Monday, July 17, 2006

The Old(er) and the Beautiful - Part I

Whenever my parents sang praises of Padmini and other actresses of that era, I always thought that they were simply stuck in the past and refused to look fairly at the actresses I was fans of when I was growing up (there were a lot of them!). I could never understand how they could find Padmini prettier than Amala. Or how they could appreciate Vijayanthi Mala’s dance more than Banupriya’s. Or admire Savitri’s acting more than Revathi’s. Eventually, I just attributed the differing tastes to the generation gap and gave up trying to convince them.

But now I find myself in the same boat! Looking at how fabulous Nadiya looks even today in the photos of the launch of Hari’s new film Thaamirabarani, I couldn’t help remembering some of my favorite Tamil cinema heroines during the 80s and the 90s. And based on those fond memories, I think I would sing their praises loudly too if a die-hard fan of the current crop of heroines, including Jo, started up a conversation with me.

Tamil cinema has definitely become more hero-oriented in the last couple of decades and that is probably one big reason why the heroines from the last generation made a bigger impact on me. While they did act in roles that required them to be just glamour dolls, they also showed up frequently in more substantive roles. They managed to bag movies that revolved around them or in which they played an integral part of the story. And they actually stayed around long enough for us to get to like them.

But for today’s heroines, their talent is measured in terms of factors that revolve around the hero. So the only considerations when picking a heroine for a film are whether she is lucky for the hero and shares good chemistry with him. One flop and she turns into a jinx, losing out on the opportunity to act with him again. Their emoting or dancing skills rarely come into the picture since they are never utilized. Sure there’s the occasional Ghajini, where an actress gets a meaty role. But for every movie like that, there are 10 Tiruppaachis and Tirupathis where the heroine’s part is totally expendable.

To be continued...


At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jollukull Mazhai-nu oru post...adhukku naan 1st comment podaati eppdi...

yeah, you're rite abt the actresses of 2day, rarely, if ever, getting roles of substance...

in the 80s, Revathi walked away with all the plum roles...she was well-used by Bharathiraja, Balachander and of course, a certain Mr. Mani Ratnam!

i thought meena would continue to get good roles in cheran's movies but he seems more interested in navya nair these days...

now, i dunno...asin's a good actress...sneha seems to be an outcast in tamil cinema...madhumitha is expressive but doesnt get good roles...the one i think will make it big as an "actress" as well as a "star" is padmapriya...sabaash seriyaana poatti!

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely agree with you, and like Zero, I am one of the younger lot who wasn't into TFM until ARR showed up. But ARR showed me IR, in the sense that IR's old hits are more frequently heard by me than songs from ARR's golden period b/w 1992-1998. But I think this is more because of this generations 'fast-food' lifestyle, where we through everything out more frequently, be it our ideas(e.g.New year resolutions:-), gadgets, music.

Likewise, I have to say that though more educated, heroines of today rarely attract me. Mostly, they are dance material, and not even passable without makeup. Moreover, heroines are more annoying then anything else. Poor things have to whine for the love of every handsome frog in Tamil movies(I am going down from Vijaykanth down. Which we have put up with in the past, but then, that's ALL they do in films now. Shobana, Nadhiya, Amala, Revathi all don't need fake facial accessories to make them beautiful. Nadhiya in Rajathi Raja(and lots more), Revathi in Mouna Raagam, Amala in Velaikaaran, Shobana in just about everything, not including her 14-18age stage etc were just so appealing to the eye. There is yet an actress to repeat Shobana's underplayed but nicely executed Manichitrathazu character. Jothika's attempt was not even 10% of the original(overdone, probably P.Vasu's idea!).

Simran set the standard for glamour and beauty in the late 90s, but even she doesn't hold next to the older heroines.

BTW, I also think that Padmini is a very beautiful heroine.

I can cry and cry over this topic. But I doubt the heros of today will want to miss their chances of self-glory.


At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right BB. Even I sighed about the wasted career of Nadiya while watching M.kumaran. Also, I was never sure why Radhika (who did some nice roles even in recent movies like Kizhakku cheemayile, Jeans) faded off. Also Gauthami (after kuruthipunal). And DONT get me started on Amla.
But then, I realized that they have paved the way for the current actresses. They themselves have long traipsed into other fields, like TV serials, dialog witing/asssting in direction (like suhasini-courtesy: Interview Article in Rediff).
The fact remains that I watch Asin in ghajini/sivakasi, and then I get up and watch Amala in kodi parakkudhu/siva/velaikkaran. Guess, its jollu-time for us.

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talking of Nadiya... Shalini reminds me so much of Nadiya, in terms of looks and the kuru kuru, chutti ponn attitude. Pity that she retired before she could bloom in full in Kollywood. I think Maniratnam found his Revathy in Shalini, as we saw in Alai payuthey. Amala, I agree was a total loss to cinema.

I cant stand the current crop of top heroines, namely..Trisha, Nayantara, Shreya, Ilena and the rest who cannot act if a gun was pointed on their heads. There is some hope in Jo, Asin, Bhavna and Meera Jasmine whom I hope directors write substantive roles to justify their talent. And they MUST start dubbing in their own voices to carve their niche. With Savitha's voice sounding in each and every film, I dont find a difference at all these days with actresses. There is no individuality at all..

BB, moi waiting for part 2!

At 11:40 AM, Blogger KK said...

Very True BB. Nadia was stunning in those photographs.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...


Couldn't agree more with you. Nadiya's trim appearance at Tamiraparani function just goes to show that acting and keeping a slim profile attracts directors to knock on your doors, even if you have been out of the country/industry for years.

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following is what I had written to Balaji (and a host of other friends!) when I sent him the link to the Thamirabarani puja (It's okay, Balaji, I forgive you for not mentioning my name.. for Nadiya's sake! Unless of course, you caught those pics even before by e-mail! :-).. The comments seem to mirror many of those that have already been posted here:

Haa.. some memories and thoughts stay evergreen and some heroines, the same way, stay etched in our memories for years on end. I was a big, huge, humungous, grand, exhorbitant (well, you get the picture!) fan of Nadiya during her hay days and after seeing these pics from Director Hari's Thamirabarani (the puja was held today!).. My god, she could give all the Nayantaras, Trishas, Asins and Poojas.. a serious run for their money if she ever wanted to take up acting full fledged as a heroine.

Goes to show that a little care in diet and exercise, a loving family and love for life (and a very clear understanding of priorities and responsibilities in personal & public life!) can result in someone looking this good after these many years away from the movie industry. Also, check out the pic with Suhasini & Nadiya.. Hmmm.. where are those days of the 'acting' heroine gone?

Hope you liked my Nadiya Ph.D.!

(BTW, the comment about Suhasini & acting ('over'acting, perhaps?).. Sorry, I was so overwhelmed by Nadiya's appearance that I ended up mentioning Suhasini, Nadiya and acting in the same breath. I do understand that Suhasini might not necessarily belong here! But if you ever read that Rediff article, you'd end up thinking she was the 'be-all-and-end-all' of Maniratnam. By god, what was Rediff thinking?)

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