரிக்கெட் நட்சத்திரம் சச்சின் டெண்டுல்கர் ஊடகங்களில் தலைப்புச் செய்தியானார். அவர் மேற்கிந்தியத் தீவுகள் அணிக்கு எதிராக ஆடவிருக்கும் தனது 200ஆவது டெஸ்ட் போட்டியோடு டெஸ்ட் கிரிக்கெட்டிலிருந்து  ஓய்வுபெறுவதாக அக்டோபர் 10 அன்று அறிவித்தார். அக்டோபர் முதல் வாரத்தில் முடிந்த சாம்பியன்ஸ் லீக் போட்டியில் மும்பை இந்தியன்ஸ் அணி கோப்பையை வென்றதும் 20-&20 கிரிக்கெட் போட்டிகளிலிருந்து  ஓய்வுபெறுவதாக அறிவித்தார். கடந்த ஆண்டு டிசம்பர் மாதம் ஒருநாள் கிரிக்கெட் போட்டிகளிலிருந்து ஓய்வுபெறுவதாக அறிவித்தார். 

இந்தியா, மேற்கு இந்தியத் தீவுகளுக்கு இடையில் நடக்க இருக்கும் இரண்டு டெஸ்ட் போட்டிகளுக்குப் பிறகு சச்சின் சர்வதேச கிரிக்கெட் போட்டிகளில் விளையாடுவதைப் பார்க்க முடியாது. ஒவ்வொரு கிரிக்கெட் ரசிகருக்கும் இது  வருத்தத்துக்குரிய செய்தி. ஆனால் இது எதிர்பார்க்கப்பட்டதுதான். விளையாட்டு வீரர்களின் தொழில் வாழ்க்கைக்கு ஒரு எல்லை உண்டு. இந்த உண்மையை ஊடகங்கள் கவனிக்கத் தவறிவிட்டன. இது பற்றி அவை வெளியிட்ட செய்திகள் அனைத்தும்  இனி இந்திய கிரிக்கெட் என்ன ஆகும், இனி யார் கிரிக்கெட்டைப் பார்ப்பார்கள் என்பது போன்ற அச்ச உணர்வுடன் இருந்தன. 

ஏழு ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன் சச்சின் ஓய்வு பெற்றிருந்தால் நானும் இதே பதற்றத்தை அடைந்திருப்பேன். ஆனால் இப்போது அப்படி இல்லை. அஸ்வின், ரெய்னா, கோலி போன்ற விரர்கள் நம்பிக்கை அளிக்கிறார்கள். தவிர சச்சின்  கடந்த 2-,3 ஆண்டுகளாக அவர் விலகவே கூடாது என்று நினைக்கவைக்கும் அளவுக்கு ஆடிவிடவில்லை. கிரிக்கெட் ரசிகர்களுக்கு சச்சினின் ஓய்வு ஒரு இழப்புதான். ஆனால் இந்தியக் கிரிக்கெட்டுக்கு அல்ல.

உண்மையில் அனில் கும்ப்ளே, சவுரவ் கங்குலி, வி.வி.எஸ். லக்ஷ்மண், ராகுல் டிராவிட் என் இந்தியக் கிரிக்கெட்டைத் தாங்கி நின்ற தூண்கள் ஒருவர் பின் ஒருவராக ஓய்வுபெற்றபோதுதான் எனக்குக் கொஞ்சம் பதற்றம் ஏற்பட்டது.  இவர்கள் அனைவரும் போனதைப் பெரிதாகக் கண்டுகொள்ளாமல் சச்சின் ஒருவர் விலகும்போது மட்டும் ஊடகங்கள் பரபரப்பாவது சற்று வேடிக்கையாகத்தான் இருக்கிறது. 

இவற்றையெல்லாம் சொல்வதால் நான் சச்சினின் பங்களிப்பைக் குறைத்து மதிப்பிடுகிறேன் என்று பொருள் அல்ல. கிரிக்கெட்டுக்கு அவரது பங்களிப்பு அளப்பரியது. அவரைப் பிடிக்காதவர்கள்கூட இதை மறுக்க முடியாது. நான் அவரது  ரசிகன். ஷேன் வார்னை அவர் பரேடு எடுத்ததைப் பற்றிக் காவியம் எழுதலாம். சச்சின் என்ற ஒரு மட்டையாளர் இல்லாவிட்டால் ஷேன் வார்ன் அடைந்திருக்கும் புகழ் பன்மடங்காக இருந்திருக்கும். அவரைத் தட்டி வைத்தது சச்சின்தான். மட்டை வீ ச்சில் அவரது ரன் குவிப்பு சாதனைகளின் புள்ளிவிவரங்களை உலகறியும். மட்டைவீச்சின் நுணுக்கங்கள் சார்ந்தும் அவர் பல்வேறு பங்களிப்புகளைச் வழங்கியுள்ளார். 

மிகச் சிறந்த மட்டைவீச்சாளர்கள் அனைவரும் ஒரு பந்தை எதிர்கொள்வதற்கு இரண்டு விதமான வழிகளில் தேர்ச்சி அடைந்திருப்பார்கள். ஆனால் விவியன் ரிச்சர்ட்ஸ், பிரயன் லாரா ஆகியோரைத் தவிர சச்சினுக்கு மட்டும்தான்  ஒவ்வொரு பந்தையும் நான்கைந்து வழிகளில் எதிர்கொள்ளத் தெரியும். அவர் கிரிக்கெட்டையே மாற்றினார். மற்றவர்கள் தன்னை நோக்கி வரும் பந்தை முன்னே சென்று லேசாக தட்டினால் (Forward Defensive Stroke) பந்து மிட்  ஆஃப் (Mid off) பகுதி வரை போகும். அதையே சச்சின் செய்தால் பந்து எல்லைக் கோட்டைக் கடக்கும். மட்டைவீச்சில் தடுப்பாட்டம் (Defence) என்பதை  ரன் எடுப்பதற்கான ஆட்டமாக மாற்றியவர் சச்சின். கிரிக்கெட்டில் தடுப்பே  தாக்குதலாக அமையும் (Defence can be an offence)  என்று உலகுக்கு நிரூபித்தவர் அவர்.  

