Trade Winds Movies

Are villains the new superstars?

The bad guys, suave and stylish, are here to capture Kollywood

Arvind Swamy playing the sophisticated, cool, calculating bad guy in Bogan is currently the toast of Kollywood. The film is being promoted with posters and cut-outs of the villain, which itself says a lot in an industry where the hero dominate the ads. Villains are the new poster boys of Tamil films. Recently, a lot of heroes who played the bad guy, like Arun Vijay in Yennai Arindhaal, Parthiepan in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, SJ Surya in Iraivi, got a new lease of life.

2017 will see many more powerful villains who have roles as important as the hero. Rana Daggubati in Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, Akshay Kumar in 2.0, SJ Surya in AR Murugadoss’ untitled bilingual in Telugu and Tamil and Vivek Oberoi in Ajith’s Vivegam form the long list of negative roles to watch out for. Today, portraying evil on screen is no longer considered a role for supporting actors. Seasoned superstars are now willingly taking to villainous acts, not afraid of experimenting with their image.

Arvind Swamy, who is basking in the glory of back-to-back negative roles in Thani Oruvan and Bogan (a film titled after the villain character) explains: “I sign a film only if I’m comfortable with the script and I do make suggestions to the director to make the character as real as possible within the commercial cinema format. And I feel negative characters have more scope to perform, as they are real and vulnerable to mood swings. I enjoy doing such roles and the audience seems to like it.”

Noted writer Jeyamohan has said that Akshay Kumar’s character in 2.0 will be on par with the bad guys seen in Christopher Nolan’s film. According to rumours making the rounds, Akshay Kumar plays Dr Richard, a scientist, who turns into a crow! A source revealed that Akshay has equal footage as Rajinikanth in the film. The superstar is no stranger to villains hogging the show, like Raghuvaran in Baasha, Ramya Krishnan in Padayappa.

Tamil cinema has always had a fascination for villains, right from the PS Veerappa days. Who can forget his legendary punch line — “Sabhaassssh! Sariyana Potti!” from the 1958 film Vanjikottai Vaaliban? The MGR-Nambiar, hero-villain team has made many memorable hits like Enga Veetu Pillai that worked big time with the audiences. M.R Radha was another actor who created a huge fan base for his negative roles, and his son Radha Ravi is carrying on the tradition in style, though he appears more in powerful character roles. Prakash Raj as villain in films like Ghilli and Anniyan had the crowd rooting for him. And Nasser, in his early days, was fantastic as the bad guy in films like Thevar Magan.

A leading Tamil producer says,“A superstar can bring in the opening, but a powerful villain pitched against him lifts an ordinary film to the superhit category. Today, the trend in Kollywood is to import Bollywood actors to play the villain role, but they don’t dub in their own voice, which waters down the personality of their character. When the villain is stronger than the hero, at least till the interval block, it really works. The audience lose interest if the hero keeps winning from his first encounter.”

The late Amrish Puri, one of India’s most-loved villains (Mogambo of Mr. India and Mola Ram of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), in one of his interviews had remarked: “All the great villains of cinema have been great actors. You cannot survive as a screen villain if you cannot act.”

However, playing villain in Kollywood is the last resort, as the local stars have big egos, and believe that their so-called fan base will not like them getting beaten up by the hero. This is one of the reasons why Tamil films go prefer North Indian actors to play the bad guy. Heroes taking up roles of villains automatically add glamour to evil as it is portrayed on screen. But sometimes, censors intervene and insist that the evil hero should be brought to justice in the end.

The buzz is that the producers are willing to pay a bomb to the film’s villain. Arvind Swamy is currently the highest-paid villain in Kollywood. He is said to have been paid a record amount for his villain roles in Thani Oruvan and its Telugu remake Dhruva and now for Bogan. When asked about his salary, Arvind Swamy says, “I look at the overall financial viability of the project, and only then work out my pay cheque. I also run a business so I understand the importance of profitability.”

Meanwhile, the Bollywood grapevine is abuzz that Akshay Kumar is getting paid more than Rajinikanth for 2.0.

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Printable version | Mar 25, 2020 3:54:00 PM |

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