Return of the counter

Director Ganapathy  

After taking a five-year break in 2010 to attend to his health, Goundamani has not enjoyed the greatest of returns to Tamil cinema. His return vehicle, 49-O, released to mixed reviews, and Vaaimai starring Shanthanu Bhagyaraj and Muktha Bhanu has been delayed. But Enakku Veru Engum Kilaigal Kidaiyathu is now ready for release, and according to the director Ganapathy, will see him in form.

Ganapathy, who has previously assisted director Suseenthiran, says that Goundamani plays a 50-year-old vanity van owner. “His character, Caravan Krishnan, also goes out of his way to help those in inter-caste relationships sort out their issues, and makes a point against caste and religion-based division.” The director believes that this film will herald Goundamani’s second innings in Tamil cinema. “His character is totally aware of the latest trends, and uses social media to promote his business.”

Goundamani apparently had some issues about the title. “The humble person that he is, Goundamani had reservations about the title and wondered if it made him sound too pompous,” says Ganapathy. “I had to explain to him that the title’s meaning would be revealed only towards the end of the movie. Let us also remember that he was really one of his kind in Tamil cinema. There has been nobody to match him. So, I insisted that we retain the title.”

Though the veteran comedian made his debut in Annakili, it was Bharathiraja who made him popular in 16 Vayathinile. Bhagyaraj, who was then writing scripts for Bharathiraja, believes that the film that catapulted Goundamani to stardom was Kizhake Pogum Rail. He says, “His performance was outstanding in the film.” And when Bhagyaraj took to direction, he ensured that Goundamani had a role in most of his films. “I can immediately think of Suvarillatha Chithirangal and Mouna Geethangal. Goundamani, in combination with Senthil, and on his own, has added tremendous value to the story and the overall packaging of the films he has been in.”

During the height of his popularity, many heroes benefitted from his presence. Sathyaraj was one such beneficiary. “After playing villain in 75 films, when I switched over to lead roles, it was Goundamani who helped establish me as a romantic hero,” says Sathyaraj. “I did not look like a conventional romantic hero. But thanks to his presence, my hero status slowly got established. In most of my films, the two pillars of strength were Ilaiyaraaja and Goundamani.” Sathyaraj cites the examples of films such as Thaai Maman and Maman Magal to make his case. Goundamani is also known to be quite a disciplinarian and a no-nonsense professional. “During those days, commitments were often verbal. Goundamani, I remember, would honour every word,” says Sathyaraj. “He would also expect the same from the producer.”

Ganapathy says he has never known anybody else to be as committed to dubbing. “He prepares for days in advance. When he is behind the microphone, he never sits down. He enacts the scene as if in shooting. He carries his own flask of hot water to keep his throat in good condition,” he says. “His sense of humour and perfect timing make him a great actor to work with.” Legend has it that his repartees, or counters, are what gave him his original name Counter Mani (his real name is Subramani). “Counter Mani eventually became Goundamani,” says Ganapathy.

Enakku Veru Engum Kilaigal Kidaiyathu is expected to release during the first week of June.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 11:45:25 PM |

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