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Thamizh Talkies: A mass hero, an inspiration- Cinema express

Thamizh Talkies: A mass hero, an inspiration

The writer is a producer and art curator

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Published: 01st May 2022

There are heroes and then there is Ajith, who celebrates his 51st birthday today. A conversation with Ajith always leaves you examining yourself for the finer qualities he displays. It’s not just the good manners but also the way he extends his courtesies. His world view and knowledge beyond cinema leaves you in awe and there’s, of course, his car racing skills that make us go “Wow!” It’s not every day that you have a film hero performing competitive stunts without a dupe! This is a real-life superman who did that which was considered impossible for the common man in his profession. But then, he was no common man, having pursued modelling and then, acting. His foray into mainstream cinema is nothing short of a success story that has inspired all of us. 

His stardom bears testimony to how an actor’s offscreen persona blurs into what we see of him onscreen. His respect for women, the frank-speak (google ‘Ajith speech Rajini claps’), and the ability to stand tall without seeking someone else’s favour are attributes that strike you when you meet him in person. These are all traits that have made him a super success on the movie marquee. And yet, my favourite Ajith films are those where he has portrayed vulnerability and shown us what it is to be a common man (Mugavari, for example). The purity of love and romantic charm he displays in Kandukondein Kandukondein is a far cry from what Ajith stands for today: the invincible mass hero.  

Amarkkalam established him as the ‘angry, young man’, and the explosive ‘angry, middle-aged man’ he played recently in Viswasam is another favorite. Of course, his repertoire would be incomplete without a mention of Venkat Prabhu’s Mankaatha, a cult film that saw him have maximum fun onscreen. Playing a bad man, Ajith was a riot and his Vinayak deserves a sequel. Anti-heroes have always worked well when played by real life heroes, because the audience walks into the theatre knowing they are getting into a make-believe world. Ajith’s ability to crack punchlines got a more realistic take in Gautham Menon’s Yennai Arindhaal. Sathyadev IPS looked and behaved in a way that made both the action and romance delectable. 

He has never been just an all-action hero. His audience, the boys and girls with dreams, have looked up to him for inspiration, and as for the men and women, they see their struggles in him, as he stands proof of how one can overcome tough times and emerge a winner. For the naysayers who point out Ajith’s inability to dance, I’d urge you to see him in ‘Aadama Jeichomada’ from Mankaatha. A favourite scene for his acting chops would be the one from Yennai Arindhaal in which he walks into the minister’s house and delivers lines that truly send shivers down the spine (from that film, ‘Mazhai vara poguthe’ is another favourite). Or how about the climax of Viswasam that shows how Ajith, despite being a huge star, allows the girl-child to be the prime focus, having added the family audience to his loyal fanbase. 

Fans, particularly on social media, are as polarized as the politics of this county. Many of us actually like both Ajith AND Vijay (for some strange reason, Tamil film heroes always operate as duos, from the time of MGR and Sivaji). But the ‘vera level’ war online between Ajith and Vijay fans is something I’m sure even stars don't approve. As Ajith powers past half century on his birthday today (May 1), let’s recognise that his life has featured many milestones, and stand for how a man can chisel super-success, with self-confidence and hardwork as key tools.

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