Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Article about the legend A.V.Meiyappan Chettiar


Blast from the past

Sabapathy 1941

T. R. Ramachandran, Kali N. Ratnam, K. Sarangapani, R. Padma, C. T. Rajakantham, P. R., Mangalam, Hiranaiah

 
hilarious Sabapathy

Handy Andy is one of the popular comical characters of English literature created by Samuel Lover . He had the knack of doing everything wrong! Tamil theatreperson, Pammal Sambandam Mudaliar, wrote several `farces', built around a `Handy Andy-ish' servant Sabapathy, the `Man Friday' of a notso- bright young man by the same name. 

Such farces were enacted by Sambandam Mudliar with his troupe, Suguna Vilas Sabha, and proved popular. A. T. Krishnaswamy, the neglected but talented writerdirector- producer (Arivali, Vidyapathi, Manam Oru Kurangu) suggested to AV. Meiyappan, with whom he was working in Pragathi Pictures, to make a comedy built around Sabapathy.

Those were days of the Second World War. Life was grim and so, people loved a good laugh. AVM agreed, and A. T. Krishnaswamy wrote the film, based on Mudaliar's farces. 

T.R. Ramachandran, who was with Pragathi on a princely salary of Rs. 35 per month, was cast as hero, while comedian and character artiste Kali N. Ratnam played Handy Andy. `Lux Soap' beauty R. Padma played the hero's educated wife, who teaches her husband English. The slim and saucy Rajakantham played the Man Friday's heartthrob. 

Another noted comedian of the day, K. Sarangapani, played a Tamil ragged by his students. During that period, Tamil teachers were the butt of jokes because they were considered inferior to those who taught English! For the first time, AVM's name appeared as director in the credits, along with A. T. Krishnaswamy, though the film was written and directed by the latter. Padma was active in Tamil cinema during the 1940's, but never made it to the top; she is barely remembered today.

But Rajakantham made it as comedienne with Kali N. Ratnam and the pair was only next in fame to the legendary N. S. Krishnan and T. A. Mathuram. Contrived humour, jokes built around wrong usage of English, and those making fun of Tamil teachers - this was Sabapathy. However, moviegoers lapped it up, making it a big success. T. R. Ramachandran achieved star status with this film and was mentioned in the same breath as N. S. Krishnan. For a while, even MGR called himself `M. G. Ramachandar' to be different!

Sabapathy placed AVM firmly on the ladder of success, and he was well on his way to becoming a movie mogul. It also brought A. T. Krishnaswamy into prominence as a talented director and comedy writer.

Produced at around Rs. 40,000, Sabapathy was a boxoffice success. It is often screened on Tamil TV channels and quite familiar to folks even today, 60-plus years after it was made.

Remembered for : The comedy sequences of T. R. Ramachandran, Kali N. Ratnam and Sarangapani.

RANDOR GUY

Courtesy_

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AVM, the adventurer


RANDOR GUY

A tribute to cinema's pioneer and innovator, A.V.Meiyappan.

 
VIGNETTES: Each film of AVM was a landmark.

Among South India's movie moguls whose contribution to Indian cinema has been immense, A.V. Meiyappan stands tall. A far-sighted entrepreneur and filmmaker with dash and dynamism, he had a finger on the pulse of the moviegoer.

Entering the world of movies soon after it began to talk in India in 1931, for nearly half a century he worked incessantly, producing pictures of many kinds in many languages. He was venturesome by nature and an innovator in film production techniques.

A man with great foresight, he faced much adversity early in his career but like a true pioneer fought relentlessly and made it to the top.

A talent scout, he opened the doors of opportunity and success to many performing artistes and technicians.

 
Sabapathy.

Born on July 28, 1907, Avichi Meiyappan hailed from a Nattukottai Nagarathar family of Karaikkudi in Tamil Nadu. How celluloid became family business is an interesting story.

Avichi Chettiar ran a mini-department store, named AV & Sons. It sold gramophone records. Meiyappan, who joined his father's shop even as a teenager, decided to produce gramophone records instead of merely marketing them. He came to Madras where along with friends K.S.Narayana Iyengar, Subbaiah Chettiar and others promoted Saraswathi Stores (closed only some years ago). He found excellent support in K.P.Varadachari, its manager, and his lawyer friend Thoothukudi Govindachari Raghavachari. Responding to his ideas Meiyappan produced many records.

