(This is being written from a Telugu film goer’s perspective. So, things written here may or may not be agreeable to a typical Tamil film fan.)
It is an understatement to say that director Shankar is a rock star in the Telugu speaking states. None of his films have ever failed to find audience in Andhra. So much so that, the film Boys too, which was run down in Tamil Nadu both by the public in general, and women groups in particular, did very well in AP. So when Shankar delivered a ‘three hours throbbing headache” in the form of his latest offering Ai, it became a talking point. How did he miss the bus this time ?? Here are some possible reasons.
This fact is well know in TN. But for Telugus, Sujatha does not ring much. Sujatha Rangarajan is a popular Tamil writer who was associated with Shankar in many of his earlier movies like Boys, Anniyan -Aparichitudu, Indian – Bharateeyudu, Mudhalvan -Oke Okkadu, Sivaji, and Enthiran -Robot. He also penned dialogues for the movie Roja, and worked with Mani Ratnam on his other movies. He expired in 2008 after scripting Robot. Shankar is clearly missing this writer and that could have been the reason for the bland fare he dished out recently. Shankar’s future movies will tell us if Sujatha is indeed missed or whether Shankar can fly his kite independently.
Graphics need to be supported by a strong story !!
Telugus are not awed by graphics alone. They have seen world class CG work in many Telugu films starting from Ammoru. That was followed by films like Devi, Devi Putrudu, Anji, Magadheera, Arundhati and Eega to name a few. Shankar’s Robot scored because of its terrific combination of story, graphics and star appeal. Ai failed in its storyline.
Telugus like Shankar’s anti-system crusades !!
Many of Shankar’s earlier movies were high on one man fighting the system. Gentleman, Indian – Bhaarateeyudu and Anniyan – Aparichitudu are examples of the same. Telugus in general like the man-against-the- system formula. When Chiranjeevi remade a Tamil film with the same formula and made Tagore, they made it a roaring success. Ai is a story of personal revenge and that does not pump the blood of a general Telugu fellow.
Rahman was one of the main reasons why Shankar and Mani Ratnam could easily barge into an un-invited Telugu party. Rahman started failing a few years ago. In fact even in films like Shivaji and Robot, he delivered utterly pedestrian music. But those films were salvaged by other factors. For a “Sujatha and Story”- less Ai, Rahman was a liability and not an asset.