இந்தப் புதுவகை ஆட்டத்துக்கு ஏற்ற வகையில் மட்டைகளை வடிவமைப்பதில் அவர் கவனம் செலுத்தினார். மட்டை வடிவமைப்பில் ஏற்பட்டுள்ள முன்னேற்றங்களில் அவரது பங்கு இருக்கிறது. 

அப்பழுக்கற்ற திறமை, கடின உழைப்பு, தன்னடக்கம், அவருக்குக் கடவுள் வழங்கியிருக்கும் வரமான,  கண்ணையும் கையையும் ஒருங்கிணைப்பதற்கான திறன். இவை நான்கும்தான்  சச்சினை உலகின் மிகச் சிறந்த மட்டையாளராக்குகின்றன.  இவற்று க்கெல்லாம் மேலாக அவர் கடைசி வரை பயிற்சியை நிறுத்தவில்லை. உலகமே போற்றும் வீரராகிவிட்ட பின்னும் தன் விளையாட்டு நுணுக்கங்களைத் தொடர் பரிசீலனைக்கு உட்படுத்திக்கொண்டே இருந்தார். டான் பிராட்னுக்கு மட்டுமே  இருந்த இவ்விரு பண்புகள் அவருக்குப் பின் சச்சினிடமே காணக் கிடைக்கின்றன. ஏற்றுக்கொண்ட காரியத்தில் முழுமையான அர்ப்பணிப்புடையவர்கள் மட்டுமே இப்படி இருக்க முடியும். 

சச்சினை ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளாதவர்கள் அவர் மீது வைக்கும் குற்றச்சாட்டுகளைப் பார்ப்போம்.  அவர் தன் தனிப்பட்ட சாதனைகளுக்காக விளையாடுபவர் என்பார்கள். 1999 உலகக் கோப்பைக்காக இங்கிலாந்தில் இருந்தார். அவரது  அப்பா இறந்த செய்தி கிடைத்தது. அதற்குச் சென்று ஓரிரு நாட்களில் திரும்பினார். ஜிம்பாப்வே அணியுடன் நடந்த லீக் போட்டியில் மட்டுமே அவரால் விளையாட முடியவில்லை. தனிப்பட்ட சாதனைக்காக விளையாடுபவர் என்ற £ல் அப்பாவின் மரணத்தைக் காரணம் காட்டிப் பத்து நாட்கள் வீட்டில் இருந்திருப்பார்.

அடுத்ததாக சச்சின் அதிக ரன் அடிக்கும் போட்டிகளில் இந்தியா தோற்றுவிடும் என்பார்கள். இதன் மூலம் இந்திய அணியின் வெற்றிகளுக்கு அவர் அதிகமாகப் பங்களித்ததில்லை என்று நிறுவ முயல்வார்கள். ஆனால் புள்ளிவிவரங்களை  நேர்மையாக ஆராய்ந்தால் சச்சின் பல போட்டிகளில் இந்தியாவின் வெற்றிக்குக் காரணமாக இருந்திருக்கிறார் என்பது புலப்படும். அவர் அடித்த  ஒவ்வொரு ரன்னும் இந்தியாவுக்கும் தேசத்துக்கும் பெருமை சேர்ப்பதாகவே  அமைந்திருக்கின்றன. 

லக்ஷ்மண், அனில் கும்ப்ளே ஆகியோரைப் போல அணியைவிட்டு விலக இந்திய கிரிக்கெட் வாரியம் சச்சினை வற்புறுத்தவில்லை.  விலகலுக்கான நேரத்தைத் தேர்ந்தெடுக்கும் வசதி அவருக்கு வழங்கப்பட்டது. இதையும் சிலர் பாரபட்சம £ன அணுகுமுறை என்று விமர்சிப்பார்கள். ஆனால் சச்சின் கடைசிவரை இந்த கவுரவத்துக்குத் தகுதியானவராகவே இருந்தார். அவரது கிரிக்கெட் வாழ்வின் கடைசிப் பகுதியில் பெரிய சாதனைகளைப் படைக்கவில்லை, அதிக  வெற்றிகளைப் பெற்றுத் தரவில்லை என்று சொல்வதை ஏற்கலாம். ஆனால் எப்போதும் அவர் அணிக்குச் சுமையாக இருக்கவில்லை என்பதையும் ஏற்றுக்கொண்டாக வேண்டும்.  ஓரளவு ரன் அடித்தார். மற்ற வயதான வீரர்களைப் போல்  தடுப்புத் திறனில் சொதப்பவில்லை. எல்லாவற்றுக்கும் மேலாக அவர் இருக்கிறார் என்பது அணியில் மற்றவர்களுக்குப் பெரும் தெம்பைக் கொடுத்தது. இது அவருக்குக் கடவுள் கொடுத்த வரம். ஒருவன் தன்னால் பத்து இட்லி சாப்பிட முடியும்  என்று சொல்லிவிட்டு சாப்பிட்டும் காண்பித்தால் நாம் அதைக் கேள்வி கேட்க முடியுமா. அதுபோல்தான் இதுவும்.

தொழிலில் மட்டுமல்ல; சொந்த வாழ்க்கையிலும் அனைவரும் பின்பற்றத்தக்க குணாதிசயங்களைக் கொண்டிருந்தவர் அவர். எளிமையின் மனித வடிவம் என்று அவரைச் சொல்லலாம். பிசிசிஐ ஏற்பாடு செய்திருந்த ஒரு விழாவுக்கு எனக்கு  அழைப்பு கிடைத்தது. சச்சின் வந்திருந்தார். நான் அவருடன் ஒரு புகைப்படம் எடுத்துக்கொள்ளும் ஆசையைத் தெரிவித்ததும் உடனடியாக தோளில் கைபோட்டுக் கொண்டு நின்றார், மூன்று நான்கு ஸ்னாப்கள் எடுத்த பிறகு “போதுமா?” என்று  புன்னகையுடன் கேட்டுவிட்டு நகர்ந்து சென்றார். 

