Friday, June 25, 2010

And now for a little Idli-Sambar - Vikram, My Southie Favorite

There's a lot of buzz about "Chiyaan" Vikram these days, and rightfully so. The buzz about Raavan vs. Raavanan almost unanimously proclaims that Vikram blew Abhishek out of the water in the title role. I have only seen the tamil version, and as usual Vikram's acting was incredibly compelling. It's hard to imagine that ANYONE could out-act him in this role, I don't care if your name IS Khan. That role was made for Vikram.

For those just jumping on the bandwagon after Raavan/Raavanan, Vikram has been a HUGE fan favorite in Tamil films for a long time now. He has proven himself as a truly refined actor in film after film, taking on challenging, complex roles with both positive and negative shades, many times both in one. His films are what we Tamil Movie fans look forward too (and sometimes we get disappointed, cough cough, KANDHASAMY). He has a sort of gruff, ultra masculine appeal and an on-screen intensity that can cause goosebumps.

I spotted him pretty early on, in the 1997 film Ullasam in which he co-starred with Ajith Kumar and Maheshwari. The story was pretty simple, a criminal (Raghuvaran) lived near a good upstanding citizen (SPB), the son of the good guy (Ajith) starts working with the criminal, so his father after trying to sway his son and failing, starts to encourage the criminal's son (Vikram) to go good. Naturally the two boys end up falling for the same girl (Maheshwari), who falls for Ajith's character. Being a sensitive sucker, I totally felt bad for Vikram's character and therefore loved him ever since. But then again, there's a certain animal magnetism about him, as evidenced in numbers like this:


Interestingly enough, this movie was produced by ABCL, Amitabh Bachchan's production company! I can see why Vikram and Abhishek go way back.

However no one else seemed to notice his awesomeness until 1999, when Sethu came out. Sethu is the movie from which he got his nickname of "Chiyaan" -- it's his character's nickname in the movie. It's a really sad, depressing movie honestly, but no one can deny his acting abilities, especially in the scenes after he is attacked and ends up with brain damage.


This movie was remade in Hindi as Tere Naam and starred Salman Khan and Bhumika Chawla.

Oh Sallz. The bald look would have been better.

A string of hits followed for Vikram, including Dhill (which was remade in Hindi as Dum starring Vivek Oberoi and Diya Mirza), Kasi (another depressing one in which he plays a blind man - won him the Filmfare Best Tamil Actor award), Gemini (which features the fabulous song "Oh Podu" and won him the IFTA Best Actor award), Arul (with Southie sweetheart Jyothika) and the much-talked about Pithamagan (which EVERYONE loved and I hated. He was tremendous in it as another handicapped character and yes, he won the Filmfare Tamil Best Actor, National Film Award and Tamil Nadu State Film awards, but it was just SO depressing).

Some of MY favorite movies of his are:

1. Dhool (2003)
This movie had a lot of the same elements as most Tamil movies, the single, angry hero from a small, simple background going after the corrupt politicians, but somehow this one was more fun. Sure, it was enhanced by the fun presence of the leading ladies, Jyothika and Reema Sen, and even more so by the amazing Parvai Muniyamma.
Parvai Muniyamma is a big part of why I loved this movie, because she made the following fight scene 100x better:



The songs in this movie were amazing! We were totally obsessed with them when it came out.

Koduva Meesai was THE hit song at my sister's wedding in 2004 and still got everyone on the dance floor at my wedding a year later. It was awesome because there were Punjabi guys on the dance floor dancing their hearts out and then they suddenly realized they were dancing to a Tamil song! They looked so confused!



I have a weird affection for Reema Sen, I really loved her in Minnale and feel like she has some solid talent, but keeps getting roles like this one. This song is still catchy though:



LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this song, Aasai Aasai. Get the point?



This movie also has the fabulous comedy stylings of Vivek who enters at about 2:20, and who never fails to make me laugh, and the intense villainy of the amazing Pasupathy (whose role in Kuselan completely blows away Irfan Khan's attempt in the Hindi remake, Billu Barber) who comes in at about 0:44:



All in all, Dhool is a win.

