CLASS TAKES ON MASS IN CHENNAI
Crowd favourite Vijay goes head to head with brainy bodybuilder Suriya. It’s Suriya on top. For now.
One film is from the dream team that brought us Ghajini— director A.R Murugadoss, music director Harris Jayaraj and Kollywood’s chocolate boy Suriya. The other comes from little-known director M. Raja, with music by Vijay Antony known for his Tamil koothu dance numbers like Naaka Mukka, with the biggest koothu dancer of them all—vijay.
This Diwali saw a clash between Suriya’s 7aum Arivu, produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin for Rs 85 crore, and Vijay’s Velayudham, produced by Aascar Ravichandran for a comparatively lower Rs 45 crore. While Suriya, 36, is still riding high on the success of his last film Singam, Vijay, 37, with six flops behind him since 2007, desperately needs a hit. Fans of both stars congregated around the state to add to the hype around the films. “We had 300 kg of flowers brought in from Bangalore worth Rs 25,000 to garland a 50 foot cutout of our hero at Albert theatre in Egmore (in Chennai),” says R. Veeramani, secretary of the All India Suriya Fan Club with 1 lakh members. Not to be outdone, Vijay’s fans poured numerous litres of milk on a large cutout of the star at Ega theatre in Chetpet and Udhayam theatre in Ashok Nagar areas of Chennai. “We also conducted a pooja and burst crackers at three major theatres in the city,” adds R. Raviraja, secretary of the All India Vijay Fan Club with 45,000 members.
Apart from the fact that they were released together, the films don’t have much in common— 7aum Arivu revolves around Suriya in a double role of a king and his descendant who have to stop a biochemical war with China while Velayudham is about a milkman who gets entangled in a terrorist plot.
A few days after Diwali, it was finally time to reveal who had come out on top. As it turns out, the audience just wanted to have fun. “I went for Suriya’s film and had to force myself to sit through it. Many people walked out,” says Siddarth Rao, who works in a manufacturing company. He says that he liked Velayudham because it gave the audience what it wanted. “People wanted a typical Vijay film with fights, comedy and dancing and that’s exactly what they got.” Film critics too panned Suriya’s film, saying that the numerous subplots left the viewer baffled.
But while 7aum Arivu has been dissed by viewers and critics alike, it leads at the box office with Rs 25 crore in five days. Industry experts say this success won’t last long. “The movie will probably recover its money, but considering it was made for a bigger budget and dubbed in different languages, the collections are disappointing,” says Anirudh Krishna, who tracks the Tamil film industry. He adds that Vijay’s film, which has made Rs 19 crore so far, is a far bigger success given its budget. “Velayudham, on the other hand, is being called a mass entertainer and more people will want to watch this film...it will probably become the superhit of the season,” he says.
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VIJAY IN ASTILL FROM HIS LATEST RELEASE,