Looking at Vijay's path-breaking movies
He's the Ilaya Thalapathi, the Young Commander of his adoring fans across Tamil Nadu. All he needs to do is flick his fingers and people queue up to watch him do the most amazing stunts, dance with pretty co-stars, and fight evil the way only he can, in superhuman fashion. He is Vijay.
With his Velayudham, directed by M Raja, up for release this Diwali, we take a look at some of Vijay's movies that made him the star he is.
Poove Unakkaga (1996)
In many ways, this Vikraman movie made sure that Vijay, post a spate of movies directed by his father, was made accessible to the general public. He was not just an evil-fighting machine, but a romantic young man, intensely attached to family. As Raja, he had a mission: to set right a feud between two families that had been warring for years. All this, for the love of his heart. Coupled with S A Rajkumar's chartbusters, the movie set Vijay firmly on the path to success.
Image: A still from Poove Unakkaga
Kadhalukku Mariyadhai (1997)
This romantic classic directed by Fazil was the remake of his own successful Malayalam venture, Aniathipravu. Vijay was the mild-mannered Jeeva, extremely fond of his parents and willing to carry out their every whim -- until he met Mini, the girl of his dreams.
Vijay was perfect as the young man who is caught between his beloved and his family. His mental conflict and vulnerability came through, making the film a blockbuster. It also earned him the Tamil Nadu State Award for Best Actor.
Image: A still from Kadhalukku Mariyadhai
A rare movie, this. Vijay agreed to break away from his swiftly acquired good-guy image, playing Vasanth, a man who is initially good-hearted, but later becomes an obsessive maniac who will go to any lengths to get what he wants, which, in this case, is his beloved played by Kausalya.
With music by Deva and direction by Vincent Selva, the film showed a side of Vijay that hadn't been seen so far by the masses--a hardened, almost-psychotic facet. And Vijay, the charismatic hero that he was, managed to pull off an anti-hero film as well.
Image: A still from Priyamudan
By now, Vijay was swiftly becoming known as the go-to man when directors with big budgets needed a convincing romantic lead.
Kushi was a landmark in his career. Vijay played a romantic who falls in love with a girl, but his problems are the girl herself (played by Jyothika), and their ego-clashes, and not external factors.
Once again Deva, as the composer, created chartbusters for this S J Surya movie. Vijay, as the quirky, besotted lover-boy who still has to come to terms with his heart, won over audiences.
Image: A still from Kushi
Despite his star status, Vijay proved that he wasn't averse to doing double-hero projects. This one was a remake of Siddique's Malayalam hit of the same name. Vijay played the protagonist and along with Suriya put together a tale that had humour, sentiment, emotion and betrayal in equal measure.
Ilaiyaraja's music coupled with Vijay's enjoyable acting and flair for comedy produced a family drama that went on to become a hit.
Image: A still from Friends
Vijay was by now a bankable star, but with Ghilli, directed by Dharani with music composed by Vidhyasagar, he achieved an iconic status that brooked no detractors. A remake of the Telugu blockbuster Okkadu, it had Vijay doing what he started out with--being an action hero named Saravana Velu.
As the avenging hero who fights to save the heroine (Trisha) from the most terrible of villains, and playing an interesting cat-and-mouse game with him, Vijay's performance earned him a whole new battalion of fans and firmly set him on the path to being a "mass" hero.
Image: A still from Ghilli
Now that remakes had proved to be box office gold for him, Vijay took another opportunity to establish his footing: the remake of Pokiri, another Telugu blockbuster. This one, directed by Prabhu Deva, had him playing Thamizh, a thug who revelled in the gory underworld of Chennai, looking rough and rugged even as he pursued a subtle romance with Asin.
Along with Mani Sharma's catchy music, the film was explosive enough to set his audiences screaming with delight. The rest, as they say, is history.
Image: A still from Pokkiri
This movie was special for more than one reason. Not only did it come at a time when Vijay was reeling from several box office disasters, but it also arrived on screens in the face of considerable political opposition.
A remake of the Malayalam hit Bodyguard, directed by Siddique, the film was far from Vijay's usual macho image. He played a bodyguard, Bhoominathan, who was more of a soft lover.
Vidhyasagar composed the music, and the screenplay provided plenty of scope for hilarity and spotlighted the rather naive, vulnerable side of Vijay. It proved to be a hit with audiences.
Image: A still from Kaavalan