The Hindu

trade winds

With Vedalam collecting the highest-ever figure of Rs. 15.5 crore on opening day, Ajith has proved his box-office mettle, yet again

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With Vedalam breaking box-office records, Ajith has scored again

‘‘ Vedalam is an answer to critics who said he cannot ,, influence family audiences

Ajith is on a roll. His Deepavali release, Vedalam, has taken the biggesteve­r opening for a Tamil film. It had grossed approximat­ely Rs. 15.5 crore from Tamil Nadu on Deepavali day. As per trade sources, it has beaten the record created earlier by Lingaa and Kaththi on day one. Today, Ajith (44) is riding a wave of popularity, especially among the youth (15 to 25 years group). In the last few years, this phenomenon has projected him as the heir apparent to Rajinikant­h. It has been a fierce no-holdsbarre­d battle for supremacy with arch-rival Vijay, for the Kollywood throne.

Though Ajith is not on any social media platform, his fans have tried to make social media their own. The rivalry between Ajith and Vijay helps to garner huge openings for both stars, and has only worked towards their advantage. In a way, the bitterness has created a halo around them, similar to the MGR-Sivaji, Rajini-Kamal rivalry of yesteryear­s.

Ajith, in his early days, was a romantic hero in films like Amaravathi, Aasai, Kadhal Kottai, and Mugavaree. It was A. R. Murgadoss’s debut

DheenaCiti­zenhim an (2001), (2001) action which followedhe­ro. made After by Dheena, his fans started calling him Thala, a moniker that has added to his aura. During this period, Ajith also portrayed characters with shades of grey with films such as Vaali, Villain and Billa. The actor’s strong negative characteri­sation in Mankatha (2011), Arrambam (2013) and now Vedalam (2015), has further expanded his fan base.

The convention­al commercial mass hero of the

1980s and 1990s was a good family man, who took on the role of a crusader. Ajith, however, reworked the traditiona­l hero concept, which had a direct connect with the youth audiences. Ajith came to be called the ‘King of Openings’, as his films took very good openings, thanks to youth audiences, who make up 90 per cent of the first weekend’s footfalls. It had its pitfalls, of course, as collection­s of such films fade after a terrific initial, as family audiences avoided his films.

In fact, Vijay films collect more in Tamil Nadu’s B and C centres, as they are made keeping family audiences and kids in mind. In a way, Vedalam is an answer to his critics, who said he cannot influence the large family audiences—the backbone of the success of a superstar like Rajinikant­h. Vedalam had a U censor certificat­e (most of Ajith’s recent films have been certified UA, with Billa 2 getting an A certificat­e for its violent theme), making it eligible for entertainm­ent tax

exemption. Lakshmi Menon played the pivotal sister in a story that revolves around the sister sentiment. In the

half, Ajith plays Ganesh—a taxi in the first driverof flashbackV­edalam,got right, goodness—whilethe whichwho commercial­calm,a portion,is don. an not friendly Director embodiment­only he formulamad­e playsSiva Ajith brought audiences. fans in happy, the but family also

Madurai,

A theatre said, “Directorow­ner from Siva, through Veeram and now with Vedalam, has made Ajith acceptable to the family audiences. We have never seen such a large number of women in our theatre for a Thala film. It is a clear sign that Vedalam is a super hit.”

Another major factor that worked in favour of Vedalam was its huge release across Tamil Nadu in the best screens with large capacity. For example, in Salem (which has the maximum B and C stations in Tamil Nadu), it released in a record 77 screens. The film has also taken a good opening in Kerala, Karnataka and internatio­nal markets. As per trade sources, by the end of the first week, the film would be profitable from theatrical­s alone.

Meanwhile, two days after the release of Vedalam, Ajith underwent a knee surgery at a Chennai hospital. As of now, his next film will likely be with the same director, Siva, and is expected to release by the end of 2016 or early 2017. Till then, the legend of Ajith will continue to rise.

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