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
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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