Superstar wannabes

Rajini in

Rajini in "Jaggubhai"  

From Vikram, Vijay, Ajith to Silambarasan, they all are showing signs of Superstaritis, a condition caused by the bite of the `I-also-want-to-be-like-Superstar' bug. SUDHISH KAMATH on what it means to be a Superstar

IF YOU are a Superstar fan, do this. Buy next year's diary. Get a marker. Highlight the second weekend of 2005. Block the day. Pongal Day for some. Great Friday for many. For that's the day Superstar returns to his throne in his latest avatar as Jaggubhai — A Demon To The Demons. And a God to his fans.

So as we write this in the year 2004 A.D. or should we say 2004 B.J. (Before Jaggubhai), Superstar fans around the world are finding stars suffering from a definitely curable syndrome called Superstaritis. It's a quasi-schizophrenic condition where the patient starts hallucinating and gets these visions where he sees himself in Superstar's shoes.


1. Dialogue and delivery

The patient starts using his name with God's in the same sentence. Superstar once said: "Andavan Solraan. Arunachalam Mudikiraan." (God proposes. Arunachalam disposes). But like Arunachalam, `Arul' too has a similar line: "Aniyayam Panna Andavanukku Porukaathu, Asingamapesina Arulukku Pudikaathu." (God can't tolerate injustice. Arul can't tolerate bad language).

As `Arul' director Hari himself admits, this was a film he wrote for the Superstar.

Superstar wannabes

But to Vikram's credit, he's maintained a fairly original style. In his other films though, he showed traces of Superstaritis, even in "Saamy." And when people said he would be the next Superstar, he gracefully declared: "Oru Suriyan. Oru Chandran. Oru Superstar." And Superstar who also spoke said that the `Superstar' tag was just a "padhavi" (position) like any other — "Like Commissioner, Collector, Chief Minister or Prime Minister." And whoever gave blockbusters was a Superstar.

2. Style and body-language

The patient starts dressing up like Superstar did. Flips the cigarette, lights it and even smokes it just like him. Vijay did that in "Thirumalai" (that it sounds like "Annamalai" is only a co-incidence, we would like to believe) and also in "Bhagavathy" (maybe it's a co-incidence that it sounds like "Thalapathy").

But Vijay, finally, has broken away from that image trap in "Gilli." In a recent interview, the `Ilaya Thalapathy' also said that he looks to the Superstar for inspiration and improvises on his `style,' like how he pulled a cigarette out of his collar in "Thirumalai."

3. Storyline and treatment

The patient tries doing rehashes of Superstar hits. For example, the hero insists on S.P.Balasubramaniam to sing the image boosting title song for the story of a powerful don who has turned over a new leaf. Heard that before? "Aiyah, Yen Paeru Manickkam. Yennakku Innoru Paerum Irukku," Baasha once said. Cut to: Interval block in "Jana," if you sat till then, you get a message that says "Wait. Now you see the other face."

Vijay's performance has shades of Superstar's style.

Vijay's performance has shades of Superstar's style.  

Call it sheer chance or calculated effort, Ajith's "Jana" runs on the lines of "Baasha." Hopefully, his association with Saran in "Attakaasam" would do him some good.

4. Name-tags in title credits

Superstar had the letters S-U-P-E-R-S-T-A-R followed by R-A-J-I-N-I in computer graphics swishing on the screen one after another accompanied by his signature tune in every recent film. Silambarasan has the sense of humour or the courage to imitate that.

Why, God, why?

Because Superstar isn't his regular self anymore. Some have even written him off.

They said his last outing "Baba" was a flop.

"What do they know? It was the biggest hit of the year in terms of collections. Superstar could have made crores. He gave back crores, more than half of what he got from the distributors," a publicist says.

Vikram has shown traces of Superstaritis in most of his film

Vikram has shown traces of Superstaritis in most of his film  

"Not even MGR has done anything like this," a distributor adds. There are at least seven crore people who watch Superstar's films religiously. Even if you assume half the people watched it on pirated VCDs, at least 3 crore people still watch it on the big screen in places as far as Japan.

Even today, half a decade after his biggest hit "Padayappa," Superstar is still considered to be that one word answer to the industry's financial crisis. Exhibitors and distributors still believe that he can create magic. "There is plenty of money to be made with a Superstar film however `badly' it fares. A Superstar film makes more than five times the amount the biggest hit of today makes," our publicist friend reveals.

It is because Superstar is very choosy about his films, that directors with scripts for him make their films with smaller stars. Had Superstar agreed to do "Muthalvan" when Shankar approached him, you never know what impact it would have made. Arjun played the common man's Chief Minister in this movie that ran for over 175 days. The buzz is that if Superstar had done the role, it would have beaten Brian Lara's 400. Incidentally, Superstar took the "Baba" script to Shankar for his advice. It was Shankar who "completed the script," as Superstar once said. Arjun is probably the only actor who played Superstar without trying to be Superstar.

Superstaritis hasn't done any of the stars any good. The boys can stop clowning. For the man is set to return.

Fans rejoice. For `Jaggubhai' is a movie Superstar is making just to please his fans. "It is a total Rajni-fan movie," his publicist says, dismissing rumours that it has nothing to do with Santha Sakkubai's spirituality and his reformation.

Ajith's "Jana" runs on the line of "Baasha"

Ajith's "Jana" runs on the line of "Baasha"  

K.S.Ravikumar who is directing his latest project "Jaggubhai" is probably Superstar's best bet. For there are very few others who can come up with a film that will do justice to his fans. Maybe Shankar, if he goes back to his pre-"Boys" form.

Maybe Dharani, given his understanding of cinema. Maybe Mani Ratnam, the only director who has actually tapped Superstar's histrionic skills after K. Balachander. "Yenna ni en nanban," ("Because you are my friend") still remains etched in our memory just as `Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu', which was right at the top of BBC's last year's online poll for all-time hits.

Simbu's title credits bear semblance to Superstar's name tag.

Simbu's title credits bear semblance to Superstar's name tag.  

P.S: His fans do not dare to call him by name. They just say Superstar.

* * *

The basics

THERE IS only one `Superstar' in this part of the world. As Vikram said: "One sun. One moon. One Superstar." Others can only be a little or over the top.

Think Superman. Now, certainly a star can do much more than what any man can. Hence, Superstar {gt} Superman. Of course, he can fly. And make his whole chariot fly from one mountain to another. (Proof: "Muthu")

Superstar does not need to act or change his look from movie to movie. He just needs to stand in front of the camera. People will still pay to see him. Even James Bond has been played by different people. Not Superstar. Superstar plays Superstar in every movie.

Superstar always has something important to say. And even if it doesn't seem like it is, it is. At least, that's what his fans tell us.

You can go to the planetarium and keep track of every possible star. But not Superstar. Nobody knows when he comes or goes.

Ferrari isn't the best car in this part of the world. It's the Ambassador, which the Superstar uses.

Superstar does not need to call people for help. They come to him. Remember his fast after the Neyveli agitation shown live on TV. Not one line he uttered on stage. But the camera just stayed on his face for an entire day. Just like the sea of people around him. Time knows it is right when Superstar turns up for an appointment. They say people adjust their watches accordingly. As the "Baba" line goes: Known is a drop ... Unknown is an ocean. Ditto about Superstar.

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