சச்சினின் ஓய்வுக்கு வழங்கப்பட்ட முக்கியத்துவம் வேறெந்த நட்சத்திர ஆட்டக்காரருக்கும் வழங்கப்படவில்லை. திராவிடின் ஓய்வை மட்டுமே ஒரு நாளைக்காவது  தொலைக்காட்சி ஊடகங்கள் விவாதித்தன. ஆனால் சச்சினுக்குக் கிடைத்த  இந்த முக்கியத்துவம் ஒரு வகையில் நல்லதுதான். நாளை தோனி ஓய்வுபெறுவார், கோலி ஓய்வுபெறுவார், அஸ்வின் ஓய்வுபெறுவார். அவர்களின் ஓய்வையும் கவுரவப்படுத்த வேண்டும் என்பதற்கு இது ஒரு முன்னுதாரணமாக அமையும். 

நான் சச்சினை எம்.ஜி.ஆருடன் ஒப்பிடுவேன். அவர் எப்படி சினிமாவில் சாதித்துவிட்டு அரசியலிலும் வந்து சாதித்தாரோ அதைப் போல் சச்சினும் செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று எதிர்பார்க்கிறேன். அந்தச் சாதனை வேறு துறையிலும் இரு க்கலாம். கிரிக்கெட்டிலும் இருக்கலாம். கிரிக்கெட்டுக்கு அவரது தொண்டு, அறிவு, ஆற்றல், அனுபவம் ஆகியவை இன்னும் பயன்பட முடியும். வர்ணணையாளராகவோ, அணி மேலாளராகவோ, பயிற்சியாளராகவோ பிசிசிஐ நிர்வாகிய £கவோ இந்திய கிரிக்கெட்டுக்கான அவரது பங்களிப்பு தொடரும் என்று எதிர்பார்க்கிறேன். தொடரும் என்று நம்புகிறேன். தன் ஓய்வை அறிவிக்கும்போது “லெக் பேடை மட்டும்தான் கழட்டிவைக்கிறேன். கிரிக்கெட்டை விட்டுவிட மாட்டேன்” என்று  சொல்லியிருப்பதை கவனத்தில் கொள்ள வேண்டும். விளையாடுவதிலிருந்துதான் ஓய்வுபெற்றிருக்கிறார். கிரிக்கெட்டிலிருந்து அல்ல. 

இந்த எண்ணம்தான் சச்சினின் ஓய்வு அறிவிப்பை ‘காலத்தின் கட்டாயம்’ என்று ஏற்றுக்கொள்ள  வைத்தது என்று நினைக்கிறேன் சச்சினின் ஓய்வு எனக்கும் வருத்தம் தரக்கூடியதுதான். ஆனால் காரி சோபர்ஸ், சுனில் கவாஸ்கர், ஜி.ஆர்.விஸ்வநாத், பிரசன்னா, பேடி, வெங்கட்ராகவன், கபில்தேவ் ஆகிய ஜாம்பவான்கள் ஓய்வுபெற்றபோது ஏற்பட்ட வருத்தம்தான்  இப்போது ஏற்படுகிறது. அதற்குமேல் எதுவும் இல்லை.  பட்டோடி போனபின் வடேகர் வந்தார், வடேகர் போனபின் கபில்தேவ், கபில்தேவுக்குப் பின் சச்சின், சச்சினுக்குப் பின் வேறொருவர் வருவார். இவர்கள் ஒவ்வொருவரும் தன க்கேயுரிய பாணியில் பெருமை தேடிக்கொண்டார்கள். இந்திய கிரிக்கெட் சச்சினுடன் நின்றுவிடாது. ஆனால் அது அவருடன் பயணித்தபோது இருந்த அழகு மீண்டும் வராது. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Leadership STYLE of Superstar Rajini.

Walking with him in RFC

Director P Vasu explains a scene

With our Guru KB sir - and many colleagues

Kuselan scene

Getting a memento for compering Chandramukhi 200th day function


Think of “Superstar” Rajinikanth and immediately his “style” comes to mind , be it smoking a cigarette, chewing gum, tossing a coin or just delivering a “punch” dialogue. He has developed a unique “method” that even acting Coaches like Stanislavsky or Lee Strasberg would not have thought of. Everything he says or does on screen is watched in awe by millions and that is what makes him a “superstar” – the uncrowned “Pasha” of Indian Cinema – yes , Indian and not Tamil. At an award fuction Shahrukh Khan asked him – “when will I become the Basha ?”  Rajini calmly replied – “wait, your day will come”. Years ago an email did the rounds where his “punch” dialogues were interpreted as “Management tips”. This was even brought out as a book ( by my friend P.C.Bala of Matrix.) . The problem with all this is that the Dialogues were not his own words, but those of a “writer” or a Director – just that, his delivery immortalized those words –

I have had the pleasure and the privilege of interacting with him both socially and professionally and found that he adopts many practices that are excellent for any “Leader” to adopt. I will add that it is something that every human being should adopt.  I have here mentioned just five lessons – you can call them Panja Thanthra …..

Lesson 1.

It was December 1994 and one night I sat down to watch the film “Raghavendra” on Video , by the time I finished it was around 2 AM. I must add that I had not watched the film earlier. The film made a deep impact on me and I went into the “Pooja “ room to sit and meditate , when I opened my eyes I realized that there was no picture of Raghavendra Swamy in my Pooja. A thought came to me like a flash – “Get the Picture from the person responsible for this experience”. I was just a few years old in the Industry ( my first film was Idhayam im 1991)  and wondered how to contact Rajini. Fortuitously my house is opposite the Studio of Dr. S.V.Ramanan , a good friend of Rajini , in fact his son in law Ravi Raghavendar is Mrs.Latha Rajinikanth’s brother.

 I approached Dr. S.V.Ramanan with this story and he promised to help. Within a few weeks I was invited for a “Pongal” dinner at Dr.Ramanan’s and around midnight The Superstar landed up. He joined us in the celebrations as his film “Basha” had released earlier that day to a thunderous welcome by both fans and critics. Rajini was in a very happy frame of mind. The evening went on and I did a little bit of my M.R.Radha mimicry which Rajini enjoyed. Dr.Ramanan called me aside and told the Superstar that I have a request. I narrated the incident and he listened politely and said “I will do something Mohan”. As soon as the Pongal holidays were over I got a call from his office when I was dubbing in the Kavithalaya Studios for a serial and they wanted to know if I would be available at my residence. I told them that I would be at home after lunch. An autorickshaw ( private) pulled up and a young man dressed in spotless white got down with a neatly wrapped parcel. He said his name was Jayaram ( he later joined Vijay as his personal touch up) from Rajini Sir’s office and that he had a Parcel for me from Rajini Sir.

