Does Vijay Sethupathi’s Junga have enough 'mass' appeal to turn him into one of Kollywood’s top five bankable stars?
A lot is riding on Junga for Vijay Sethupathi, who is now eyeing a place in Kollywood’s top five saleable actors' club. The Tamil film trade is clear that he has potential but will he deliver?
Vijay Sethupathi’s most ambitious big budget comedy, romance and action-laced Junga directed by Gokul is releasing this Friday – 27 July. A lot is riding on the film for the star, who is now eyeing a place in Kollywood’s top five saleable actors' club. The Tamil film trade is clear that he has potential but will he deliver with Junga?
For the actor, whose fans have given him the title “Makkal Selvan” (people’s treasure), Junga is his costliest film. The landing cost with print and publicity will work out to a whopping Rs 27 Cr, nearly twice the cost of Sethupathi’s most recent film. The film produced by former action hero Arun Pandian is co-produced by the star under his banner Vijay Sethupathi Productions on first copy basis.
So, a lot is riding on Junga for Vijay Sethupathi, the actor and the producer. He is a man who rose from being a junior artist to a saleable star doing pivotal performance-oriented roles. It was Junga director Gokul who made Vijay Sethupathi a star with the low budget 2013 black comedy Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara (IAB). Junga is the story of a stingy don from Pollachi in Tamil Nadu, who is forced to relocate to Paris on a “mission impossible”, told in a funny manner.
From the trailer of Junga, it is clear that Sethupathi and Gokul are trying out the wry humour factor, which worked in IAB. Sethupathi, dressed in white veshti and black shirt, carries a sickle (the weapon in most rural films) and wears dark coolers. Tamil cinema’s number one comedian Yogi Babu has probably been cast as his friend. Yogi’s pairing with Vijay Sethupathi in Aandavan Kattalai (2016), made it a laughathon. It can also be a spoof on Tamil cinema dons. The film also has Sayesshaa and Madonna Sebastian as female leads with some peppy music by Siddharth Vipin. The film has been extensively shot in and around Paris and locations in Tamil Nadu.
Vijay Sethupathi says: “I like my character in Junga as I have lot of trust in Gokul’s characterisation and the inbuilt humour. It’s all about the comedy timing and at times, I myself laughed out loud during the shoot, that we had to go for a retake to get that deadpan expression of my don character and the flowing humour in the dialogue perfect. I’m sure the film will work at the box office.”
Vijay Sethupathi’s last big super hit was Vikram Vedha (2017) with Madhavan, which not only proved that he is an actor of substance but also has a huge box-office draw. Vikram Vedha also was a huge hit outside of Tamil Nadu, especially in the lucrative overseas market, another factor that determines star power. But after Vikram Vedha, Vijay Sethupathi had two major flops with Puriyatha Puthir (2017) and early this year, the fantasy Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren (2018). In between he had Karuppan (2017), which was an average grosser.
If Junga becomes a hit, Vijay Sethupathi will be accepted more as a commercial solo hero, essential for any star who dreams big in Kollywood. Now, it is all about the budget that makes a hit or a flop. Does Vijay Sethupathi’s Junga have enough mass masala and word-of-mouth to recover its budget (Rs 27 Cr) from Tamil Nadu and overseas theatricals and sale of rights from satellite and OTT? The answer will be known in the next few days, which will also determine the kind of films Vijay Sethupathi does in future.
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