Thamizh Talkies: Second Superstar
The author muses about the necessity for the title Female Superstar
The success of Mahanati (Nadigayar Thilakam) is testimony to the powerhouse performer Savitri was. The tale of a superstar, whose tragic end was largely self-wrought, has tickled the box office in more than one shade of pink. The film has catapulted the fortunes of Keerthy Suresh, whose portrayal as Savitri has come in for much praise. It is a nice deviation to see a heartthrob like Dulquer take on a role with shades of grey. Even though Gemini Ganesan’s family has spoken against the manner in which his character is portrayed in the narrative, the film has garnered enough goodwill and collections, and film lovers are celebrating the brilliance of Savitri all over again. Mahanati also has another special attribute. It’s the only film in recent times to fare well at the box office, featuring, in the lead, a heroine who is NOT called Nayanthara (or Anushka in Telugu).
Nayanthara, meanwhile, sits firmly on her throne as the world of Tamil films spins around her. She combines a certain intrigue and an openness, which makes her an easy choice for a 'female icon' whose fan-following among young girls and women across the South is perhaps the highest. Her bindaas approach in her personal life, and independence when it comes to her choice of films, is balanced with a quietude and love of privacy. She does not have a social media account, is not too bothered about making herself available for film publicity, and has no qualms about posing for romantic selfies with her beau Vignesh Shivn, even though she has not committed to her feelings for him in public. And why should she have to? In a world which seems perfect only when your FB, Twitter and Instagram followers 'like', 'follow' and 'share' your life, here is Nayanthara who displays disdain for all of the above. Her popularity is not just because of her shining screen presence or the strong roles she gets to play, but also because of the way youngsters look at her as a 'role-model'. She’s seen as someone who came into the industry from the outside and who saw various downs before an eventual upswing; as someone who took a break at the peak of her career and then made a splashing 'comeback' with Raja Rani, before going on to rule our cinema with panache. Nayanthara’s life, much like Savitri’s, has had a lot of turning points, and moments of despair and determination. Her transformation from a sweet girl-next-door to this scintillating diva is an interesting tale in itself! A 30-second commercial in which she makes an appearance makes a 20-something girl stop in her tracks and stare at her with transfixed eyes because she sees an extra something in the actor that she doesn’t see in herself. The mid-twenties guy can’t stop admiring her because she has been his 'dream girl' right from her Vallavan days to Kolamaavu Kokila, which is her next release. A song from the film, which was recently released, has comedian Yogi Babu dream of proposing to her, and it has gone viral.
If at all Nayanthara has a male counterpart in cinema with a similar trajectory and personality, it is Ajith. How nice it feels to be able to compare a hero to a heroine! Of course, I’m waiting to see the trolls when they spot this line on the internet. But I will be glad if they agree to the comparison. Also, instead of calling Nayanthara a Lady Superstar, why not call her a Superstar? Why can’t we have a man and a woman share the same title? What do you think?