Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Old(er) and the Beautiful - Part II

In the previous post, I wrote about why I regarded the actresses of the last generation so highly. Continuing the stroll down that particular memory lane, here are my thots on 5 favorite heroines from those times…

One more of director Bharatiraja’s ‘R’ heroines, Revathi firmly established herself as the best actress of her times. Introduced in Mann Vaasanai, she gave indications of her talent in her first film itself. Without taking the glamour route (which she didn’t seem too suited for anyway), she chose her roles with care and became the actress most directors turned to for strong female characters. The fact that she looked as much at home playing a playful college girl as she did playing a homely housewife helped matters too. She has aged gracefully and her two films as director have proved that she also possesses good skills behind the camera.

Must-watch: Mouna Raagam, Pudhumai Penn, Punnagai Mannan, Kizhakku Vaasal, Marupadiyum

T.Rajendhar has imposed a number of horrors (showing up on screen, rhyming dialogs and Simbhu, to name a few) upon us. But he made up for atleast some of them by introducing Amala to Tamil cinema. She looked a little plump and gawky in her first film Mythili Ennai Kaadhali and her expressions, while dancing and while acting, were laughable. But she flowered into this gorgeous heroine with great screen presence and superb dancing skills. Even her deep voice and broken Tamil added to her charm. As she proved at the Filmfare function, she’s lost none of her beauty and can still break hearts.

Must-watch: Agni Nakshathiram, Sathya, Velaikkaaran, Pesum Padam, Mounam Sammadham

Not beautiful or pretty in the traditional way, Gauthami was incredibly cute in her first film Guru Sishyan (it didn’t hurt that she had great chemistry with Rajni!). She was content to play glamour doll roles aside big heroes mostly but proved, usually with Kamal, that she could rise to the occasion when the role demanded it. Now paired with Kamal in real life too, she looks dignified and carries herself well.

Must-watch: Guru Sishyan, Devar Magan, Aboorva Sagodharargal

One of the actresses criminally underused by Tamil cinema. Right from the time she was introduced in Enakkul Oruvan, she always seemed to struggle between going the glamour route and the serious route and eventually ended up stuck between the two. But Malayalam cinema, where she had no problems taking the serious route, exploited her potential fully. But she was a great dancer and nobody could carry off a saree quite as sexily as her.

Must-watch: Manichithrathazhu, Thenmaavin Kombathu

Probably the most decent heroine Tamil cinema has had so far, Nadhiya still acted in several films. She was always lively, had a great smile and was full of energy. She played the role of a chirpy young girl right from her first film, Fazil’s Poove Poochoodavaa and remained a touch-me-not heroine right till her last film, Rajadhi Raja (there was even a rumour that she refused to act with Kamal because of his reputation with his heroines). She came back as a mom in M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi and made us feel like she could just as well have played the heroine.

Must-watch: Poove Poochoodavaa, Pookkalai Parikkaadheergal, Rajadhi Raja, M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi


At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, as much as these 5 heroines are on your favorite list.. I never found Gauthami or Shobana (especially Shobana as I have mentioned in previous comments in this blog!) to be terribly attractive physically or dramatically on screen. Somehow they never amounted to much (but then, this is a gal's perspective.. maybe guys liked these two a whole lot more!). I was surprised that you didn't mention Nammavar or Kuruthipunal for Gauthami and Karpoora Mullai (one of Fazil's most underrated films ever, but one of his finest)or Siva (though terribly violent!) for Amala. Also, very surprised that movies like Udhaya Geetham (one of the finest in her earlier set of films) for Revathi.

But one thing you forgot to mention that makes all of these five actresses stunning even today is the shrewdness and sensibility with which they have maintained their figures and their overall appearance. The age lines may show.. but that's about it!..

Kudos gals!

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu for Amala? A very special role indeed (enough to release two different versions of the same film! :-), all because of the Amala back story!..

At 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always felt that Shobana is a natural beauty, very stunning looks. Surprised by Sandhya's verdict. She is one heroine, that I can remember thinking 'oh, so pretty' from the time I was a kid.

Revathi/Nadhiya, Gowthami all have a pleasant, pretty look to them. In that order.

Amala is another stunner. And Sandhya hits bullseye again, because as a kid, I remember seeing her first in Mella Thiranthathu Kadhavu(some 8 years after the release) and appreciating how good she pretty she was. I still have a picture of her eyes in my mind. Now, she still looks good, but she hasn't retained that freshness Nadhiya still possesses. I guess you can say, "There's something about Nadhiya":-)


At 2:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Balaji, enjoyed this post just like I do all the others but I must say the line that got be doubling over with laughter was the throwaway comment..
"T.Rajendhar has imposed a number of horrors (showing up on screen, rhyming dialogs and Simbhu, to name a few) upon us"
Truer words words were never spoken!How this bearded monstrosity with his god-awful movies filled with garish sets,costumes that re-define vulgarity and over-wrought acting ever gained a foot-hold in Tamil Cinema is one of life's great unexplained mysteries!Until your article,I thought the only thing I could credit him for was his SOLE talent at composing music which has yielded some beautiful ballads(Vaasamilla Malaridhu from Oru Thalai Ragam and Azhkadalil Thatralithu from Ragam Thedum Pallavi to mention a few) but thanks to you, I guess I also have Simbhu Sr.to thank for the gorgeous Amala!

