An ode to Chiyaan - the birthday boy


By Kaushik L M

Tamil cinema has been blessed with many ‘superstars’ and ‘super actors’ over the past decades. Names like MGR, Sivaji, Rajini, Kamal, Vijayakanth, Vijay, Ajith and Suriya come to mind when we talk of ‘superstars’ and ‘super actors’. While some of the above mentioned names fall under the ‘superstars’ category, some can be counted among the best actors while the rare few come under both the categories. We are talking about one such rare phenomenon whose name fits seamlessly among this elite few.

With movies like Sethu, Kaasi, Pithamagan, Anniyan and Deiva Thirumagal on the one hand and films like Gemini, Dhil, Dhool and Saamy on the other hand, the tags ‘super actor’ and ‘superstar’ for this man seem vindicated. Yes we are talking about Chiyaan Vikram, today’s birthday boy. He turns 47 today, the 17th of April.

After struggling really hard to get a good break in the Tamil industry, there has been no looking back for this versatile, talented and handsome actor. With a life threatening accident laying him low even before his career could take off, Vikram then gamely offered his services as a dubbing artiste for actors like Prabhu Deva and Abbas in hit movies like Kaadhalan, Kandukonden Kandukonden and Kaadhal Desam.

He was also doing supporting roles in the Telugu, Malayalam industries to keep himself occupied and generate some income for his household. As fate would have it, he narrowly missed out on doing Mani Ratnam’s Bombay after even featuring in a photo-shoot with Manisha Koirala.

Meanwhile, some inconsequential Tamil movies like Ullasam released before Sethu happened. The efforts that the producer had to take to just make Sethu see the light of the day at theaters in 1999 are the stuff of legend. Come to think of it, which movie actually had close to a hundred shows for the press and members of the film trade before its release?

But after Sethu, the film media and the masses recognized the worth of Vikram - the actor, and after the movie completed 100 days at the box-office after a really low-key opening, Vikram - the star was born. With continuous blockbusters like Dhill, Gemini, Dhool and Saamy, at one point even Superstar Rajinikanth trumped Vikram to be the possible next superstar. Such was Vikram’s level between the years 2001 and 2003, with films like Kaasi and Pithamagan proving that Vikram could be Kamal, as much as he could be Rajini. He exhibited a deadly combination of talent and mass appeal in those years despite some intermediate flops like King, Samurai, Vinnukkum Mannukkum and Kaadhal Sadugudu.

But his career hasn’t been a smooth ride after Anniyan, one of his biggest blockbusters, released in 2005. Each of his movies post Anniyan released to big hype and expectations, befitting his superstardom, but none of them emerged as a clean hit. Though some of his movies like Deiva Thirumagal garnered good reviews and made decent money, some of the others like Rajapattai and Kandasamy were heavily panned by critics and the audiences alike. His last two releases, Thaandavam and David, also fell by the way side after being received with mixed reviews.

But the future holds hope for Vikram and his loyal fan base as I, director Shankar’s magnum opus is getting ready. Vikram is sporting various makeovers in this film and he has typically exerted a lot on his physique and appearance for the movie. With Amy Jackson for company and a solid technical team comprising legends like P.C.Sreeram and A.R.Rahman, Vikram is bound to make one of the biggest comebacks seen in recent times.

On that note, we again wish Vikram a very happy birthday on behalf of all his fans and are looking forward to his smashing performance in I.



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