 
Bahar
Maiden venture

The dawn of the talkie era (1931) inspired Meiyappan to start Saraswathi Sound Productions and he launched his maiden movie venture, `Alli Arjuna,' a mythological. The film was shot in Calcutta and proved a disaster. 

Ratnavali" that followed next also bombed. At this point, an aspiring amateur actor and college graduate A.T.Krishnaswamy joined the unit as assistant director. ATK, as he was known, was associated with Meiyappan for nearly a decade and wrote and directed the early AVM productions.

The reverses forced Meiyappan to lie low but only for a while. In association with Jayanthilal, a cinema house owner based in Bangalore, he promoted a new company Pragati Pictures Limited. Grabbing an opportunity that came his way, AVM made `Nanda Kumar,' Tamil version of a Marati film launching it as a Pragati production. The highlight was the entry of T.R.Mahalingam as Krishna.


The film was a landmark because for the first time playback singing was tried, with Lalitha Venkatraman singing for the actor who played Devaki.

 
Nam Iruvar

Meiyappan took the sprawling Club House off Mount Road on lease and shot scenes without going to studios and erecting sets. (The lead in this direction was given by K. Subramaniam in 1938.) Thus Meiyappan had anticipated location shooting by almost 30 years. Soon he shifted his unit to another sprawling edifice known as Admiralty House in Adyar. The threat of bombforced Meiyappan to move to Karaikkudi in 1942.

History created

In 1940, Meiyappan produced `Bhoo Kailas,' a mythological which created history. The film was made in Telugu, its lead players were from Kannada cinema and it was directed by Sundar Rao Nadkarni, a Mangalorean who had his training in Bombay. The film turned out to be a big hit and also won critical acclaim!

Meiyappan struck gold with comedy. `Sabapathy,' (1941) with the saucer-eyed T.R.Ramachandran in the lead, Kali N.Ratnam and K.Sarangapani was a run away success. This was followed by `En Manaivi.'

 
Harishchandra

A milestone was crossed in 1943 with the making of `Harishchandra,' dubbed from Kannada to Tamil. ATK wrote the dialogue to match the lip movements of the actors.

`Sri Valli,' a folk mythology, the favourite story of Tamils, hit the bull's eye. A revolution of sorts happened at this time. On hearing feedback that the singing of Rukmini lacked pep, Meiyappan made a bold move and roped in Periyanayaki to sing playback. Pragati technicians worked round the clock to synchronise voice and lip. Reels were recalled and new ones rushed to theatres in cars and trains. AVM had done something no producer would dare to do after the release of a film. After this film Meiyappan closed shop in Madras and moved back to Karaikkudi.

 
Andha Naal

In the outskirts he took a drama auditorium with a large open area around it on long lease and put up a studio. Thus was born AVM Productions with AVM Studios. Meiyappan was indeed a monarch of all he surveyed. `Nam Iruvar' (1947), a hit play based on patriotism, was well adapted and it was a roaring success. The film ushered in the AVM era. AVM moved back to Madras where, in Kodambakkam, he built a studio, which grew into a humming hive of hectic filmmaking activity and continues to be so to this day. Films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi have rolled out of this stable steadily. 

An AVM motion picture became synonymous with clean wholesome family-oriented entertainment. Meiyappan realised that the story was the thing for making a narrative film and he bestowed great attention on the theme and storyline. Anything offensive or vaguely vulgar or in low taste was eschewed.

Ever an enterprising entrepreneur Meiyappan produced a songless-danceless Tamil film `Andha Naal' (1954), with Sivaji Ganesan playing the anti-hero. Meiyappan showed yet another proof of his versatility when he made a children's film with national integration as its basic theme. `Hum Panchi Ek Daal Ke' (1957) won high acclaim and a National Award.

 
Sri Valli

Widely travelled, Meiyappan was devout and deeply religious and donated to several causes including education. He also founded schools.

Meiyappan passed away on August 12,1979, and after his demise his sons took over the mantle. The AVM saga continues, its glory undiminished.