At 3:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure how u can miss Sri Devi in the top5?

My list will be

Sri Devi


At 4:02 AM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Really a good post Balaji. I like Nadhiya than any other.

At 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All.

Great post... just to add a line or two...

In an industry that unashamedly exploits the female gender, the actresses named herein the post, stood for something that's sadly missing in today's tamil cinema...respect for the craft of acting...that takes a world more than pouting, pelvic thrusting, cleavage showing & rain dancing. These actresses should , or better, must be credited for everthing's that is gracious, professional and masterly in their artistry.

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greets to the webmaster of this wonderful site! Keep up the good work. Thanks.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger Raju said...

Nice way to pay tribute to the heroines of 'our generation'!! :)

I recently saw 'Mitr, my friend' and Shobana was fabulous in it.. Wish she re-enters Tamil industry, but not as one of 'beautiful moms'. A few movies you have missed from the list..

Revathi: Oru Kaidhiyin Diary and Thevar Magan (how was 'Kai kodukkum kai'? I havent seen it... u must have)

Gauthami: Kuruthipunal.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Agree with Sandya about Shobana (but not about Gouthami). She wouldnt fit in my list of favorite actresses of yesteryears. She sure was talented and all but never captivated me, like the way someone like Amala & Gouthami did. The actress I would replace Shobana with in the list would be Radha, someone who can act well & who looked good in any kind of costumes.

Gouthami to me is arguably the best Tamil actress of all time. She had a very different kind of beauty to go with amazing acting potential. She should have won the national award for best supporting actress in Devar magan, instead of Revathi. That outburst scene in the house & the final good bye scene in the train are classics. Would be great if she returns to act in some memorable role.

Balaji, enna Simbhu-va pathi ippadi sollitteenga? :)

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comment about shobana in Tam films hit the bulls eye. She has looked consistently cheap in tamil movies with the exception of Thalapathi.

Someone mentioned Radha in their favorite list and I fell off my chair laughing. Other than Muthal Mariyathai I cannot remember a single memorable film of hers. And she looks terrible in her current pictures. Fat and desperately trying to look young.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Hawkeye said...

mentioning revathi and not mentioning anjali is kutram

missing out Ambika is kolai kutram.

anyway just kidding. good post.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

now, i am confused whether i should prioritize my favs based on their looks or their acting skills...but well, what the heck...looks-ku konjam jaasthi weightage kuduthu thaan list pode poren!! -->

1. Amala - think she's the most gorgeous of the lot...she was stunning in Agni..., Sathya, Shiva (Sandya, neenge "Siva"-nu solrachey, I first thought of that terrible Rajni movie) and of course, to see her acting talent on display, u've to go no further than the classic Vedham Pudhidhu.

2. Revathi - what a wonderful actress who also had a pretty face and a homely appearance...got some wonderful roles in the mid-late 80s...my favs being Mouna Raagam, Anjali and Marupadiyum.

3. Gowthami - a combination of a very photogenic face (Nivedha...being the best e.g.) and some fine acting talent, Gowthami could've done a lot more with her career...she was fabulous in Dhevar Magan (esp. in the scene where she barks at Kamal for marrying Revathi...amazingly powerful moment when she says, "DONT...even touch me")...also memorable in movies like Nammavar and the underrated NPNaanPaathi...

4. Nadhiya- though she was cute, she looked and acted pretty much the same in every movie...never had much range but yeah, as u said, could carry off the "thudukku ponnu" role as good as anyone...my fav- her demure village belle looks in "Chinne thambi periya thambi."

5. Shobana-- 've never found her all that attractive...n except for Dhalapathi, cant even remember a movie where I barely even liked her...thought she looked positively AWFUL in those stupid movies like Mallu Vaetti Minor (Sathyaraj) and Siva (Rajni).

