Nothing excites us like the references we catch on movies, especially if it is a reference to another movie we like. We jump in excitement, with the scene or the film element invoking a little nostalgic effect in our minds when we watch, understand and catch a reference that is thrown at us.
But what if the references had something more to them than references? What if it was a reference to something deep and hidden which only crazy fan theorists at reddit could crack open? What if it was an idea that would take on the whole world like a virus?
There are few filmmakers who have created a multiverse of sorts, connecting every movie they've ever made. Take Quentin Tarantino for example. Bare-feet women, Red Apple Cigarettes, Samuel L.Jackson...these among so many other elements are featured in every Tarantino movie. What's more, some movies even have an indirect link to his other movies, like this Pulp Fiction-Kill Bill connection:
Even some of our homegrown filmmakers have this unique knack of weaving references and connections within their own films, and while some do it consciously, there are many more who might have unknowingly done so, subsequently inspiring audiences like us to draw our own theories.
And when we think of such Indian filmmakers, the first name that comes to our mind is none other than the pop-culture potpourri expert, Venkat Prabhu.
What makes Venkat Prabhu’s movies special?
From holidays to sixes, Venkat Prabhu has always entertained us with amazing Easter eggs. His brother Premji has acted in every one of his movies and Yuan Shankar Raja has been the music director for all six of his movies. I feel Venkat Prabhu had more in mind than just selecting that particular combination of artists, more than the blood relation or the closeness he shares with these artistes. It could also be happening in the same universe. This could be the secret formula that he adds in his chemical mixture to produce top notch different films.
The presence of a (imaginary) multiverse
Look for similarities and references. You need to have an incisive and artistic mind to notice intricate details, willing to look out of the box.
Venkat’s key element is that his screenplays are always enjoyable and can handle multiple star cast. If we intricately look in detail at the 'cat-and-mouse chase'-style plot of his films, we are bound to find a similarity with each of his other movies. Consider Masss, in which we had a reference to Premji’s trademark style and we also had Easter eggs to Kaththi and Vaaranam Aayiram. One of the best and my favorite was the 'Mankatha Flash mob for Ajith’s birthday' scene in Biriyani. This was when I got an idea planted in my subconscious. The idea of a multi-connected Venkat Prabhu Cinematic Universe.
Similar Minded Protagonists
The similarity in all of these classics is that they always have a womanizer as a protagonist.
In Goa, it was Jai, who made it look like he was the best at getting girls making them to go to Goa for that very purpose. In Biriyani, Karthi was clearly the playboy with a huge fan following, which was the sole thing that got them involved in the mess. Of course it was Ajith in Mankatha, but I wouldn’t call the other main protagonists so deep a womanizer as the former two. They had a similar role to play ending up in extreme situation for the good or for the bad.
It was always cricket
Venkat Prabhu’s references to cricket were what intrigued me into thinking in this messed up way. I do not know about Venkat Prabhu’s history with the game but I somehow feel he is trying to express a long love experience he once had with cricket.
Chennai 600028 was about the game of cricket and the versions of the game adapted in namma Chennai. In Saroja, all hell breaks loose and the plot thickens when the protagonists are on their way to watch a cricket match while Mankatha was about betting and match fixing in Cricket. And Masss engira Maasillamani’s tagline was ‘A Venkat Prabhu’s Sixer’
Premiji and his role in the Cinematic Universe
The one constant in all of Venkat Prabhu’s movies, apart from Yuvan was Premji. All six characters Premji portrayed in every movie had a striking similarity. So going back to Chennai 28, if we look at the evolution of the characters played by him, I can’t help but theorise that it was the same person all along. Seenu, the wannabe cricketer, gave up his position in Sharks team and became a fun loving engineer (like every other Chennaite), graduated from IIT Madras, tried swindling money from a gambler Arumugam Chettiar, nearly died in doing so, gave life a fresh start, happened to meet Jessica Alba, had a time of his life at Goa, married her and settled down.
Does any of this make sense?
Maybe my brain has evolved too much to draw a picture out of invisible dots, but that’s the thing about fan theories. There is no right or wrong about fan theories. ‘Of course it is all happening in my head, but why on earth should that mean it’s not real.’ Yes. They’re all connected. They’re all happening in the same timeline. It all sounds too complicated a fan theory, but that’s what Venkat Prabhu’s movies do to an idle mind. It is totally worth the over thinking when there is a whole cinematic universe in the making. I’d be glad if Venkat Prabhu himself gets to know the existence of such a twisted theory of his movies and acknowledge its presence or absence, even if it means him ridiculing it as a stupid fan theory.
Written by Kasthuriramanan Sivaguru, a clichéd student of engineering by chance and an incisive geek by choice, who writes for the fun of it and believes reality just isn't good enough, hoping to use his words as an escape route.