Chennai’s love for DiCaprio

Immediately after Leonardo DiCaprio won the Oscar, Twitter exploded. At the speed of about 440,000 tweets per minute, according to official reports. That’s just marginally lesser than the number of retweets I get: about one or two per day. Anyway, I’m convinced that a vast number of those tweets came from Indians who, no doubt, collectively fell sick that Monday morning to catch the Oscars, after praying to their favourite deities for Leo.

Ever since Titanic motivated the vast majority of our fans to spit furthest, and/or run straight to the forecastle after boarding a ship, DiCaprio has been our, as our films will put it, chella pillai. It’s not just our actors, such as Trisha and Jai, who have expressed their delight at Leo’s Oscar win, of course. I received, and I’m sure so did you, an alarming photo of a poster supposedly created by ‘Kanadukathan DiCaprio Fan Association’, that congratulated him on his Oscar win and hailed him as our future chief minister. Just to provide you with some context, Kanadukathan, whose population in 2001 was under 5,000, is a town in Sivagangai district. If DiCaprio’s popularity continues to soar, don’t be surprised if he is eventually invited to the audio launch of Endhiran 3, and marketed as its villain.

The Indian distributors of The Revenant forecast this furore. That’s why they craftily pushed the release date closer to the Oscars. And you were wondering why The Revenant was taking so long to get released in India, a throwback to the dark ages when we had to wait forever to see Hollywood films in India. Titanic, for example, took four months to get here. The real Titanic would have completed the Southampton-New York journey at least 15 times in such time — free of iceberg collisions, of course.

On some level, it appears that the distributors of The Revenant knew that the Academy couldn’t get away with not giving Leo an Oscar this year, though it would have been hilarious to see if there would have been any hunger protests held, as is our style, to try and get him his Oscar. The release date strategy seems to have paid off richly, literally, as reports have shown that The Revenant has collected way more than even Bollywood films that released alongside.

If the aftermath of Leo’s Oscar win were in a Shankar film, you would have expected to see several dramatic shots of people outside consumer durables stores, of villagers at tea shops, of men in suits stuck in a traffic jam… all unanimously hailing DiCaprio’s win and hugging each other. Perhaps, all the hailing will be at the expense of an unfortunate, pregnant woman stuck in an auto, or an earnest student about to write a crucial board exam. Perhaps DiCaprio, dressed as a reporter, will rescue them, with Vadivelu tagging alongside. Wait, am I getting my movies mixed up again?

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