With great power comes great responsibility. It is said that a man’s true strength does not lie in how much he can exert his powers, but how well he can control them. The hardest thing to conquer is one’s self, one’s ego. Egos have shattered many careers, shattered monuments. It is those who rise above this that find a place in history. It might look like a bit of opportunism (because it is May 1) or a bit of flattery; but one can say safely say that Ajith Kumar’s place in the history of Tamil cinema is assured. Not because he is one of the brilliant actors of our times. He has never claimed to be a genius or versatile actor. Even his vociferous fans have never called his a great actor. But, his place is assured because he, in many respects, is peerless.
In a world where keeping up appearances has become everything, the forthrightness that he brings feels like an oasis in a desert. And that is what his fans love him for. The fact that it is the strength of his character that has kept his fan base burning with intensity and passion for such a long time is proved by the absolutely huge numbers that thronged theatres for Mankatha. The movie was special (and in many ways a litmus test of the strength of Ajith’s fan base) because it was the first movie to release after he did the unthinkable – dissolve the fan base. Almost everybody thought that it was the most foolish thing to do for an actor whose movies relied so heavily on fans to carry them through. But, Mankatha proved that Ajith’s stardom did not hinge on the structures of fan clubs; it was one of trust between him and his fan. Somewhere, you get the feel that his fans don’t care too much about his movies, as long as they get to see him. Well, that’s a bad thing to say about an actor, but a great thing to say about a star.
It is not just the decision to dissolve his fan clubs, but almost everything that he does that reflects what an independent and resolute thinker he is. What comes across as most delightful is his acceptance of failure. He has had some flops in his time, but has never chosen to masquerade them, never tried to sugar coat them, never had any false pretences. When a movie goes wrong, he has put his hand up and accepted it in the most gentle man-like manner possible. He has then put his head down and worked on his next movie. It only shows that the bigger he became as a star, the smaller his ego has become. And, that is one tough thing to do, especially when you have crores of people hanging on to every word you say.
But, it is not just his gentle ways that make him the phenomenon that he is. But, his ability to speak his mind, no matter what the consequences. One still remembers the day he stood up and spoke up against the highest power in the state, demanding that everyone be allowed the freedom of choice, that there should be no coercion. It was a finger in the face of the most powerful people around, but what mattered was that he said the right thing. Superstar got up to applaud and we are sure that there were many who wanted to. That was not heroism on screen, but something in real life, something that could have had serious backlashes. But, Ajith knew that he stood for what was right and everyone acknowledged it. He always speaks his mind when he knows that his opinion can make a difference. But, such tendencies always come with the risk of hurting many people’s minds. However, Ajith knows how to thread a needle when it comes to putting his opinion forward; not a word more than what needs to be said. It is a remarkable quality to possess and not something that comes easily.
Stardom is not something easy to handle; it is like playing with fire. But, that seems to come easily to Ajith. It seems so because he has kept his life and principles fairly simple. He has always put his priorities right. He knows that his fans are his biggest strength and so takes care that his movies are ones that will keep them happy (damn the critics and their theories); he knows that his fans trust him and so he has taken care to never lead them astray, never to use that power for anything other than a thunderous opening at the box office. And, he doesn’t seem to think much about competition, he runs his own race and wins, most of the time.
Ajith is such a massive star because he has shown the gumption to be unique, to speak his mind and to live a life that gives almost nothing to the ‘controversy seekers’. Ask any of his fans about why they love their ‘Thala’ (‘thaana vacha peru illa, Tamil Naade vacha peru’). The first thing they will say is that he is fantastic human being; not that he is a great actor. Ajith’s stardom seems to have transcended that of just an actor. He seems to be the role model of character and that is why we say that his place in the history of Tamil cinema is assured. Many more happy returns of the day.
—- Thanks to Accesskollywood.com