Saturday, May 22, 2010

Arvind Swamy - The Unconventional Hero

       It was sometime in August 1992. It was drizzling in Bangalore. The monsoons were long over, but we still received an occasional drizzle every now and then. I was in the second grade.That day, my school bus dropped us off at the regular Bharat Petroleum stop. My classmate Divya and I were walking back home, when we passed by THE wall. THE wall was the wall of a rickety old room by the road side, probably a shop at some point of time. There was no roof now and the walls of that old shop now served as a free movie poster wall for the nearby Murali tent. Yes, tent. The nearest movie hall, the Murali tent was an actual tent, very much like the ones that were put up by Gemini Circus when they were touring Bangalore. Very huge and spacious, but a tent nonetheless. There were very few air conditioned movie hall those days, and they were all in the main commercial city centres. For the residential areas, there was always a local movie tent that would make enough money by screening the latest flicks.Murali tent was very much a part of my childhood and I recall blissfully watching some of the best movies of my childhood there.
       I always passed by that wall while coming back from school. Usually I gave it a customary glance and walked away. But that day, as Divya and I walked by,I slowed down. There was a new movie poster , a Tamil movie. “ Tamil, Color” at the bottom right of the poster confirmed my guess.
“Roja” i read aloud. Divya stopped walking.
“Yes, Roja” she said.
“That movie is very good. My sister (her eldest cousin who used to sometimes pick us up) went to watch it yesterday” she said.
       I was not bothered how good the movie was. What held my attention was the face on the poster. This handsome, moustached, smiling, mole-on-the-face hero who looked straight into my eyes! I was too young at that time to experience anything even remotely close to a crush, but I swear, I just could not take my eyes off him. It was not the looks. That I am sure of ! I was a movie buff even then and I had seen my share of better looking heroes. But there was a certain earnestness in his eyes, I cant explain that feeling, but I was sure I would never forget that face. And I never did forget.
     That night, in the Doordarshan countdown program “ Ek se bad kar ek”, a song from Roja was on the number 1 slot. I remember watching the entire song without batting an eyelid. Even before watching the movie, I had fallen in love with it.
       Later that month, the next door Bal Bharati School screened Roja on the occasion of a delayed Independence Day celebration. That was when I watched Roja for the first time. I remember shedding a few tears and missing a few heartbeats when I watched the hero being tortured. I also remember taking a silent oath to roll on an Indian Flag if I ever saw one burning. Thankfully, I have never had to witness that scene in my life so far! But my first sense of patriotism and the first seed of love for my country was sown by that movie, Roja. My first feeling of extreme respect and adoration was for the hero of Roja. Though at that time, I did not entirely understand the husband-wife relation, I did understand that it was a special one, meant to be kept for a lifetime. Madhubala’s strife to unite back with her husband, the way she morphed from being a simple village girl to a strong wife who did not give up her search in spite of the million hurdles, inspired in me, a desire to be strong and face life.
      After that first screening at Bal Bharati, I have watched Roja roughly 15 times or so. The latest being somewhere in 2008. The brilliance of that movie still continues to amaze me. The movie, thanks to its excellent camerawork, still looks like it was shot yesterday. It has been 18 long years for Roja, but the spirit of that movie will simply never die!
       This post however is not about Roja. I dedicate this post to the forgotten man, the man whose face still holds the same charm for me, whose songs I still hunt down and watch a million times on YouTube, who played his role with such conviction and passion, that even to this day, he continues to be one of my favourite heroes! Number one in fact. Arvind Swamy!
       He was a far cry from the quintessential Indian Hero. He had no rippling biceps or six packs. His face was not chiselled to perfection, nor was he an action hero. Nor was he overtly mushy, like the overdose of chocolate boys these days. He was a chubby, normal, man- next-door. I have never seen a moustache looking so good on any other face. He simply personified the typical well educated, Tamil Brahmin look and managed to make it look so cool! I can’t remember seeing him dance, but I do remember how his role in Bombay made my heart go flutter flutter! He was understated, unique and highly talented. He made acting look effortless. Every movie he ever acted in, he made it look like he was just being himself. And his sense of dressing, though some would call it drab, was uniquely personal . It was what any normal Indian man would wear. But on him, the sweaters, the jeans and his loose formal shirts, made a different statement altogether.
     I have a deep sense of respect and admiration for Arvind Swamy . I know nothing about the man, except for his movies. But the man’s simplicity and his effortless charm have been outstandingly awe-inspiring for me. He vanished from the screen sometime in the late nineties and never returned. But in spite of his short stay in the Indian movie industry, he has given us some of best movies ever made in Indian history, the biggest of all being his Roja and Bombay. Today, watching his movie clips on YouTube, I realized how late I have been in writing about him. Though late, I would want this post to document the almost insane respect I have for this man. I cannot recall another person who has been my object of admiration right from 1992 till now! :)
      I cannot explain why I feel the immense “respect” for him. What I feel for him is too profound to be a momentary crush and too inappropriate to be love :) In fact, there is still no sense of romantic inclination attached to my liking towards Arvind Swamy. It is pure, unadulterated respect for the man who rolled on the burning Indian flag, who stood up for his inter-religious love, who dramatically cut his wrist and hers and announced their union, whose bleeding face on the bridge in the Roja climax scene made many a people cry. He may be a rogue in real life for all I care, but the man I know from the movies, deserves every praise I have showered on him today.
      Btw, I googled him to find out what the guy is up to these days. There is not much information, but I did find a picture of him. A far cry from the handsome Tam Brahm engineer in Roja ! :) He is now Arvind Swamy Uncle :D

