Friday, December 28, 2012

Tamil Pesum Kadhanayagi: Top 10 Tamil-Speaking Actresses


Despite being foreign educated and speaking English with a heavy American accent, Priya Anand is still very much grounded and knows her roots well. She is fluent in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, and has dubbed for herself in all three languages. Unfortunately, Priya Anand has not been seen much in Tamil movies this past year apart from the Tamil-dubbed Hindi English Vinglish which she dubbed for herself, which is quite rare since actors usually use dubbing artistes when dubbing for a film in a different language. Her previous Tamil film was the critically acclaimed average grosser Nootrenbathu, but she is geared up for Ethir Neechal opposite Sivakarthikeyan and with Dhanush at the producer's chair.


Let's all first admit how skeptical we were when this young lady was all set to make her debut. Being the daughter of movie icons, she has definitely proved she is not just another child of the industry. With a more than decent debut in Podaa Podi, she has proved she is not only a good actress, but an amazing dancer. With a heartfelt performance that almost overshadowed STR in comedy, drama and dance, this is quite a rarity in Tamil cinema for a female lead actress. Her next movie will be Sundar C’s Madha Gaja Raja opposite Vishal.


Now here is a triple threat rare in Tamil cinema - an amazing singer, a more than average actress, and a good dubbing artiste. Although being English educated and coming from an Anglo-Indian background, she speaks Tamil more fluently then most Tamil actresses. Although being more famously known for her playback singing in movies, she has proven herself as an actress herself, having worked with big names like Gautham Menon, Selvaraghavan and Venkat Prabhu in the past. She has three big movies coming out way - Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus, Vishwaroopam. Pudhiya Thiruppangal opposite Nanda and Endrendrum Punnagai with Jiiva and Trisha.


For a National award winning actress, she had done some rather less prominent projects such as the recent 
Charulatha and some other movies which did not fare well with critics and audiences. However, her critically acclaimed performance in Paruthi Veeran is still strong in audiences' minds, and that is powerful enough to remind is she is in no way lost in our industry. Despite being more appreciated for her character acting, she is not hesitent to take up glamorous roles as well.  Her future Tamil projects are yet to be announced, though she works actively in other languages as well.


Another triple threat, Shruthi Haasan has always been an amazing singer and a good dancer. Despite her performance in 7am Arivu being badly received, she surely made up for it by giving one of the best performances from a female lead in Moonu, where she was delivered an equally powerful performance as her more mature male lead Dhanush. She is no longer known for solely being the daughter of movie stars and has made a name for herself. Being a pan-Indian artiste, it is only expected that she is busy working in movies in other languages as well, particularly Telugu. But she dubs for herself in Tamil and she is definitely much missed by the industry. Her future projects in Tamil are yet to be announced, but she has definitely raised the bar of expectations for herself this year.


Now here is one of the few actresses in the industry who have made it to the top merely by talent rather than glamour. Angadi Theru and Engeyum Eppothum allowed her to flex her acting abilities, and she has even proved that she can do sensational roles with projects like Kalakalappu. This talent powerhouse has a slew of projects like Vathikuchi, Madha Gaja Raja, Onbathula Guru, Kalakalappu 2 and Settai coming our way.


Nobody ever expected anything from this one, especially for her to dub for herself. Despite having lived in Chennai all her life, she is from a mixed Telugu-Malayalam household and attended English medium schools. Unlike her Telugu movie career, Samantha had a rather slow start in the Tamil cinema.  But thanks to her recent films like Naan Ee and Neethane En Ponvasantham, she has successfully overtaken more experienced Mumbai girls in the industry and established herself as one of the few top Tamil-speaking actresses. By dubbing for herself in Neethane En Ponvasantham, Samantha has waved goodbye to Chinmayi, at least when Tamil movies are concerned. She is all set to sizzle with a Suriya in two movies, one with Lingusamy and another with Gautham Menon.


