Dilani Rabindran



Ajith - Making Bad look so Good, Ajith, Arrambam


Ajith is blurring all the lines.

When the Arrambam trailer first released it became clear the film would be a highly stylized action flick; but what was not clear was whether Ajith would be a knight in shining armor who saves the day, or a powerful-criminal conducting games for people to survive in. After seeing the film one can still debate whether the super star played a good guy who was forced to resort to bad, or someone whom circumstances gradually turned dark.  Director Vishnuvardhan referred to his role as “gray” and with such convincing scenes in which ‘AK’ is seemingly unopposed to hurting innocent people on his path of revenge, all that is really certain is that, looking at his last few films, we can’t see where Ajith is going creatively, and that is the best part.

Ajith playing a villain or questionable-hero is not new. Although younger Thala fans might associate Ajith’s “villainy” with his gangster roles as of 2007, let’s not forget that we’ve seen him ‘go bad’ well before that, and he was so good at it. In Vaali he was a murderous twin-brother intent on possessing his own sister-in-law and in Varalaru he was a scorned child focused on ruining the father he presumed abandoned him. Then the age of Billa and Mankatha introduced us to the stylish criminal version of the ultimate star. What do all these films have in common?: visionary directors and a progressive star who saw more for Tamil cinema.

By the very laws of nature fans are fundamentally wired to root for the good guy. Why would directors like S.J. Suryah, Ravikumar, Venkat Prabhu, Vishnuvardhan, and Ajith himself,get together to make everyone’s favorite hero go evil? Ajith and these directors must have recognized that a celebrated star didn’t always have to be seen as the typical good guy; like in other movie industries, there was room for experimentation that would be appreciated if done well. With comic book movies dominating theatres every month, actors who play villains have become some of the most respected names in Hollywood. It can very easily be argued that these directors saw the same opportunity to advance Tamil cinema because of Ajith’s extreme acting range and open-mindedness. What transpired were tinyrevolutions in this industry, where audiences were suddenly questioned if their devotion to a star was because of their onscreen image, or because they truly appreciated their acting talent. When Ajith went from being a wholesome lover boy who could beat up the bad guys, to one of the bad guys himself, we as fans were forced to examine whether we loved Ajith the onscreen hero, or Ajith the whole package –the actor, who canfill a role to its fullest, with a singular style and commitment; the artist, who is willing to reinvent himself for the sake of good cinema; and the star, who conducts himself with social responsibility knowing that his actions have a profound impact on the public due to his popularity (ex. his promotion of bike safety during publicity for Arrambam). When he’s so good at acting bad on screen &being good in real life, how could we choose anything but the latter.

Of course these experimentations have paid off, especially with the recent “Thala Deepavali” success of Arrambam; with these risks that have turned into roaring successes Ajith Kumar has expanded his position in Tamil cinema, like the Jokers and Bains of the west.

This continued bout of “shady heroes” on screen does not mean Ajith is now trapped in villainous roles. With his upcoming action-comedy Veeram we will see him in a village setting, but maybe future collaborations with cutting-edge commercial directors could take him back to his westernized bad-boss ways. We honestly don’t know, and that unpredictability is exactly what fans should be proud of. We have no idea what direction Thala is heading, and that’s one way he, and the visionary directors who help steer him, set Tamil cinema on a course for advancement.

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Tags : Ajith, Arrambam


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