I thanked him and also asked him to convey my thanks to the Superstar. I opened the parcel and it was a beautifully framed picture of Raghavendra Swamy with a note that said “Love, Rajini”. He had made a promise late at night to someone who was and is some 10 rungs lower than him in the hierarchy and yet remembered the promise. I was taken aback by this gesture of his and to this day the picture adorns my Pooja Room.

The lesson – Promise what you can Deliver and Deliver what you Promise.

Lesson 2

Years later we were shooting for Kuselan at the Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. Every evening Rajini wanted all of us , his colleagues, to take a brisk walk from the location which was a good 3 or 4 Kms away to the Hotel. When some people expressed that they did not bring their walking shoes, he immediately had it bought and given to them. On days when his portions were over  by lunch time , he would go to his room and come back to the location to join the group in walking. He never missed a single day’s walk. He is a tremendously fast walker and many found it tough to keep pace with him so he would walk ahead a few minutes walk back ( actually walk back ie walk in reverse – he said it develops a different set of Muscles ) and join us thus getting his exercise and still not “deserting” the rest. He would regale us with anecdotes and stories but not once will a word that is harsh or critical come out of his mouth even for humour.

Lesson – Set an example with impactful action , ensure your “Team” is well equipped and even though you may be far ahead of your Team do not leave them behind but walk hand in hand and take every last person across the finishing post.

Lesson 3

During the shoot of Kuselan in Ramoji Film City Hyderabad. As we sat waiting for a shot he will join the rest of the group and not sit in the air-conditioned comfort of his caravan. In fact even when his shot was due only around 11 he will come at 9 , with make up. When the Director asked him to relax , he said , what will I do , staring at the 4 walls , at least here I have my friends and we can sit and chat. In fact he would barely speak , but allow all to speak, intently listening to what each and everyone had to say. Any time he had a doubt or clarification he would ask and when he spoke it will be obvious that he has listened to what everyone had to say. It was also clear that when someone started to praise him or eulogise him he did not welcome it and would quickly change the topic.

Lesson – LISTEN to what people have to say. Don’t Listen to just reply to them but to understand them.

Lesson 4

Once we were both sitting and waiting for our shot . Each time someone came, he would stand up and wish them – with both hands folded in a Namaskaram and sit down. As I was sitting with him I too was forced to stand up every time and sit down.

I asked him how he was able to patiently do this as I had counted him getting up and sitting down at least 15-20 times in an hour. His answer was “Is it not Respect (mariyadhai) ? they are coming all the way to wish me ,  anyway it is good exercise ..if you do it then this ( pointing to my large belly ) will not be there” – Then came his characteristic laugh. On a serious note he asked me “ Have you visited Saravanan Sir ( AVM) in his Office ? Such a big man , he will always stand up and receive you . I learnt this from him.”

I have also noticed that he always makes it a point to walk up to your Car and see you off whenever you visit his house. Again a practice he seems to have picked up from Mr.Saravanan. This has happened to me whenever I visited him.

Here allow me to digress – This was in April 1993 – the preview of the film Kalaignan. It was my 2nd or 3rd film and I had not yet turned a professional actor. I had a small role in it as a Psychiatrist. After the preview Sivaji Sir , came out and got into his car , I went to see him off , he called me and asked me – Did I not see you in the film ? I nodded. He went on – “ You are a well educated boy from a highly respectable family , If you are planning to take this up as a career , let me give you one piece of advice – If you give my profession Respect – it will give you lifelong Respect” (Nee en thozhilukku mariyaadhai kuduththa adhu unakku ennaikkum mariyadhai kudukkum).

See how great minds think alike !!!

Lesson – Only when you give Respect will you get Respect.

Lesson 5

One day many of us were waiting , Mr.K.Balachander, our Guru too had come there. The group had Prabhu , Vijayakumar , Nizhalgal Ravi , Madan Bob , Manobala to name a few. Rajini asked us if any of us had a nice “Punch” dialogue as he was supposed to say a line. Many people suggested lines but none impressed him. 
I often use in my Corporate Training sessions a speech by him on “Sankhya Yoga and Director Shankar”  - in it he said – If you retain everything you eat in your body your health will get spoilt, If you retain everything you earn ,  your life will get spoilt”. I reminded him of this line in private and he was very excited, quickly called the Director Mr P.Vasu , who immediately approved it. He asked me to repeat it again and the Assistant Director to note it down. 
After completing the shot , he came back to join the group which had grown to about 30 of us and profusely praised and Thanked me for the “Punch” line. He repeated the line for the benefit of all and said - Nalla Illa ? Mohan Ram Sonnaaru , I immediately pointed out that it was his line and not my original to which he replied  "so what , you are the person who reminded me of it and it is to your credit that these lines are now in the film" . In an assembly of colleagues and Directors to give me such  credit and praise was truly magnanimous of him.

Lesson – Thank people and praise them this will get you their eternal loyalty. Be generous in your praise and miserly in your criticism.

Many Happy Returns Dear “Pasha” – your every action is a lesson and inspiration for many of us. May your leadership “style” enhance the quality of life of many more like me.

In case you are wondering about the last paragraph. This was written by me for the Hindu – they brought out a Rajinikanth special supplement on 12/12/2012 which was sold seperately. 

This is the un edited “full version” , to which I have even added some material and elaborated a bit. 

There are many more things that we can learn from people like the Superstar and I am fortunate to have had the pleasure of his friendship and interactions. I can narrate more incidents , actually lessons , but that is for another day, another blog.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Patriotism in Cinema

The Birth of Indian Cinema ( both in the North and the South) is itself a Story of Patriotism.

 Dadasaheb Phalke watched a film produced Overseas on the Life of Christ. He wanted “Indian” stories to be told and made the first Indian feature film – Raja Harischandra. When Bal Gangadhar Tilak heard of the difficulties faced by Phalke he offered to help him and introduced Phalke to several business men in Bombay – Phalke then started his Hindustan Film Company refusing the offer of these Businessmen as their motive was only Profit from their Investment.. Much like Tilak inspiring V.O.Chidambaram to start a shipping company. Nataraja Mudaliar too wanted to make Indian movies and started his Indian Film Company in 1917 and started making films in the South of India.

