Why: It was the trailer that shocked a state. Leading ladies in Tamil cinema are still expected to be virginal arm candy, and even the “heroine-oriented” films keep them in a cage – you can step out to play horror-movie victims (like Nayanthara) or message-spouting do-gooders (like Jyotika), but no more. So when Amala Paul appeared naked in Aadai, it was disruption of the highest order. The film itself was like nothing you’d seen – a concept-driven curiosity. But the design of the protagonist went further. The character was bold, obnoxious, non-virginal, potty-mouthed – and she spent a good chunk of the film in her birthday suit. (It was her birthday, to boot.) It wasn’t sleazy. It wasn’t exploitative. It was just an actor telling Kollywood: I have the guts to play this part. Do you have the guts to accept me?
Streaming giant ALTBalaji added a staggering 20M paid subscribers.
Pariyerum Perumal changed the notion of Dalit characters on screen.
His political documentary Vivek dares to question the powers that be.
The actor is probably the only superstar of the post-Modi era.