2. Kadhal Sadugudu (2003)
So this film is considered a complete flop, and I don't really get why. I don't really remember the movie in its entirety, but it was a love story, with the overwhelming father (played by the fabulous Prakash Raj) opposing the union. I DO remember the romantic scenes though, and I thought they were fantastic! Memorable, full of intensity, passion and tension. Or maybe I'm just remembering that there was a full-on kiss between Vikram and heroine Priyanka Trivedi.

Highly disturbing though was the fact that they decided to suddenly adapt 80s classic "Yeh Vaada Raha" into tamil???
 

And yeah, apparently you can watch the movie online. Maybe I'll do a re-watch and see if I still like it.



3. Saamy (2003)
One of my favorites!!! Trisha Krishnan plays a Palghat Iyer brahmin girl, which she is in real life. This was exciting to me because I am too. REPRESENT!


So it's not a new story, Good cop trying to battle corruption and all that. It was still interesting and masala enough to keep one entertained throughout. The BEST thing was of course, the songs!!!

This is me and my husband's SONG. No its not a soft, romantic number. It's a hardcore thappanguthu song. And it is SOOO FUN. The best is the verse in which he says she looks yummy and talks nice, can she cook yummy too? And she replies that she can make a special lentil dish for him if he wishes. He says "Did I ask you for prasadam (food offered to God for blessings)? Can you cook any spicy rice dishes?" and she says she can make spicy pepper rasam and preserves/pickle really well and for him to try it. He then says "Can you make crab? Can you make Chicken? Can you make Leg of Goat soup?" and she ends up telling him to check out her waist, it's nice and hot! HAHAHA.



My other favorite song in this movie is Pudichirikku - I used to LOVE this song!



And of course the signature hero entry song:



4. Majaa (2005)
I really, really liked this movie. It was SO different from what I expected Vikram to do following the success of Anniyan, which I will talk about shortly. But the story was different and sort of fun! And it also starred the super amazing Pasupathy and one of my favorite senior actors, Manivannan. Manivannan and his two sons, Pasupathy and Vikram, are former petty criminals trying to mend their ways. Pasupathy has a harder time than Vikram adjusting (kind of like how Jasper Hale is having a harder time becoming an emo sparkly vegetarian vampire than Edward Cullen. You know you want to read Twilight). They come across our heroine, Asin, while trying to help a friend. She's the daughter of our villain, and in fighting each other, she and Vikram fall in love. Of course Daddy Dearest isn't too happy at first, but once he realizes that they sincerely love each other, he agrees to arrange the marriage. However an accusation during the wedding could possibly separate the happy couple! GASP! Did Pasupathy fall back to his old ways?

Again, the songs!!!

This number was the most popular from the movie, and the most racy too. Coincidence?



This a really great, peppy, fun dance number:



Honestly, it's a tough call as to whether Vikram or Pasupathy is really the star of this movie.

5. Anniyan (2005)
Anniyan is THE ultimate Vikram movie. It was apparently inspired by the Sidney Sheldon novel 'Tell Me Your Dreams', which I have never read. It won 8 Filmfare (South) awards, including Best Tamil Actor for Vikram. I'm surprised Vikram's nickname wasn't changed to Ambi or Remo after this movie. His characters are incredible. Ambi is meek, sweet and pitiable. Remo is annoyingly cool and Westernized, and, well ... you'll just have to see. Sada has a good solid role as his love interest, Nandini. Prakash Raj shows his usual brilliance in the Police Chief role, and Vivek provides some of his hilarious comedy in a side role. It's a fantastic psychological thriller, borderline crazy at some parts, but has a good backstory, mythology, etc. There are heartbreaking moments, side-stiching moments, cover-your-eyes-scary moments, etc. It definitely requires a certain suspension of belief, but if you're an Indian movie fan, that should be a given. I have seen this movie at least 4-5 times and I just don't get sick of it.

