When Thala Ajith Unleashed The ‘Performer’ In Him

The superstar has of late been starring in one mass entertainer after the other. We look back at his earlier films where he entertained us with his diverse performances
When Thala Ajith Unleashed The ‘Performer’ In Him

The man of the masses 'Thala' Ajith Kumar is set to begin shooting for Viswasam in Hyderabad next week. The team has planned a long shooting schedule to make up for lost time due to the 48-day industry strike. The film is expected to be an accessible mass entertainer like Veeram and Vedalam (the two previous successful collaborations of Ajith with director Siva).

 Ajith predominantly does mass action entertainers nowadays; he either plays a law enforcer or a ruffian. Many observers have pointed out that the 47-year-old star should experiment with his choices, like he did in many of his earlier films. We look back at those memorable films where Ajith impressed us as a performer.

Among his many films as a handsome lover boy between 1993 and 1998, Aasai, Kadhal Kottai and Kadhal Mannan stood out. Though none of these were extraordinary performances, Ajith showed enough potential which would later be tapped by other directors. He established himself as an energetic young hero and developed a solid fan base amongst youngsters.
1999 was a breakout year for Ajith as he brilliantly played his first negative role in the much-loved Vaali, directed by SJ Suryah. As contrasting twins Deva and Shiva, Ajith got to exhibit a wide range of emotions. While his usual lover boy traits were reserved for Shiva, Deva was the sinister brother who lusted after his twin brother's wife. Vaali was quite a bold movie at the time and continues to be a major milestone for all associated with it. In 1999, Ajith also played an action hero convincingly in Amarkalam, the film in which he met his soul mate Shalini.

In 2000, Ajith gave restrained and mature performances in films like Kandukonden Kandukonden and Mugavari. In the former, he played an aspiring film director while in the latter, he played an aspiring music director. Both these films endeared him to the family audience.

Citizen in 2001 remains Ajith's most ambitious film to date. He sported many looks in the film with the help of complex prosthetic makeup. He had then admitted to being inspired by Kamal Haasan to take up such a film. His performance as a fisherman in the film's emotionally charged flashback sequence stood out. In 2002, Villain was not just a formulaic mass masala entertainer with the actor in dual roles as twins (Shiva and Vishnu). He also got to unleash the performer in him for the character of Vishnu who had a physical handicap and developmental disability.

After a long testing phase, Varalaru happened in 2006 and Ajith got to play triple roles in this K.S.Ravikumar directorial. He was particularly brilliant as the effeminate dancer Shivashankar and his abandoned son Jeeva. Much to everyone's surprise, Ajith convincingly pulled off the dance sequences too. Kireedam in 2007 was like a throwback to the good old 'Mugavari' days of Ajith. His emotional outburst in the climax was spoken about widely at the time.

Though Billa didn't demand much from Ajith as a performer, his screen presence, style and costumes were in a different league. Billa is seen by many as the most slick and glossy Tamil film. In his 50th film Mankatha, Ajith epitomized all things 'badass' and came up with an uninhibited performance. It was quite a gutsy move to play a 40 year old man driven by money. The risk paid off! Ajith's cameo in English Vinglish was also given a warm welcome due to its charming appeal; it was a relief to see Ajith not being an action hero, for a change!

Yennai Arindhaal saw a change in treatment and style for Ajith, as it was a trademark Gautham Menon film. The brief flashback sequence in Vedalam, where Ajith played a boisterous North Madras rowdy (with the all-time favourite 'Aaluma Doluma' song sequence) was also new for him.

In his recent films, Ajith has mostly delivered one-note performances. Clearly the focus has been more on his screen presence (high speed shots, a stylish walk and the works), risky action sequences and gallery pleasing moments. We hope to see Ajith in performance-heavy parts too, every now and then.

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