68 comments:

  1. Lost some hair, but not his charm i guess... ;) ;)
    As far as i know his interest was not in acting.He came into acting only for Maniratnam and did a few good movies...

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  2. True Adi...I heard he is a bigtime businessman now.Whether he was interested or not,he did manage to keep us interested in his movies :) Was watching one of his interviews during elections,he speaks sensibly..so yeah, the charm is still there ;)

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  3. Songs,story , music,cinematography and star cast esp the hero...Roja had it all.I have even lost count of the number of times I have watchyed this movie......and yeah arvind swamy still has the charm though he has aged.... :)
    -Lakshmi Chandra (via facebook.com)

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  4. He was once a part of IBN Live debate show hosted by rajdeep held at infosys campus of Mysore. He is a business man now.....By the way, the success of roja and bombay was due to director Mani ratnam.....:)

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  5. I'm surprised I didn't know u admire Arvind Swamy so much.. Wat about NAGARJUNA then?;)

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  6. @Sarath : thanks for that info .. With due respect to Mani Ratnam, who is extremely talented, I think the performances of the actors in those movies were outstanding ! It takes a director to come up with a brilliant story and an actor to bring it to life...It's team work :)

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  7. @Supi : My feelings for Nagarjuna are purely romantic :P

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  8. Arvind swamy was no doubt the dream man of many girls at that time....He has such a great charm that even now when roja is aired in the tv one cant stop watching it :)

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    1. I am from Bengal and a man while Arvind da played Roja I was on 2nd grade. Arvind da got the most innocent face and lavish smile. I can tell till now I have never seen anyone like him. He is different by all means.

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  9. @Bindu : Every Independence Day, atleast one channel will air Roja without fail :) And I always try and catch it..Each time i watch the movie, there is something new i learn :)

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  10. Good post ! Arvind swamy and mani rathnam combination is superb hit ! Too bad Arvind swamy isnt around these days

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  11. Hi Pavithra! I'm a big fan of Arvind too and I'm from Greece! Imagine how far his charm has reached! Haha! You wrote exactly what I would like to express for Arvind. He is a brilliant actor and until now I haven't watched any other actor that good in Bollywood.

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  12. nice to read,a good commentary on the excellent actor ,that is Arvind Swamy!.....Thank you,Pavithra from Balaguru.B ,Norwich,UK

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  13. Real good blog. Even i am a fan of Arvind Swami though born in 1991 :). I can exactly live through your thoughts put across in this blog.

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  14. Arvind Swami the only guy after Kamalhassan looks handsome in 90's

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  15. arvind swamy! the only inidan actor i admire and love. Even after all these years I can't forget him and here i am googling about him.

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  16. hey pavithra,thanx 4 all the info u gave abt arvind swamy.. great... i too m a huge fan of arvind swamy. BOMBAY AND ROJA are my all time FAV movies. bt totally shocked to see his latest pics. he looks totally diff with the gained weight and hair loss...bt still he looks handsome and we all love him and respect him very much.

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  17. awesome pavithra, u just wrote exately what i felt about him, even most of the women in india. by the way even i was't born when roja released lol.
    one more thing, i got to see uyire film last week, and i noticed that hero's voice(sharu khan) exactly same as arvind swamy's voice in tamil version. may be mani ratnam called him to dabb for sharukhan for an honour, omg he has an attractive voice too.:)

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  18. If you had not written, I would have written about him... such a personality.... Wow! I remember my neighbour who would have been 25 then saying that he likes Arvind swamy, whose movie named En swasa katre just released.... Such a simple guy...

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  19. Well written Pavithra...Its nice to listen about him through your mind... Thank You...
    Chinchu,Trivandrm

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  20. am in Texas now and in my 40's.Aravindasamy was a rage for all of us.we were all upset when he entered wedlock.He was our favourite hero too

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  21. Thanks to all of you for your comments :) I have deleted some of the trash,meaningless comments that were posted here by some moron who did not bother to read the entire post and started calling me names for "picking on" Arvind Swamy. I will promptly delete anything that does not make sense to me...So do not bother leaving trash on my blog...

