P for Periyar Dasan.
Periyar Dasan debuted in Barathiraja’s 1994 film Karuthamma. As Mokkaiyan the farmer who is poor and feels bad about having a female child he has given a performance of the lifetime. His performance was so iconic that he was soon typecasted as ranting poor father in many movies. He has acted in less than 20 movies overall but he ensured that he gave a performance to remember in all of his movies.
In this post, I would be talking about three characters where the character does similar actions but the audience reaction would be different for each character and that made him a great performer. The first of the list is obvious, Karuthamma. As a father frightened by the society’s harshness towards women and a person who hates that the situation is not in his control, Periyar Dasan portrays a vulnerable helpless villager brilliantly. The movie won a lot of accolades, his performance as Mokkaiyan was iconic. You can watch the movie below.
The second role I wish to talk is similar to his role in Karuthamma. He plays the role of drunkard father of Raja(kunaal) in the movie Kadhalar Dhinam. The movie had some extraordinary songs by A. R. Rahman and brilliant visuals by P. C. Sreeram. Periyar Dasan plays the role perfectly, his attitude towards his son is cold and we feel sorry for Raja and hate his father the most. In the previous role we empathise for him although he is wrong, in this case, we loathe him. Within few minutes of screen time, he makes a mark and gives you a reason to root for the protagonist. You can watch the movie below.
The third role is again a poor father who exploits his son. In this case, we feel his role is funny and laugh out loud. I am talking about his role as Mokkai’s father in Arai En 305il Kadavul. After Mokkai gets the power and tries to help his family to come out of poverty but how the money makes each of them react makes him feel bad. The whole sequence where Periyar Dasan becomes eccentric is a laugh riot. This makes him unique by evoking different emotions with similar characters.
Periyar Dasan was primarily an eminent speaker, thinker and a Professor at Pachaiyappa College.
He has authored nearly 120 books, he embraced Buddhism for a while before embracing Islam in 2010. He started giving a series of lectures on Islam in the later years. Co-incidentally his last movie sequence in the movie Veeram(his last movie) involved the words, Masha Allah.
His role in Karuthamma was so iconic that he reprised the role in the spoof movie Tamizh Padam, in here instead of female foeticide male foeticide is prevalent.