booming voice that goes unheard!
was by sheer chance that I happened to come across
an interview of Malaysia Vasudevan in a magazine.
The reason I said chance is because the interview
was almost like a footnote (not literally) in
an otherwise star laden, glitzy magazine. But,
the magazine did do quite a commendable job by
choosing to publish the interview of a yesteryear
great who, these days, seems to have been forgotten
as the past of Kollywood. I was a bit grieved
to know that he was suffering from poor health
and was almost always confined to the interiors
of his house. To a fan like me, he (or his voice)
has always been the symbol of energy and vigor;
which he has proven many times with super-hit
renditions, especially for Superstar. And the
same man, who invigorated us so much with his
voice, is now hardly able to make enough noise
(again, not literally) to get people’s attention.
The part of the interview that affected me the
most was where he said that the confinement to
the indoors was suffocating him no end and that
he missed the buzzing activity of his heydays.
Now, that is not unique to anyone,
it is an experience that everyone facing retirement
goes through and one would presume that it could take
quite some getting used to, but one would eventually
readjust to a life indoors. But, what bothered Malaysia
Vasudevan even more was that he missed his friends and
acquaintances from the film industry. According to him,
no one from the industry has cared to visit him and
have a word.
This is not the first time that we have heard such a
complaint from a yesteryear star. There have been many
instances where aging and ailing stars have repeatedly
complained of the complete neglect that they face from
the industry. Manorama, for instance, once said that
no one cared to even pay her a visit during her illness.
There are many such cases, not only from the Tamil film
industry, but also the Malayalam, Hindi and other industries
where artistes, who are no longer able to make their
presence felt in cinema, have found life tough and isolated.
But, is this unique to the film industry? Isn’t
this (the neglect of senior citizens who are no longer
‘productive’) something common to the society
as a whole? Well, the topic is far too serious and deep
to be discussed by me. But, the reason I chose to highlight
this issue is to enable everyone to be able to imagine
Now, we have discussed the loneliness and partial neglect
faced by artistes like Malaysia Vasudevan, Manorama
etc. Now, these are names that are popular and were
quite big in their heyday. That is the only reason why
their voices, however feeble, get heard by the media
and finally reach us. But, think of how a small time
artiste will be able to deal with the same problem?
There will be no media or organization that is present
to make his voice heard because neither his face nor
name is known or recognized by the public. The only
way for the person to get heard is to get embroiled
in some sort of controversy involving a big star –
seriously, there is no other way for a small artiste
to be heard through the media.
Cinema is a fickle field where artistes lose their salability
very soon. Only the lucky few get to stick around for
a long time. The others are left behind with only the
memories of their golden days. Is there a way to protect
the interests and basic needs of artistes who are no
longer active in the industry?
One is aware of the various organizations like the Nadigar
Sangam which hand over memberships and are actively
involved in sending pensions and medical benefits to
their members who are no longer in work, which is a
wonderful thing. But, when names like Malaysia Vasudevan
and Manorama complain of neglect, one finds it hard
to imagine that all would be well with those small artistes
who worked all their life to make cinema possible.
Perhaps it is easy to dismiss the woes of Malaysia Vasudevan
and Manorama as moans from old timers who are just not
able to accept the change that time brings with it.
But, as a fan it does pain me to see some of the huge
names from my growing up years now being reduced to
mere shadows of their self, fighting, not for a place
in the industry, but for a little bit of respect, dignity
and recognition for all those years of dedication. I
don’t think it would be too much to ask from an
industry to which they gave a lifetime! Let’s
give them their due.
Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun.)
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