In a write-up that she posted on Facebook, writer Soumya Rajendran addressed debates over South Indian movies-Bollywood movies.
She commented that the story and characters of South Indian films are quite normal but Bollywood films do not interact with the audience.
Soumya pointed out that while South Indian actors change their looks depending on the situation and characters, Bollywood stars are not ready to change their stylish looks.
South Indian actors look like ordinary people who could be from anywhere. They appear to be human, even if they may be performing superhuman acts on film.
She said, “South cinema – particularly Tamil and Telugu – produces way more star vehicles than Bollywood. That is, a Hrithik Roshan or Ranbir Kapoor movie cannot just be the stars beating up gangsters and mouthing punch dialogues to zany background music. But in the south, most stars still look like ordinary people who could be from anywhere. They could be doing superhuman things on screen but they look human. They look like us.”
There is a Vijay Sethupathi from South India who displays his pot belly on screen, Fahad Fazil with baldness, and Ajith with gray hair, The writer said.
Soumya also pointed out the acting of actresses including Nimisha Sajayanta in Great Indian Kitchen and Sai Pallavi in Gargi and their character transformations.
Soumya Rajendran criticised Alia Bhatt’s performance in the Bollywood movie “Gangubhai Katyavadi” for being uncontained and how a lady who is subjected to such abuse every day can seem so fresh all the time.
Soumya’s full write-up posted on Facebook can be read here.
I was watching Anurag Kashyap’s interview with Baradwaj Rangan. He talks about how Bollywood has stopped making films that connect with the audience because nothing looks real, including the actors.
South cinema – particularly Tamil and Telugu – produces way more star vehicles than Bollywood. That is, a Hrithik Roshan or Ranbir Kapoor movie cannot just be the stars beating up gangsters and mouthing punch dialogues to zany background music. But in the south, most stars still look like ordinary people who could be from anywhere. They could be doing superhuman things on screen but they look human. They look like us.
There is a Vijay Sethupathi who displays his pot belly. There is a Fahadh who is bald. There is an Ajith whose hair is fully white. There is a Dhanush who can look street or CEO, depending on the character. There is an Allu Arjun who can make you smile with his swag like your class joker.
The women don’t always look like they could be from anywhere. They have to be fair. But even then, there is a Sai Pallavi who looks like she’s lived all her life in that small, cramped house in ‘Gargi’.
There is a Nimisha Sajayan who wears the exhaustion of ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ on her face. There is an Aishwarya Rajesh who could be on any bus in Chennai.
There is an Amala Paul who is sexy but can be an ordinary school teacher. There is a Nithya Menen who is neither cinema-slim nor cinema-tall but walks away with accolades in nearly every film she does. There’s an Anushka Shetty who can play a queen but also an overweight girl next door. There’s an Aishwarya Lekshmi who is model-like but has a tremulous vulnerability on her face. There is a Rajisha Vijayan who can play 14 or 34, depending on the character. There’s a Trisha who can look like someone’s high school sweetheart from 20 years ago. There’s a Parvathy who is like a chameleon and looks different in each role she plays.
It’s not that Bollywood stars can’t act. That is, of course, not true. But do they look the part? When I watched Bhansali’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, I couldn’t buy Alia Bhatt in the role at all. It’s not that she didn’t act well – but can a woman who undergoes such abuse every day of her life looks like a fresh lily all the time?
If I don’t sleep well for two nights in a row, I look like a truck ran over me. If I go out in the sun for long hours, I get heat boils on my face. I put on and lose weight according to my menstrual cycle. I have dark circles under my eyes from working on the laptop for so many years. In winter, I have dry skin around my lips. But I never see any of these human details in mainstream Bollywood films. Only a Shefali Shah or a Radhika Apte is allowed to have such flaws. Maybe a Vidya Balan.
The men, too, are so muscled up, so styled all the time that they are believable only in sophisticated, urban roles. Doesn’t matter how much they’re brown-faced. Why is there only one Rajkummar Rao? Why is a Pankaj Tripathi or Vijay Verma kind of face and talent only for supporting roles?
I loathe these stupid ‘Boycott Bollywood’ trends, and I don’t want to suggest that south cinema is superior to Hindi. I’ve sat through enough terrible films from the south to know better. But while watching ‘Thiruchitrambalam’ yesterday, I was happy to see an ordinary story with ordinary faces. I hope it isn’t remade. I don’t want to see a food delivery boy who looks like he spends six hours a day at the gym or a girl next door who looks like she hasn’t eaten three meals a day for years. I don’t want the cinema of the ordinary to be replaced by cinema of the beautiful people yet again.