The audio launch of Thoppi – which took place last week – was as uneventful as the others. We listened to a few speeches, and settled back to listen to a few more.
It was Powerstar Srinivasan’s turn to address the audience.
Srinivasan is usually chirpy at events. His speeches are short, hilarious and pertinent. But for the audio launch of Thoppi, he had a different agenda in mind. Powerstar chose to rant. About a producer whom he didn’t name.
While his tirade contained some self-deprecating humour (some strategy, this), it however managed to irk the Producers’ Council members on stage. Who, in turn, literally queued up to reprimand Srinivasan. His signature bunny-smile turned sour when the last producer wagged a finger, warning him to think twice before making accusations (more vile things have been said on stage, of course).
*****As it happened, Srinivasan was unhappy with a producer for taking him to shoot in Kodaikanal. He was issued a cheque with the advance payment before filming; and for reasons that are well known, Srinivasan wasn’t comfortable receiving payments by cheque.
“Enakkey cheque-ah?” he bellowed at the audio launch.
Loud applause met his words.
“They made me work hard. Kayar katti thongavittaanga! I had to do stunts. A lot of work,” he emphasized.
When his portions were filmed, Srinivasan urged the producer to make the full payment. “His explanation was not very convincing. Why would I have to work if they won’t give me money? Why do people wish to produce, when they can’t afford it?”
Addressing the Producers’ Council members who were on the dais, Srinivasan said, “I wish the Council could make the producers deposit some money before films are made.”
“Naanum thirundhanum-nu paakarenga. Aana enna thirundha vida maataanga pola. I want to earn money through right means…”
Loud applause this time as well, and the Powerstar returned to his seat, looking a little smug.
Director Singampuli was up next. He vehemently defended the producers, making sly references to Mr Powerstar’s speech.
The audience, who were visibly thrilled at the spectacle, hooted in glee. They welcomed Singampuli with equal enthusiasm, as Powerstar sourly observed from his perch.
“It’s a Himalayan task to produce films these days,” said the director, “But producers must remember that faith is what that would help them. Money is always secondary. Nambikkai thaan ellaam.”
As Singampuli walked back to his seat, Srinivasan scrambled to the microphone again.
“Thirumbavum solren, panam dhaal ellaam!”
Singampuli, who was about to sit, yelled again, “Nambikkai thaan ellaam!”
Producers’ Council members Thenappan, T Siva and Five Star Kathiersan were also vehement in expressing their disapproval.
Siva told Srinivasan, “Remember who made you a star? Remember who gave you the epithet ‘Powerstar’? You are now being celebrated because of producers,” he bellowed.
Srinivasan, though, was busy rummaging in his pocket. He picked out a white hand kerchief and wiped his forehead.
Thenappan followed. “Regardless of how wealthy and big they are, producers suffer. Salem Chandrasekharan, who produced Ghajini, couldn’t release his latest Tamil film Killadi. We had to fight. Evlo periya aalaa irundhaalum, release appo nadu therukku varaanga producers!”
Five Star Kathiresan echoed similar sentiments.
None of them, it seemed, wanted to see Powerstar Srinivasan as anything but a buffoon.
And certainly not one with strong opinions.
It was a revelation to the whole world.
Well met, Mr Powerstar.