bad movies? No! So how does box office justify anything?
I thought that Chandramukhi, Sivaji: the Boss and Dasavatharam
were mediocre movies, but look at the box office phenomenon
they became. Does their success and ability to please
crowds make them good movies? No! In retrospect, Tamil
audience now admit that Iruvar is a great film, and
that Hey Ram is finely executed, while Anbe Sivam has
become a favorite movie to watch again and again on
cable recasts and DVD. I’m betting that a year
from now, the same movie-goers who are dismissing Kuselan
or are staying away from it, will be praising it and
enjoy seeing it again and again on DVD.
I wish that a year from now, after all the fuss about
Rajini’s Hogenakkal apology, the distributors
agitation, and the poor word of mouth has all died down,
Kuselan is re-released – unedited and unexpurgated.
And I also wish for other brilliant movies that the
Tamil movie-going public dismissed or missed (Chitiram
Pesuthadi was saved by Vallameenu, otherwise that too
would have to have been rediscovered on DVD) such as
Ayutha Eluthu, Mayakannadi, Akku, Kattradu Tamil, Arai
En 305il Kadavul get theatrical re-releases.
The Tamil audience is not always wrong, of course. They
were bang on in dismissing Bheema – no amount
of reevaluation is going to make this movie any better.
It is simply a failure of the script, not execution
or acting. (You’ll notice all the underrated or
overlooked movies I’ve mentioned above have excellent
scripts). And they were bang on in recognizing that
Kadhal, Paruthiveeran, Subramanipuram, Anjathe and Polladavan
were different but still worthy of box office patronage.
(Again, superb scripts). So, they do know a good movie
when they see one –except sometimes bad press,
the wrong word of mouth or a movie that is simply ahead
of its time (think Iruvar) distracts them from recognizing
Kuselan had too many detractors (several of them, factors
external to the movie) for the public to simply enjoy
the movie for what it is: an intelligent ensemble comedy
and a moving drama about friendship. And what a rich
script. (I mean, how could any script by Sreenivasan
misfire?) It is not Rajini I worry for here - the Superstar
will move on to Robot and give people what they want
– but for director Vasu, who so skillfully adapted
it from the Malayalam original (unlike Viji who bungled
Velli Thirai) and refashioned it as an entertaining
but sensitive Tamil masala movie. I’m sad that
Pasupathy’s beautifully controlled and understated
performance here has been obscured by all the bad press
Kuselan has been getting. Apart from Pasupathy, all
the little comic actors perform so well. There is even
subtlety to the comedy. And Vadivellu certainly does
works precisely because it is not a typical Rajini film.
And yet the climax of the movie is so moving and powerful
because it is Rajini, a true to life superstar who has
touched –and continues to touch – the lives
of so many people on screen and off screen. Before this
moment of reunion between these childhood friends, the
movie’s entire plot shows the town clamoring to
get close to the Superstar, and – once again –
their antics are convincing because this is the real
Rajini. Imagine Prakash Raj instead in the role: he
would have played a superstar in his inimitable grandiose
style, but the audience will still know that this is
an intelligent actor playing a part. With Rajini you
know it is the real thing. The grandeur is not faked.
That is why, though Kuselan is not a Rajini film, it
is still very much his film because it is charged with
it is really high time Tamil cinema fans, especially
Rajini fans, allowed the star to explore playing different
parts – if not lead roles – in movies where
he does not always have to play the same myth-making,
larger than life character. It is painfully obvious
that after seeing the success of offbeat movies like
Paruthiveeran and Subramaniapuram, Rajini is crying
out to do something different himself. To send a message
that he not only blesses all the change in Tamil cinema
but wants to be a part of the change – not just
be godfather to it.
Baba he explored the unworldly, spiritual side in him;
in Kuselan he risked demystifying the grand Rajini myth.
Saying simply, ‘I’m only the actor who said
all those dialogues written for me by good scriptwriters.
And you have taken it too seriously. Don’t confuse
me with my characters.” Of course, the audience
didn’t buy it. It took Sean Connery decades to
get an audience to accept him playing characters other
than James Bond. When he was still Bond, Pierce Brosnan
risked playing a villain (The Tailor of Panama); ditto
for Daniel Craig.
should be allowed to play the roles he wants –
not those we would like him to. Come on people, how
many times has he told us “En vazhi – thani
vazhi.” If you don’t respect and acknowledge
that then it is you, the Rajini fan
that is not taking him seriously. And if he has told
us this once, is not like he has told us this a hundred
times?! But we aren’t listening.
Rajini fans allow him to be the talented Rajini he is?
From here on, this is the deal Rajini should make with
his audience: ‘for every two superstar movies,
I will make one character-based movie’.
Idhu eppadi irukku?
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