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By Arun Gopinath
When we are good at something, and we know it, and others tell us the same thing, we develop a tendency to overdo that one thing. That is normal human behavior which we have to guard ourselves against. It is even more important for an actor to do so because falling to the trap of this behavior could mean getting repetitive and the film industry is an unforgiving business where even small mistakes take the shape of career spoilers.

We have seen many actors fall prey to this. They are very good at one particular thing (which doesn’t essentially mean that they can’t do anything else) and their fans love them for it. But, slowly, the actor begins to do more and more of that same thing in order to please his fans that it
begins to look artificial. Take for example the case of Allu Arjun. He is definitely one of the biggest young stars of Telugu. But, he has developed a deep weakness for the most powerful weapon in his arsenal; his dance. No doubt, his dancing skills are truly awesome and his fans simply love it. But, in recent times he has begun overdoing the dance routines so much that they in fact hurt his movies rather than help them; Badrinath is a very good example. A song every 20 minutes, whether the script demands it or not, definitely kills a movie and it is time Allu Arjun realizes this and dances only when necessary.

But, Allu Arjun is not the first actor to fall into this trap. Almost every actor, at some phase in his career discovers that one thing he is good at and is tempted to get into a comfort zone; like John Abraham who seemed to be over obsessed with his biceps and eight packs rather than facial expressions. It is the versatile and shrewd actors who walk around this trap and use their unique strong points in measured doses to please their fans. Salman Khan once said that he had no desire to know what his fans like about him, because then, at least subconsciously, he would begin to overdo it.

There were phases when we thought whether Vijay was only about dance and action and whether Ajith was all about designer coats, sunglasses and stylish walks. These were phases when even these highly experienced actors fell to the trap of overdoing the one thing that their fans liked the most. But, true to their status as experienced artistes, they have overcome these afflictions in style. Ajith dashed all stereotypes in Mankatha while Vijay melted out hearts with Kaavalan.

Usually, we see that actors go through such phases in their careers only after becoming commercially viable actors; i.e. after being acknowledged as big stars in their own right. When actors are still young and finding their appropriate place in the industry, we seldom see them thus confused because they are not saddled with the expectations of fans.

But, there are exceptions. This is when something works particularly well for you very early in your career. We can still remember that Jimmy Shergill wanted to carry his cute boy looks as his USP for almost the first 5 years of his career until he realized that it was getting him nowhere. Similarly, now we have Nandha who seems to have got too absorbed into his cold, almost stone-like countenance to carry him a distance in filmdom. It looks like something he developed from Eeram. We liked it then, it suited the character and it seemed to come naturally to him; it worked. In Ananthapurathu Veedu, there were remnants of the same, but since the focus was more on the small boy and the spirits, it never got noticed. Now, in the space of one month, we have two roles where Nandha holds his breath, tightens his facial muscles, grits his teeth, clamps his jaws and walks through entire movies without letting that cold glare slip even for a second. It does look good on him, but there can be too much of a good thing.

It has not been noticed so profoundly before because Nandha has never had releases stacked so close together. Now, with two releases in the space of a month, it sticks out like a sore thumb. The fact is that in Vandhaan Vendraan and Vellore Mavattam, he plays diametrically opposite characters; that of an underworld don and a police officer respectively. Yet, one can hardly detect any variation is his performance, except for the police uniform that he wears in Vellore Mavattam. It is the same uptight and cold expression in both places. Surely, an actor who successfully portrayed the cunning young man in Mounam Pesiyadhe is capable of delineating between characters that are as different as chalk and cheese.

Obviously, someone told Nandha that the stiff and strict look suits him well. That was right. But, now someone needs to tell him that he needs to use his USP in moderation and that too at the right places. Otherwise, it will not be long before audiences start returning that cold stare; and it won’t be comfortable.
Tags : Nandha, Allu Arjun, Salman Khan, Vellore Mavattam
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