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The new god

 | April 2, 2012

3 has been getting people into the cinemas, Kolaveri Di and Dhanush being the prime reasons.

FEATURE

There seems to be a new god in Tamil Nadu. Rajnikanth’s son-in-law, Dhanush.

Married to the bus-conductor-turned-Tamil-superstar, Rajnikanth’ elder daughter, Aishwarya, Dhanush turned into an unbelievable phenomenon some months ago when his song, Kolaveri Di for the film, 3, raged like a tornado in viral space. It got millions of hits on YouTube.

Even today, nobody can explain the craze for the number. Dhanush the singer is no Mukesh or Mohammed Rafi or TM Soundararajan or Pandit Jasraj. The lyrics are bloody murderous. There is no melody to speak of. Rather the song sounds like cacophonous din.

Yet, Kolaveri Di pushed men and women, girls and boys into a rapturous state. Although it is in Tamil, I am told burly Punjabi men were seen getting drunk on the number.

I would presume that the attraction for Kolaveri Di stems from the kind of appeal Dhanush has been garnering in recent times.

Once dismissed by critics as a “pigeon-chested paanwala on probation”, Dhanush must have sprayed betel-leaf juice on them when his Aadukalam (Playground) won him a National Award for Best Actor in 2011.

As a guy organising cock-fights in Aadukalam, Dhanush essays a character he appears to have specialised in, that of an underdog.

Unimpressive to look at with not even a worthwhile screen presence, Dhanush though exudes immense confidence. In the movie, his rooster not only triumphs in the end, but its master gets the girl as well, pretty Taapsee as Anglo-Indian Irene.

Now who says, women seek Adonis? Obviously, parts of this sort have made Dhanush an iconic figure that boys/men look up to, especially in their moments of agonising frustration.

Kolaveri Di could not have come at a better time. Dhanush’s fans must have seen this song as one more feather on their hero’s cap.

Career-best performance in 3

And, honestly, 3 did not disappoint, at least the first half. As schoolboy Ram experiencing his first love (with Kamal Hassan’s daughter, Shruti, playing Janani), Dhanush gives his career-best performance.

Shy, hesitant and yet determined to get the girl, he is marvellous. Later, as a business tycoon, Dhanush conveys the angst of a man faced with a perilous dilemma which threatens his new-found wedded bliss.

Directed by first-timer Aishwarya, 3 impresses during the early years of its protagonist’s life. Those stolen glances, the bicycle rides, the spin on the motorbike have all been handled with feeling, and splendidly acted out.

But 3 dives in the second half, the plot meandering into illogical paths.

This is precisely where the narrative begins to falter. Ram is ill, but Janani does not know. Ram does not want to tell her. Only his friend, Senthil, is kept in the loop. But why couldn’t Senthil talk to Ram’s rich father? No explanation! So, what begins as a promising plot dithers along the way.

However, performances are lifting. Shruti reminds us that she is her mother, Sarika’s (and Kamal’s) daughter, giving a top-notch portrayal of a woman torn between love and fear, though she goes overboard in the emotional scenes.

Well, 3 has been getting people into the cinemas, Kolaveri Di and Dhanush being the prime reasons.

Will the work get the boxoffice jingling? If it does, Dhanush may well be the new god — father-in-law Rajnikanth now showing first signs of fading away.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at [email protected]. He is an FMT columnist.


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