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Sridhar will live on …

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

Those with a penchant for healthy humour and classy romance will always remember him.



Connoisseur of music: Sridhar and (right) With musician Balamuralikrishna recordingthe song `Thanga Radham.' for Kalaikkovil. PHOTOS BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT.

The boat with two figures and the flag bearing the name Chitralaya flying aloft … C.V. Sridhar’s banner at the beginning of a film was enough to tell the audience that a worthy fare awaited them. More than four decades ago, when chaste Tamil was the language of the screen and social themes in a natural milieu were rare, came a young man who ushered in a new and appealing trend in filmmaking. And for the first time a star struck audience sat up and took notice of the director and the technical crew!

The first film under his Chitralaya banner was ‘Thaen Nilavu,’ with Gemini Ganesan and Vyjayanthimala. And when the beauty of Kashmir, where he had shot the film failed to woo the audience, he gave them a story on just a single set — ‘Nenjil Oru Aalayam’ and ‘Dil Ek Mandir’ in Hindi, and both turned out to be runaway hits. His stories were strong and his treatment ever fresh.

Sridhar began his film career as story and dialogue writer of ‘Rathapaasam’ and was catapulted to success with his first directorial venture, ‘Kalyana Parisu’ — a bi-lingual in Tamil and Telugu, both blockbusters. A love story with well etched characters played by Gemini Ganesan, Saroja Devi and Vijayakumari, ‘Kalyana Parisu’ had excellent performances from the cast.

Looking back, very few have dealt with romance, particularly, triangular and unrequited, in its various dimensions as Sridhar has. Beginning with ‘Kalyana Parisu,’ be it ‘Nenjil Oru Aalayam,’ ‘Avalukkendru Oru Manam,’ ‘Nenjirukkum Varai,’ or ‘Ilamai Oonjaladugirathu,’ the basic strand of the story was three-sided love. But his story and treatment for each were amazingly different. And he tried out unique genres — ‘Nenjam Marapadhillai’ is a classic example. And without exception, the creations spelt class.

Taste for music

The serious storyteller who came out with excellent narratives was also a connoisseur of music. With M.S. Viswanathan’s scintillating compositions as bolstering factors films such as ‘Policekaaran Magal’ and ‘Kalaikkovil’ have gained immortality.

Then you have the ever-popular Ilaiyaraja numbers for ‘Ninaivellam Nithya’ — the launch pad of Gemini Ganesan’s daughter Gee Gee. You can go on and on …

Sridhar introduced a host of noteworthy actors to the Tamil screen, even as he directed giants such as Sivaji Ganesan and MGR. From Jayalalitha and Kanchana to ‘Vennira Adai’ Murthy and many more, his finds exemplify his acumen for talent spotting.

Healthy humour was also Sridhar’s strong point. Decades may pass but the comedy element even in a serious story such as ‘Nenjil Oru Aalayam’ remains unforgettable. Nagesh’s fun fare in the film with Manorama, juxtaposed with the staid and sedate performances of Devika, Muthuraman and Kalyan Kumar, weren’t just a comic relief but an evergreen treat.

And who can forget the humour ride Sridhar offered with ‘Kadhalikka Naeramillai?’ The carnival feel and gaiety, the freshness of the cast, the hill station back drops in Eastman colour and the comedy that every actor projected so well, with Nagesh and T.S. Balaiah at the helm in ‘Kadhalikka Naeramillai’ will live as long as Tamil cinema does!

Even today the Thangavelu-M.Saroja track in ‘Kalyana Parisu’ is a stress reliever you can recall and enjoy!

None can say Sridhar is no more — the auteur will live forever through his films. Those familiar with the wealth of his repertoire will vouchsafe for the fact that he’s a winner nonpareil!

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