Kaushik L M



The trap that dictates Vijay, Ajith and the rest, vijay, kamal haasan


Stars aren’t born overnight. It is one long process which is the result of years of hard work and toil. After entering the industry as rookies, actors need to go through the grind, face many hardships and handle all sorts of pressures, before finally gaining the all-important acceptance of the audience.

But after attaining stardom and a certain level of following, stars can’t rest easy as they are haunted by what is called the ‘image trap’ in industry circles. This trap is so strong and has such a magnetic pull that most of the stars are invariably dictated by it, in all their career moves.

Superstar Rajini started off as a ‘conniving anti-hero’ in his introductory days in the 1970s with movies such as 16 Vayathinile, Moondru Mudichu and Aval Appadithan, before graduating to play the typical ‘commercial hero’ in many movies in the 80s such as Billa, Ranga, Kaali and finally flourishing in the 90s and beyond, as the ‘all-conquering mass hero’ that we’ve come to worship and celebrate onscreen in flicks such as Annamalai, Baasha and Padayappa to name a few.

The rare occasions when Rajini tried to come out of this trap and do something different such as Valli, Raghavendra or later Baba, the results at the box-office weren’t along expected lines. Even in the path-breaking Enthiran, the Chitti 2.0 character had the typical Rajini extravagance and mass mannerisms which lifted the movie big time towards the end. For that matter again, the Vettaiyan episode in an otherwise family friendly Chandramukhi, played to the gallery of Rajini’s fan base all the way.

Coming to Ajith and Vijay, they started off in the early 90s as the typical ‘youthful romeos’ in movies such as Amaravathi and Rasigan and then graduated to play the likable ‘lover boys’ in movies such as Kadhal Kottai, Kaadhal Mannan, Poove Unakkaga and Kadhaluku Mariyaadhai. Towards the end of the 90s, they slowly started getting an ‘action hero’ image which was further solidified in the new millennium when both of them became ‘mass heroes’ in their own right.

Nowadays, Ajith is generally associated with playing serious urban don / gangster roles where there is little romance and more of style and action. That is one huge image trap which the star is trying to break, in his next movie with Siva, which would have a rural milieu.

Vijay is known to be the perfect entertainer on screen and his movies generally have commercial elements such as good music, sentiment, action aplenty and some sort of a message. He did come out of this image in a few movies such as Nanban and Kaavalan but his upcoming movies such as Thalaivaa and Jilla, after the blockbuster success of Thuppakki, feature him as the quintessential mass entertainer of yore.

When it comes to the likes of Vikram and Suriya, they have tried their best to stay clear of any image traps and have delivered good variety in their glorious careers. Some of the big mass hits of Vikram like Gemini, Dhil, Dhool and Saamy earned him the reputation of being a superstar but, at the same time he also managed to do movies such as Kaasi, Sethu and Pithamagan. Even now he is doing films such as David, Deivathirumagal and also delivering the staple commercial fare such as Thaandavam and Rajapattai. But, the enviable success rate that he had in the early 2000s is eluding him now. He would be hoping for the best from Shankar’s I.

Suriya is one who has a couple of avatars which he puts on with ease, if you look at the past few years. He is the ‘angry young man’ in movies such as Singam, Aaru, Aadhavan and Vel while he is almost a ‘savior / messiah’ in commercial movies with a difference, such as 7am Arivu and Maattrraan. Some years back, he was actually really versatile and didn’t get into any of these traps but now with his increased market and reach, the inevitable image traps and expectations from fans have followed him too.

Dhanush is either seen as the ‘no worry in the world’ young chap or as a really intense almost-psychotic individual. Simbu is generally again seen as the street-smart romeo. He did try to be different in movies such as VTV and Thotti Jaya thanks to directors like Gautham Menon and Durai. But his next movie, Vaalu, sees him in another carefree typical Simbu-esque role.

Even a Vijay Sethupathy currently carries an image which has unconventional and understated written all over it. Siva Karthikeyan is continuously being seen as the simple funny guy next-door and this image is working pretty well for him too. After a non-glam beginning, Karthi is now alternating between ‘angry young man’ and ‘sweet family guy’.

Only the rare sensation like Kamal Haasan can actually put on several garbs and images with ease and in quick succession. The fact that Kamal is accepted as a ‘mass action hero’ in a movie like Vettayadu Vilayadu, as a woman in Avvai Shanmugi, as a ‘universal messiah’ in movies such as Dasavatharam, Indian, Vishwaroopam and also as a ‘comedic hero’ in movies such as PKS, Vasool Raja and Panchathanthiram speaks volumes about the genius of the man.

Not to forget his golden period in the late 80s and early 90s when he made movies such as Nayagan, Sathya, Devar Magan, Kurudhipunal, Guna and Mahanadhi, which featured him in such a variety of roles. Most of these movies were successes at the box-office too. Earlier, directors also exploited his acting potential to the fullest in movies such as Salangai Oli, 16 Vayandhinile and Sivappu Rojakkal.

But there was a little period when movies such as Sagalakala Vallavan, Guru and Kaaki Sattai featured Kamal as the typical Tamil cinema commercial hero who dances, romances and fights like a dream.

Exceptions like Kamal are rare and it seems like none of our other stars can escape the trappings of their image and stardom. That makes it all the more imperative for us, the audience to appreciate their efforts to breakout and try something different. Here's looking forward to more Pithamagans, Nanbans, Deivathirumagals from our stars.

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