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By Anuja Chandramouli with inputs from Murugan.
Winning a National Award is a big fat deal. It means you were in a race with your contemporaries from all over the country and emerged as the big winner. Being a big fish in a small pond is one thing but when you take on the sharks in the sea and kick their tail fins, you have just promoted yourself to the elite league of winner among winners. Among the current crop of actors, Vikram and Dhanush have joined this league. Their acting styles and body of work is dramatically different, but now they have one thing in common – they are both National Award winners.

Vikram won the National Award for Pithamagan. It was a killer performance with Vikram playing a ‘vettiyan’ who is most eloquent when he opts to howl funeral laments instead of his usual guttural grunts. Using his eyes and body language to communicate with the audience, he taught them what friendship can do for someone who is hanging on by a thread to his sanity acclimatized as he is to soul-sapping solitude. And when that is taken away from him by brute force he responds in kind and goes back to being the lone animal in the jungle of his mind.

Diehard fans say that he should have won for Sethu as well and most discerning filmgoers would agree, but that’s life for you, sometimes you get robbed in broad daylight (no offense to Mohan Lal who won that year). But after his triumph for Pithamagan, there has been no looking back for the actor who had been denied his share of recognition for a long time.

Winning the National Award is a great honor but it is not without its share of pitfalls. Tabu, who won her first National Award for Maachis, famously said that it had worked against her as people expected to see her only in heavy duty, emotionally exhausting fare that called for a lot of wailing in distress. Nobody was offering her any fun roles and she missed being the ‘ruk ruk ruk’ girl. Fellow National Award winners must agree with her secretly as the pressure to deliver becomes more onerous than ever.

Vikram must have felt the pressure because he became even more cautious about the kind of roles he took up. He had the dual task of rocking it as the larger-than-life commercial hero as well as selling the serious actor gig. It was a daunting task indeed. Except for Anniyan, his other projects like Arul, Majaa, Bheema, Kanthasamy and Raavan/Raavanan met with mixed response as Vikram walked the tight rope of meeting the filmgoer’s deep seated need for masala movie magic plus his personal need to live up to Pithamagan and to hopefully win another National Award.

The future however seems brighter for him as he seems to have mastered the art of tightrope walking. Deiva Thirumagal will see him in a challenging role that is clearly aimed at the film critics in an attempt to win them over. He intends to follow it up with Vendhan and Karikalan which are aimed at the frontbencher in all of us. More power to him. This writer definitely sees another National award for this super actor in the offing.
Dhanush as everyone knows by now won the National award for Aadukalam. His other award-worthy performance was in Kadhal Kondaen. Dhanush is one of the select few actors in the industry who has already attempted the tightrope between class and mass. In movies like Polladhavan and Pudhupettai he demonstrated his willingness to take the road less traveled. As the son-in-law of Rajinikanth, he is also considered the heir to the superstar’s throne by film makers who cast him in commercial potboilers that are remakes of Rajini’s hit films, and these have scored in the box-office if not with critics. But with the National Award, there is some added weight which could work in his favor or against him. Currently, he has Hari’s Venghai (Leopard) and it will be an entertainer that has a little of everything thrown in to what will hopefully be a delicious hopscotch. Curious coincidence but Vikram’s first film after the award was also with Hari!

Selva’s Irandam Ulagam will probably follow Venghai. The brothers have done most of their best work together, so it is to be hoped that this project will also be a winner. It remains to be seen how Dhanush will handle the perks and pitfalls associated with the National Award but his career has seldom looked more promising, and it is to be hoped that it stays that way.

All said and done, Vikram and Dhanush have, with their milestone achievement, made Tamil film lovers proud and they deserve the heartiest congratulations ever.
Tags : Vikram, Pithamagan, Dhanush, Mohan Lal
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