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  22. Nice blog Pavithra.. Can we have something for Kamal and Madhavan as well..

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  23. i came cross this blog when searching for Arvind Swami...for me he is still the best...
    Age are just numbers and looks dont last long but our impressions/attraction on him wont fade and it will last forever ;)
    thank you for sharing this....

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  24. he gt mrried bfore i was born

    bt i love brahmins coz of him......
    he's like every girl's dream man.....

    love him.......

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  25. I was very blessed with his name and personality since people used to call me Arvind Swami 20 years ago. But now I am surprised because still some people remembered his movies and said I am look like him (bit proud). I know they make it fun but I am really enjoying that comments. Anyway I like him and love his movies.
    Jojy Paul

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  26. i'm a huge fan of his... n i totally agree with ur observation about his moustache ;)

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  27. Arvind Swami twitter @thearvindswamiJuly 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Hi Pavithra, i chanced upon this blog and am quite speechless... touched by its content and the associated comments. I am back after 12 years in Mani's movie titled 'Kadal'. I hope that I can do justice to the warmth that you have shown me.

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  28. ''Arvind Swami twitter @thearvindswamiJuly 11, 2012 1:24 PM''

    Gosh,it that really Mr Arvin swamy replying???
    wow!
    Bala,Malaysia

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  29. I have been a great Arvind Swami fan. When I was in Park back in 2006 sorts, I met him once and I had a 100 dollars bet between my brother and I. The challenge, who will talk to A.Swami and engage in a conversation with him for 5 mins. A.Swami would have certainly heard us, for he was right next to our table. He obliged to the conversation by introducing himself as 'hi I am Arvind Swami'. The only other guy who did that was Rahul Dravid with the introduction.

    I am now very jealous that Arvind Swami has commented on your page.

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  30. Hey Pavitra,
    I was in 8th std when Roja was released and was similarly moved when I saw a poster with the hero in it in south end circle, Blore. I can identify with u so much. But what age can do to a person never ceases to amaze me.... Anyways good luck to Mr. Swamy in his future acting endeavors.

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  31. I am abig fan of Arving Swamy too. I was in college when his Roja was release. Its 20 yrs then, even now when i watch Roja & Bombay amazes me how great those movies were , so romatic, i am in late 30s even now those romantic seens in Roja & Bombay make me blush A.Swamy is such a handsome, true naturall acting hero, being succesfully in both business & movie, God bless him, So nice to see him lost some weight & looking with same charm as 20 yrs ago & coming back to movie. love you Arving Swamy, Looking forward to watch your new movie 'Kadal'

    Shoba

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  32. I was a 2 yr old child when Roja is released.eventhough I could see it after many years.I have seen it so many times.both the film and the hero Arvind swamy attracted me.then I have collected the DVDs of Bombay,Indira,Devaragam,En swasa katre,Dalapathi...etc and watched.it is a very good experience in watching his films.am very happy to hear from other fans of Arvind swamy.Am waiting his upcoming movie Kadal,since I couldnot see his films from cinema theater.I hope that Arvind swamy will continue his film career through this movie.

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  33. I am also speechless.Arvind swamy is really a great actor most talented actor in dis world.

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  34. Hi Pavithra, some of your feelings towards Arvind Swamy are exactly the same as I felt towards him. It's not love but respect and I am still in awe of him. He still has that innocent but naughty smile on his face. My best wishes to him.

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  35. I like Arvind swamy's acting very much. His films and the songs were so romatic even it has much sentimental parts because of his presence. So glad that he is back.

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  36. Great post Pavithra!

    The connection that Arvind Swamy has made with all of us is absolutely magical and divine. The admiration that I had for him has not changed even a bit until today.I was just a 10 yr old girl then when Roja was released.

    His onscreen presence makes us happy and feel good.He lives evergreen in our hearts.

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  37. I was also a gr8 fan of his! Right now he's md for talent maximus and acting was just his hobby. I have never seen a man more handsome than arvind in the whole of tamil cinema.....Seriously!