From the early years Film makers included both directly and indirectly themes,songs, dialogues and even characters to inspire the Indian public to fight for freedom. D.N.Sampat , the owner of Kohinoor Studios found that he had a resemblance to Gandhi and so acted in his film Bhaktha Vidurar in 1921. The film was initially banned and later allowed in parts of India where it ran to house fuil shows. In 1935 V.Shantharam made a film called Mahatma – the hero bore a resemblance to Gandhiji and the British had him change the title to Dharmathma.

The connection between the freedom struggle and Fine Arts was brought about in the south by the S.Sathyamurthy. He was not just an Advocate and ardent patriot but also a dramatist. He used to be part of Pammal Sammanda Mudaliar’s Suguna Vilasa Sabha. He brought K.B.Sundarambal , M.K.Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and many others into the freedom movement and even made them switch over to Khadi.

One of the earliest to make films in support of the Freedom movement and the policies of Gandhi was K.Subrahmanyam. In 1936 he made Balayogini a film that attacked the Caste system. He , being a Brahmin was excommunicated. He next made “Sevasadan ( 1938) based on a Munshi  Premchand’s novel. This dealt with Prostitutes and the emancipation of women and the status of women in India. His next film in 1939 was Thayagabhoomi. This was clearly echoing Gandhi’s call for Freedom. This is the story of Sahmbhu Sastry a Temple priest played by Papanasam Sivan and his Daughter Savithri/Uma Devi played by S.D.Subbulakshmi. The film starts with the temple priest sheltering Daliths inside the Temple when Floods hit the Village for which the Priest is sent out.

 The second part of the film is about his daughters ill treatment at the hands of her husband and how she fights back. She is inspired by the call to freedom and joins the struggle. In open court she states that she does not want to live with her cruel husband and is even willing to pay him alimony ( Jeevanamsam). This was totally revolutionary for that era. The films script was serialized in Ananda Vikatan and S.S.Vasan distributed the film. The film was released in Gaiety and the British Government decided to ban the film. Vasan opened the doors of gaiety and allowed  everyone to see the film. The crowds thronged at the Theater and prevented the Police from serving the Ban order. This resulted in lathi charge and even firing. The film used many stock shots of National Leaders and Congress workers marching and protesting. The song “Desa sevai seyya vareer” written by Kalki and sung by D.K.Pattammal was so inspiring that it was sung by many even after the Film was banned.

When H.M.Reddy made the first Tamil Talkie “Kalidas” it had songs penned by Madurai Bhaskara Das which was sung by T.P.Rajalakshmi – the song was “ Raattinamaam Gandhi Kai baana maam”. In Valli Thirumanam made in 1935 , Valli played again by T.P.Rajalakshmi while protecting the fields shouts at the birds asking the “White storks ( Vellai Kokku) to gop away forever. In the same film Lord Muruga in the disguise of a bangle seller asks Valli to buy “swadeshi Valayal”.  The songs of Mahakavi Bharathi were used by T.K.Shanmugam and his brothers for their play “Desa Bhakthi” as well as in the films Menaka and Nava Yuvan.  In January 1947 the song Aaduvome palli paaduvomey was used by A V Meiyappan for his film Naam Iruvar again sung by D.K.Pattammal. B.N.Reddy , B.Nagi Reddy and G.Ramabrahmam made several Nationalistic and socially responsible films in Telugu like Vandematharam , Ryathu Bidda , Grihalakshmi. The famous Telugu playback singer Ghantasala was one of those who went to Jail for the Quit India movement in 1942 – so too the Phalke award winning Cameraman V.K.Murthy.

Sivaji Ganesan was one of those actors who has played a string of roles that inspired Patriotism. His Veerapaandiya Kattabomman and Kappalottiya Thamizhan are still viewed as classics.  He has also played Bhagath Singh , Kodi Kaaththa Kumaran and Mahakavi Bharathi. In the film Raththa Thilakam patriotism is brought out as it is set on the Indo China War. Lata Mangeshkar sang the song Ae mere watan ke logon – oh people of my country -  in the presence of Nehru and the song brought Tears to Panditji’s eyes. Both in the China war and the later Pakistani wars Film actors went to the Border to  encourage our Soldiers. The story of the Maruthu Pandi Brothers was told in the film Sivagangai Seemai. Later film makers too used the Independnace struggle in many of their films. “Kaala Paani” by Priyadarshan , Indian by Shankar , 1942 a Love Story and Lagaan  in Hindi, Alluri Seetharama Raju in Telugu , M.S.Sathyu’s  Kanneeswara Rama in Kannada and I.V.Sasi’s “1921” in Malayalam to name a few.
Many many films were made on the lives of those who fought for our Country's Freedom. Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose , Bhagath Singh , Veer Savarkar to name just a few. It is indeed ironical that it required a Brit like Sir Richard Attenborough to make an international film on the father of the Nation - Mahatma Gandhi.

Patriotism later became the central theme as films began to focus on the menace of Terrorism. The scene where Arvind Swami rushes to save the National Flag in Roja by Mani Ratnam always inspires us every time we watch it . Actors Arjun in Tamil and Manoj Kumar in Hindi have made a number of films with the love for our country as the core theme. Who can forget Mehboob’s Mother India ? Kamalhassan's Vishwaroopam  , Kuruthi Punal , Hey Ram and Indian are also great examples of Patriotic films.

The list of Films and film makers who impacted the freedom struggle and later the Patriotic spirit is endless and I have but touched on a few of them. 

Many may not know that our National Anthem “Jana Gana Mana” had already featured in a Bimal Roy Movie – Udhayar Paathe in Bengali (1944) and its Hindi version Humraahi (1945). This is proof enough of the contribution Cinema has made to the Freedom movement. 

Mera Bhaarath Mahaan . Engal Bhaaratha Desam endru thol kottuvom.


Bimal Roy's Hum Rahi


Sivaji in Kappalottiya Thamizhan

Telugu Malli Pelli


K.Subrahmanyam , S.D.Subbulakshmi and Baby Saroja with M.S
Sivaji, Karunanidhi and Sakthi Krishnaswamy,who wrote Kattabomman - after a play.


