The Power of a lead character

There are many reasons fans like me are going to rave about Superstar Rajinikanth’s ‘Lingaa’ and I am going to not dwell at length on the most obvious things: the style, the dialogue delivery, the ease at which he can alternate between being macho and being caring, and so on and so forth.

This is more about the writing behind movies, and more specifically character building.

When people write stories for actors like Rajinikanth or say Johnny Depp (just expanding the scope here a bit for a reason), they are more often than not tailoring the narrative and tuning the plot points to exactly deliver what the audience has stamped its approval for several times over.

But in between furthering the story and providing entertainment, I think there is a sweet spot some movies sometimes hit where you dont really know who is writing the story or the dialogue. The writers, the actors or even you, the audience.

Because sometimes, we know exactly what the lead character is going to say, only it becomes infinetely more beautiful in receiving it from them in character.

Let me quote an example here. Johnny Depp was in his elements in ‘The Pirates of Caribbean’. Who can possibly dislike a pirate, a lowbrow rascal who surprisingly has superior language skills that would put to shame the best of wordsmiths around. But all it takes for one to take in the magic is to suspend the disbelief.

For me, as an audience, that ‘sweet spot’ I was talking about came in just one scene in the ‘Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ when Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann are marooned on an Island and spend the night drinking rum and prancing around a bonfire.

In a telling moment, Jack reveals to Elizabeth what the cursed ship Black Pearl means to him.

“Wherever we want to go,

We go.

That’s what a ship is, you know.

It’s not just a keel and a hull

and a deck and sails.

That’s what a ship needs.

But what a ship is…

What the Black Pearl really is…

…is freedom.”

Though blockbuster movies like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ or the likes of ‘Lingaa’ or Superstars like Rajinikanth and Johnny Depp are in the usual discourse or debate shunned to be making low brow entertainers that mean nothing, the fact is they are able to strike a chord with the lowest common denominator in ways some of the more accomplished thinkers can only dream of.

** mild spoiler ahead **

In Lingaa, my favourite segment is when Rajinikanth’s character in the flashback sequence the King Lingeswara who build a dam for his people but is forced to live in penury, explains what being a king really is.

And for exactly those two minutes, there is a certain brilliance that unfolds.

Of course, you might call me crazy and say the best Rajini bits in the movie were elsewhere.

But that, I really think, is just a conceit, my friend. This is where the writers won.

(Do note: This is like a heady first draft from a fan. This article might most probably be revised sooner or later. This was written in fan-driven hurry. But the context and the content shall stay true.)

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