There is something about Vijay films that I simply love. For starters, I can safely leave my brains (assuming I still have 'em after watching so many of his movies) back home, come to the hall with minimal expectations and sometimes actually leave it feeling good in case there was something noteworthy in the 3 hr saga. To be fair to the people who make movies for the Ilaya Thalapathi, they never make tall claims about being 'different' - all of them are unanimous in their opinion that his is a typical Vijay movie - to be read as: mindless rubbish.
I've followed the bugger from his Sendoora Pandi and Rasigan days through the Friends and Priyamanavale time to the current Tirumalai and Madurai avatar and believe me, very little has changed. (I guess I'll forgive him for those two blips: Poove Unakkaaga and Kadhalukku Mariyaadhai) This thoroughly researched, well-oiled mechanism of filmmaking for Vijay is a topic worthy of a P.Hd thesis. If anyone ever dares to undertake such an exercise, he/she might find me a very useful ally. They say that every story if analysed deeply traces its roots to either the Ramayan or the Mahabharat but I strong dispute this in Vijay's case. Here are the ingredients that go into making a Vijay pot-boiler.
A. Hero is a
1. Happy-go-lucky college student
2. Soft spoken do-gooder (Profession unknown)
3. Poor but plain speaking mechanic
4. Affectionate and sentimental tea shop owner
5. Rough exterior, kind-at-heart villager
6. A man with a mysterious past (how convenient, how lacking in imagination)
B. Heroine is a
1. Tough talking, modern gal-next-door
2. Arrogant and pompous shrew
3. College siren lusted by all and sundry
4. Any girl craving-for-love (attention??) coz she is either an orphan or motherless or plain neglected
5. Best friend's cute sister/cousin
C. Villain is
1. A Corrupt politician (acc to location and budget he is either a Minister, MP, MLA, councillor or local panchayat chief)
2. An Influential indutrialist with shady business dealings
3. An Obsessive, eccentric rowdy (preferably with some past connection with the hero)
D. The bone of contention is
1. Rich vs Poor
2. Caste and Religion vs Love
3. Rowdyism vs Law and Order
E. The title of the film
1. Name of the hero
2. Name of some city/place connected with the story
F. The formula
1. 10 romantic one-liners, 9 emotions, 8 not-so-funny jokes, 7 foreign locations, 6 songs including item nos and coat-and-suit dance affairs, 5 death-defying stunts, 4 friends, 3 digs at Ajit, 2 flashbacks and 1 irritatingly repeated Punch dialogue.
Pls note: Decreasing number of options from A to F.
Now that everything is in place, let's mix and match and see what we get. One cursory look tells me that
Madurai = (Slight variation of A4 + A6) + B4 + (C1+C4) + D3 + E1 + F1
Tirumalai = A3 + B2 + C2 + D1 + E1 + F1
Badri = A1 + B3 + Variation of C4 + (D1 + D2) +E1 +F1
In fact, the only recent Vijay movie that was enjoyable in the true sense, Gilli, when analysed using this template shows clearly why its a cut above the rest.
Gilli = Variation of A2 + Variation of B2 + C3 + Variation of D2 + Variation of E1 + F1
So why all this now ? I saw Tirupachi yesterday FDES.... Needless to say, I always get lucky when I need to convince people to watch these hopeless movies with me. Yesterday's bakra was Anton. Since my avowed position is on watching mass movies at releatively downscale theatres alongwith "makkal", PVR and Innovative (where surprisingly Tirupachi was screened for all 4 shows on a screen with hiked ticket prices) were ruled out. Settled down finally to seeing the movie at my favorite SriBalaji and did we have a whale of a time. Finickly ol' me got to the theatre much ahead of time and was there on the scene when the matinee crowd filed out bursting crackers and shouting slogans against Ajit :-p Needless to say, when our show started, the reception that greeted Vijay's arrival on the screen was to be heard to be believed. The first two songs in the movie had the masses in total raptures and people in the front rows were dancing like crazy. But as the movie progressed, people started getting fidgety. The murmurs in the crowd during the interval break clearly showed that the audience did not find the movie as good as they had expected it to. My sympathies were with them since the rest of the songs had been very boring, the comedy track very lack lustre and Trisha had barely had 3.5 scenes and 5 dialogues. Post interval though held a lot in store for the hard-core Vjay fan following since the 'vadham' started then. The best part of the second half was the alarming regularity with which I started predicting the exact dialogues that Vijay would mouth which led Anton to believe I had already seen the morning show :-p Well, what started at 6:20 pm finally ended only at 9:30 pm and the verdict of the masses was unanimous - their Thalaivar had delivered again. Though the movie has been released with a record 207 prints and should recover its money within a week (the initial a Vijay movie gets is comparable only with Superstar's movies) I don't think it will be even as big a hit as Madurai.
In case you are wondering what the story of the movie is (yaawn), you can check it out here or better still its A5 +B5 + (C1+C3) + D3 + E2 + F1.
What are you folks waiting for ? (Esp: Shriya and Hoodibabaa) Pls go and check out the movie in a theatre near you !!