BIRTHDAY SPECIAL ON THE LIFE AND CAREER OF A TAMIL CINEMA GIANT KNOWN AS THALAPATHY
by ASJAD NAZIR
ONE of the most successful cinema stars in India is Tamil movie icon Vijay, and this month the massively popular actor turns a year older on June 22.
The South Indian superstar will celebrate his 46th birthday and receive good wishes from all over the world.
Eastern Eye decided to join in the birthday merriment and present 20 fun facts about the man affectionately known as Thalapathy (commander) to his die-hard legion of fans.
■ The actor was born Joseph Vijay in Chennai on June 22, 1974 to a successful Tamil film director father (SA Chandrasekar) and famous playback singer mother (Shoba).
■ His father introduced Vijay as a child star with the film Vetri (1984). He would act further as a child star in projects directed by his father, including Kudumbam (1984), Vasantha Raagam (1986) and Sattam Oru Vilaiyaattu (1987).
■ Vijay was inspired to become a fulltime actor by his idol Rajinikanth and starred in his first lead as an 18-year-old in the film Naalaiya Theerpu (1992). The movie directed by his father under performed, but the young star was noticed for his acting.
■ The Tamil movie that turned Vijay into a star was 1994 release Rasigan, which earned him the lifelong nickname of Thalapathy (commander).
■ Future South Indian superstar Suriya made his acting debut in Vijay starrer Nerukku Ner (1997), which was produced by legendary filmmaker Mani Ratnam.
■ Priyanka Chopra actually made her acting debut opposite Vijay in Tamil film Thamizhan (2002) before going on to make her Bollywood debut the following year and establishing herself globally.
■ 2004 action entertainer Ghilli, which was a remake of Telugu film Okkadu, turned Vijay into a mega-star and was the highest grossing Tamil film of that year. The blockbuster success ran for more than 200 days in cinemas and established him as a romantic action hero. After Ghilli, he became unstoppable as a star.
■ Vijay’s action thriller Pokkiri (2007), which was a remake of a 2006 Telugu film of the same name, was the first Tamil release to complete a 100- day theatrical run in Kerala and was so successful that it inspired Salman Khan to remake it in Bollywood as Wanted (2009) with the same director (Prabhu Deva).
■ Vijay has helped 20 new directors enter the movie industry, including filmmaker Bharathan, who made his debut with Azhagiya Tamil Magan (2007), which saw the actor play a double role for the first time in his career. Vijay played both the antagonist and protagonist in the film.
■ Vijay played the lead role in 2012 comedy drama Nanban, which was the Tamil remake of record-breaking Bollywood film 3 Idiots (2009). Vijay won praise for the role, which was originally played by Aamir Khan, in a movie that had a successful 100 days theatrical run.
■ Vijay’s 2012 action thriller Thuppakki became one of the highest grossing Tamil movies of all time and was remade in Bollywood as Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, with Akshay Kumar in the same role.
■ The superstar actor’s 2014 release Kaththi saw him play a double role for the third time. Despite being dubbed in Telugu, the smash hit was remade in the same language as Khaidi No. 150, which was legendary mega-star Chiranjeevi’s 150th film.
■ Vijay played a triple role for the first time in action thriller Mersal, which became the highest grossing film of the superstar actor’s career and the most successful Tamil release of 2017.
■ Vijay has consistently refused offers from Bollywood, but did make a very brief cameo in Rowdy Rathore (2012) song Chinta Chinta. But most of his films are dubbed in Hindi.
■ The multi-talented star is also an accomplished singer and dancer. In fact, superstar actor Junior NTR said Vijay was his favourite dancer and has copied his steps in a movie.
■ The wealthy star is regularly included in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list in India and ranks highly. Aside from commanding high asking prices, he has many brand endorsements, as well as his production company.
■ The big hearted star has done a lot of philanthropic work across his career and has a social welfare organisation that helps those in need. There are many stories associated with his charity work, including Vijay helping the daughter of a tea stall owner to obtain admission to a private college.
■ Vijay is married to British Sri Lankan Tamil Sangeetha Sornalingam, whom he met in the UK, and they have two children, a son and a daughter. Both kids have made cameo appearances with their father in his films, in Vettaikaaran (2009) and Their (2016).
■ The highest grossing Tamil movie of 2019 was Vijay starrer Bigil, which clocked up huge box office numbers and ran for more than 100 days.
■ One of the most anticipated Indian films after the Covid-19 lockdown is over is the actor’s next blockbuster Master, which will be released in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, as well as in Hindi.