She is still one of the industry's top actresses despite not having made an Tamil movies for the last two years, proving that she has a loyal following among Tamil moviegoers. Though she has proven herself to be a talented performer, the sensationalized linkups and breakups has been the one responsible for keeping her relevant in an industry where for actresses, one day you're in, the next day you're out. It is unclear if she dubs for herself, though she speaks Tamil fluently. She has dubbed for herself in Malayalam, and it is rumored that she will start dubbing for herself in Tamil too. With the announcement of her comeback with her famous Billa team, the entire industry is abuzz with the return of the queen. We can see her soon in the Billa team's return, Surangani  opposite her former co-stars Ajith and Arya and an Udayanidhi untitled film with Prabhakaran.


She was once the Tamil girl living in Chennai who is English educated and is not fluent in her own mother tongue who people love making fun of. But not anymore. Post Manmadhan Ambu, she too has waved goodbye to her string of dubbing artistes including Chinmayi and Savritra Reddy and is committed to dub for herself now and in the future. Despite no releases in 2012, her performance in Mankatha, Manmadhan Ambu and of course, the classic love story Vinaithandi Varuvaaya has kept the industry and fans alike well-informed of her talent and beauty. We can expect to see her next in Samar opposite Vishal, Endredum Punnagai opposite Jiiva and Boologam opposite her former co-star Jayam Ravi.


Bet you never saw this one coming, did you? So did we. After a two decade hiatus, Sridevi is unarguably the most successful former female movie star to make a comeback after such a long time. There was once when she conquered all the major movie industries in India and was at the top of her career. And true, English Vinglish is not strictly a Tamil movie, but Sridevi dubbed for herself, showing her commitment to act in any language movie as long as the right script comes her way. The last actress to make such a big comeback was Simran in Vaaranam Aaayiram, but that was only after a few years of taking a break. Sridevi still looks ravishingly beautiful and her acting skills are still topnotch, not to mention she has her producer husband to keep her going all the way. She is yet to announce any future projects, but we can expect big things from Sridevi.

Other names worth mentioning: Sneha, Asin, Bhavana, Meera Jasmine, Nithya Menon, Lakshmi Menon, Vijayalakshmi , Oviya, Padmapriya and Jasmine Michael

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is Thuppariyum Anandhan all about?

Now that superstar Surya has confirmed that he has signed his next movie with one of India's best storytellers, Gautham Menon, this has created quite a frenzy among Gautham-Surya fans. These two have a track record of being probably the best director-actor combo in the industry despite making only two movies together in the past. But those two movies are often cited as among the best to come out of the Tamil film industry, and every Tamil movie fans are definitely familiar with Kaakha Kaakha and Vaaranam Aayiram.

This news is sure to come as a relief to all Gautham fans after Yohan: Adhyayan Ondru starring Vijay has been cancelled due to unknown reasons. Also, Thuppariyum Anandhan was supposedly written for Ajith Kumar, who then left the project. Somehow, Gautham seems to not click with mass heroes, though it would have been amazing to see a different Vijay in a Gautham Menon movie. The whole premise of Yohan seemed exciting too as it was supposed to be an action thriller that would be the first in a series of prequels and sequels and each will be shot in different international locations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and many more. I must admit I was pretty excited. I like Vijay and he is a great actor, though I am not a fan of his masala movies. But this movie would have greatly showcased his talent as we have seen in his earlier movies. This was obviously planned to be a very urban, dark themed film - Gautham style. But as a mass hero, this definitely did not fit Vijay's fan base. So the plan was dropped altogether. However, the premise of Yohan sounds interesting and let's just hope Gautham continues the project with another actor, maybe Vikram! Can you imagine? Gautham and Vikram together? Epic! 

Now let's forget about Yohan. It is said that Surya will begin working on Thuppariyum Anandhan after the completion of his Singam 2. AR Rahman, who was earlier signed to work on Yohan will now probably move on to work on this film. The rest of the cast and crew has not yet been confirmed, which is why we are here - to speculate and anticipate the best! 