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sandya, u probably noticed that the only films i mentioned as must-watch for shobana r 2 of her mallu ones. thats because she was underused by tamil. but see some of her mallu films, especially with mohanlal, and u'll know why i love her so much. completely natural and great sense of comedy. if u ever watch 'thenmaavin kombathu'(mallu original for 'muthu'), u'll c how fabulous she is in that scene where they get caught in the village(in that its a kannada village).

the way they've maintained themselves and aged gracefully is a big reason why i chose these 5 and left out ambika, radha, etc.

and whats the story with the 2 versions of 'mella thirandhadhu kadhavu'??

prasanna, i sorta put sridevi in the generation b4 these actresses. otherwise she would've defly been there. esp since she looks so good even now...

kajan, understand exactly when u mean by "amala hasnt retained her freshness". the 1st thot on seeing her in that filmfare function was that she looked tired. still beautiful but tired :) nadhiya actually seems more radiant than before even!

krishna, talking of TR, u're right about the music. and i always felt that SPB's voice sounded extra mellifluous when he was singing for TR (salangayittaal oru maadhu... for instance). but we do owe him for amala :)

random, as i mentioned b4, i felt she belonged to the prev generation, maybe cos she'd been around for so long (the 70s)

karthik, thanx :)

anon, wonderfully written. as i'd mentioned, tamil cinema itself has become more hero-oriented and is to blame for the sidelined treatment the heroines get. But u're right... these heroines deserve our admiration for what they did...

raju, yeah these were the heroines we grew up with. so many fond memories :) shobana has just started acting in a telugu film. lets wait and see if tamil cinema is able to bring her back also...

filbert, WOW u're definitely the biggest fan of gauthami i've seen so far! havent seen any1 defend her so much. though i did like her a lot, i wouldn't go so far as to call her the best actress :) i think she's the only actress who didn't have a flop with rajni :)

anon, shobana tried to do the glamourous heroine role and failed pretty badly. her makeup in the duets was atrocious and didn't suit her at all... cheap sounds about right :)

hawkeye, looks like i have to do a part III! if i do, ambika'll definitely be on it :)

ram, i think looks had a li'l more weightage in my list too :)

agree with all the points in the 1st 4. as for shobana, check out what i wrote in my reply to sandya. better yet, check out the 2 mallu movies i've listed as must-watch and u'll see what i'm talking about :)

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the names that I don't see being talked about :
- Bhanupriya
- Madhavi

Any comments??

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bhanupriya-> she should've been banned from acting in those inane movies with karthik and sathyaraj...even the one with kamal hassan (maharasan) wasnt exactly a classic, to say the least!! :-) she was better-used in "Aahaa!" (1997) than all of her movies from the late 80s to the early 90s put together...

Madhavi-> Dusky, Sexy beauty with lovely eyes (aaha aaha, ena varnanai...!!) wouldnt win too many acting awards but she looked angelic in every frame of Raja Paarvai...

At 10:18 PM, Blogger Shanthi said...

shobanava naerla paatha ennoda friend oruthi sonnaa "She looks like pichakaari" i think she dresses badly off screen. i do accept that she looks good with the cotton sarees in the interviews.

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is "Karpoora mullai" not in the list of Amala's films.It is one of her splendid movies, heroine centered story and wonderful screenplay.

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree with shanthi's friend. I have had the oppurtunity to meet Shobana personally and she looks great both on and off screen. I m a die-hard fan of her "oru murai vanthu paarthaya". A total natural. A perfect package.


At 12:02 AM, Blogger Bart said...

I agree with you Balaji on the five. I thought Madhavi and Radhika were left out for a mention. Ambika and Radha were more for pot-boilers.
Suhasini was another who was good especially in Balachander movies (she did over act a bit but she was decent to say the least).
Then there was Archana who did a few very decent BaluMahendra movies and looked average :)
How about Urvashi, who did a few memorable movies (Mundhanai Mudichu earlier and Michael Madana Kamarajan later).
I think Revathi deserves a mention for Aan Paavam too.
Then comes the Kushboo era.
But overall, your list stands very fine...

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Revathy is the BESTTTTTT!!!!!!!! Does anyone know why she got a divorce?? I think you also forgot the lady who acted in Salangai Oli. She was really pretty and acted well too...I think her name is Sri Pradha or something....and how abour Seetha? And yeh Banupriya was also good....and there was Radhika too......

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would rank Revathy and Nathiya as top 2. I remember their movies referred as 'revathy movie' and 'nathiya movie', rather than 'rajini movie' or 'Kamal movie'. The movies were seen for them... Nathiya did same kind of movies, while revathy did lot of variety roles. I do agree that Amala was stunning. Gauthami was not very feminine in looks... Shobana - don't remember any of her films :)

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Gouthami a lot , really feel she had/has a unique combo of dusky Indian looks and some of that plucky "Indian girl" spirit which she imparted to her roles.

I should also confess that I am partial to Gouthami as she resembles my ex-girlfriend a lot
;-) Seeing her brings back a lot of memories!

At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madhavi(Tik Tik Tik, Raja Paarvai) was one of my favourite heroines.. really beautiful.. great figure ... maybe a tad too glamorous but tremendous screen presence nonetheless

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nadhiya is more decent,
shobana is ok
amala and sridevi.

How about soundarya, devayani , suvalakshmi ..
they were in next generation.. but decent


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