I really don’t want to talk about George Clooney, the poster boy for good-looking, senior men. I’m sure Clooney is tired of being called old all the time, even if it’s in praise. And with Kabali setting everyone’s pulse racing, he isn’t even the hottest silver-haired man around. So no, let’s not compare Arvind Swamy with George Clooney. Let’s just talk about Arvind Swamy as the guy who appears in the promos forNeengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi and says ‘Let’s play’ in that deeply intimate voice that he’s perfected to a tee *fans self*.
I was only five years old when Arvind Swamy made his debut in Thalapathy. And obviously, I was too small to lust after him then. But then I grew up. And watched many Arvind Swamy movies on lazy, muggy afternoons on TV. It was easy for me and my adolescent friends to lose our hearts because there simply wasn’t anyone like him in Tamil cinema then. Heck, there isn’t anyone like him in Tamil cinema now. Arvind Swamy was and is classy. This has nothing to do with his Johnson baby skin – in fact, this is in spite of that almost feminine complexion.
Arvind Swamy, quite simply, was handsome and decent. ‘Decent’ is a boring adjective but it’s a quality that we, female members of the audience, had glimpsed so rarely in our heroes that we gobbled it up ravenously. Arvind Swamy with his puppy dog eyes and winsome smile could convince most of us to jump off the Eiffel tower…no wonder Mani Ratnam thought Arvind Swamy was the perfect solution to end terrorism. Heh. He could mouth cheesy lines with a kind of intensity and earnestness that distracted you from finding fault with the films he starred in, some of them with terribly naïve politics.
For the longest time, Arvind Swamy was the image of the good boyfriend we all carried in our heads. The one you could take home to your Mama. The moustache was out of fashion by the time I was a teenager but we all agreed that Arvind Swamy’s was special. He was the guy we were willing to make exceptions for. But then, Arvind Swamy disappeared. We saw pictures of him occasionally. He was going through a bad divorce. He’d put on weight. He’d lost his hair. Here was proof that all good things come to an end. The girls grew into women. Some of us got jobs, some of us got married, some of us had babies. Life was monotonous.
And then, Arvind Swamy came back to Tamil cinema. I’m going to ignore the immensely forgettable Kadal and move straight to Thani Oruvan. The good boy had gone bad and how! As Siddharth Abhimanyu, Arvind Swamy was evil and irresistible in a way that only a man who has seen the world can be. The innocent Leo Coffee smile was replaced by a diabolical grin, the puppy dog eyes were now hound-like. And ooh, did we enjoy the hunt! Villains are usually ugly, moronic, rapey and downright despicable. But Arvind Swamy as the villain was…what’s the word again…classy. In a way only he can be. He was funny, sarcastic, intelligent and devastating. This is probably the only movie where there were plenty of men in uniform and I wasn’t interested in looking at any of them.
I find game shows boring. I think the ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ show in about twenty thousand languages is an overkill. But this time, I will watch Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi when it begins the third season on May 30th. Why? I’m afraid I cannot give you a decent answer.