First, let's look at the story. It is said to be a mystery-thriller set in 80s, with Surya probably donning the role of a detective in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is like the Indian version of the American FBI. It is also said to have elements of an action-romantic film. There is a high chance we might be seeing Surya playing a CBI detective investigating a series of murders in Chennai. Like all Gautham Menon movies, we can expect an original story but with shades of strong Hollywood influences. The question is, which Hollywood movie(s) and how is Gautham planning to execute it? Will it resemble Kaakha Kaakha or Veetayadu Veelayadu more? 

I would really like to see it resembling Mystic River. Yes, that movie revolves only around one murder. But then, it does have the interesting character development subplot that we all love Gautham for! Not only that, the mystery aspect of it was pretty amazing too. It would be really cool to see Gautham give us an M.Night kind of twist ending! 

Or another fun idea would be to fashion it like Zodiac. This seems most possible since it is a about the authorities tracking down a serial psychopath after all. Like Zodiac, maybe Thuppariyum Anandhan is based on a true story as well. There was the Stoneman Murders which was made into a popular Hindi movie, The Stoneman Murders. In Chennai, there was the Auto Shankar case which shock Chennai back in the late 80s. It would be fun to see Gautham adapt it onto the silver screen. 

What I would really like Gautham to do is make an Alex Cross kind of thriller. We have already seen him doing that with Veetayaadu Veelayadu, which was much more critically acclaimed than all three Alex Cross films put together. Alex Cross is no Raghavan for sure. But it had a gripping mystery action-thriller main story line with a mature, touching romantic subplot with the Jyothika character. Now that would be completely amazing to see Gautham recreate the magic from Veetayaadu Veelayadu but with a fresh script and new premise. 

Now for the female lead, or as we call them, the heroine. Rumour also has it that Samantha Prabhu is at the top of the list to play Surya's love interest for the first time. Gautham has made it public that after working with her in four films, he is his favourite actress. She has also proved herself a decent drama actress with Neethane En Ponvasantham. It is easy to picture her giving an equally heart-rendering performance like Jyothika in Veetayaadu Veelayadu. She has also waved goodbye to Chinmayi, her loyal dubbing artiste and now speaks with her own voice, at least in her Tamil movies. So that is a major plus point for our Telugu Jessie! 

Next in line is Aishwarya Rai. Unlike other Indian actresses, marriage and motherhood has not stopped the queen of Bollywood as she is searching for a suitable comeback vehicle. Despite having her acting skills being overshadowed by her image as the most beautiful woman in the world, she is still a favourite among India's top critically and commercially acclaimed directors like Mani Ratnam, Shankar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It has been almost three years since we last saw her in Tamil movies like Raavanan and Endhiran, where she did much more than a good job. Her Tamil skills have definitely improved alongside her acting and she was almost considered to dub for herself. She has worked with Gautham Menon before back during his assistand director days in Kandukondain Kandukondain, where she delivered one of her best performances ever and he is surely well acquainted with her talent. 

Another actress rumoured to be considered to bag the role is newcomer Pranitha of Saguni fame, where she starred opposite Surya's brother, Karthi. Almost twenty years Surya's junior, it might not be an issue in Tamil Nadu, especially with Surya well maintaining his youthful looks. Having her in such a big scale project does seem risky, although more veteran movie makers like Mani Ratnam seem to be okay with that, as he is doing in Kadal. However, the very idea of it seems random and might quite possible start and end as nothing more than a rumour.

Whatever Gautham has in mind for us, it surely will be a treat. When he does romantic dramas, they touch our souls and haunt us for days. When he does action thrillers, they take our breath away and leave us stunned. And with AR Rahman handling the music department, we can rest assured that the magic the Gautham-Rahman combo created in Vinaithandi Varuvaaya will be reincarnated in the form of a different genre in this movie. I just can't wait. If you guys have any speculations or comments, do leave them below for me and others to read and share. Thank you! God bless you all =)