Show-stopper director Lokesh Kanagaraj turns 37 today

Lokesh Kanagaraj is a fabulous of Tamil cinema, having brought together big stars for his cinematic universe. On the occasion of his 37th birthday, let’s take a look at why fans of Tamil cinema enjoy his multi-starrers.

No one could have predicted that Lokesh Kanagaraj, the director of Maanagaram, would eventually become one of the top directors in Tamil cinema in just six years and four films. Unlike many other directors in the industry, Lokesh did not work as an assistant to senior directors, and his journey into commercial filmmaking is a story in and of itself. Lokesh, a bank employee, pursued his passion for filmmaking after completing his MBA by competing in corporate short film competitions. Lokesh’s work surprised filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj, a judge of one such competition, who encouraged him to pursue filmmaking as a full-time career. Karthik also enlisted Lokesh to direct a segment in his four-part anthology Aviyal. Even in Aviyal, Lokesh showed a lot of promise with his segment, Kalam. Lokesh, like many new filmmakers, decided to make a short film about a short filmmaker. The plot revolves around an aspiring filmmaker whose short film is stolen. Even in this brief appearance, Lokesh demonstrated his fondness for action sequences, even paying homage to Kamal Haasan’s Nammavar during the fight.

Maanagaram is a smooth hyperlink film that introduced the genre to a modern Tamil audience. The film was a sleeper hit, gaining popularity solely through word-of-mouth because it lacked major stars. The success of the film prompted Lokesh to direct Karthi in Kaithi, which marked the start of a new cinematic universe. He improved on the concept by creating a window into a larger universe. All he had to do was include a random scene about an unknown person called ‘Ghost’. Nobody realized the significance of the scene until his fourth feature, Vikram, was announced, and nobody realized the value of Lokesh Kanagaraj until the film was released.

Lokesh Cinematic Universe is a huge accomplishment in an industry where heroes are tired of doing multi-starrers. It has happened in the past for big stars to collaborate on a film. Lokesh’s steps toward creating a cinematic universe have proven to be game changers. After bringing Suriya, Kamal Haasan, Fahadh Faasil, and Karthi together in the same film, rumours and numerous hints in the Leo teaser suggest that Vijay may also be inhabiting the Lokesh Cinematic Universe, aka LCU. The thought of Kamal Haasan sharing screen time with Vijay is the stuff of Tamil cinema fans’ wildest dreams.

Aside from the novelty of seeing multiple stars in the same film, multi-starrers are also a commercially profitable venture, as Vikram’s exponential success proves. The final few minutes of the film, as well as Suriya’s fearsome cameo, deserve a lot of credit for boosting the film’s success by several notches. Even visualizing the Ghost, Leo, Dilli, and Rolex on the same screen sounds bloody sweet!