Star power

On a week when a Tamil film has proved to be the talking point all over, we have to indeed discuss the one man in Kollywood who has the courage and conviction to remain his own self, and not be cowed down by the negative comments and adverse reactions surrounding him and his works. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you the one and only (rimshot): ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan.

For those not clued into the happenings in Kollywood, the movie Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiya (being a small-budget comedy movie they have cut down on expenditure and carefully avoided many things including punctuations in the title) is running to packed houses in these parts and ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan is the main attraction in the film for the masses.

The day I caught the film in a local cinema hall there were spontaneous claps and whistles whenever ‘Power Star’ appeared on screen. Which is kind of surprising because in Tamil Nadu loud applause, in the second of week of a film’s release, is reserved only for —- mandatory corny Rajni joke alert —- two sets of heroes 1) Rajnikanth 2) Rajnikanth (He has the ability to be single-handedly categorized in two totally different groups).

But here ‘Power Star’ was running away with the show and bringing the roof down. So what was his role in the film?  Okay, I will give three choices for you to guess the part that he plays: 1) The hero 2) The arch villain 3) The main comedian.

The correct answer, of course, as the smart among you would have doubtless picked, is the fourth option: ‘none of the above’. Because this is a unique film and ‘Power Star’ plays the comical sidekick to the hero who actually plays the serious sidekick to the main comedian.

The film is essentially some comical set pieces barely strung together by a slight script that basically works at, what learned critics call, the subliminal level —- the level where you understand that all the competing films for the week are more insufferable.

But, as I said, this piece is not about the film. It is about him. How much success can you lay at the doors of man who has no redeeming skill? Is he plain lucky? Is he just riding on media hype and the popular tendency to celebrate the trivial and tenuous? Oops, sorry these were things that I had written down for a piece that I wanted to do on Rahul Gandhi.  What I am actually wondering about is what makes ‘Power Star’ tick

‘Power Star’, like it is the case with many successful people, has no real talent. Going by this film, he cannot emote. He cannot dance. But people find him funny. Yes, you are right he has all the makings to end up as a Salman Khan. But where ‘Power Star’ differs from Sallu bhai is: 1)) He does not sport a six-pack. 2) He has a walk that you would associate with a normal human being. (Salman, on the other hand, walks that walk of a man suffering from piles that is so bad that it has spread to his shoulders).

But make no mistake about it, ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan was always destined for cinematic greatness because he inherently has that one quality that all truly successful stars in Tamil Nadu have possessed: A strange title (prefix) to go with a perfectly normal name.

In Kollywood, it is a huge disrespect to call an actor by his — pay close attention here — name. Sathyaraj, for instance, is Purtachi Tamizhan. Then you have the likes of Ilaya Thalapathy, Supreme Star, Action King, Little Superstar, and, of course, what has to be the ultimate in the star list, Ultimate Star.

Now the question to ask is how can a ‘Superstar’ be ‘Little’. No, not that one. The real question to ask is who and on what basis gives these titles to these actors. Well, there is an honest and well-established scientific system through which these inspiring titles are handed out: Actors choose it for themselves. I mean I can’t imagine anybody breathing outside of Vishal to come up with the title Puratchi Thalapathy for him. (For the record, actor Srikanth is Ezhuchi Tamizhan)

‘Power Star’ seems a gift to an industry at a time when staid political correctness is the order of the day. We only hope that he doesn’t spoil his craft —- somebody please read this important advice to him — by actually learning to act.

Going forward, ‘Power Star’ has all the makings of an interesting phenomenon on Tamil screen. With him you don’t really need a joke for a scene to work. For, he is the joke. You see him. You kind of start laughing.

The only other person who has the charisma to pull this off is, well, Manmohan Singh.