A scene from Thyagabhoomi - SDS , Baby Saroja and Papanasam Sivan

Jai Hind.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

M.N.Nambiar - remembering him on his 95th Birthday

I wrote a piece on him in The Hindu in November 2010. This is the unedited version of the article.The snaps are courtesy his family. The Photograph with Kalaignar , MGR and MY FATHER was taken during the Nadodi Mannan 100th day Celebrations where my father was the Chief Guest. The Colour Photograph with me is from the Serial "Oviyam" made by G.N.Dhinesh Kumar in 1996 and is the only serial Nambiar acted in. I had the honour of playing his son.

MK speaks. Dad and MGR together
With MNN in Oviyam

He has acted in more films with Sivaji than MGR

The Classic VILLAIN. 

M.N.Nambiar - The Good , The Bad and the Holy.

About 20 Kms from Coorg is the Village Cherupazhasi whose chieftain was part of the Pazhasi Raja family. A descendant of this family was destined to achieve fame in the film industry. He was Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar. M N Nambiar was born on 7th of march 1919 to Kelu Nambiar and Lakshmi. His father passed away when he was a little boy and the family wealth was all gone. Nambiar went away to Ooty to live with his brother. At the Ooty Municipal High School he studied up to the 3rd Form (present 8th Standard.) .
In 1934 , the famous dramatist, “Nawab” Rajamanickam was performing in Ooty. His brother’s business ran into problems and the family could no longer afford to educate him. Nambiar used to watch the plays and admired the discipline of the boys in the troupe – getting up early and performing Suryanamaskar, exercise , pooja and when an opportunity came up he joined Nawab’s troupe. The Drama Company travelled to Salem and Mysore. Nambiar started helping out in the Kitchen and graduated to assisting in the Pooja Room but he was not asked to act. Finally  he was given the role of a lady Judge in a play –“Nachchu Poigai” written by Kovai Ayyamuthu. Nambiar was all ready to go on stage  but the British Government , banned the Play.
In 1935 , their Play “Ramadasu” was to be filmed in Maharashtra and Nambiar went with the troupe. He played the role of a Comic with T.K.Sampangi. The pair was called Akkanna – Madanna. He was paid Rs. 40 for this. He spent half the amount in buying a harmonium, which is still there in his house. In a years’ time the chief Comedian of the troupe K.Sarangapani left and Nambiar took his place and became a huge hit with the audience. Even today “Nawab” Rajamanickam’s picture adorns a prominent place in the Pooja room of Nambiar’s House.
Whenever I worked with Nambiar he used to keep us in stitches  with his comic remarks as the cast sat down to play cards during the breaks in Film shooting .  Some were said with such a dead pan face that it would have been the envy of Buster Keaton. Suddenly his normal face will transform to the Villain with his trade mark scowl, arched eye brows and imperious look – if you looked around you will find some fans coming ti to see him. After  they left he will look normal and smile. I asked him why he did this and his characteristic reply was – Avanga indha Nambiar a thaan parka varanga – they have come only to see this ( the Villain) Nambiar and smile….
 In 1937 he shot for the film “Inbasagaran” which was never released as the film was burnt in a fire. Nambiar made steady progress and then joined the “Sakthi Nadaga Sabha” . In 1944  he essayed the role of the “Rajaguru” in the Play – Kaviyin Kanavu  written by S.D.Sundaram to such perfection that his reputation as a villain , was well established. Nambiar soon signed up with Jupiter Films as a Studio Artiste and played a comedian in the film “Vidyapathi “ – 1946. He married Rukmani the same year.
 This was followed by A.S.A.Sami’s  “Rajakumari” - 1947 , which featured his friend M.G.Ramachandran, acting for the first time as the hero. Nambiar then played the lead male role (along with S.V.Subbiah)  in the film Kanjan – 1947. Then followed Abhimanyu, Mohini and Velaikkari. The 1950 Modern Theatre Production “Dhigambara Samiyar” was a high point in his career as he donned 12 roles. This was written by Vaduvur Doraiswamy Iyengar and directed by T.R.Sundaram. Nambiar the Villain was well and truly established.
MGR who was elder to him by 4 years considered Nambiar his senior in the Profession. Their friendship which dates back to the early Jupiter Films days is well known. In fact Director Pa. Neelakantan once asked Nambiar as to why he never stood up when MGR entered the set ( everybody did) – Nambiar’s answer was – “He is my friend , why should I stand up when a friend walks in ?”. Pa neelakantan went and reported the conversation to MGR who asked him “Why do you go and ask him all this? “. MGR was the best man ( Mappillai Thozhan) in Nambiar’s wedding and carried nambiar’s first born Sukumaran on his shoulders up the Palani Hills for the boy’s Annaprashanam in 1948.  
Nambiar steadily rose and became the Industry’s “Bad” man , his roles in Enga veettu Pillay , Aayiraththil Oruvan, Kuditirundha Kovil, Raman Ethanai Ramanadi, Padagotti, Then Nilavu, His Dual role of a Good man and bad man in Rahasiya Police 115, the suave and sophisticated Villain in Annayin Aanai readily come to mind. During this time he also essayed Character roles like in films like  Pasa malar  . We must remember that Nambiar had stiff competition from the likes of P.S.Veerappa, S.A.Ashokan, R.S.Manohar and a host of others and yet managed to retain his place.
His role as the  100 year old man in Sridhar’s Nenjam Marappadhillai is a classic. When shooting the scene where he chases the lead pair in a horse drawn carriage , the wheel of the carriage suddenly came off , the driver panicked but Nambiar asked him to drive on and as the carriage over turns jumped out, took aim and shot. This was not a planned stunt but an accident that Nambiar, the consummate professional used to the film’s advantage. Nambiar with his years of Physical training in the Drama troupe ( he practiced Yoga and played badminton in a court built in his house) , regular classes in Sword fighting and the other Indian Martial arts was fully equipped to handle the rigours of getting bashed up by the hero.
Nambiar was a very loving family man and all through his career he spent six weeks with his family in Ooty for the summer. He would refuse any assignment that called him away during this time. In a few exceptional cases he asked the producer to shoot his scenes in Ooty. He abstained from Alcohol, Tobacco and led a disciplined life. In fact he always chastised us for slouching in a chair and asked us to sit erect with our back straight. I had the privilege of acting with him in what was probably his only Television serial – Oviyam , where he played a Zamindar , my father.
Baghyaraj in his film Thooral Ninnu Pochchu ( 1982) paid his respects to a practice that Nambiar always followed. In the title shot – An old man will mix the rice and take the first handful to feed his wife. Nambiar always gave the first mouthful of food to his wife and in her absence in Sabarimala to his sons. All through his professional life he only ate food prepared by his wife – who accompanied him everywhere. Even the water he drank was specially double boiled by her. He held on to this practice till his final film “Sudesi” in 2006 with Vijayakanth.
Nambiar first went to Sabari Mala , with his Guru Nawab Rajamanickam in 1942 and thereafter made more than 55 pilgrimages. One can say he was to a large extent Instrumental in popularizing the Temple , as he was the “Guru Swamy” for many popular film stars, Industrialists and so on.  His group was close to 200 strong. There was perfect equality and discipline as both the rich and poor were treated alike. This earned him the sobriquet – Swami.

