Stalin’s son is a movie star, alright

G Pramod Kumar

April 15, 2012 11:39:00 IST

The Karunanidhi household has a genuine movie star now: grandson Udhayanidhi Stalin, MK Stalin’s son.

His maiden venture Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (A Stone, A Mirror or OKOK, in short), a light-hearted comedy released last week, has been declared a hit by both industry and the critics.

Mainstream media reviews have given the film an average of three stars and have termed it a great entertainer. Local FM stations and TV channels are running clever promotional shows, notwithstanding the fact that a big part of the film's success is attributed to its director and a star comedian, Santhanam.

A still from the film.

AHowever, it was the launch vehicle for Udhayanidhi as the main protagonist, and he did well. Box office collections are impressive and his family is beaming.

After Karunanidhi’s long reign in the Tamil film industry as a hugely successful script-writer, it has been a complete drought in terms of grease-paint and limelight for his household, although during his last regime, his family had a vice-like grip on the industry.

Following his successful run as a film-writer, at least two of his sons tried to become movie stars — MK Muthu and MK Stalin, but both failed. The last was another grandson, who also failed to impress.

During the height of Karunanidhi’s political rivalry against former chief minister MG Ramachandran or MGR, MK Muthu was pitched as an MGR alternative, but he was a complete dud. Muthu tried to imitate MGR in movies such as Anaya Vilakku, Pillayo Pillai and Pookkari. In a casting coup of sorts those days, even two of MGR's heroines were roped in to act with him.

Subsequently, he completely fell out of favour with the Karunanidhi family and reportedly lived in miserable conditions.

Stalin also tried his hand at acting, but in tele-serials; and that ended up as a one-time adventure in the '90s.

During the previous DMK regime (2006-2011), in which two grandsons and nephew Kalanidhi Maran controlled the entire Tamil film industry, one more scion tried to don the grease-paint: grandson Arulnidhi, son of MK Tamizharasu, Stalin’s elder brother.

He acted in three films, all of which sank without a trace.

Now, Udhayanidhi’s instant rise to stardom breaks the jinx. In fact, the clever actor didn’t mind underplaying himself in OKOK while letting comedian Santhanam steal most parts of the movie.

In OKOK, Stalin Jr plays an unemployed youth and romances a cherubic Mumbai import, Hansika Motwani, an established star in Tamil and Telugu. Hansika’s comedy timing has apparently clicked big time with the audience and helped Udhayanidhi look cool.

His Red Giant movies is a key production company in Tamil Nadu, which his detractors say was successful mainly because of the political muscle of his family during the DMK regime. It has produced or distributed many big budget movies featuring top stars such as Surya, Kamal Haasan, Vijay, Simbu and Arya.

Interestingly, his cousin, son of Stalin’s sparring older brother MK Azhagiri, is also a big-shot producer and started off almost at the same time. His production company is called Cloud Nine movies. During the DMK regime, these two, along with Sun Pictures of Kalanidhi Maran, another member of the Karunanidhi family, had a tight leash on the Tamil film industry with many traditional producers giving up in frustration or joining hands with them.

Interestingly, Udhayanidhi had no opposition from the ruling AIADMK proxies in the film industry, in comparison to the trouble some actors faced during the DMK regime. A leading hero Sarathkumar had a tough time staying afloat in the Karunanidhi family dominated industry while another top star Vijay faced serious threat to his career. In fact, Vijay was in a situation similar to what MGR faced in the 1970s at the hands of the DMK, but braved it all and came out successful.

Many thought the change of government would make it difficult for Udhayanidhi, but so far, there hasn’t been any hint of trouble, at least in establishing himself as a star. His real challenge, however, starts only now. He has got to make it equally big in his next venture.

Updated Date: Apr 15, 2012 11:39 AM