Why Lokesh Kanagaraj or Tamil cinema can’t emulate David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence

The new-gen Tamil filmmakers don’t enjoy the same luxury as the old ones like AR Murugadoss to unofficially remake Hollywood movies in India anymore. Ghajini wouldn’t be possible today without credit to Christopher Nolan. 

The more Indian cinema is exposed to the world (and vice versa), the more scrutiny it has to endure. Hence, it is natural that Lokesh Kanagaraj starts Leo with credit to David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005).  

But that was unnecessary. A History of Violence itself didn’t have a novel story to start with. It is one of the oldest action-hero stories around – a story of a man with a terrible past. 

From Amitabh Bachchan’s Hum to Rajinkanth’s Baashaa to Kamal Haasan’s Vikram, many films (even before A History of Violence) are derivative of this age-old story (that has been exploited by filmmakers and novel writers across the world). 

Hence, David Cronenberg nor John Wagner, the author of the graphic novel of the same name (based on which A History of Violence was made), owns the story. Also, Cronenberg’s film is not about the story, it is about the treatment. It is about the central character Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) aka Joey. 

It is about who really is the protagonist. Is he the unassuming family man running a quaint cafe? The person who battled and won the monster in him. Or is he the monster with a penchant for killing, walking around in sheep’s skin? 

A History of Violence is more of a psychological drama than an action film. We get no such ponderings watching Leo because it is a trademark Tamil star vehicle that pretends to be something more than it is.