Kamal and Rajini don’t need!
TN government film awards for 2007 and 2008 were
announced recently. Amongst many winners, there
were a couple of awards that surprised us because
of their predictability. Predictability and surprise
don’t go together, but it was true in this
case; both these elements were felt in equal measure
when the best actor awards for 2007 and 2008 were
announced as Rajinikanth for Sivaji and Kamal
Haasan for Dasavatharam respectively.
Predictable because these two legends have been,
without an iota of doubt, the greatest actors
in Tamil cinema for over three decades and still
continue to be so. Surprising, because one thought
these legends had outgrown such recognitions of
their genius. Ideally, an award should be a boost
to the individual receiving it. A person getting
an award should feel honored and further encouraged
to continue his /her good work. That is the basic
purpose of setting up awards, especially government
recognitions. But, having gone on to greater things
like the Padma honors, honorary doctorates and
in the near future, roads
bear their names, one wonders whether the significance
of the state award will remain the same. Of course,
both Kamal and Rajinikanth would be extremely gracious
and humble in receiving this honor as they have been
all their lives. But, the fact is that both have reached
such a stage in their careers where it is the award
that is actually honored by being associated with their
names rather than the other way round.
This 2007-2008 Rajini-Kamal double is also surprising
because 2005-2006 too was identical; Rajini for Chandramukhi
and Kamal for Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu respectively. The
awards alternating between the two legends for the past
four years is perhaps not the best thing to happen to
Tamil cinema. No one who speaks or understands Tamil
needs to be told about the genius of Kamal or the charisma
of Rajini. Yet, the honors have been bestowed upon them
alternatively for four consecutive years (like a game
of passing the parcel). Everyone who has followed Tamil
cinema will accept that their iconic status is unparalleled.
Award or no award, their stature is not going to diminish
even a wee bit. To put it very plainly, Rajinikanth
and Kamal Haasan really don’t need Best Actor
awards, nor do we need such certifications of their
genius to enjoy their movies.
Yet, some might argue, what is the harm in giving them
the awards. After all, they are the best and awards
are meant to go to the best, aren’t they? Yes,
no doubt, they have to go to the best. This might be
a funny analogy; giving awards to Rajini and Kamal is
a bit like trying to shine a spotlight on the sun. The
sun is as bright as ever, it is the spotlight that goes
wasted. When the sun is shining in full force, no one
bothers with the spotlight. A more insignificant star
could do a lot with the spotlight.
That is exactly what the TN state awards ought to be
trying to do. Kamal and Rajini are the twin pillars
of Tamil cinema. They have received almost every conceivable
honor that an actor can receive in the country. Most
importantly, they are eternally placed in the hearts
and minds of all Tamil cinema lovers. The awards can
be used better to honor and recognize the young talent
that is making its way up through the ranks.
They need the recognition and encouragement much more
than anyone else and it is in that direction that awards
must go. Kamal himself has openly stated once that he
would be much happier if awards were given to younger
actors instead of repeatedly coming to him.
Finally, this is not meant to question the process that
chose Kamal and Rajini for the honors. But, it also
has to be remembered that the period for which the two
icons have now been awarded has been a time of rich
quality in Tamil cinema. We have had Periyaar, Pallikoodam,
Paruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram, Poo, Kanjeevaram etc.
By giving the best actor awards to Kamal and Rajinikanth,
many young and enthusiastic film makers have missed
one opportunity to get that coveted honor. The above
mentioned films are ones that ought not to be missed
in any roll of honor of the past two years.
There is little else to be said. Kamal and Rajinikanth
have done enough and more to be guaranteed of two or
three life time achievement awards, if that is permitted.
They have been tireless performers for decades and really
don’t need such awards to drive them ahead. Nor
do we, their fans, need to be reminded of their genius
through awards. They have transcended the realm and
entered the sublime. Let awards and recognitions be
the domain of the young and upcoming; that might be
the right way ahead.
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