The `Superstar' genre

The imitation works_ `Ilaya Thalapathy' Vijay with Trisha in "Gilli"  

SUPERSTAR DOES not act as often as he used to. Or maybe `act' is the wrong word because he does not need to. He just needs to be there. Anyway, the point is that he has not been around.

But his brand of cinema is alive, if the success of `Tirupaachi' is any indication.

Tirupaachi is formula-filmmaking at its best with a script which goes like this: First half: Hero introduction song, much like Annamalai (whistle, whistle), brother-sister sentiment, item song with Chaaya Singh, Superstar style comedy, sentiment song, sister gets married to city, Hero meets heroine, song, one out of the three villains bumps off someone important and pushes hero to the edge. Second half: Two songs. Five fights. Hero kills all villains. Numbering some two hundred and eighty seven people in all (approximately, not exaggerated though) including `Pan Parag' Ravi, `Saniyan' Sakade and `Pataasu' Baalu.

With a plot like that, you have no choice but to depend on the star to deliver.

The imitation works_ `Ilaya Thalapathy' Vijay with Trisha in Tirupaachi"

The imitation works_ `Ilaya Thalapathy' Vijay with Trisha in Tirupaachi"  

Which is what Vijay does in `Tirupaachi.' Just like he did in `Tirumalai'. In `Gilli'. In `Madurey'.

In Superstar's footsteps

With his mannerisms and a style of his own, the `Ilaya Thalapathy' does remind us of the `Thalapathy.' Yes, of Superstar. One would have thought that no one can ever get into Superstar's shoes but Vijay surely seems to be getting his feet in shape. Critics might call him an imitation. But they also would admit that he does a very good job of it and more successfully than other wannabes.

Let's face it, we have just got to see Superstar on screen twice in seven years and his last film was not exactly the usual `Superstar' brand of cinema. He might have grown old yet, like Abbas says in Padayappa: "What a man!"

But because he has become choosy about his films, we don't get the variety of cinema he used to entertain us with. The masala doses. The truth is that we are all starved of cinema of the Superstar variety. Barring Vijay, the imitations are many and poor. We love Superstar not just for being him, we love him more for the kind of cinema he represented — the kind where he does Superman stunts. Don't we just surrender? Willing suspension of disbelief. The cheesy special effects, the comic timing, the brave do-gooder who will stop at nothing to ensure justice, the man who does not need to chase the girl, the representative of God. When Trisha gives Vijay a bracelet from the Raghavendra temple in `Tirupaachi,' we know who has taken over the legacy of that brand of cinema. The Superstar genre. We want to see a matinee idol thrash the trash out of the bad guys. In style. Period. That's Superstar cinema.

And only Vijay does it consistently with panache, pizzazz and all that jazz that basically means `shtyle' — the quintessential element of Superstar cinema. Make way for the prince.

PS: The king returns next month with Chandramukhi. Yay!