The Magic Lives on

MGR remains a compelling topic for filmmakers and film lovers, even 21 years after his death. And in a phase of reliving old movies and songs, through remakes and remixes, he and his movies are hot property, as he towers Tamil cinema as a colossus.
Hardly anyone escapes the fantasy of doing an MGR song, or having people sway to their tunes the way he did. That Rajinikanth, who’s arguably the most popular living star in Tamil cinema, used MGR’s name as his in Sivaji The boss, is only ample proof of that. And why, Kamal Haasan, who’s already used an MGR title, Sathi Leelavathi, had lined up one more such title, Marmayogi, for his next.
But this craze for MGR doesn’t confine itself to the immediate generations following his alone. Actors Backiaraj and Sathyaraj, who’ve openly flouted their regard for the Puratchi Thalaivar, are backed by the youngest crop of actors today too, including Backiaraj’s son, Shantanu himself. Says the young actor, “It’s hard to escape the magic of he and his movies. If I were asked to do a remake of his films, I’d definitely pick Nadodi Mannan, Ulagam Sutrum Valiban or Vettaikaaran. I believe just using his title creates an impact with the people,” explains the actor, who is currently involved in the last lap of shooting for a remake of his dad’s movie, Pudhiya Varpugal. It may be noted here that two of the movies mentioned by the actor, Vettaikaaran and Ulagam Sutrum Valiban are being reused in Kollywood now, with another movie also titled Valiban Sutrum Ulagam.
Speak about Vettaikaaran, it is all set to be Vijay’s next movie, following Villu, and will begin in February. Speaking to Expresso, director Babu Sivan, who debuts with Vettaikaaran says, “The title was chosen because it would have a good reach among cinema fans. But that was only half the reason for choosing such a title. The title of Vettaikaaran, meaning hunter, fits the bill to describe the hero’s character in the commercial, action-sentiment movie.”
Actor-director Sundar C thinks no different. “I’m a diehard MGR fan myself. And I have a dream project in mind, and I’ve given it the title of MGR’s Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban. It has no resemblance to the actual story, but it’s title close to my heart as an MGR fan. And it fits the story too,” explains the director. But if he were to remake an MGR classic, which one would it be?
“Naadodi Mannan, obviously,” he responds. “It’s got all the ingredients to make it a relevant hit even today: from the grandeur, to the complex storyline, twists in the story, exotic island locations and a gripping climax. And yeah, two heroines to dance with,” laughs Sundar C, adding that the film had an enviable second half.
The list of MGR fans in the industry is long, and longer is a check of MGR titles used in films today, from ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’, ‘Nam Naadu’, ‘Nalai Namadhey’, ‘Pudhumai Pithan’, ‘Raman Theydiya Seethai’, ‘Netru Indru Nalai’ and ‘Anbe Va’, to movies after his songs like ‘Pachaikili Muthucharam’, ‘Azhagiya Ta’, ‘Ennai Theriyuma’, ‘Thulluvadho Ilamai’, to name a few.
Attempts to recreate MGR on screen through computer graphics have also been made, and the latest in that league is Puratchi Thalaivar, a full length feature film with an animated MGR as the lead. With MGR’s movies like ‘Ulagam Sutrum Valiban’ or ‘Nadodi Mannan’ being bigs hits in the second runs they have earlier this year, looks like the Puratchi Thalaivar’s magic isn’t weaning out anytime soon.
Forwarded by MGR Fan Murugan Dharmalingam.

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