An avid Tamil cinema fan knows the “build-up” scene for a star all too well. The audience is treated to a series of questions and comments that deify the hero before we see him, body part by body part: Do you know who he is? Do you know what he can do?
A scene that foreshadows Muthuvel Pandian’s (Rajinikanth) transformation from a mild-mannered pensioner to a supercop refers to the protagonist by a curious name – a dinosaur.
Rajinikanth’s hesitation to appear as a greying senior isn’t a simple case of vanity. After all, the actor has always appeared without a wig or makeup in public and for stage shows. But when it came to cinema, Rajinikanth was wary of alienating his audience.
Tamil cinema’s relationship with alcohol is more complicated than with smoking, which has largely been used as a style statement. Drinking alcohol has almost always been an indicator of sadness or tragedy (like a failed romance) informing the hero’s life.
The attempts made by these young filmmakers may not always work but they’re necessary to establish a new order. After all, the verdict from the audience is clear – stars need to reinvent themselves if they are to stay relevant.