While other studios have closed the AVM has continued. What is the magic? AVM Saravanan, whose quiet dignity and amiability have made him a popular figure in the Madras social and business circles, recalls, ``I had just returned from Bombay by a late flight and reached home around midnight... my wife said my father wished to see me. He was in bed and my mother and brother were with him. He told me that we should commence film production again and should never stop. All our businesses were doing well and where was the need to go into production again? Appachi, pointing at the logo `AVM,' said, `behind the banner is 50 years of hard work. Keep it alive as long as you can.' There was no argument and the AVM unit went to work. His blessings have sustained us and will continue to do so, I'm sure."

What made him special

AVM was a perfectionist. He would explain things until his instructions were understood. In turn he would expect you to repeat if he did not get something quite clear.
Time was precious to him and deadlines were meant to be kept.

He was a great listener. Discussions were open house affairs where everyone had a say.

For him friendship was sacred. ``A friend is someone in whom you can confide and share your joys and sorrows. But choose your friends carefully," was his dictum.

``If you think someone deserves help, give it without delay," he would say. And he did.

He gave politics a wide berth and did not identify himself with any party. His vote was a well-guarded secret.
He did not believe in auspicious time or astrology. Hard work and honesty formed his mantra.

He was a voracious reader. It was amazing how he learnt English just by reading the newspaper, everyday, with a dictionary by his side. He always chose actors for the story, never the other way around.

The banner is known for huge sets. Each set would be erected after sketches were prepared and seen by AVM. Shooting would begin only after AVM approved the costumes and accessories.

S. R. ASHOK KUMAR

Courtesy_

Sunday, July 15, 2012

சிரிப்பு செந்தில் பிளாஷ்பேக்: நான்... கவுண்டமணி... வாழைப்பழம்!

நான்... கவுண்டமணி... வாழைப்பழம்! - சிரிப்பு செந்தில் சொல்லும் பிளாஷ்பேக்!

இவரா... இந்த காமெடியெல்லாம் பண்ணினாரு என ஆச்சரியப்பட வைக்கும் உருவம். யாராக இருந்தாலும், "அண்ணே... என பாசம் காட்டும் அன்பு. சிறுசு முதல் பெரிசு வரை விரும்பும் "சிரிப்பு முகம். எல்லோரும் இவருக்கு ரசிகர்கள். "வாழைப்பழம் இருக்கும் வரை, இவர் காமெடி வாழும். அடிவாங்கியே, அனைவரையும் சிரிக்க வைத்த வெள்ளந்தி மனிதர் நடிகர் செந்தில். 

Actor senthils special interview

மதுரையில் அவரை, "மண்ணும் மனசும் பகுதிக்காக சந்தித்தோம். இதோ, அவரே பேசுகிறார்... ""சொந்த ஊரு பரமக்குடி பக்கம் இளஞ்செம்பூரு. அப்பா ராமமூர்த்தி, மளிகை கடை வச்சிருந்தாரு. எனக்கு படிப்பு வரலை. ஊருல இருந்தா கெட்டு போயிருவேனு, 13 வயசுல, அப்பா, நண்பர் சுல்தானுடன் சென்னைக்கு அனுப்பினாரு. அங்கே பர்மா பஜாரில் கொஞ்ச நாள் வேலை. சின்ன வயசிலிருந்தே நாடகம்னா ரொம்ப இஷ்டம். அப்பவே நரிக்குறவர் வேடம் போட்டேன். சென்னை வந்த பிறகு, ஆர்வம் அதிகமாச்சு. சி.எஸ்., நாடக கம்பெனியில சேர்ந்தேன். முதல் அரிதாரம், தாத்தா வேடம். வைரம் நாடக கம்பெனியில், சின்ன வேடங்கள் கெடச்சது. 

காமெடி வசனகர்த்தா ஏ.வீரப்பனை சந்தித்த பின், ஏறுமுகம் தொடங்குச்சு. அவர் தான் சில படங்களில் என்னை சிபாரிசு பண்ணாரு. நானும் முயற்சி செஞ்சேன். மலையாளத்தில் "இத்திகரபக்கி தான் என் முதல் படம். தமிழில், "பசி படத்தில் வில்லன் வேடம்.  டைரக்டர்கள் பாக்யராஜ், சுந்தரராஜன் தொடர் வாய்ப்பு தந்து, என்னை தூக்கிவிட்டாங்க. "மலையூர் மம்பட்டியானில் வில்லன் வேடத்திற்கு, டைரக்டர் ராஜசேகர் கூப்பிட்டாரு. "வளர்ந்து வர்ற நேரத்துல, வில்லன் வேடம் கொடுத்து உட்கார வச்சிருவாங்களேன்னு பயந்து, 10 நாள் அவர் கண்ணுல படலை. மேலாளர் துரை என்பவரு, இந்த படத்தில நடிச்சா நல்ல பேரு கிடைக்கும்னாரு. அதை நம்பி நடிச்சேன். அவரு சொன்னது நடந்துச்சு. 

