The 'Dhool' matinee idol

And with `Dhool', Vikram has arrived as the matinee idol of our times — `Sethu', `Dhil', `Kasi', `Gemini' and now `Dhool' — five thumping hits in a span of two and a half years!

COOL IS pass�. What's in is `Dhool'. Vikram is back with a bang after `Gemini' and his latest release has registered record-breaking collections in recent times. But more significant than the money spun out is the response that greets the screens, every time the rustic Arumugam (Vikram in `Dhool') flexes muscle.

Not since the days of `Basha' or `Padayappa' has the city seen such euphoria. Show after show, when Paravai Muniyamma springs into `Madurai Veeran Thaan' on screen, the audience rises on its feet to celebrate their hero's growing stature. Some sing along, a few dance in front of the screen and the shrill of whistles continues throughout the song, as a few drunk fans shower the baddies of the piece with the choicest of expletives — something that usually has happened before only during Rajnikant or Kamal Hasan movies of yesteryear.

For the past few years, the audience hasn't had a hero it could worship. Yes, there has been a scarcity of matinee idols in recent times. Of course, the industry did have saleable stars, who delivered a flop almost after every big hit. But not quite another Sivaji or MGR or Rajni or Kamal.

Just like the short-lived Hrithik mania, the city too celebrated Madhavan during his debut.

But it was not before `Run' that Madhavan actually broke into rural territories, to make a significant impact with the masses. Ajit made a comeback of sorts with `Villain' but due to his limited releases, the gifted actor hasn't got a chance to consolidate his position.

That leaves us with Vijay, who has refused to break away from his image and do different roles and Prashanth, who is still waiting for that elusive super hit, having shone in his recent roles.

Talking of the seniors, Vijaykanth and Sarath Kumar, busy with their commitments and select roles, are only too content with their current fan following, and continue to cater to their tastes. With Kamal's unrest and resolve to do meaningful and quality cinema and Rajni yet to talk about his next cinematic move, the audience seems to have limited hopes from these icons.

A matinee idol, on the other hand, is a superhero, an icon that the audience looks up to, worships, celebrates and feels great about. He often echoes their sentiments, for he plays one among them and does on screen everything which they wished they could.

And with `Dhool', Vikram has arrived as the matinee idol of our times — `Sethu', `Dhil', `Kasi', `Gemini' and now `Dhool' — five thumping hits in a span of two and a half years!

Here's a sample of reasons that's put him right on top: Commitment (right from knocking off 21 kgs in as many days for `Sethu' to putting on some kilos for a 20 inch arm in 20 days for `Dhool'), hardwork (It has been 18 years of struggle since his days in college) and a drive to take on different roles and his refusal to fall into a slot (Sample `Sethu', `Dhil', `Kasi', `Gemini', `Samurai', `King' and `Dhool' — no repeating himself).

Vikram now gears up to play a tough cop opposite Trisha in `Saami' (to be directed by the talented Hari, who delivered `Tamizh' for Prashanth), and is at present shooting in Karaikudi for a May release. Vikram's next release however, is in March — `Mugavari' Durai's `Kathal Sadugudu' with Priyanka Trivedi. Vikram hasn't had a holiday in the last three years. But he has no regrets, like he says, he has to catch up with years of sitting at home!

A visit to your closest cinema hall will tell you what a phenomenon the soft spoken gentleman with the boy next door looks has today become.

By Sudhish Kamath

Photo: R. Ragu

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