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 seen.....as 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.