The rise of a hero

After playing second-fiddle to mass heroes for so long, Santhanam’s first solo-effort at the box-office, Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham, was released last Saturday as Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyan did not hit the screens. The film is a remake of S.S. Rajamouli’s Telugu hit, Maryada Ramanna.

Despite the fact that he made his name as a television star by spoofing self-reverential actors and their films, Santhanam has bravely stepped into the difficult shoes of a mass hero.

The film’s plot goes thus: Shakthi goes to his father’s village to sell his ancestral property only to find out that a family there wants him dead. If one goes by trade reports, it seems clear that Santhanam’s experiment has been successful, at least monetarily.

But the fans of the original say that the protagonist, whose odds of survival are too low, has been turned into someone who can outwit and out-manoeuvre anyone. If the original had the protagonist sulking about his life, Santhanam breaks into a beat-heavy introduction song set in a market, just like a Vijay or a Suriya would do in their films.

Did Santhanam need such over-the-top depiction? “He is a star already. I knew that the audience wouldn’t boo him if he was introduced like a mainstream star,” says director Srinath.

The original featured Sunil, a prominent Telugu comedian, in the lead. He played a character who could die any moment, but the Tamil version is minus the ‘tension’.

But, truth be told, Santhanam does look like a star. How did Santhanam manage to perform such difficult choreography? ‘‘He lost weight, sported a different look, and went for regular dance rehearsals. I was confident that people would accept him as a hero. After all, he has carried many films over the finish line as a comedian,’’ says Srinath.

“There were some changes from the original,” says the director. For instance, in Maryada Ramanna, the ‘talking’ cycle was treated as one of the characters and had its own introduction. “In this film, it is an important character, but I thought there was no need for an introduction scene.”

Despite these departures from the original, Vallavanukku… has been criticised for its overt ‘Telugu’ flavour — the sickles, aruvaals and Sumo cars. Ask him what he thought of it, he says, “We can’t help it, because it is a Telugu film after all. But I have been told that it is much crisper than the original.”

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 6:26:35 AM |

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