Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thuppakki and our over-the-counter Army chiefs, freedom fighters

Field Marshall in the making?

Its release was preceded by controversies — two, to be precise — that generated ample heat, with sections objecting to the seemingly inaccurate portrayal of a community and its lead actor’s supposed preference for cheroots, culminating in a slew of apologies from its makers. Going by the posters commemorating its 50-day run at the BO, Thuppakki could court another controversy, forcing its makers to do an encore.

Some thumbnail images accompanied ‘Ilayathalapathy’ Vijay in the movie’s posters that surfaced in Chennai on the occasion; a closer look revealed them to be, along with our current Defence chiefs, the select Armed Forces chiefs, who, during our nation’s moments of distress, helmed our forces and ensured that we emerged unscathed and victorious — our Field Marshals. The impression the poster seemed to generate was that actor Vijay was on his way to being decorated as the nation’s next Field Marshal, pitching him along the likes of Gen Sam Manekshaw and Gen Arjan Singh!

A Defence chief in an over-the-counter purchase? You bet, and put aside the Tatra truck deal out of your mind, will you?
To the uninitiated, Thuppakki, a humongous box-office success, has Vijay playing an Army Commander, who during a visit to Mumbai, serendipitously uncovers terrorist sleeper cell activities and its links to organisations in Kashmir and serial bomb blasts, while defusing threats all along, single-handedly; his mission punctuated at regular intervals by a romantic interlude.

Here’s why the poster is a big blunder and an affront to the nation.
1.   While Messrs A R Murugadoss, Kalaipuli Thanu and Co may be commended for making a film on our Armymen (a declaration at the movie's end makes it clear), this does not warrant them to use our decorated Army chiefs for their vested interests (Are they even aware of it, in the first place?). Thuppakki, after all, is a masala flick and certainly is no documentary on our soldiers, and has been made with the singular intention of making money for its producers. Hence, this marketing move of sorts smacks of utter indifference and insolence
2.   This could also be interpreted as emotional manipulation at its crass worst. It's as if these personnel have already watched the movie and want us to follow suit — very much like an advertorial masquerading as a news article without any disclaimer. Army men, like doctors and nurses, largely lead lives of service — and I’m not talking about corruption scandals — hence, the perception of regard surrounding them. The poster is, thus, very much like the TV ad where models in medical suits urge us to purchase that toothpaste or insect repellent
3.   The probability that this poster can spark off a trend is very high, given that Vijay is among the sale-able of Tamil actors. Endless, of course, are the avenues for such ignominious possibilities. We already have a ‘Captain’ (Vijaykanth) who has nixed all our security threats, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. What next?
4.   Laughable as it may seem, an accompanying caption in the poster reads “Victory to the Indian Armed Forces”. Really, Mr Thanu? Will you go to any extent just to redeem your investment?

Attestation from our freedom fighters!

Going a step ahead was an advertisement that appeared in some of the regional newspapers, in which Vijay shares space with our freedom fighters — from Netaji Subash Chandra Bose to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Subramanya Bharati. A caption reads thus: "Terrorism? That too in our nation, which was won with our sweat and blood? Long live the Thalapathy."

Hyperbole, did someone say?

Jai Hind!