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By Arun
He has not been counted as a trendsetter or a benchmark; he has not been acknowledged as a master at his art; there are several directors in the industry who are rated higher than him in terms of technical and artistic competence. But, the truth is that the industry is almost always in need for more people like K.S. Ravikumar.

He has been categorized as a ‘commercial king’, who churns out unfailingly entertaining stuff one after the other. While that is not a wrong assessment, it is incomplete. Yes, he knows how to make commercial cinema. But, amidst this entire commercial hubbub, he is also a gifted practitioner of cinema at its colorful best . As an industry that is inundated with commercial
content, we often tend to take a well made commercial film for granted. There is a certain nonchalance with which the media and film critics label a film as a ‘commercial potboiler’; as if making one was as easy as boiling a pot of water. In fact, making good commercial cinema (the one that does not make you tired of the overwhelmingly unbelievable proceedings on screen) is one of the toughest jobs in the film industry. It is the one that necessitates the most risky tight rope walk amongst all things in the industry. If you want proof, then look at the number of wannabe commercial entertainers that bite the dust every year. It is only because striking the right balance for an all out entertainer is as complex as a mathematical equation. And, KSR has been cracking it in his entire career without perhaps getting the due recognition for what he has been doing. Commercial cinema is one kind of cinema that has the least margin for error. Veering slightly off course, on either side can make the entire team look like a pack of jokers.

Why are the likes of KSR vital to the industry? Well, because they are the ones who generate the most consistent revenue. Like it or not, it is the entertaining brand of cinema that keeps the industry going. That is why we see numerous commercial attempts coming out of the industry one after the other in spite of a large number of failures that are seen with this genre. Plainly speaking; that is where the money is and the industry knows that the risk is worth taking and it becomes an even more attractive proposition when the likes of KSR are around.

That does not mean that a few more KSR type directors will make the industry a ‘commercial ridden’ one; far from that. This is because KSR is not the one who treats commercialism as the ‘one hero, two heroines, fights, songs etc.’ formula. He knows how to defy norms and still come out with films that entertain you to the same extent. Yes, he has gone with ‘formula’ on a few instances. But, he has also given us some movies that are peerless. For instance, he is one of the best handlers of comedy at present; having handled side-splitting stuff like Thenali and Panchathanthiram; which brings us to one of the most important aspects of KSR – the respect that he commands within the industry.

One does not get the opportunity to work with Kamal Haasan five times without being a very special talent. Now, one cannot think of anyone except the legendary KB who has done this. And, Kamal has regularly picked KSR for directing his comedies, which tells us a great deal about the faith that Ulaga Naayagan has in this man; not only in his ability to create good time-pass fare, but also to uphold the aesthetic aspects of cinema; Kamal never settles for commercialism which derides the beauty of cinema. Now KSR will also be directing Rajini for the third time when they start their next project Rana.

He is the director in the industry whom the stars trust the most when they want to give a good mass entertainer. And, KSR must also be commended for not once in his career resorting to stuff that is even mildly vulgar, in spite of being labeled a commercial kingpin. He has made stars out of many actors; like Sarath Kumar; given vital breakthroughs, comebacks and turnarounds for others; ask Ajith. Yes, he has had his share of failures; who hasn’t? The most significant success in KSR’s career was perhaps Dasavatharam. It showed and proved beyond doubt that he was much more than just an expert commercial turnover technician. He showed his serious, calculative and thinking side while executing this complicated script; also consider the technical adeptness that was required to shoot all 10 avatars of Kamal. And, the beauty of it all was that he managed to infuse his brand of rib tickling humor into the proceedings without making it look like a deliberately introduced gimmick. Yet, we know him only as ‘commercial king’; not a ‘master craftsman’ or ‘cinematic genius’. Its time we gave KSR his actual due.
Tags : K.S. Ravikumar, Rajini, Kamal, Thenali, Rana
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