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By Arun

2011 has been a year of many hits and good movies in Tamil cinema. But, it is all the more special for all fans of Chiyaan Vikram. Why is that so? Well, the stellar performance he turned out in Deiva Thirumagal is good enough reason to celebrate. But, isn’t that something we have come to expect from Vikram? He always takes up roles that challenge him and surprises us; Deiva Thirumagal was no different. If there is an actor in Kollywood who can be credited with choosing radically different roles consistently over the last 10 years or so, it has to be Vikram. Right from the days of Sethu, he has shown his hunger for ‘out of the box’ roles, like Kasi, Pithamagan, Raavanaan. All his fans and every cinema lover were very happy with Vikram on all counts, except one. What is that? He never did enough movies to whet our appetite. 2011 is different because for the first time in 6 years, he will be having more than one release in a calendar year.

The period from 2005 to 2011 has usually been one of long waits for Vikram fans. 2005 was a great year with Anniyan and Majaa making it to the screens. But, then there was a huge gap of more than 2 years before we got to see Bheema and that was, quite plainly, a disappointment by Vikram’s standards. Then came another long wait for nearly a year and a half before Kandhasaamy came to theatres. What should have been Tamil cinema’s first true blue superhero movie blanked out because of poor scripting with only Vikram shining through as a bright spot. Another wait ensued for Raavanan which reiterated the performer in Vikram. Then, another year elapsed for Deiva Thirumagal to hit screens.

From a plain statistical point of view, Vikram has done only 4 movies from 2006 to now, which is one more than Rajnikanth’s tally and equal to Kamal Haasan’s. In the meantime, all of Vijay, Ajith and Suriya have double or more of that number to their credit. It is fair to say that Vikram has not been very prolific over this period. But, of course, statistics never tell the whole story. The ambition he has shown over this period is perhaps something unmatched by many in the industry. The big gap between Majaa and Bheema was an unfortunate one with problems plaguing Bheema left, right and centre. A normal action entertainer should not have taken more than 6-8 months in the making, but this went on for more than 2 years. One must credit Vikram for sticking faithfully to the project during one of the worst phases of his career.

But, it is the post-Bheema phase that really defines Vikram and his career. Kandhasaamy was a highly ambitious and brave attempt by the entire team. Today, it might be remembered as a film that fell way short of what it promised. But, the fact does remain that it brought the concept of a hooded and caped superhero to Tamil cinema; a superhero with an alter ego. In spite of what it delivered, Kandhasaamy has to be remembered as a pioneer and Vikram must be applauded for having the gumption to give 2 years of his career to its making.

From Kandhasaamy, he went to Raavanan; another film that was not easy or run of the mill by any standards. Another year went into its making. It was a challenging part that Vikram executed in style.

Over this period, 2006-2011, there have been many calls for Vikram to get more prolific. Yes, scores of things have been written about him being too ambitious, not choosing the right projects and not having regular enough releases to keep his fans alive. But, Vikram never lowered his sights or took it easy. A run of the mill entertainer would have been an easy choice to keep away all those voices and to earn some big money. Yet, Vikram kept choosing films that constantly challenged him physically and professionally. He likes to push himself to the outer boundaries of his abilities; he does not like to play it safe. That is why there was no huge gasp of surprise when Deiva Thirumagal released; it is just what Vikram has trained us to expect from him.

And, that is why Rajapattai will be special; because, it comes from Vikram. When it comes from Vikram, we are sure that even a commercial entertainer will have something special about it. Of course, the fact that Suseenthiran helmed the project is another reason for excitement because he too seems to be one who thinks like Vikram; ‘out of the box’. And, over these 5 years, as we have asked for more films from Vikram, we should have remembered one thing; he waited for more than a decade for his big break in mainstream cinema! He knows all that there is to know about waiting for the right opportunities. And, when the right one comes along, he doesn’t let them go. Rajapattai will hopefully reiterate that fact!

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