Vijay Special: 20 Years of Vijay in Industry
From Naalaiya Theerpu to Thuppakki, his career has been memorable. He has worked with almost all the prominent directors, sizzling heroines, topnotch technicians and he has been a part of landmark commercial movies like Ghilli, Pokkiri and the latest Thuppakki.
“Not good looking”, “reserved”, “stereotypical” were some of those comments hurled at a young 18 year old Vijay, when he stepped on to the steps of Kollywood. Looking at where he is now, being fondly addressed as ‘Ilayathalapathy’ by his loyal fans, Vijay’s journey has been far from being a bed of roses. The actor has been through the downfalls but has gathered the strength and courage to bounce back like a phoenix whenever he has been criticised. Vijay is celebrating 20 years of filmdom in Kollywood. Cinemalead wishes the actor more success in the years to come. Here’s an article that takes you through the journey of the making of ‘Ilayathalapathy’.
To be frank, Vijay's entry into K-Town happened quite easy thanks to his successful director dad S A Chandrasekar. But Vijay faced criticism in the very first film ‘Naalaya Theerpu’ directed by his dad. Critics trashed him, writing him off as one who cannot act, dance or fight. But then, his film “Sendhoorapandi’ with Vijayakanth gave him a stronghold in the hearts of the B and C audience. Following this his films ‘Deva’, ‘Rasigan’, ‘Rajavin Parvailiye’ turned out to be average grossers.
Poove Unakaga was the first film of Vijay that was accepted by both the critics and the audience. Vijay delivered a mature performance in this film which was also his first blockbuster. After Poove Unakaga there was no looking back for Vijay. He delivered a series of hits in a row. He also acted with the legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan in ‘Once more’. A then critic from New Strait Times said "Vijay breezes through and he shows no nervousness opposite the great Sivaji". Recently Suhasini in an interview with Vijay reminisced that Vijay is one of the first actors who proved that even young actors can deliver success on the lines of super stars.
Vijay’s next film ‘Nerukku Ner’ with Suriya directed by Vasanth went on to become a hit. His big break came in the form of ‘Kadhaluku Mariyaadhai’. Directed by Fazil, the film starring Vijay opposite Shalini, took Vijay into the hearts of the family audience. Hits like ‘Ninaithen Vandhai’, ‘Priyamudan’ made Vijay a bankable star amongst the distributors. There were also some forgettable ventures like ‘Endrendrum Kadhal’, ‘Nenjinile’ and ‘Minsara Kanna’ that followed but Vijay quickly bounced with another blockbuster ‘Thulladha Manamum Thullum’.
Vijay delivered a Hat-rick with ‘Kushi’, ‘Priyamanavaley’, ‘Friends’. Success parties and celebrations made Vijay a phenomenon and soon he was beginning to be compared with Superstar Rajnikanth. But Vijay could not capitalise on that popularity as it crashed down with flops and average grossers like ‘Tamizhan’, ‘Youth’, ‘Bagavathi’, ‘Vaseegara’ and ‘Puthiya Geethai’.
The mass hero image of Vijay began with ‘Thirumalai’. With this film, Vijay silenced his critics over the argument that he cannot do commercial movies. With this, Vijay started doing a large number of commercial films. One of the biggest hits of Tamil cinema and the first Tamil movie to collect 50 crores at the box office was the majestic ‘Ghilli’. Vijay became the most sought after hero by the producers and a spate of commercial films like ‘Thirupaachi’, ‘Sivakasi’ and ‘Madura’ rolled out. Vijay was touted to be the next Rajnikanth. During this time Loyola college did a survey that showed that Vijay’s star power was almost equal to Rajnikanth and statistics had it that he was ahead of Rajnikanth by a small percentage. Vijay’s films started competing against Rajni and Kamal biggies and ‘Sachein’ marked the beginning of the box office battle of Vijay against them. Clashing against Chandramukhi and Mumbai Express, Sachein managed to earn a decent profit while Rajni’s Chandramukhi became a blockbuster. This was followed by a disastrous ‘Aadhi’. Just at a time when people started saying that Vijay should change his formula of acting in commercial films, Vijay daringly accepted to do ‘Pokkiri’ which topped the box office collections.
String of failures:
Sadly, Vijay chose to tread the commercial path and followed this with ‘Azhagiya Tamizh Magan’, ‘Kuruvi’, ‘Villu’, ‘Vettaikaran’ and ‘Suraa’. Among these, Vettaikaran was a modest success. Once again, Vijay was subjected to the scrutiny of the critics with questions on his star status. Next up, Vijay signed up for ‘Kaavalan’ with Siddique but shockingly distributors and theatre owners refused to buy the film until he settled the loss occurred to them through his previous films. Vijay settled the amount but still vested interests working against the actor tried to stop the screening of Kaavalan. However, Vijay came out with flying colours and his loyal fan base stood by him. This can be compared to MGR’s ‘Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban’ where MGR could not sell the film owing to political issues. A ray of hope came through with the change in power and Vijay released his ‘Velayudham’ against 7am arivu and became a hit at the box office.
Much needed change:
Though Kaavalan and Velayudham were hits, it was Vijay’s decision to do ‘Nanban’ that became the turning point in his career. Vijay regained his family audience who by that time had shifted loyalty to Suriya. ‘Nanban’ followed by ‘Thuppaki’ catapulted Vijay back into the hearts of the family audience. Both films were well accepted by the audience and the critics. The critics greatly appreciated Vijay’s acting skills and both the films went on to become Vijay’s biggest hits in his career, especially Thuppakki was the third all time biggest grosser in Kollywood after Endhiran and Sivaji.
What next? :
Vijay is in the right track, doing movies with experienced directors like AR Murugadoss and Shankar. These directors are also to be applauded for carving out roles that suit Vijay and weaving it into a beautiful and intelligent script. Vijay should choose such movies that exploit his potential as an actor. It can be noted that Suhasini Maniratnam recently said “This is a golden period of Tamil cinema. Almost 20 gems of directors are here right now. We know that heroes like Vijay are very talented but why do they not choose good directors?” Vijay’s choice of his future films will determine if his success journey continues or if he undergoes his cycles of ups and downs yet again. We wishes the actor on celebrating successful 20 years in Tamil cinema and a successful journey ahead.
Kollyinsider wishes the man referred to as the 'Ilaya Thalapathy', many more great years of entertaining. His fans have every reason to celebrate this occasion in a grand manner.