kuselan- the subtext
The boss was back, and was sent back! This simple one liner is enough for the greedy money-mongers in kodambakkam to invest around 50 crores.
Sure, this would have been enough for great directors to visualize a schemata and a scenario in their minds, great script writers would certainly be able to weave a magical movement in it. But, the `brains’ that allegedly function and boast that they are on par with those whose creativity they unabashedly steal and plagiarize, have constantly run into trouble. They steal the story, some dialogues, some music and even some camera angles- what they fail to do is steal the great artistes who would have made the whole work good if not great. Since everything works, or so it is believed, around the artiste- it is a tough and daunting task indeed for the `creators’ of Chennai cinema houses. They always take the original story and style, put it onto the persona of the star, and start trimming and pulling and pushing till the whole thing goes out of shape. This blatant disrespect for art is called modification by some and adaptation by others. After the making of an ugly if not shameful product, they spent all their pent-up creative energy in a passionate promotion. Interviews in media, planned leaks, gossips are all well orchestrated for every such ridiculous movie. This `script’ ends in three possible ways-
1. everyone makes money, everyone is happy
2.some make money, some are happy
3.everyone loses money and nobody is happy.
In the case of Kuselan- the mega film that arrived to take on the mega(!) dasavatharam, the scenario has become different. No one is happy. Some have made money, but not the way and amount that they dreamt. Some have lost in a big way because their greedy gamble simply failed. The loss of money was startling and scary for the hitherto sycophants and they demand that their lottery ticket be refunded. The unsuspectingly tortured members of the measly audience, many of whom have the additional tag of a shamed fan, can never reclaim their ticket money. They have wasted their time and money- (parking fee, the canteen cost and the actual ticket value notwithstanding, they may also have to spend on anti-depressants).
What went wrong? Of late many things go wrong in tamil filmdom. Young kids who have been hanging around festivals have been able to find some producers. All those `arty’ films and all those `commercial’ films seen every day in work, have made these guys come up with fairly interesting, slick and economically sensible films. They have shown profits. They have drawn the audience to the theatres. The money-makers have sniffed blood. If a squirrel can yield so much meat, they want to catch the lion (even if the big one should have retired long ago). In the pursuit of their lion-hunt, they have tripped and been trampled by passing elephants.
What is interesting in the current scenario is that the erstwhile star-gazing theatre owners and distributors have rebelled. They cannot ( they claim in greed and shame) put up with losses anymore. They demand repayment! This cheap bad-losing behavior’s humour quotient apart, what is relevant in the drama is the fading image of the super star.
Is the public aghast? Are the streets streaming with sad and angry mobs? Is there a public outrage? Are couch-static socially concerned lap top owners typing out blogs? Nothing of significance has happened. Simply because what happened is not actually significant. It does not concern the average person’s survival and growth in a confused Indian socio-politico-economic milieu. It will not. But, the second page news that this trivia in life makes is superficially amazing. Media needs news. The visual medium is dependent on superstars for viewership. The print media is unfortunately also in the imaginary world where a star makes news every time there is a sneeze. No wonder no one was very critical of the boshed up butterfly effect.
The socio-psychological truth that emerges from the super flop and the subsequent rebellion against Rajnikant needs to be carefully observed and understood. Despite the prostrating media, despite the hype of a sincere and successful promotion, the product failed. It did not fail because the superstar was present only in a small portion of the film. That the star is doing a cameo role was something that the media have been blaring about from the time the film was decided ( It was not conceived! Conceptions are original). It failed because it was a bad film. In the past bad films were able to survive and even succeed just by the charismatic star’s presence. But then those were the times when fresh, young and good talent was not available in the arena. Now with newer directors and better films, it is but natural that bad films fail. They shall fail irrespective of the star value they may boast. They shall fail despite the best selling campaigns in the world.
Another angle to this story was seen in another blog (vinavu.wordpress.com) in which the writer wonders on the validity of star based stories circulated by magazines. It shows how these magazines of tamilnadu, irrespective of their professed pseudo- integrity, have been drooling for news about the star, in the hope of luring readership. If the fragments of this stardom and its on-off descent into `human-dom’, was really so much the staple food for thought for the starved and yearning tamil minds, even a trash film by the star should have been a super-seller. This is not the first time this has happened. Earlier baba flopped. But the journalist jingbang could not resist the temptation to hail the fact that the superstar had graciously accepted the defeat- as though he had any other option. When his next film became a hit, crap about a horse falling dead is not equal to an elephant falling down and similar bizarre stuff mouthed by an angry loser were hailed as vignettes of quotable wisdom!
Kuselan has failed. This is a story of greed and illusion- both being the ideal ingredients of an inevitable failure. But the valiant and courageous band of journalists (as they call themselves) have not given up. They still hold his flag high. They wait for a miracle that would reinstate public belief in the star and revive their sales. A miracle is what the original story of kuselan described. The miracle was not how a poor man became rich by god’s design. The miracle described was the intensity and integrity of a real friendship. But then such sub-texts are beyond our learned people in the print industry. For them a star never fades, it is the eye that blinks. This again is a greed and an illusion, and so it shall be cursed.
Please do read the vinavu blog- which had induced me to write this piece.