As Indians gear up to celebrate their harvest festival, Pongal, here are two star-studded movies that will hit the UAE cinemas during this festive period. While ‘Varisu’ (The Heir) is led by Vijay and ‘Thunivu’ (Gutsy) stars Ajith, these films have many factors going for it including co-stars like Manju Warrier and Rashmika Mandanna.
Here’s why you shouldn’t miss out on these two cinematic marvels.
1. The harvest festival of Pongal (January 14) is one of Tamil Nadu’s biggest breaks and is celebrated with great gusto over four days in the south Indian state. It’s no surprise that the biggest Tamil movies make a beeline for the large screen during this period. Over the decades, stars such as MG Ramachandran, ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, and Vijaykanth have regularly made a date with the Pongal weekend. This year is no exception, with Vijay and Ajith, arguably two of the Tamil film industry’s leading stars, getting ready for a fierce face-off at the box office. This time, Vijay is starring in Varisu, a family drama directed by Vamshi Paidipally. Vijay's director has a track record of delivering big hits in Tamil and Telugu, while actor Ajith’s 'Thunivu' is an action-heist thriller directed by H Vinoth who has given the cerebral entertainers 'Sathuranga Vettai' and 'Theeran Athigaram Ondru' in the past.
2. Rashmika Mandanna, Indian cinema’s upcoming star with hits in various industries already under her belt, is the co-star in Vijay-led ‘Varisu’. Sarath Kumar, Jayasudha, Prakash Raj, Yogi Babu, SJ Surya and VTV Ganesh form the ensemble. Thunivu has Malayalam actress Manju Warrier, one of Kerala’s most bankable stars, joining Ajith. She will be accompanied by Samuthirakani, John Kokken, GM Kumar, among others.
3. The drumbeat of high expectations for the two movies is largely fuelled by the tepid showing of the heroes’ previous outings. Simply put, it’s a significant release in their careers. Remember, Beast for Vijay and Valimai (strength) for Ajith did not perform as well as expected. While fans are excited at their idol Vijay choosing a family entertainer -- his staple during the ’90s and early 2000s—Thunivu is being seen as having shades of Mankatha, the 2011 sleeper hit in which Ajith revelled as the antagonist. Vijay aced in family drama and something tells us that he’s back in his zone here. Proof of this excitement can be gauged from the fact that Thunivu’s trailer, which dropped on December 31, has clocked 60 million views as of today. In comparison, the trailer for Varisu that was unveiled on January 4 has logged 43 million views. ‘Ranjithame’, the first single from Varisu, for which Vijay has also lend his voice, has generated over 133 million views on YouTube. Plus the song ‘Chilla chilla’ from Thunivu has logged 33 million views in one month on the website.
4. The actors last faced head-on during Pongal in 2014, with Vijay’s Jilla (District) and Ajith’s Veeram (Bravery) having a long run in theatres. It was an encore with different protagonists in Pongal 2019: Ajith’s Viswasam (gratitude) and Rajinikanth’s Petta.
5. While Ajith and Vijay have stressed repeatedly they are thick friends, fans and fan clubs of both the actors—and there are a large number of them—treat each other with rancour, often to absurd levels. This lends added drama over who is the king of the box office. The two have often been touted as successors to Rajinikanth’s mantle of the box office superstar. Thus, it was no surprise when 'Varisu' producer ‘Dil’ Raju’s comment in an interview on Vijay being the bigger actor threw up a controversy.
6. The two actors are reclusive in public and on social media, making rare appearances only at voting booths on election days. Vijay is on Twitter, but posts are rare; Ajith’s PR manager reportedly runs a Twitter account on the actor’s behalf.
7. Regardless, what the actors spoke ahead of the movie releases tells a story of its own. Vijay, at the audio launch of ‘Varisu’, said he is competing only with himself. Ajith said in a statement that a good movie doesn’t need any promotion, shying away from publicising his latest film. In the meantime, head to the nearest movie hall and grab a bucket of popcorn. The movies could be worth your time.
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'Varisu' and 'Thunivu' are out in UAE cinemas