A pack of red dogs can bring down even a lion

Let’s begin with a familiar scene from the Mahabharatha:

The battle lines have been drawn in Kurukshethra. The Pandava and Kaurava armies await the orders of their generals to unleash themselves on the opposition. The main men of both armies carefully watch over their troops, making sure that everything is just right. Duryodhana rides over to the side of Bhishmar- considered invincible, the kingpin of the Kaurava army - and instructs the troops to give him extra cover. The troops are puzzled. Why should they provide cover to a man who is invincible, a man who cannot be killed by any mortal without his consent? To which Duryodhana says, ‘a pack of red dogs (sen naigal) can bring down even a lion’.

There is no such thing as invincibility; it is a myth and it was proved in Kurukshethra when Arjuna had Bhishmar on a bed of arrows. When the lion is on the prowl all else moves aside, but there are times when the hunter becomes the hunted. David felled Goliath in the Bible.
Even today a

number of Davids (talented people) keep slaying Goliaths (giants), though perhaps not always. It seems to be nature’s way of saying that size does matter, but substance matters even more.

This time round Bhishmar was Kuselan. No one expected an Arjuna to appear before this Bhishmar. Many believed that even a dozen Arjunas would not be able to make much of an impact. However, history repeated itself and Bhishmar fell. There might be debates about whether it was Arjuna who was responsible for Bhishmar’s fall this time round, or whether Bhismar fell because he lost the will to live. But, in the final analysis, Bhismar had fallen and it was Arjuna
who was left standing.

No one expected Subramaniapuram to be able to match Kuselan. Actually, Subramaniapuram did not match Kuselan. It did not need to. Kuselan couldn’t take the weight of the expectations generated by itself. Like Bhismar, who was slain not so much by Arjuna’s arrows as much as his own decision to end his life, Kuselan broke up into pieces inside itself.

It suffered from being top heavy, by trying to use the Superstar as the selling point of a film that actually revolved around another character- that of Pasupathy. Otherwise, the Superstar magic never fails to work. But Rajinikanth was never central to the Kuselan story. It was just Rajinikanth the person, who played himself, albeit under a different name.

There was a sea of expectation generated when Kuselan was marketed and released as a Superstar film, which it never was. When the Kuselan ship started to sink in the sea of expectations, there was another small ship with a strong sail that managed to stay afloat. Theaters which had cut down the shows of Subramaniapuram to accommodate Kuselan reversed their decisions.

As you all know, Subramanianpuram was in theatres before Kuselan appeared. When it began to do well, the numbers of screenings increased. However, public talk was full of how Subramanianpuram will have this good run only until Kuselan appears – once this blockbuster hits screens, Subramanianpuram will be washed away in the wave of Kuselan. Or so people said. But this proved true only for the first week. Already in the second week, Subramanianpuram was brought back for more shows.

David does not always conquer Goliath, but whenever Goliath falls (whatever be the reason), David becomes a hero. Kuselan was unlucky enough to be the gigantic Goliath who stood before the little David, Subramanianpuram. Once again, the industry had to learn it the hard way: script and direction are as crucial to a movie as stars.

(By Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun Gopinath.)

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