Thursday, 1 October 2009

Grand Chariot!

Said Kamalhaasan, '‘Like BC and AD, Tamizh cinema can be divided into two eras –BS and AS.There is no actor in the AS era who does not have the influence of ‘S’ '' .

What is AS and BS? First of all, who is that ‘S’?

I am sure most of you would have guessed who it is.

Yes,it is none other than Sivaji Ganesan, one of the greatest actors cinema has ever seen.

Vizhuppuram Chinnasamy Ganesan was born on the 1st of Oct 1928.
He dropped out from the school at the age of 12 to join a Drama Company(yes..such things were existing those days!).

He learnt things the hard way.Small ,minor roles to start with ;supporting roles over a period of time;major roles; finally a Hero.

The play ‘Sivaji KaNda Hindu Saamraajayam’ was watched by none other than the great Thanthai Periyar who was so enthralled with the performance of Ganesan that he called him ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan.

And that was the beginning (that has no end).

His first movie 'Parasakthi' brought him many accolades.The story and dialogues of Kalaignar KaruNanidhi uttered with clarity by Sivaji Ganesan was the talk of the town then.

He also joined the Dravidian movement and came out of it in the mid ‘50s to become a staunch Congressman and a disciple of Kamarajar.

What can one say of his acting skills and talent?

Words like Multi Dimensional and Multifarious have no meanings in front of this Himalaya.

Though he was a natural actor, he constantly updated his skills and never hesitated to learn from anybody.

For his role as the poet Thirunaavukkarasar-a.k.a.Appar-in the movie ‘Thiruvarutchelvar’, his inspiration was the Paramacharya of Kanchi.He spent time observing the seer and brought out his mannerisms wonderfully.

Rajaji who hated cinema has watched only two movies in his entire life ,one of them being ‘Thikkatra Paarvathi, a story written by him on the evils of alcoholism.The other movie was SampoorNa RaamayaNam where NTR played the role of Rama and Sivaji,the role of Bharata.

He was so captivated by just an eye movement of Sivaji in one of the sequences that he said that alone is enough to show the genius of this man.

Very recently, I had the opportunity to attend a function to falicitate the great Bharatanatyam dancer Shri.Dhananjayan,who is very well known for his facial expressions.He remarked that Sivaji Ganesan was one oF his inspirations.

There are many souls across the globe who have been inspired by this great man.

There are also some who say he tends to ‘overact’.Fine..but is cinema itself not an exaggerated art form?

Sivaji and ILaiyaraaja were great friends and had mutual admiration.

I had written about Sivaji-Raaja story in my write-up on Deepam in the Vintage Raja thread.

In fact, some of the common traits are striking.

No formal education.
Born geniuses.
Came up the hard way.
Very punctual(both of them will be in their respective studios at 7 am sharp!).
Inspiring.(Tamizh cinema music also has two eras-BI and AI).

In fact, the day before Sivaji Ganesan passed away,Raaja sir was away in Mumbai doing the re recording for the Hindi film 'Lajja'.He was running very high temperature and as soon as he came to know that his idol was critically ill, he flew down to Chennai.

By then, it was all over.

But Raaja being Raaja accompanied the body-along with Kamal, Rajini,and Bharatiraja-in an open van till the crematorium-a four and half hour journey despite the high fever.

That is the regard and respect he had for the great actor-sorry,the greatest actor!
And maybe that is the reason he gave some unforgettable music for almost all Sivaji movies-starting from 'Deepam' to 'Devar Magan'.

Coming to think of it, my all time favourite ‘Engengo Sellum’ is also from a Sivaji movie.

Today, we are going to see one of the gems.Incidentally, the three doyens-the three lions-of Tamizh Cinema,Kannadasan, Sivaji Ganesan and ILaiyaraaja are present in this song.

There is another interesting story-though personal.

My seven year old son loves this song and asked me to write about the song a year back.

Maybe it is destined to happen on this special day.

The song is ‘Thiruththeril Varum Silaiyo..’from ‘Naan Vaazha Vaippen’(1979).

The opening of the song itself is special.
The Guitar jumps with joy as the violins join the party.
Yes,it is party time!
Party in Mohanam...

We see the beautiful Statue(of liberty?)coming to life with SPB’s voice.
We see and hear the parrot as Suseela joins.

In the first interlude, we see the Statue and the parrot play-running around, hopping,dancing,and hide and seek.

The first Charanam epitomises Mohana Ragam.

Lullaby?Lotus Dance?Fragrance of flowers?Shower of Musical notes?

A beautiful Raga embellished by a beautiful composer.

The second interlude is another marvel.

Musical notes of one orchestra repeated by the other two-canon in western music parlance-produces a magnetic effect.

As we immerse ourselves in this beauty, we are stirred by the guitar that makes us sway giving us goosepimples.

In the second Charanam, we see the temple.We hear the music.We feel the breeze singing in chaste tamizh.

And there we see the masterstroke of the lyricist.

He describes the month of Karthigai as the one full of brightness -meaning Kaarthigai,the festival of lamps.Maargazhi,the following month as per Tamizh calendar is considered to be the most divine month.

The heroine here sings ‘Devan Varum Maargazhi’-the month when the Lord comes.Pl. note that Christmas is also celebrated in Maargazhi and it is believed that Jesus would one day come back here to save us all.

That is why the poet says ‘En Devan Anuppiya Dhoothuvan’(Jesus is considered as Deva Dhootan-the ambassador of the Lord!).

The one who comes on the Grand Kannadasan, Sivaji and ILaiyaraaja..
Are they also not the ambassadors of the Lord?

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