IS IT ABOUT KSR?
has not been counted as a trendsetter
or a benchmark; he has not been acknowledged
as a master at his art; there are several
directors in the industry who are rated
higher than him in terms of technical
and artistic competence. But, the truth
is that the industry is almost always
in need for more people like K.S. Ravikumar.
He has been categorized as a ‘commercial
king’, who churns out unfailingly
entertaining stuff one after the other.
While that is not a wrong assessment,
it is incomplete. Yes, he knows how to
make commercial cinema. But, amidst this
entire commercial hubbub, he is also a
gifted practitioner of cinema at its colorful
best . As an industry that is inundated
content, we often tend to take a well made commercial
film for granted. There is a certain nonchalance with
which the media and film critics label a film as a
‘commercial potboiler’; as if making one
was as easy as boiling a pot of water. In fact, making
good commercial cinema (the one that does not make
you tired of the overwhelmingly unbelievable proceedings
on screen) is one of the toughest jobs in the film
industry. It is the one that necessitates the most
risky tight rope walk amongst all things in the industry.
If you want proof, then look at the number of wannabe
commercial entertainers that bite the dust every year.
It is only because striking the right balance for
an all out entertainer is as complex as a mathematical
equation. And, KSR has been cracking it in his entire
career without perhaps getting the due recognition
for what he has been doing. Commercial cinema is one
kind of cinema that has the least margin for error.
Veering slightly off course, on either side can make
the entire team look like a pack of jokers.
Why are the likes of KSR vital to the industry? Well,
because they are the ones who generate the most consistent
revenue. Like it or not, it is the entertaining brand
of cinema that keeps the industry going. That is why
we see numerous commercial attempts coming out of
the industry one after the other in spite of a large
number of failures that are seen with this genre.
Plainly speaking; that is where the money is and the
industry knows that the risk is worth taking and it
becomes an even more attractive proposition when the
likes of KSR are around.
That does not mean that a few more KSR type directors
will make the industry a ‘commercial ridden’
one; far from that. This is because KSR is not the
one who treats commercialism as the ‘one hero,
two heroines, fights, songs etc.’ formula. He
knows how to defy norms and still come out with films
that entertain you to the same extent. Yes, he has
gone with ‘formula’ on a few instances.
But, he has also given us some movies that are peerless.
For instance, he is one of the best handlers of comedy
at present; having handled side-splitting stuff like
Thenali and Panchathanthiram; which brings us to one
of the most important aspects of KSR – the respect
that he commands within the industry.
One does not get the opportunity to work with Kamal
Haasan five times without being a very special talent.
Now, one cannot think of anyone except the legendary
KB who has done this. And, Kamal has regularly picked
KSR for directing his comedies, which tells us a great
deal about the faith that Ulaga Naayagan has in this
man; not only in his ability to create good time-pass
fare, but also to uphold the aesthetic aspects of
cinema; Kamal never settles for commercialism which
derides the beauty of cinema. Now KSR will also be
directing Rajini for the third time when they start
their next project Rana.
He is the director in the industry whom the stars
trust the most when they want to give a good mass
entertainer. And, KSR must also be commended for not
once in his career resorting to stuff that is even
mildly vulgar, in spite of being labeled a commercial
kingpin. He has made stars out of many actors; like
Sarath Kumar; given vital breakthroughs, comebacks
and turnarounds for others; ask Ajith. Yes, he has
had his share of failures; who hasn’t? The most
significant success in KSR’s career was perhaps
Dasavatharam. It showed and proved beyond doubt that
he was much more than just an expert commercial turnover
technician. He showed his serious, calculative and
thinking side while executing this complicated script;
also consider the technical adeptness that was required
to shoot all 10 avatars of Kamal. And, the beauty
of it all was that he managed to infuse his brand
of rib tickling humor into the proceedings without
making it look like a deliberately introduced gimmick.
Yet, we know him only as ‘commercial king’;
not a ‘master craftsman’ or ‘cinematic
genius’. Its time we gave KSR his actual due.