என்னையும், கவுண்டமணியையும் சேர்ந்து ஏ.வீரப்பன் நடிக்க வச்சாரு. எங்கள் கூட்டணி, 500 படங்களில் தொடர்ந்துச்சு. நான் நாடகத்துல நடிக்கும்போதே, கவுண்டமணி அண்ணனும் நடிச்சாரு. அப்பவே நாங்க சேர்ந்து நடிச்சிருக்கோம். "சூட்டிங் சமயத்தில் கவுண்டமணி சிரிக்கமாட்டார். கரகாட்டக்காரன் "வாழைப்பழ காமெடியை பார்த்து, விழுந்து... விழுந்து... சிரிச்சாரு! இப்பெல்லாம், காமெடி நடிகர்கள் சிலரு, ஒரு "டீமை உருவாக்கி நடிக்கிறாங்க. நாங்க எல்லாம், டைரக்டரு சொல்றதை நடிச்சு பேரு வாங்கினோம். இப்போ, "டபுள் மீனிங்கில காமெடி வருது. அப்போ, பட்டும், படாமல் இருக்கும். அதை குடும்பத்தோட ரசிச்சாங்க...

இதுவரை தமிழ், மலையாளம், கன்னடம், தெலுங்கு, இந்தி, பிரெஞ்சு படங்களில்கூட நடிச்சிட்டேன். நடிக்காத வேடமில்லை. ஆனா நான் வாழ்க்கையில் நடிக்கலண்ணே.. அதனால "பீஸ் புல்லா போயிட்டு இருக்கு, அதுபோதும்! நான் சாகிற வரைக்கும் நடிச்சிட்டே இருக்கணும் அதுதான்ணே... என், ஆசை! என்கிறார் இந்த 59 வயது இளைஞர்.

சிரிக்க வச்சாரு நம்பியாரு!

"தூறல் நின்னு போச்சு படத்துல தான் முதன்முதலில், பாக்யராஜ் என்னை அரை டவுசருல நடிக்க வெச்சாரு. சூட்டிங் இடைவெளில, ஆத்துல குளிச்ச போது, ஜட்டி "மிஸ் ஆயிருச்சு. பிறகு, ஒரு வேட்டியை கிழிச்சு, கோவணம் கட்டிக்கிட்டு, அதுக்கு மேல அரை டவுசர் போட்டு நடிச்சேன். இதை எப்படியோ நம்பியாரு தெரிஞ்சுகிட்டு, எல்லாருகிட்டேயும் சொல்லிப்புட்டாரு. பிறகென்ன அவுங்களோட சேர்ந்து நானும் அந்த "காமெடியை நினைச்சு நினைச்சு சிரிச்சேன். 

பார்வைக்கு காத்திருக்கேன்!

எம்.ஜி.ஆர்., மீது ஈர்ப்பு இருந்ததுனால அ.தி.மு.க.,வில் சேர்ந்தேன். அவருக்கு பின், ஜெயலலிதா மீது பற்று ஏற்பட்டுச்சு. முதன்முதலாக, 1989ல் திருச்சியில் மேடையில் பேச அவர் அனுமதி கொடுத்தாங்க. அரசியலில் இருந்ததால, படவாய்ப்புகளை தி.மு.க., வினர் தடுத்தாங்க. நெருக்கடியும் வந்துச்சு. அதையும் சமாளிச்சேன். இதுவரை அரசியலில் எந்த பதவியும் தரலை. அதனால் வருத்தமில்லை. பழம் நழுவி விழுந்தால் வேணாம்னு சொல்வாங்களா? "அம்மா பார்வை படும்னு நம்புறேன்!

Courtesy_

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