After a career spanning 71 years of acting in films , probably a record he passed away on the 19th of November 2008 and will be remembered for being the Good man , who was Bad on screen and Holy in real life.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sivaji in 3 D - Delightful , Dazzling and Divine.

I happened to get a chance to view some parts of the film Sivaji ( The Boss) recently converted to 3 D and boy what an experience it was !!!

If I say that I was totally blown away , it is not an exaggeration. I have always been a bit doubtful of this technology and the results it produced and I must confess that I have revised my opinion in toto. Kudos to the Team at Prasad , they have done an absolutely splendid job. Every frame is so "alive" and I felt that Superstar as well as the others looked even better than they did in the film - so beautifully Cinematographed by K.V.Ananad. Shankar's larger than life canvas and his taste for the opulent is truly shining in this version. The sets that were breathtaking in the original are absolutely "Jaw Dropping" - another Kudos  , this time to Thotta Tharani. We can safely expect that AVM will be doing its utmost to ensure that we can view this in all our favourite Cinema Halls/Multiplexes and of course they are the masters of Publicity , so we will all be well warned of the arrival.

I was talking to one of the Producers who told me that this was a project in which 400 people have been working for more than a year - WHO SAYS THAT THE FILM WORLD CANNOT KEEP A SECRET ?

Not a word of this came out till a few days ago. They have gone one step better than the earlier conversion attempts. They have gone for "dual" image , which requires Two Projectors and the Server in the Theater to handle both , this has contributed to the sparklingly crystal clear 3 D images.

I have always been a fan of the "Superstar" and when the Titles come on and each of the letters S U P E R etc starts to jump out at you , I am sure the Theater will Thunder - Summa Kettala Adhurudhu Illa ???? I am given to understand that Superstar watched a few parts and was totally impressed with the quality of the work and has given his Thumbs up.

Like the rest of Tamil Cinema Fans , I am looking forward to the release which I understand is not very far Rajini fans can rejoice that their "Thalaivar" is going to come "live" and boy are we in for a Roller Coaster ride.......To me it was like watching a "brand new" Rajini film - this 3 D has made such a difference.
When he tosses the coin almost comes and hits you in the eye.....this is no toss of a coin, it is a sure blockbuster. The 3 D's I saw can simply be described as Dazzlingly Delightful and a Divine experience.

What makes me prouder is that all this hi tech conversion work was done here in NAMMA CHENNAI - 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sandow M M A Chinnappa Devar

I wrote an article for the HINDU Metroplus (25th July 2012) on Chinnappa Devar and Rajesh Khanna. THE FULL , UN EDITED Version is this.......

“If Aradhana had flopped will you ask me to reduce my salary ? , No , Devar Ji , I will do the film in the salary we spoke , you even made full payment even before we started and showed your faith in me “ was “Superstar” Rajesh Khanna’s reply to Sandow M.M.A.Chinnappa Devar  recalled R.Thyagarajan the son in law of Devar. The picture Haathi Mere Saathi came about in early 1969 as Devar , who was making a few small budget films without his usual “superstar” MGR , wanted to make a big film . MGR was busy with his political activity and could not accommodate dates. Director Sridhar, his neighbor and close friend suggested to Devar  to make a Hindi Film.

Devar had earlier made a film “Deiva Cheyal” – the protagonist was a middle aged man who is helped by an elephant. This was reworked making the protagonist young and the first half had romance and action while the second half had its fair share of sentiment. Devar went to Bombay and narrated the script to Sanjiv Kumar , who immediately said that he may not be suitable for the first half of the film and suggested the name of a rising star – Rajesh Khanna. Upon hearing the script Rajesh who was shooting Aradhana immediately agreed and recommended two young boys to assist Devar in the script – Salim -Javed. Aradhana was a super hit and Rajesh Khanna’s salary had quadrupled , this prompted Devar to go back to Bombay and ask him if he wanted more money. Devar is said to have made the classic remark in his characteristic broken English to Rajesh Khanna as he handed over the entire amount – “Rate you – Date me” – meaning I have paid what you asked , now give me the dates that I want.

The shooting commenced in Vauhini Studios in early 1970 and the outdoor portion was shot in Ooty. The film was Directed by M.A.Thirumugam , Devar’s younger brother , a competent Director/Editor. They released the film in 26 Theatres in Delhi and its suburbs. The competition was “Maryada” with Raj Kumar and Rajesh Khanna. The results of the first few days was not encouraging and Devar was disappointed. Rajesh Khanna rang him up and told him not to lose hope and to come to Delhi via a few towns . By the time the group from Madras reached Delhi , the film had become a box office hit. Rajesh Khanna sent Devar a Telegram that said “Your and Our Lord Muruga has not let us down”. Rajesh Khanna and Shakthi Samantha formed a company called Sakthi Raj films , bought and released the film in Bombay  where too , like the rest of India the film was a top grosser.

