Is Thalapathy Vijay the new king of Tamil box-office after Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan?

The Aamir Khan-starrer is struggling to find viewers five days into its release but, in a different part of the country, Ilayathalapathy Vijay’s political drama ‘Sarkar’ is no mood to slow down.

Sarkar has raked in a massive Rs 10.77 crore in just Chennai, setting a new benchmark for the actor's contemporaries. (Source: IE)

While the Aamir Khan-starrer Thugs of Hindostan is struggling to find viewers five days into its release, in a different part of the country, Ilayathalapathy Vijay’s political drama ‘Sarkar’ is no mood to slow down – bringing joy to movie lovers, producers, critics and everyone else involved with the filmmaking business.

Sarkar has earned over Rs 200 crore worldwide within six days of its release, breaking Baahubali 2’s record in many territories and establishing Vijay as the new king of box-office in Kollywood after Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Sarkar has raked in a massive Rs 10.77 crore in just Chennai, setting a new benchmark for the actor’s contemporaries.

Sarkar also becomes his second film to earn more than Rs 200 crore in two years with Mersal achieving the feat in 2017.

Born Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar, the actor had started his career as the male lead in the 90s – a decade which also marked the entry of Vikram, Ajith, and Suriya. With such tough competition, it was easy to fade away, instead, the actor has stood out from the lot and has emerged as the biggest property from Kollywood, giving twelve Rs 100-crore club movies.

READ | AIADMK attacks Rajinikanth for remarks on protests against ‘Sarkar’

Chocolate lover to action star

The 90s were typically dominated by films that depicted college romance and most Kollywood actors who made their debut around that time tried to create a chocolate boy image. Prashanth – one of the biggest names of that era – stuck to that image and was sidelined with time as the new stars continued to emerge.

Others like Ajith, Suriya and most notably Vikram, were forced to experiment with characters, appearances, and genres, with the latter of the lot pushing himself to new heights with Shankar’s ‘Anniyan’ and ‘I’.

Vijay, unlike the above-mentioned names, continued to do the ‘masala’ cinema and still managed to add on to this growing popularity. He established a lover boy image with flicks like Kadhaluku Mariyadhai, Kushi and Priyamanavale but 2003 film Thirumalai, helped him emerge as a “mass” action hero.

Since then, there has been no looking back.

More relatable characters

The striking similarity between Rajinikanth and Vijay are the characters played by these two actors. Even though there are modus operandi and magnetism to each of their characters, they belong to a lower social economic strata – a fisherman, welder, mechanic – or middle-class, and don’t have the over-rated sophistication.

WATCH | Sarkar trailer –

Vijay, just like Rajinikanth, understands his audience well and doesn’t want to risk alienating them. Even when he plays a cop (Theri) or a doctor (Mersal), Vijay keeps his characters firmly rooted. He often takes on corporates, corrupt politicians and terrorists in his films.

There are moments in Mersal which remind you of Rajinikanth’s blockbuster ‘Shivaji – The Boss’ where the Vijay speaks for the poor and takes on the corrupt administration after being betrayed by it.

The Bollywood affair

Vijay’s first appearance in Bollywood was a cameo in the song Chinta Chinta from the film Rowdy Rathore in 2012. In 2017, his song ‘Varalam Va Bairavaa’ was played in the backdrop of Ajay Devgn’s entry in Golmaal Again along with a poster of Theri as a tribute to the actor. Ironically, Vijay’s Mersal gave a tough time to Golmaal Again and Secret Superstar in international markets last year.

His critically acclaimed film Thuppakki was remade in Hindi with the title Holiday starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role. Recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali also acquired the rights for Hindi remake of Kaththi which starred Vijay in the double role.

READ | Vijay’s Sarkar breaks box office, earns Rs 100 crore in just two days

The road ahead

Over the last 12 months, actors from the South have been more open about their political views. Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan have already announced their entries into politics and similar speculations are being made about Vijay. Sarkar which is certainly not Vijay’s best cinema could be called a victim of his political aspirations. Having said that, it was still better than Mahesh Babu’s Bharat Ane Nenu and Vijay Devarakonda’s NOTA – two recently released films about an NRI hero leading political change in the country.

At the audio launch of Sarkar, Vijay had hinted at his entry into politics. When asked what he would do if he became chief minister of the state, Vijay replied, “I will not act like a CM, I will do my job sincerely.”

There is a certain excitement around Vijay’s possible entry into politics with CN Annadurai, MGR, M Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa all making big after starting from the world of cinema. As of now, all eyes are on his next move.

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