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  38. I am from singapore I have watched every single movie of arvind swamy since the 90s. he was big in the 90s especially shines in maniratnam's movies. His movies always have superb music . The amazing naturalness of his acting and confidence is unparalleled even newer actors like surya and vijay have replicated his style But he then disappeared all of a sudden. His last movie i watched was En swase Katrea

    Then this year i was happy to hear about his comeback when kadal was announced
    i recently watched kadal 1st show/ 1st booking and this man has not lost his charm one bit.

    amazing actor, still looking fit and trendy than ever before

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  39. so true..u know what when I saw roja when I was 5 or something I really wished that I should get a husband like him..everytime I watch his movies that part of my unfulfilled desire comes up..and b d w he looked stunning in leo coffee add too..the life turning add for aravind swamy and ar rehaman..:-)

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  40. Well written Pavithra...i m also a big fan of Arvind Swami.....please keep posting if u get any updates or photos of him

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  41. I can't forget u ,u are always in my mind ,still you r my love

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  42. I am also a biggest fan of Mr.arvind swamy,kindly keep posting if u have or get any update,and photos.I am feeling unable to search any update. m always searching arvind g pics on Google ,I want to talk to him ,meet him.but can't do .

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  43. wow...nice article PAVITRA..u made me nostalgic..their is only one ARVIND sir and MANI sir..my chihhood incomplete with their ...u made me nostalgic..thanks..now u make me feel like writting an article on MADHU BALA hahaha :p :D

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  44. loved this article...wonderful...Roja remains closest to my heart

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  45. Just landed up here while I was searching about Arvind Swamy. Its a great write up on the man. Too bad that the cine industry didnt tap the immense potential the man had. He always had a classy thing and a wholesome manliness about him which garnered the attention of people who lived in that era. He gave something afresh in that era where movies were cliched. Though Roja and Bombay are not my fav maniratnam movies by any standards, the reason i could still watch them is solely due to the screen presence of this man. Though maniratnam could be credited for bringing the man to this glittering world of cinema, he was one way or the other responsible for Arvind swamy;s lack of progress, by offering him soft, chocalate-boyish kind of roles one after the other. The man was never given opportunity to experiment. Even in his last film Kadal, Mani wasted the potential of Arvind Swamy by casting him in an inept role that hardly did justice to his persona and immense screen presence. You should probably watch the movie Thani Oruvan which just released, where in Arvind swamy was casted as the anatgonist. Here's the trailer

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Lih8rKd6k

    This is probably the best role he's done so far. Never have seen a villain who's so suave, subtle, manipulative and likeable at the same time. Never i have seen a movie where the audience cheered for the villain as much as this one. Such was the performance of the man. You should probably not miss it.


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  46. And one more thing to add is his awesome Voice and a great Tamil diction. He used it to perfection in Thani Oruvan. Its pathetic that Indian cinema is still trapped in a cliched shell, that the hero must prevail against all odds. Why cant the directors break the stereotypes. Boy o Boy!!! I still cant get back from his stunning portrayal of Siddharth Abimanyu in Thani Oruvan.

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  47. Literally spell bound by the performance of Arvind swamy in Thani Oruvan.

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  48. ARVIND SWAMY has always a HEAVENLY LOOK. Never forgetten SMILE. His parents were so lucky to have such a CHARMING INTELLIGENT BOY as their SON

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  49. ARVIND SWAMY has always a HEAVENLY LOOK. Never forgetten SMILE. His parents were so lucky to have such a CHARMING INTELLIGENT BOY as their SON

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  50. I am big fan of arvind swamy.. nice and different acting in puttayal movie.. is one of comedy film acting by him.very bice movie.. my all time favourite roja n bombay.. no body can't replace his wonderful acting in this 2 movie...

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  51. Thani oruvan. Is your movie arvind sir.. becouse of you 1 resson this movie was successfully in boxoffice

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  52. Wat a actor he is!!! Excellent acting in thani oruvan lookin forward to see you again as a villain

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  53. Wat a actor he is!!! Excellent acting in thani oruvan lookin forward to see you again as a villain

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  54. Dear Pavithra, You made this blog active for 6 years, simply pointing towards aravindji only.. Me to his terrific fan, Not only me but my mother also like him so much...Any way for all Aravind samy fans it is the happiest moment , since has re joined in the film industry with a mesmerizing performance in Thani oruvan.News from credible sources says that his one more movie is all about to begin and its name is "BOGEN"
    any way, HOPE FOR THE BEST!!!!!!!!

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  57. Hi,
    I landed here searching for a very old Doordarshan's Independence Day album acted by Aravind Swamy. Pavithra you have written very well about Aravind. If any one remember that album kindly post.

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    1. Do you remember the name, of that album?

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  58. No I don't remember, only images are in my memory. In that he is a freedom fighter. He will be holding a small iron rope like thing in his hand(hanging. He will use that in the end to start the car of a British officer

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  59. Being a true fan of Aravind samy , hope all watched, Thani oruvan &Bogan and now waiting for the next "Sathuranga vettai"

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  60. Now I understood why I am a fan of Aravind Swamy even though he doesn't possess a backup of roles like Supernatural heros which most of the actors did..

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