As far as we can tell, Tamil movie superstar Rajnikanth has led a stellar and dignified life except for two big follies.
Rajnikanth’s first folly happened sometime in 1979 or 1980, when he disgraced himself with his bad behavior at an airport in South India around the time of his nervous breakdown.
Rajni’s second folly is more recent and even more bizarre – when he blessed the remake of his 1980 blockbuster Billa with Ajith in the lead.
Of all the bad Tamil actors we’ve watched in over four decades, it’s safe to say that Ajith causes the greatest agony to serious lovers of Tamil cinema.
An eggregiously bad actor and seemingly bereft of any talent, Ajith gives the entire Tamil film industry a bad name. Ajith’s Aalwar was a box office disaster while Kireedom hardly set the box office on fire.
After enduring the unendurable Ajith’s Billa at the horrible Newark Screens theater in New Jersey on Friday, we felt the new Billa is not only no patch on the original but it’s a downright disgrace.
In fact, Ajith’s Billa is worse than even Azhagiya Tamil Magan. Not an easy achievement, when you consider that Azhagiya Tamil Magan was itself a lousy movie compared to Vijay’s previous movie Pokiri.
There’s much that has gone awry with Ajith’s Billa.
The worst piece of Billa was Ajith’s pathetic performance. Prancing about like a Korangu than a seasoned actor, Ajith looks wooden in most scenes. There’s absolutely no range in his emotions or his dialogue delivery.
One of the crucial scenes in the old Billa is when the Deputy Superintendent of Police (Balaji) convinces a street performer Rajappa (Rajnikanth) to impersonate the don after Billa’s death. That memorable scene was handled with great finesse by Rajnikanth but completely messed up by Ajith in the new Billa.
While the story of the new Billa – filmed mostly in Malaysia – broadly follows that of the old Billa, the remake’s story is disjointed with a careless screenplay that is frequently jarring. To put it succinctly, Billa is the eponymous story of a ruthless criminal and the efforts of the police to capture him and his gang.
Although a movie belonging to the action genre, much of what passes for action in Billa, whether the car chases, the killings or the fight scenes, are downright pedestrian and have been beaten to death in other movies. Hardly anything to write home about let alone savor.
Even the opening scene in Billa in the airport hangar was nothing extraordinary.
Adding to viewers’ agony in Ajith’s Billa are the two so-called actresses Nayantara and Namitha.
For much of the movie, Nayantara goes around wearing skimpy black attire and an ugly frown. And she looks bad in both. Nayantara is worse than Sripriya (in the old Billa) who was worse than Zeenat Aman in that 1978 Hindi film Don, which inspired the originalÂ Billa in 1980.
As for Namitha, who plays Billa’s moll, will someone please tell this fat tramp that a gravity-defying bosom is no substitute for acting. Her song-dance scene Naan Meendum in Billa inflicted heavy pain on our eye-balls and ear-drums.
None of the songs in the new Billa have any life or soul in them. The old Billa had three nice songs Iravum Pagalum, My Name is Billa and Veththalaya Potttendy.
The new Billa has not a single decent song. The Ajith version of Vethalaya Pottendy is a horror show lacking any semblance of grace or class. Our neighbors at the Newark Screens were laughing disdainfully at that bozo’s antics on the screen.
In the Seval Kodi song, Ajith looked ridiculous prancing about in jeans while everyone around him is dressed in religious garb. Is there no limit to nonsense?
Visually, the new Billa never rises to great heights. Like that recent ugly Sholay remake Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Billa is mostly filmed in dim lighting giving this bad film a gloomy look overall.
If there is any saving grace in Billa, it must surely be in Prabhu’s performance as the Deputy Superintendent of Police. Prabhu (son of Sivaji Ganesan) has matured as a fine character actor over the years.
You know, Ajith is often referred to as the Ultimate Star.
But after watching his antics on screen in Billa and his other insufferable Tamil movies, we think it’s fair to call Ajith the Tamil film industry’s Ultimate Korangu.
Unless you are a mindless Ajith-fan, the new Billa is awful to endure, rotten to contemplate and unpleasant to narrate.
Perhaps, Rajnikanth will someday explain why he repaid the love and adoration of millions of his fans by giving his blessings to this torturous remake.
*****Below note added on December 23, 2007*****
It’s been nine days since Ajith’s Billa was released.
The big question now is whether Billa is a Flop, Ultimate Flop or a Super Hit at the box office.
Billa II Review – Frustratingly Bad