Thamizh Talkies: STR - The second innings
The writer is a content producer and art curator
STR is on a roll. In what can be termed as a comeback, his project announcements and his rare appearances create an uproar. Venkat Prabhu’s Maanaadu trailer has garnered universal praise, more so for how seamlessly Silambarasan aka Simbu has blended in. The last film I saw in the theatre which featured Simbu was Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and it was his introduction shot that got the maximum applause. In fact, each time he was shown on screen was a cause for claps. For an actor whose personal life has always been mired in controversy, whose press meets have got more views than his film clips and whose love life is drawing-room chitchat, Simbu has stayed in the audience's memory always, albeit with some notoriety. This second innings seems to be the promised step towards us seeing a star-actor reborn in full form.
What makes an audience ‘feel’ for an icon? What makes the public support, empathise and encourage the proverbial rebel (if Simbu can be called that)? For a country, which is not even half the size of the United States, India has several entertainment industries and several stars who share the spotlight in each of them. The line-up of the top 20 actors in the business is a game of musical chairs, but the trick perhaps is to be able to stay in the top 20 for as long as one can. The point is to be relevant in the business and maintain the popularity quotient, which Simbu has in large measure. He is the jilted lover, the unlucky boy-man who is perhaps nursing an eternal heartbreak and who always deserves a second chance, because? He is frank and speaks or acts out his true emotions and is able to make a connection with the 15 to 30-year-olds, not just with his songs and dialogues but also with how he has reacted to his personal setbacks. And now, it seems he has risen from that quagmire.
Simbu has always been what one can call a ‘package’. He sings well, dances like a dream, emotes convincingly (I, for one, think his crying scenes are the best). In short, he is an actor who can sell a role. Having grown up to the whistles of the frontbenchers as Little Superstar, Simbu was not new to the limelight. His short sabbaticals resulting from films that didn’t see the release date and his own indulgences, earned a heavy penalty for him over the years from the industry, but the audience has always loved and forgiven him. It helped that even in a not-so-good film, Simbu still had great songs or that one scene in which he scored. He’s known to be a spontaneous, one-take actor who can reel off reams of dialogue in a flow. When all these factors remain constant, what’s new to Simbu’s current second innings?
Qualities like self-discipline, consistency in self-care, and a newfound dedicated approach to a shooting call sheet is making the difference! The first of his new lot of films, the Deepavali release Maanaadu, has already created the best welcome Simbu can get for his restarted ‘time’ at the movies. World over, major pop icons and rock stars are known for their notoriety as much as they are known for their art. Actors in Hollywood are no less. The more notorious they were, the more famous they became. Perhaps the audience wants to see an icon do things, which they would never do in their lives? Here’s someone who’s living on the edge and still getting away with it. Here’s someone who throws away the mundane and lives a hyped life. The whole drama surrounding stars and their personal lives, does create an aura for the star. It also creates a ‘closeness’ with the audience that the star can capitalise on when their films release. Icons to defend are the best icons to have.
In Simbu’s rise, I see a story arc like that of a real-life hero. Fallen, maybe, but never defeated, and when his time starts again, there will be no stopping him. Youngsters who follow Simbu should take his renewed determination and discipline as his new trademark mannerisms. A movie buff like me will take his acting and new films as a sign of good things to come.