I've never been a big fan of Ajith as an actor. But, as a human being, it’s a totally different issue. He is an individual I look up to in real life. Why? He's everything I want to be and more. He's a self made man, a successful actor, someone who will stand to politics and politicians even when he has everything to lose, and ... and ... get this ... he drives Formula 3 cars in Europe! Talk about jet - setter. This guy is probably India's suavest multitasker, and judging by what his comrades say, he's not even a Casanova. What a perfect guy, but as an actor?
Well, I had my doubts till Mankatha came along, but watching it last night, those washed away too. All I have to say now is ... what a perfect guy!
I'll do a detailed analysis of this movie later, because I have some strong feelings about it and want to use it as an example about where I think contemporary Tamil cinema is headed. But right now, this one is for Ajith and his gazillion fanatics (of whom I'm admittedly one). So, an ode to the Ultimate Star... a eulogy to the Thala...
There's a distinct vibe about this guy ... he polarizes opinion. you either love him or you hate him, and there's hardly any middle ground. There's no other actor you can really cross your heart and say that about. Nobody ever hates Rajni. Some like his acting, others die for his style and charm, and yet others will stand by hi his spiritualism. With Kamal, his only detractors are those who take offense at his social and religious mores; but even they cannot deny his thespian prowess. No matter what you say about Vijay, the ultimate formula - man, he's really got his boy next door appeal. There's nary a soul in this world that dislikes Surya, and much as Vikram can grate on your senses sometimes, none will say that he doesn't put his life and soul into everything he does.
So, we come back to Ajith. The things that polarize people about him are the same things that feed all these other demigods. Sure, he's stylish, but you'd have to be as elitist as he is to imitate him ... nope sorry, that cigarette trick just doesn't cut it, pal. As far as acting goes, admit it... he's no Kamal ... no one is. Yes, he's handsome, but is he someone you can see standing at the street corner chatting it up with you, like Vijay? Surya is about as likely to sport a paunch as Ajith is to baring a six pack. Finally, even though he's diversified his portfolio as an actor of late, there's no way in hell he's put himself through so many different experiences as Vikram has.
So, there you go. This guy's stylish, but not gimmicky, he's trying his best, but the game's a hard one to play, he's suave, but a cut above you and me (not Navy cut, which he's too sophisticated to smoke anyway), he's fit, but not in an I-want-to-kill-myself-when-I look-at-you kind of way, and he's versatile but not wed to that philosophy. What he is ... what he is is REAL. He's a human being with goodness in his heart, down to earth and someone who knows his limitations and can make the best use of what he's got.
For instance, he can drive ... boy, can he drive! And so he does those handbrake turns and drifts himself. He's got style, so he makes sure that all his movies have the oomph quotient. He's understated, so he makes sure he gets roles akin to Eastwood and Brando, rather than deNiro and Carry. And above all, its clear that he has a deep empathy for his fellow human beings (which is why he's one actor who enquires about the day - to - day affairs of everyone in his cast and crew), and a great zest for life. His fan base is not only the most vocal in the state (after that one guy ... superstar or something), but also the most giving. His fans love him more for his off-screen persona than for the things he does on it. They do good deeds in his name, and when they go over the top, he keeps them grounded. And they adore him for it.
All this brings me back to the role he essayed in Mankatha. Director Venkat Prabhu said that Ajith wanted a Heath Ledger's Jokeresque part to play. And he delivered with aplomb (or as much aplomb as is possible for a non - Nolan director). You see, to do a Ledgeresque Joker, you either have to be a real life psychopath, or be so confident in your inherent humanity that you can pull off pure evil without it scarring you forever. Ledger (rest his soul), literally gave his life for that performance, and while Ajith is no psycho, is badass enough to realize that his innate goodness can save him from a similar fate. He did a fantastic job ... bottom line.
And this choice of role brings me to my second point. Rajni did Sri Raghavendra for his 100th. Vijay did Sura for his 50th. And more power to them (I'd give my left ball to spend a day with either of them). Rajni did that role to say thanks for his charmed existence. And Vijay portrayed his to acknowledge his fans. Ajith, on the other hand, constructed sixteen titanium inlaid carbon fiber balls to do what he did in Mankatha. High risk and on the edge is clearly what this man thrives on.
That is why he'll do a baddie to end all baddies in hi s 50th, that is why he'll invest his life savings on 200mph deathtraps when he's 40+, that is why he's stand up to the CM, and that too in his own appreciation ceremony (of which there were admittedly many). That's wh6y, as I say ... what a perfect guy! Ajith’s 50th - Does Thala rule? You bet he does!
I've never been a big fan of Ajith as an actor. But, as a human being, its a totally different issue. He is an individual I look up to in real life. Why? He's everything I want to be and more. He's a self made man, a successful actor, someone who will stand to politics and politicians even when he has everything to lose, and ... and ... get this ... he drives Formula 3 cars in Europe! Talk about jet - setter. This guy is probably India's suavest multitasker, and judging by what his comrades say, he's not even a Casanova. What a perfect guy, but as an actor?