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Legend Saravanan has realized the dream that every actor has — becoming a mass hero. The mass hero is a status in Tamil films. His journey in the film world depends on how successful he is in reaching that goal. The adulation the mass action hero gets from fans is what actors pine for. But for that to happen, the stars have to be aligned for the actor. Producers, directors, actually the entire industry has to come together to push for it. There is consensus in the film industry that someone is deserving of it that promotes the actor.

If someone doesn’t have that backing, then he has to splurge money from his own vaults to create mass hero trappings for themselves. Arul Saravanan has done that in The Legend, directed by the duo J.D.-Jerry with music composed by Harris Jayaraj.

There is not much difference between The Legend and the movies of MGR, Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith except that he has assumed the tag of mass hero himself. But is that reason enough to heap ridicule on Arul Saravanan?

One has to wonder if any other mass hero had replaced Saravanan in those sequences, would they have reacted in similar fashion?

So what’s The Legend about? A good man uplifts people around him.

Sounds familiar? Most MGR films have a single line story not very different from this.

Even Rajinikanth, who sought to upend the Good Samaritan MGR mould, was in his heart a good man. Only he smoked and drank. Dr Saravanan in The Legend is the MGR in a Rajini film.

Dr Saravanan is a successful microbiologist who returns from abroad to his home village, Pooncholai. His home is filled with family: father, mother, brother and his family. Saravanan’s family runs a college.

Thulasi, played by Geetika Tiwari, works at the college. Saravanan falls in love with her and marries her.

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His childhood friend, played by Robo Shankar, and his family consisting of his wife and two children suffer from diabetes, presumably Type 1. Saravanan sets out to find a drug to cure the disease that sets him on a collision course with the drug mafia headed by VJ, played by Suman. Saravanan loses his wife due to the machinations of VJ. The Legend tells the story of whether Saravanan does indeed come up with a cure.

Throughout the film, Arul Saravanan tells the camera, therefore the audience, that his service is for the people. Though wealthy, he embraces the poor without looking at class status.

Saravanan cannot tolerate injustice. He, like other mass heroes, floats in the air to fight the villains.

Besides scenes with his wife, Saravanan has two dream songs with two other women. Duh, remember MGR’s dream songs? But he ticks them off in reality and tells the women not to dream about him.

The way Legend Saravanan is portrayed on the screen can match up with the most hyped up mass heroism in Tamil films. And that leaves the audience in splits. When Saravanan breaks down and cries for his dead wife, the audience finds it funny.

One has to wonder if any other mass hero had replaced Saravanan in those sequences, would they have reacted in similar fashion?

J.D.-Jerry have said in interviews that they have made the film as per Arul Saravanan’s request – as a MGR and Rajini film rolled into one. The violence is never gory. Yet the film world hasn’t taken the film on its face value and has trolled it to dust.

Isn’t it silly for Saravanan to vanquish a hundred men at the same time? Well, so is it for any of the recognized mass heroes to do. We should ridicule Rajini, Vijay or Ajith defying gravity and other physical laws in fight sequences. We know that all the mid-air maneuvers are special effects but we still believe it. We know that a “dupe” has acted out the most dangerous moves in action sequences but we still celebrate the star for his superhuman powers.

Fans have so much love for their star that they are willing to suspend their judgment. Their star is doing it for them, in their place. The fans of one star often ridicule other stars doing what their own hero does.

All the fans have ganged up against The Legend. But The Legend should make us question our naivete in accepting and celebrating the same absurdities in other films.

The owner of Legend Saravana Stores has tried to become a legend on screen. A range of technicians has helped him. Each frame in The Legend is filled with faces and colours. VFX adds verve.

Debutante Saravanan comes short in acting in several scenes. But, overall, The Legend is only a drop in the ocean of typical masala Tamil films. Nothing more, nothing less.

Give The Legend a break! When we forward memes, we should remind ourselves these memes could easily fit Rajini, Vijay, Kamal or even MGR. Perhaps The Legend may break the mass hero mould inadvertently. In that lies its strength.

Arul Saravanan would be taking a risk if he were to repeat this effort. Critics would quickly move on to his film life and its contrast with the reality of his business that thrives on the sweat shop model. Saravanan may then have to play realistic roles.

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