Devar had booked Shankar Jaikishen to do the Music for Haathi Mere Saathi. Director Sridhar adviced him to approach Laxmikanth Pyarelal as they were more suited to Devar’s quick style of functioning. When he approached they said they were too busy. During the meeting he recalled the mention of a “Party” and when he enquired he was told it was the first birthday of Laxmikanth ‘s child. He quickly went to Jewellery shop and purchased several Gold coins and uninvited went to the party. No one knew who the Dhoti clad simple man was , when he proceeded to shower the child with Gold.  Mrs.Laxmikanth enquired and told her husband  “You compose Music for all those who come home and drink at your expense and refuse the Man who showers our Child with Gold “? Needless to say the stratagem worked and the song “Chal Chal Chal mere Haathi” reverberated all across India – Composed by Laxmikanth Pyarelal.  Mr.A.V.M.Saravanan recalls that Devar made it a practice to pay all money in 10 Rs notes – the logic was – “ it will appear as if I am giving a lot of money. “                                                         

Marudur Marudachalamurthy Ayyavoo Chinnappa Devar was born on the 28th of June 1915. His father was an agriculturist. Devar stopped with his 5th Standard and started to work. He was told that unless he had a good physique he could not enter the film world. To that end he proceeded to master the various forms of fighting and also improve his physique. He and his brother first acted in the 1940 film “Thilottama” , actually it was a fight sequence where only their Shadows were filmed fighting. Devar earned the title “Sandow” because of his well developed Body and skills in the Martial Arts.

He had started playing various small roles in the films shot in Coimbatore and in 1947 while acting in the film “Rajakumari” a deep and abiding friendship developed with the hero MGR. As a hero MGR too recommended Devar in all the films he worked. This went on till the mid 1950s when Devar started a Production company in Partnership with A.P.Nagarajan and two others. The film just about broke even and they all parted ways. Devar then asked his friend MGR , who readily agreed and they made “Thaikkupin Thaaram” in 1956. The film was a success and Devar was launched as a film maker. He had a policy of Muhurat shoot on a New Moon day ( Amavasya) and the picture will be released by the 3rd Amavasya. MGR had become busy with his own production “Nadodi Mannan” and Devar was forced to make a few small pictures. 
Then in 1960 he started to record the music for his film “Thaai Sollai Thattadhe” where he cast Ashokan as the hero. When the recording was over he felt a hand pressing him on his shoulder , he turned and it was MGR . He heard the songs recorded and then asked for the story to be narrated. MGR then asked Devar to come to his house where in front of MGR’s mother’s picture he made a promise that he will adhere to all of Devar’s conditions and in return Devar should make films only with him. This “agreement” led to Devar making 16 films with him , the last being Nalla Neram in 1972 , the Tamil remake of “Haathi Mere Saathi”.

Devar had a penchant for using Animals in his films from Snakes to Goats to Elephants he used them. The elephants for Haathi Mere saathi were taken from the Great Oriental Circus and he housed them in a  2 ½ acre plot of land on Arcot Road. This used to belong to M G R and later to Venus Pictures. Later The Kothandapani Audio Studio was built by the singer S.P.Balasubramaniam on part of this plot.

“Devar was an ardent devotee of Lord Muruga . He used to donate 1 out of 5 Rs Profit to a Murugan Temple .The road to Marudamalai , The Prakhaaram at Thiruchendur and the main Hall in Vadapalani Temple are all his contribution. While Shooting if he wanted the Sun he will shout at the heavens and ask his Murugan to send the Sun out , for him everything was Murugan “recalls Film Producer A.V.M.Saravanan. Director SP.Muthuraman recalls visiting his set in Vauhini Studios when they were shooting the film “Muruhan Adimai”. They had lined up a complex shot of a Peacock , a Bird that just cannot be trained , flying through a series of Doors and reaching the idol of Lord Muruga in the sanctum sanctorum. Everyone was wondering if this would ever happen when Devar stood up Prayed to Lord Muruga and said – You make it happen , I don’t care ….and asked for the Cameras to roll and the peacock to be released. The peacock flew beautifully through the four or five doors and landed at the feet of the Idol . all of us were totally amazes not just at this but at the implicit faith Devar had in God.

In his later years with MGR getting more and more into active politics , Devar started to make films in the Socio –mythological Genre. They were films set in modern times with the Central  theme that faith and belief in God will solve one’s problems. When The Paramacharya of Kanchi heard about Devar and the films promoting theism like “Thunaivan” , he sent word to Devar  wanting to meet him. Devar was hesitant as he was shooting with MGR. When MGR heard about this he told Devar to immediately go and seek the blessings of the Sage and that he will personally supervise the Shooting of the next few days. Devar and his family rushed to Kalavai where the Paramacharya was camping. He blessed Devar and told him not to worry as Lord Muruga was the watchman in his house and the sage added “if possible put in a good word about me to him”. Devar broke down on hearing this from the Paramacharya .

When The Paramacharya of Kanchi heard about Devar and the films promoting theism like “Thunaivan” , he sent word to Devar  through Mr.Lakshmana Iyer of Ananda Pictures wanting to meet him. Devar was hesitant as he was shooting with MGR. When MGR heard about this he told Devar to immediately go and seek the blessings of the Sage and that he will personally supervise the Shooting of the next few days. Devar and his family rushed to Kalavai where the Paramacharya was camping. He blessed Devar and told him not to worry as Lord Muruga was the watchman in his house and the sage added “if possible put in a good word about me to him”. Devar broke down on hearing this from the Paramacharya .

One day after performing the Kandha Sashti Pooja in Thiruchendur, Devar told those around him that he has been doing this for 12 Years and the next year they will all have to carry on the tradition. Those around him were taken aback and pooh poohed these remarks. Devar used to say that he will pass away on a “sashti” ( 6th day of the Moon) when the Star was Vishaka , considered to be very auspicious for Muruga , in fact he used to say if it were any other date he will go up and beat Muruga. As he desired he passed away on the 8 th of September 1978 – It was Vishaka and it was a Sashti.

He became what he was because of a “Superstar” – MGR , achieved National fame because of another Superstar – Rajesh Khanna. His Production house and family was given much timely help by the current “Superstar” Rajinikanth says his son in law. After Devar’s demise Rajesh Khanna and Rajinikanth did a Hindi film together for them in 1985 – Bewafai. The Sandow had not one but 3 superstars who loved and cherished him.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.