Bigil, Kaithi, Asuran, Nerkonda Paarvai, Petta show Tamil cinema is heading towards a content-oriented approach
Vijay's Bigil, Karthi's Kaithi, Dhanush's Asuran, Ajith's Nerkonda Paarvai and Viswasam, and Rajinikanth's Petta proves Tamil biggies are embracing change.
2019 turns out to be a memorable year for Tamil cinema. Slowly but steadily, we are witnessing a promising enhancement, even in the big star-driven vehicles, in terms of content and presentation.
Yes, mainstream filmmakers still have a long road ahead but what they have done this year is truly remarkable. Usually, a commercial action potboiler of Tamil Superstar Ajith revolves only around his character but in Viswasam, equal importance was given both to Nayanthara (who played his wife) and Anika (who played as his daughter). The gallery-pleasing moments were there in Viswasam but we have also seen a promising change in the presentation, especially by adding two strong women characters. Viswasam is currently the highest grossing Tamil film in the home ground (Tamil Nadu).
If Viswasam is a tiny step, I would say Ajith-starrer Nerkonda Paarvai is a giant leap in Tamil cinema. Though Nerkonda Paarvai is an official remake of Pink, featuring a huge star like Ajith changed the perception of many filmmakers and leading stars in Tamil cinema.
Even Petta cannot be ruled as a typical mass action entertainer of Rajinikanth. The film is definitely not a routine mass entertainer. Just like Hollywood action entertainers, Petta also had the class moments spread throughout but presented within the ‘Rajinikanth’ genre, and ensured commercial success.
Though Nerkonda Paarvai was a hit, it did not become Ajith’s career highest-grossing film but Dhanush’s rural revenge drama Asuran surprised everyone in the trade with its phenomenal performance at the box office. The film surpassed the box office record of Dhanush’s Velai Illa Pattadhari and Vada Chennai at the worldwide box office. On the first day of the release, everyone thought Asuran is going to be another niche film, which would run only in the ‘A’ centers but it broke all the unwritten predictions by the trade pundits, by grossing more than Rs 50 crore worldwide, and also achieved a business worth Rs 100 crore rupees, including satellite, digital, and other rights. Asuran is not just a showreel of Dhanush. The actual protagonist of the film is Ken, who played the actor's younger son. There were many strong characters, like Prakash Raj, Manju Warrier, and Pasupathi in the film. The success of Asuran will definitely encourage Dhanush to attempt more such content-driven films. It is good to see a performer of his calibre choose right scripts at this stage of his career.
Tamil Superstar Vijay-starrer Bigil is undeniably one of the most awaited films of this year. Usually, Vijay’s films are known for the formulaic punchlines and hero-worshipping scenes. Though Bigil also had the usual Vijay template, the second half of the film clearly tells us he is ready for the ongoing content revolution in Tamil cinema. Just like how the ‘star’ Ajith took a backseat in the climax of Nerkonda Paarvai, we witnessed 'performer' Vijay excel in the climax with his subtle performance. Most of the scenes in the second half of Bigil revolved around the women players. The loudest applause of all the scenes belong to Rebba Monica (who played an acid attack survivor) as she confronted her stalker. Bigil cannot be definitely termed as a path-breaking film but when a mass hero like Vijay generously sheds his superstardom for the content of the film, one could see a bright future waiting for cinema.
In the last few years, Vijay has become an unparalleled superstar at the box office so films featuring other stars do not really compete with his Diwali releases. But this year, the producers of Karthi-starrer Kaithi were quite confident, and released the film alongside Bigil. Yes, the collections of Kaithi were just decent for the first few days but slowly, the positive word-of-mouth brought in a good number of audience, and now, the film has been declared a sleeper hit in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh/Nizam, and Kerala. It is worth mentioning that despite having a star like Karthi, Kaithi does not have any songs, and the actor has also not been paired anyone in the film. So everyone sees it as a game-changer in mainstream Tamil cinema.
Interestingly, Vijay, who usually prefers working with mainstream commercial filmmakers, has chosen Kaithi director Lokesh Kanagaraj to direct his next film.
All images from YouTube.
Karthik missed the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament which Tamil Nadu won in New Delhi on Monday owing to an injury while Washington Sundar has been out of action since the tour of England earlier this year and was undergoing rehabilitation at the NCA in Bengaluru.
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