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MULTISTARRERS, AAMIR KHAN AND MANKATHA….
By Arun Gopinath
That Mankatha has won the appreciation of the crowds is now beyond dispute. Of course, there are varied degrees to which people have liked the movie; hardcore Ajith fans are absolutely over the moon with excitement, general entertainment lovers too are happy with the fare served, but the best part is that even the hard-nosed, logic craving ‘Hollywoodophiles’ are finding Mankatha acceptable. The last category of audiences are the ones who always ask questions of Tamil movies (mostly concerning logic and reason) which are conveniently forgotten while watching

  Ajith
Hollywood flicks (even if it shows one man suspending 50 odd missiles in mid-air by virtue of his magnetic powers). But, that is a separate debate.

But, Mankatha has once again opened up the debate of multi-starrers. Truth to be said, there is nothing more worthy of celebration in cinema than a well made multi-starrer (with two or more big stars). It is like having two scoops of different flavor ice creams on your plate; it’s great. Yet, Tami cinema has always been in denial mode about the power of a multi-starrer. There have been few attempts, here and there, but it has never really got consistent. Of course, everyone understands date issues and budget concerns. But, going by interviews given by some of the leading directors of our times, things suggests that dates and budgets are not the main reasons behind the dearth of multi-starrers.

One can recall an interview given by Samudirakani (director of Naadodigal) where he said that he had approached a couple of leading heroes with the script. He got frustrated and decided to make it with relatively smaller names because the heroes whom he approached had wanted all the space to themselves; they simply weren’t willing to share the high points of the script with the other characters, they merely had to be sidekicks. But, otherwise, they were impressed with the script! That is the reason many multistarrers failed to take off in Kollywood.

Only rare directors like Bala and Mani Ratnam have been able to cajole stars into taking up multi-starrers without feeling the insecurity of being outshone by their counterparts. In a way, Mankatha shows that an actor willing to share screen space does not look inferior. Ajith, (even though it was his fiftieth film and he has built a career mostly on mass oriented heroic performances) took the brave option of giving enough space to all characters on screen, even letting a character played by Premji outsmart him (even though it was only for a while) and allowing the character played by Vaibhav to slap him; unthinkable in Tamil cinema’s orthodox ways; and most importantly, allowing Arjun to play the most well concealed character of the film. The results are there to be seen; no one is saying that Ajith undersold his star value; they are only full of praise for him.

Someone who has mastered the art of sharing screen space is Aamir Khan; most stars can learn from him. Look at the number of blockbusters this man has delivered through multi-starrers. In act, over the last decade he has done more multi-starrers than solo films. Take for example, a Dil Chahta Hai (which sprung a whole new breed of coming of age films in Indian cinema, the latest of which is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara); he shared the screen and allowed a considerable amount of scope to be given to Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna (who at that time were considerably smaller stars than him). Then there was Rang De Basanti where he allowed a rookie like Siddharth to do the most powerful scene of the movie while he stood in the background. And, Three Idiots (yes, it did give a lion’s share of all the good things to Aamir) is also a good example. There is no other top star in Indian cinema who has understood the art of screen sharing quite like Aamir Khan and used it to perfection time and time again. Let’s hope more stars take a leaf out of his book.
Tags : MankathaAjithSamudirakaniMani RatnamAamir KhanZindagi Na Milegi Dobara
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