Saturday, November 25, 2006

A fine actress and a finer woman

A comment left by Mathew in the last post "What ails us" bought back a flood of memories. Memories of a fine actress called Sukumari,who made us laugh, cry and think with her innumerable memorable movies.

I noticed Sukumari for the first time in Boeing Boeing. She was absolutely wonderful as the Anglo Indian cook. Her “I don’t care a damn’ attitude was a treat to watch and this movie owes a lot to her presence I think.

I don’t know if she set a precedent of sort by boldly showing the different facets of the Malayalee woman, as I do not know much about the chronology of her career but she broke the monotony of character portrayal of women in Malayalam cinema. The 'characters' she portrayed were bold, self confident and assertive. The nose in the air society lady, or the bitchy neighbor or the bossy Colony President…and even as the sensible lady of the house. She was like a breath of fresh air. And she got a generation of NRK kids like us hooked to Malayalam cinema. At least in my family it did. There was a revival of interest in Malayalam cinema with the arrival of some good comedies starring her. She also evoked a lot of fan following among the women. Ladies connected with her ‘characters’ as they were easily identifiable people from daily life. She is so comfortable in front of the camera and lives and breathes the ‘character’ she portrays.

Her very presence is warm and she gives you that feel good homely feeling when you see her. Even in her interviews she comes across as a down to earth simple Malayali lady. Surely a person you can look up to especially today, when there is such a dearth of role models. And this where Sukumari has come up trumps. She has universal appeal.

During the good old days of VCDs, we used to sit down as a family and watch Malayalam movies. And no prizes for guessing whose movies were top favorite. Those were days of some good movies. There were other actors and actresses too who were very good, but Sukumari ruled the roost in my house as far as us kids were concerned.

If there were to be “Malayalee’ of the year award my vote would go to Sukumari and I will even indulge in some fowl play to make sure she gets it :p She deserves it.

She is the quintessential Malayali lady!


Mind Curry said...

lol..absolutely..sukumari is legendary..what an actress..she can carry any emotion so well. and the boldness particularly, is commendable.

She is the quintessential Malayali lady!
so true..

wish we had more..

alex said...

To think of it, no other names pop in other than 'Sukumari'.

Ganja Turtle said...

Lady of the land,what...I notice comment moderation - did it get so bad?!!?

abhishek said...

This post gave me a fright initially, but I guess that says more about my expectations of the media. There's one too many obituaries out there and I thought this was one too! Thank god you began using the present tense.

Yeah, she's such a versatile and talented actress, it's amazing. That goes for almost every actress of that generation, which includes among others, Philomena and KPC (remember Adutha Adutha...that was a classic). The young ones have nothing in comparison. You don't get a feel for the person inside them when they act...because when they act, they act. When Sukumari acts, she doesn't act, she lives.
I watched Boeing Boeing again a couple of weeks ago. It was interesting to watch how she attempted to play the role in the movie because it was a tightrope between handling the frivilous characters in the house and preserving her sanity and in the end, she passed it off very well by creating her own "I don't give a damn" style as you put it.

mathew said...

very true..there is always a warmth radiating from her in all portryals..she fits in everywhere effortlessly..

She was the quintessential in all her roles.She may not be the best actress in the book for people analysing acting nuances..But she was defintely worth watching coz watching her movies defintely left us smiling at the end of the day.

silverine said...

mind curry; Echo...wish we had more and wish she becomes ageless so that she continues to act for generations to come :)

Alex: It's her universal appeal!

GT: This is to maintain the freedom of speech in this blog :) And I am a big fan of veteran Tamil actress Manorama too!

abhishek: Apologies for scaring you. What an abundance of talent Malayalam cinema had in those days. Wonder why we cannot find such talent nowadays. Her portrayal of the upstart Malayalee ladies were the best :))

mathew: For such a simple person in real life she carried off complex charecters realy well. Like the Mother in Julie or the cook in Boeing Boeing. She is so versatile!

quills said...

You are absolutely right about Sukumari. One of the finest actors I have ever seen.

Her role as Nedumudi Venu's nadan turned society lady in Poochakorumookuthi still has me in splits.

Amazing! Such a consummate actress.

You know, like Abhishek said, even I got a scare when I first saw your post, until I noticed the tense used. :) Whew!

Anonymous said...

i agree that Sukumari is indeed a fine actress ..also i think she has still not got a role that justifies her acting skills fully...
but to call her the quintessential 'malayali' lady!! dont think so..

silverine said...

Anon: I think she is :)

Jiby said...

you know the worst has been tamil nadu that has successively been referring sukumari for awards at the national level while kerala ignores her...several interviewers have asked her about it and the pain is obvious...the answer she always gives is she always gets to feel the affection of the malayali people wherever she goes.

"dick ammayi" in boeing boeing was a riot...we guys used to jokingly call aunties who were hyper-active by that name.

silverine said...

Jiby: That is so sad that the Kerala govt has never recognised her!!

Praveen said...

Sukumari is a fine actress indeed, but i guess thats the greatness of malayalam cinema, each character actor is highly versatile and can carry the film on his or her shoulders.