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The Vijay vs Ajith narrative is once again dominating Kollywood and social media, conjuring up nostalgic memories about the past Rajini-Kamal and MGR-Sivaji rivalry.
Actor Vijay’s fans, gung-ho about their matinee idol’s forthcoming Pongal release Vaarisu (Heir), have gone on a tweeting spree over the audio launch of the film scheduled for December 24 at Nehru indoor stadium in Chennai. Hectic preparations are underway for the grand event, even as soundtracks from the film — Ranjithamae sung by Vijay himself, Thee Thalapathy sung by Silambarasan and Aaraariro Ketkuthamma sung by Chithra — have already released and entertained crores of fans.
Vijay, basking in his star status in Tamil tinseltown, is the heir to his father director S A Chandrasekhar who had a major role in scripting his success as an actor. Right from Vijay’s debut in Naalaiya Theerpu to Poove Unakkaga that earned Vijay his spurs, SAC groomed him and meticulously built up his image as the next ‘superstar’.
The tale of Ajith Kumar’s ascent in filmdom is diametrically opposite. In keeping with a line he uttered in one of his films, he himself sculpted his own career and life. Unlike Vijay, at the time when Ajith made a plunge into Kollywood with his maiden film ‘Amaravathi’ about three decades ago, he had had no cinema background or any godfather.
Actor Vijay’s fans, gung-ho about their matinee idol’s forthcoming Pongal release Vaarisu (Heir), have gone on a tweeting spree over the audio launch of the film scheduled for December 24 at Nehru indoor stadium in Chennai
Ajith was in a kind of make-or-mar situation, fumbling through until he started tasting success in films such as Vaanmathi, Kaadhal Kottai, Vaali, Amarkalam and so on. Celebrated as an actor who often cuts a dash in his appearance and apparel, Ajith comes calling now with his latest film Thunivu (Courage) directed by H Vinod to play to the gallery. Vinod earlier directed Ajith’s earlier film Valimai.
Ajith’s fans have already started celebrating two songs from Thunivu — Chilla Chilla sung by Anirudh, and Kaasethan Kadavulada by Manju Warrier and Vaisagh.
Right from the day that it was announced that both actors’ films would release on January 12, 2023 in time for Pongal, social media has been reverberating with battle cries, a war of words between rival camps of fans. Twitter and other social media are drenched alternately in acid rains of ranting and flowery showers of raptures and rhapsodies.
Film idolatry and rivalry used to get expressed in tussles on the streets by fans pre-millennium. But the fight has now shifted online. It feels more like a game of chess, with each camp trying to outsmart the other with deft moves.
Both Vijay and Ajith have their own ways of keeping their fans hooked to their films. Vijay has inherited the style of Rajinikanth, inspiring and kinda instigating his fans with speeches at functions held ahead of his film release. Whereas Ajith deliberately skips appearances at public functions in such a way that his absence per se becomes the talk of the town.
A few days ago, producer of Vaarisu Dhil Raju commented that Vijay is more popular than Ajith in Tamil Nadu, sparking a fire that has set social media ablaze with the heated arguments of fans. If the fans are engaged in a digital duel, firing salvoes at each other over which actor is better, cinema watchers are weighing in on YouTube.
All this brouhaha will last till the release of the films, or at best, till the time when the films are into the second or the third week. It spells free publicity for the films of the two actors, which will in the long run make the producer (and of course, the top stars too) laugh all the way to the banks.
If one goes by the number of views for the soundtrack of the first songs of the two films, the Vijay-starrer has crossed a viewership of 10 crore, whereas the Ajith-starrer is at lower views, hitting two crore.
A few days ago, producer of Vaarisu Dhil Raju commented that Vijay is more popular than Ajith in Tamil Nadu, sparking a fire that has set social media ablaze with the heated arguments of fans
Vijay’s market has crossed boundaries, extending to Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and abroad. No wonder, he figures among the most googled actors. This spike in look-ups has not happened in the case of Ajith who, producer Dhananjeyan says, is not so much interested in marketing. In light of these factors, producer Dhil Raju’s comment, “Vijay is more popular than Ajith”, seems to have some grain of truth.
At the same time, a report is doing the rounds that the number of cinemas where Thunivu is releasing is higher than that of Vaarisu. But this is unlikely a development based on market values of the two leading actors. For, Red Giant Movies has already caught hold of the distribution rights to Thunivu and hence more theatres are set to exhibit the film. As for Vaarisu, though it is the same Red Giant Movies, the company has got its distribution rights only for Chennai, Chengalpattu, Coimbatore, and North and South Arcots which usually earn Vijay films 60 per cent of turnover.
Vaarisu producer Dhil Raju’s comment is based on data about Vijay being more popular than Ajith and he has demanded that an equitable number of theatres be allotted for Vaarisu. It is now said that both actors’ films will get an equal number of screens.
However, when it comes to the Vijay-Ajith competition, the reality is that the former gets the better of the latter. Not without reason. While Vijay takes a lot of trouble to keep up his image, probably because he has set his sights on politics too, Ajith seems to be least bothered about his looks and appearance. He seems to think that his fans need not look at him beyond the screens as once popular comedian Goundamani had thought about his fans.
Now the talk of the town on social media is what Vijay will speak about at the December 24 audio launch. He may pontificate on what his fans should do – namely, they must see films as films only. Period. He may also express solidarity with Ajith, saying the latter is his close buddy. Whatever he says will be read between the lines or blown out of proportion. Ajith fans may pour scorn on his speech. This has been the pattern in the past.
Just as the words ‘dynasty politics’ are topping discussions in the Tamil Nadu political arena, ‘Vaarisu vs Thunivu’ is what’s all the buzz in Kollywood now.
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