AAMIR KHAN AND MANKATHA….
Mankatha has won the appreciation of the
crowds is now beyond dispute. Of course,
there are varied degrees to which people
have liked the movie; hardcore Ajith fans
are absolutely over the moon with excitement,
general entertainment lovers too are happy
with the fare served, but the best part
is that even the hard-nosed, logic craving
‘Hollywoodophiles’ are finding
Mankatha acceptable. The last category
of audiences are the ones who always ask
questions of Tamil movies (mostly concerning
logic and reason) which are conveniently
forgotten while watching
flicks (even if it shows one man suspending 50 odd
missiles in mid-air by virtue of his magnetic powers).
But, that is a separate debate.
But, Mankatha has once again opened up the debate
of multi-starrers. Truth to be said, there is nothing
more worthy of celebration in cinema than a well made
multi-starrer (with two or more big stars). It is
like having two scoops of different flavor ice creams
on your plate; it’s great. Yet, Tami cinema
has always been in denial mode about the power of
a multi-starrer. There have been few attempts, here
and there, but it has never really got consistent.
Of course, everyone understands date issues and budget
concerns. But, going by interviews given by some of
the leading directors of our times, things suggests
that dates and budgets are not the main reasons behind
the dearth of multi-starrers.
One can recall an interview given by Samudirakani
(director of Naadodigal) where he said that he had
approached a couple of leading heroes with the script.
He got frustrated and decided to make it with relatively
smaller names because the heroes whom he approached
had wanted all the space to themselves; they simply
weren’t willing to share the high points of
the script with the other characters, they merely
had to be sidekicks. But, otherwise, they were impressed
with the script! That is the reason many multistarrers
failed to take off in Kollywood.
Only rare directors like Bala and Mani Ratnam have
been able to cajole stars into taking up multi-starrers
without feeling the insecurity of being outshone by
their counterparts. In a way, Mankatha shows that
an actor willing to share screen space does not look
inferior. Ajith, (even though it was his fiftieth
film and he has built a career mostly on mass oriented
heroic performances) took the brave option of giving
enough space to all characters on screen, even letting
a character played by Premji outsmart him (even though
it was only for a while) and allowing the character
played by Vaibhav to slap him; unthinkable in Tamil
cinema’s orthodox ways; and most importantly,
allowing Arjun to play the most well concealed character
of the film. The results are there to be seen; no
one is saying that Ajith undersold his star value;
they are only full of praise for him.
Someone who has mastered the art of sharing screen
space is Aamir Khan; most stars can learn from him.
Look at the number of blockbusters this man has delivered
through multi-starrers. In act, over the last decade
he has done more multi-starrers than solo films. Take
for example, a Dil Chahta Hai (which sprung a whole
new breed of coming of age films in Indian cinema,
the latest of which is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara);
he shared the screen and allowed a considerable amount
of scope to be given to Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye
Khanna (who at that time were considerably smaller
stars than him). Then there was Rang De Basanti where
he allowed a rookie like Siddharth to do the most
powerful scene of the movie while he stood in the
background. And, Three Idiots (yes, it did give a
lion’s share of all the good things to Aamir)
is also a good example. There is no other top star
in Indian cinema who has understood the art of screen
sharing quite like Aamir Khan and used it to perfection
time and time again. Let’s hope more stars take
a leaf out of his book.