Gilli - a Tamil template commercial classic

How do you define a commercial classic? Many people confuse that with commercial success – the 100 Cr club or the jubilee hits of yore. Some people confuse it with classic based on storytelling or for some ground breaking work – more classic.   Some think its what Vidya Balan made famous in Dirty picture – entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.
To me commercial classics are
1.       Genre independent -  You cannot call them a comedy or action movie. Can you call Sholay an action movie , yes it had action loads of it but it had so much more. Amar Akbar Anthony had comedy but it had so much more.
2.       Genuine emotions that co-mingle – Amitabh Bachchan struggle for acceptance and success in Trishul sits nicely with the bubbly love that Shashi Kapoor brings in . What I mean is that a sad song will be genuinely sad, it wont seem out of place in the movie.  Vengeance will be justified.
3.       A commercial classic should have high technical standards of story telling , cinematography , intensity  - For me Dalapathy is a commercial classic , Sholay’s 70 mm
4.       Commercial classics will have cinematic liberties – for instance whats the need to have a hot song in Mr.India or an item song in Nayakan
5.       Commercial classics do set a trend – there will be atleast 8-10 more movies that resemble a classic in the next 5 yrs .
6.       You can watch a commercial classic anytime – Like you can watch Terminator again but not necessarily Transformers.
It’s not a water tight definition and not everyone will agree. For example 3idiots is not a commercial classic for me , it redefined it. Same goes for Dil Chahta Hai.  Movies that can almost be never re-made ( compared to 5) .
Now after the Salim Javed era and the not so great 80s for Hindi, commercial classicism went to the South to get recharged –
1. the Mani Ratnam and then Shankar template that turbo charged it to a different sphere.
2.  Rajnikanths template that was unchallenged from Mannan in 1991 to Padaiyappa in 2001.
I call number 2 the Tamil template of the commercial classic. And Gilli to a great extent stretched that.  
Gilli released in 2002 – that had the rising star Vijay (already called Ilaiya Dalapathy – a successor to Rajnikant) .
 Gilli , although a remake still had a buzzing earnestness to it. A son of a police officer whose only aim is to loiter and play Kabaddi  goes to Madurai to play a match. There he gets stuck in the machinations of Mayilvahanam ( Prakash Raj) who desperately wants to marry Trisha and has killed her brother.  Some way the paths cross and Vijay uses Trisha as a shield to escape from Madurai . He hides her in the house , tries to arrange for her US visa , tries to escape from his father who is doing the chasing for Mayilvahanam , falls in love and all is well that ends well.
The movie had some great commercial moments – the action scene where Vijay escapes from Madurai is a classic . It was copied to some extent in Chennai express.
It had some great family comedy – Vijay trying to hide Trisha in the house. Some decent emotions on his father never valuing him till the end.
And of course the super hit song ‘Appadi podu’ .
It also established the ‘comic villainy’ that now Prakash Raj is typecast with.  A man with clout seeming desperate at times  and frustrated at his situation,  Mayilvahanam is a delight to watch.
The chase scenes and the falling in love of Trisha and Vijay at the airport , and the last kabaddi match climax where Trisha returns from the airport and challenges Mayilvahanam to take her by defeating Vijay while casually sipping coffee.  
 Gilli made Vijay the superstar he is today . It was what rounded him as a complete hero compared to a romantic one setting the stage for his later hits.
If you don’t know Tamil, get the DVD with subtitles and watch this absolute classic.
Today as Hindi cinema discovers this template as late as 2009 and continues to make templatized movies for last four years , a quick history lesson shows why its getting stale.