Singam 3, Bhairava show superstars Suriya, Vijay's differing journeys to the top
With the first look of Suriya's Singam 3, and the teaser of Vijay's Bhairava releasing at the same time, the different career paths both superstars have taken make for an interesting comparison
Amidst the Diwali releases of Kodi and Kashmora, also released, were the teaser of Vijay’s Bhairava and first look of Suriya’s Singam 3. Both of these much-anticipated films will be released at year’s end. Both matinee idols have also seen their share of box office flubs, until Theri and 24 (respectively) brought them back into the reckoning.
Vijay and Suriya came together on screen first in the Mani Ratnam-produced Vasanth directorial Nerukku Ner (1997). Since then, their career paths have moved in entirely different directions.
It was his selection of scripts and directors that helped Suriya become the huge star that he is. Vijay, on the other hand, had the support of his director father Chandrashekar when he started out. All his initial films were either romantic sagas or tales of friendship (Friends, 2001, starred Vijay and Suriya, once again).
Vijay emulated the mass success of Rajinikanth when he did Dharani’s Ghilli and emerged as possibly, the ‘next superstar’.
Suriya honed his acting skills working in director Bala’s films and then took the mass hero route with the Singam series. Incidentally, Suriya had already had one iconic role as a police officer in Gautham Menon’s Kaakha Kaakha. The iconic dialogue from the first Singam — “Oangi adichaa onrada ton weight da (If I deliver a punch, it will weigh one and a half tonnes)” — has entered the pantheon of iconic punch lines.
Singam 1 and 2 (both of which were remade in Hindi with Ajay Devgn) made Suriya a bankable Tamil hero in the Telugu industry, where both films were dubbed and released to resounding box-office success. Singam is the biggest franchise ever, in and from the South, and S3 or Singam 3 is the most anticipated film from the Hari-Suriya combination.
Director Hari takes Suriya’s Duraisingam out of Indian shores for the first time for the story. The songs, stunts seem like they will be a big draw. The first look is only that of Duraisingam, but it takes you by surprise when the lion’s face morphs into Suriya, and ends with the title, set to a background score which conveys the power the film is expected to carry.
Hari needs a box office hit as his last film, Poojai, didn’t exactly create much noise. Now, noise is what Hari’s films mostly are — with a plethora of loud, intense characters, fights, songs and emotional drama building up to a crescendo in the climax. Singam 3 is (also) possibly just like any other commercial film. What makes it interesting, however, is the sincerity Suriya brings to his portrayal of the cop who can do no wrong.
Moving to Vijay’s Bhairava (also spelt as Bairavaa), the teaser depicts him with a new hairdo. It’s somewhat disturbing because the actor hasn’t aged at all in these past few years, and his youthful looks are intact even at 40+. Vijay’s flops rake in more money than any other hero’s hits — so we are told, and his films cater to the B and C sectors. This makes one ask: if only B and C matter, are the A-centre audience not an audience at all? Who differentiates these markets, and based on what data?
Bhairava has the same punch lines and shots we have seen in myriad Vijay films earlier. Theri had a different Vijay, who played dad for the first time and whose emotional and romantic scenes in the film were a delight. Bhairava seems like a mash-up from many of his earlier films.
Vijay doesn’t need to pay heed to critical feedback, because his films have huge openings and garner high collections. So why write a piece evaluating his work? Because we love him too much to let him package old wine in new bottles time and again. His comedic timing and winsome looks could certainly deliver another Ghilli.
One wishes for a day when Vijay works in a Karthik Subbaraj film. Or when Suriya teams up with Gautham Menon again.
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