available. Bringing back youth to a man who is more
than just middle aged is done on a regular basis in
Indian cinema. Make up techniques, camera and lighting
angles and elaborate post production corrections make
all this possible and we have seen enough of it to almost
take it for granted; it is an integral part of cinema.
We have reached a point where generations are reversed
and a nearly 70 year old man will be playing the son
of his real life son on screen (Amitabh and Abhishek
Bachchan in Paa).
Rolling back/ahead of time with technology is no longer
news. But, when Sachin Tendulkar rolled back the years
at Hyderabad to relive the magic of 1998 in 2009, it
was not technology, it was timeless genius in full flow
and the world took notice. But this column is not about
the superstars who managed to turn time around. It is
about another fascinating lot of people who seem to
have the skill of freezing time. For them it is as if
time never moved, they always remain the same. Now,
do you recall any actor/actress who has been around
for more than two decades and yet has shown little or
no signs of aging or changing? Might be tough to recall
their names straight away, but the faces will sure be
familiar. Do you recall the lady who has so often played
Kamal Haasan’s grandmother over the past 20 years,
from Thevar Magan to Virumaandi? She has been a grandmother
or mother on screen all her career. It might be hard
to believe, but she has been grandmother even to Sivaji
Ganesan in his heydays. No one can recall this lady
having been seen in a young role. Obviously, she couldn’t
have been old enough to be a granny even in Sivaji’s
times. And, if she is still able to act in movies, it
does mean that she should have been quite young in those
days. Yet, very curiously she has always been the ‘paati’
and nothing else and she has never changed.
are quite a few actors in the same mould, the real ages
of whom remain a wild guess for us audiences. Vennira
Aadai Murthy has been the middle aged man ever since
he arrived on screen, one cannot recall him doing anything
else. It is as if he made his debut as a middle aged
man and stayed exactly that way ever since, not changing
a wee bit even today. Delhi Ganesh has always been the
heroine’s father/uncle etc…. or someone
in that age group. It can be safely said that he has
been around for at least 25 years and this is what he
has always done (sad for an actor who has amazing variety).
He has not changed much in the way of looks, voice or
body language-quite amazing. Same can be said about
Cochin Haneefa, the man who came to fame with Mahanadi.
He had begun his career much earlier in Malayalam and
has always been doing the 40 something characters. The
only change that he underwent is the shift from rather
serious and villainous roles to the more comic ones.
Otherwise, the stout build, the paunch and the curly
hair have looked like they have been set in stone over
decades. Comedian Charlie is perhaps the best example
of constancy. He has been around for nearly three decades
now and still does not look even an inch different from
what he was when he made his debut, still fit to pass
off as a college student, one feels. If Charlie has
remained forever young in his career, then the Late
Poornam Vishwanathan is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
For as long as he acted, he was always the man past
60, retired and looking forward to a quiet life at home
with his family. That is how he started and he never
seemed to age beyond that point.
there are the lesser known names (but very familiar
faces at the same time). Think about the Late Omakuchi
Narasimhan. It always looked as if time had ceased for
this diminutive man, he had been the same for all the
years that he did small but memorable roles on screen.
Maybe there were small changes that were noticeable
over the last 3-4 years, but even they were nothing
much. Another contemporary of Omakuchi Narasimhan who
has ‘always been the same’ is ‘Pasi’
Narayanan. The name might not be instantly recognizable,
but everyone will definitely remember the ‘Narayana’
from the memorable scene in Suriyan who tells Goundamani
that the telephone has been out of order for two weeks.
Another man who falls in the same category is ‘Oruviral’
Krishna Rao, who was famously termed by Vivek as the
‘Raymond’s model’ in a movie; it seemed
as if he had always been a bald old man.
all this talk of how actors and actresses have maintained
a surprising level of constancy over a period of decades
might sound insignificant. One might have to agree that
it is true, but, some of the actors mentioned here have
at times become the best and perhaps only choice for
certain kinds of roles. How some people manage to do
it? We do not know. But, this is proof of the fact that
it is not only the heroes and heroines who can manipulate
the years according to the demands on screen.
Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun.)
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.