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`SUCH' is her versatility

Syed Muthahar Saqaf finds out what keeps `Kumari' Sachu, comedy queen of yesteryears, still ticking.


NOTHING IS more entertaining than watching comedy scenes in movies. Perfect comedy tracks play a major part in the success of films world over. Great comedians always make a mark on a par with heroes.

All timers

Legends like Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy of Hollywood, Mehmood and Johnywalker of Bollywood, N. S. Krishnan, Chandrababu, Nagesh, Thangavelu, Baliah, Manorama of Kollywood have all enjoyed a tremendous fan following.

Even heroes like Sivaji Ganesan, MGR, Rajnikanth have given special attention to good comic scenes in their films. One leading name from the world of comedians is P. S. SARASWATHY alias SACHU.

Her debut

`Kumari' Sachu, as she is popularly known, made her debut as a three year old child artiste in the film Rani in 1957.

From that early beginning, Sachu scored an impressive innings doing variety of roles — character, comedy and lead roles. In a career spanning nearly five decades, she has acted in over 500 films in five languages.

Her distinction

She has the distinction of having worked with five great personalities associated with theatre, who later went on to occupy the seat of power — late C.N. Annadurai, MGR, Karunanidhi, N.T. Ramarao and Jayalalithaa.

Films like Devadoss, Veera Thirumagan, Annai, Kadalikka Neramillai made her a household name in 1960s and 70s. At present, she is concentrating on tele-serials and has featured in over 75 tele-serials and 15 TV plays.

Sachu was in the Rockcity to participate in the International Women's Day celebrations. During an interaction, she candidly shared her versatility both as an actress and as a comedian, which has enabled her to retain her place in the Tamil filmdom for so long.

``Stage plays are a litmus test and help in improving an artistes' overall abilities. I have also mastered Bharatanatyam which helped me realise the significance of various bhavams in acting,'' she said citing her experience of staging 15 plays with 1,200 performances in India and abroad.

Falling standards

On comic roles, she observed: ``Comic scenes much depends on presentation. The expression, voice modulation, body language adds to the dialogues. Actors like N. S. Krishnan not only provided entertainment value but also created awareness among people of various social issues. At present only Vivek is adopting the policy of conveying a message using comedy as a tool.''

However, Sachu feels a trifle sad at the falling standard of comedy in present day Tamil films. ``Comedy these days borders on vulgarity. Resorting to vulgar dialogue and obscene language to evoke laughter has become the order of the day.'' She said comic scenes during her prime days were linked to the story content, unlike the present day, where they follow an independent track.

``The trend of the olden days provided much needed support and added strength to the story. There is also a dearth of good comedy track writers now.'' In her opinion though films have undergone tremendous changes in recent years owing to technological revolution, films like Kaadalikka Neramillai directed by Sridhar in 1960 still sway masses.

``This only proves that films with good story and screen play coupled with comedy will always evoke interest and withstand the test of changing times.''

Giving dialogue delivery its due importance is equally necessary for Sachu. ``Comedians of the past never compromised on dialogue rendition. They recorded their own dialogues without opting for dubbing. Even today I render my own dialogue but present day artistes do not appear so serious about this job.''

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