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When Kamal Haasan (nearly) made a Bond film


Ahead of the brand new Vikram directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, we take a journey down reminiscence lane to take a look at the unique 1986 film and what it meant to individuals who grew up within the Nineteen Nineties

Ahead of the brand new Vikram directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, we take a journey down reminiscence lane to take a look at the unique 1986 film and what it meant to individuals who grew up within the Nineteen Nineties

Movies you uncover by yourself throughout childhood are inclined to have a lasting impression. You get emotionally hooked up to these films which afterward act as gateways to nostalgia, reflecting the phases of life and the innocence that comes with it. As you get older, your style and sensibilities change however you continue to have a gentle spot for the films you noticed as a youngster. You nonetheless really feel for such movies. For individuals who grew up within the Nineteen Nineties, the Kamal Haasan-starrer Vikram was one such discovery.

Watching Kamal in silhouette as a quasi-Bond within the title observe of Vikram sealed the deal for many of us. Our fascination additionally comes from the truth that it was the time when video video games consoles — those that got here in cassettes — have been penetrating our lives. Vikram felt like a kind of cool video games you by no means needed to finish, particularly the film’s Salamia portion. Even Ilaiyaraaja’s background music had that online game sound. What remains to be etched in reminiscence are the a number of explosions that occur within the film (which felt actual) and the flamboyant props together with the missile named Agni Putra.

A Bond film with a Tamil flavour

Lots of people nonetheless haven’t seen Vikram. For their profit, the film is about an clever agent Arun Kumar Vikram (performed by Kamal Haasan) who’s compelled to rejoin the company as a results of his private loss. Vikram is assigned a process to retrieve a lacking nuclear missile, which is within the arms of Sugirtharaj (Sathyaraj) who seeks asylum in a fictional kingdom referred to as Salamia.

As the story goes, Kamal determined to adapt veteran Tamil author Sujatha’s Vikram, which was revealed as a collection in a widespread Tamil journal. They labored on the screenplay, making an attempt to marry the coolness of a Bond film and the sensibilities of Tamil cinema.

Directed by Rajashekar, the film was a business success. But, through the years, Kamal has been a caustic critic and has typically been dismissive of Vikram, saying that it was “diluted for the Kodambakkam audience”. He mentioned one thing to the impact of this: “Imagine Bond being assigned a task and before he gets on the mission, he has to stop by a temple and break coconut for Lord Ganesh. That’s what happened to Vikram (sic).” You get why.

Revisiting Vikram right this moment, with out the load of childhood and nostalgia, didn’t make sense. Clearly it has stood the take a look at of time, in contrast to a few of Kamal’s different works. The cause could possibly be the screenplay written by Sujatha and Kamal. You see the imaginative and prescient that they’d however you additionally solely see the concepts. The film right this moment provides you the texture of being overstuffed with ideas for 2 sorts of movies: an uber-cool Bond film within the first half and a madcap action-adventure like Indiana Jones or Mad Max collection within the second half. Vikram ended up being neither right here nor there. Perhaps a extra competent filmmaker could have managed to bridge this screenplay hole. And Rajashekar was by no means Kamal’s first alternative.

A quest for the precise filmmaker

Even very just lately, when Kamal was requested about Rajashekar’s legacy on the Vikram press meet, he gave a measured reply by calling him a “great commercial filmmaker”. “It [Vikram] was Mani Ratnam’s cup of tea,” wrote Kamal in an article in The Hindu, celebrating 25 years of Nayakan. Perhaps Kamal was proper.

Action is a style that Mani Ratnam has not completed in his decades-long profession. The closest he received was Thiruda Thiruda. Had Mani Ratnam directed Vikram, we would have even received a higher film. But the grasp filmmaker wasn’t favoured by commerce. Rajashekar had that fringe of a “commercially-successful” director, having simply delivered a blockbuster in Kaaki Sattai the yr previous Vikram. In reality, one suspects Kaaki Sattai was the rationale Kamal went to Rajashekar within the first place, provided that the profitable mixture of the director-actor duo together with actors Ambika and Sathyaraj have been retained for Vikram too. Thirty-six years after the discharge of Vikram, Kamal appeared to have discovered the filmmaker he was in search of to execute his authentic concept in Lokesh Kanagaraj. No marvel Kamal has been selling the brand new film left, proper and centre. In the 231 movies Kamal has acted up to now, Lokesh has particularly picked an oddball like Vikram for a potential spin-off. This solely goes to indicate the emotional attachment he has for the film, like most of us who caught it on tv and have been mesmerised by what we noticed.

A self-confessed fanboy, Lokesh treads a skinny but harmful line directing his display idol Kamal Haasan within the new Vikram. If he fails to ship, the autumn might be higher. But if he succeeds, followers of the unique would maybe heave a sigh of reduction pondering of Charuhasan’s iconic dialogue proper after Vikram completes his mission — “He has done it.”

TRIVIA

There are fairly a few similarities between Kamal Haasan and Tom Cruise. The latter is hailed because the “last living action-superstar of our generation” and Kamal has all the time maintained that he’s a fan of motion movies. Tom Cruise’s Top Gun launched in the identical yr as Kamal’s Vikram

Though each these movies have been completely different when it comes to their style and expertise, they share a widespread trivia: Top Gun and Vikram opened to combined essential evaluations however have been commercially profitable. Now each movies have a sequels/spin-offs in Top Gun: Maverick and Vikram.



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