And of course, the brilliant songs!!!







(scroll in a little to get to the song)


There's A LOT of SPOILER clips on the ErosTamil YouTube Channel ... this one has subtitles but is super-duper spoilery, so don't check it out unless you aren't planning to see the movie (which you REALLY should, it's fantastic).

Here's a scene where Vikram's acting totally broke my heart into little pieces. Non-spoilery and subtitled too.

I have to give special mention to the movie Bheema, which was his most recent release before Kandhasamy and Raavanan. The songs were EXCELLENT and most of the movie was pretty good too, it's just the ending that threw me for a loop. But Bheema's songs are worth checking out, especially Ragasiya Kanavugal and Mudhal Mazhai.

I recently saw the tamil version of Raavan (Raavanan) which starred Vikram in the title role of Veera (Abhishek Bachchan plays the role in the Hindi version) and this, like Anniyan, is a movie where you can watch him go through the whole spectrum of emotion in a moment. He had incredible chemistry with his co-star Aishwariya Rai, and really made the character of Veera believable and likeable. I'm excited to see the hindi version, in which he plays the opposite role of Dev, the police man. And I also hope that now that a larger audience has seen the talent he possesses, the scripts that come his way in the future will be more refined and showcase him as the mature, dedicated and powerful actor that he is.

11 comments:

  1. Great posting. I luv Majaa it is so refreshing entertaining . Still try to get hold on more Vikram DVDs. Not an easy job

    Daniela from Austria

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  2. A great introduction -- it's obvious his role in Raavanan and the "controversy" has meant he's caught the attention of a growing audience, and it's great to think more of his work will be seen by more viewers!

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  3. @KAtherine on our German speaking board his thread was openen 2007 , so he has been already recognized prior to Raavanan / Raavan. It is just tough to get hold on DVDs from Tamil and Malayam movies here in Europe.

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  4. Wonderful post!! Now I'm all caught up! :D

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  5. A very nice analysis on chiyaan vikram, some movies might be flop, but it touches the peoples heart with his action

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  6. @Daniela -- yes I do know there's a core of Vikram fans out there, just nice to see the recognition spreading outwards even further at this point, and didn't mean to imply he was a total unknown (which I know isn't the case).

    Hopefully that'll help with availability of DVDs at some point (fingers crossed, anyway).

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  7. Thank you so much everyone! I am excited that newer audiences are appreciating Vikram these days, and it's great to hear that he has such a widespread and devoted fan base!

    Generally it IS harder to find Tamil DVDs, and they are also more expensive.

    Interesting that Vikram's performance in Raavan/Raavanan is the catalyst for a revived interest in Tamil movies. The last time I remember something like this happening was when A.R. Rahman came out with the soundtracks for Roja, Kaadhalan (Humse Hai Muqabla), and Gentleman (The Gentleman). Hmmm, inspiration for a new post?

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  8. Fantastic, comprehensive post for someone like me, who admittedly has just jumped on the Vikram bandwagon. You say it so well, "He has a sort of gruff, ultra masculine appeal and an on-screen intensity that can cause goosebumps." Thanks for explaining the origin of the nicknaam, and I'll have to see the original Tere Naam now.

    All the best!
    Sita-ji

    p.s. why am I only finding your blog now! Must add you to my humble blogroll behen. :)

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  9. Thank you Sita-ji! I LOVE your site! The recent study on Elizabeth's character in Lagaan is just wow. And yeah, for more of his powerhouse acting, I'd definitely recommend Sethu, Kasi and Pithamagan. However if you just like to ogle him and enjoy him being masculine (like I do), then movies like Dhool and Majaa are better bets. :-)

    Oh and being very new to the blogosphere, I am so grateful for the warm welcome. You guys are fantastic!

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  10. I Love you Amaluu...I'm crazy bout u...please marry me........plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz coz i love u.........ill do anything for u

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  11. Haha - wow Anonymous! Thanks ... I'll ask my husband what he thinks about that, ok? ;-)

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