Celebrities who harbor no Pan-Indian ambitionsWhat would you call a star who does not promote his film within his own State? Arrogant, foolish, over confident? How about ‘Secure’? That is probably the apt term for Tamil superstar ‘Thala’ Ajith Kumar who did not give a single interview or attend a promotional event for his recent release Thunivu (Tegimpu in Telugu), yet, the movie reportedly went on to gross more than Rs 200 crore worldwide and this, despite the film getting average reviews. Add Thalapathy Vijay and Mahesh Babu to the list and you get three super stars that are unique in that they are content with their fan base in their respective turfs and have never actively sought to increase their markets and stardom beyond their self-designated boundaries. However, Vijay and Mahesh have always promoted their films in their own territories, at least.The explosion of regional cinema probably began with the Baahubali series and the pandemic later. The success of Baahubali opened up markets to regional cinema, especially the Hindi belt. Later, during the lockdown, audiences from across the country got habituated to world-class content and cinema from other parts of the nation. This helped usher in a spirit of acceptance and a hunger for cinema that gave the masses what they aspired for in the form of entertainment. Today, Telugu, Kannada, and Tamil cinema are doing extremely well across India and the recognition and markets of the respective actors have increased as well. Be it large scale spectacles like an RRR, KGF, or Pushpa or small films like Karthikeya 2 or Kantara, the public lapped them up like crazy creating a nationwide audience for the actors in them and their subsequent projects. The latest Pan-Indian release was Sundeep Kishan’s Michael. Sundeep is a noted actor in Tollywood but not a known personality outside the two Telugu States. Yet, in opting for a huge release, he echoed the sentiment of the day where every second film being made in strong regional industries is being touted as a Pan-Indian one. Against this backdrop, it is really surprising and amazing to see three actors of the caliber of Ajith, Vijay, and Mahesh being content with their domestic markets. As mentioned earlier, Ajith did not give a single interview for his film Thunivu. Vijay’s latest release was Varisu which was the debut for Tollywood producer Dil Raju in Tamil. Although it was also released as Vaarasudu in Telugu on a large scale, Vijay did not promote the film in any way. Finally, we have Mahesh Babu who has always focused on Telugu films despite having the looks worthy of catering to an international market. Mahesh Babu will soon be joining hands with SS Rajamouli for an international project but that is only a coincidence as Mahesh and Rajamouli had been planning to collaborate for nearly a decade and it is now that Rajamouli’s stature has increased by leaps and bounds. Speaking on why he has never done straight films in other languages, Mahesh Babu said, “I’ve always had this strong opinion that my strength is to do a Telugu film, the emotion I know is a Telugu film emotion. But today, the emotions have become so strong and the films have become so big that eventually lines are being blurred and it’s become Indian cinema. The Telugu film I act in is reaching out to other language audiences and I don’t feel the need to leave my base here and do straight films in other languages.”Boney Kapoor who was the producer of Ajith’s Thunivu spoke on Ajith’s habit of abstaining from promoting his films. “He doesn’t meet, talk or even come for muhurat…he doesn’t come for audio launches or promote his films. Promoting a film for an actor is something very important be it in Hollywood or in Bombay but he stays away and still his films get this kind of bumper opening which means there is something about him that he has done right,” said Boney. To date, there haven’t been any documented statements from either Ajith or Vijay on why they are not keen on entering other markets via the medium of straight films despite being recognised super stars. But when you look at Ram Charan or a Jr NTR giving interviews in the US and Japan or Allu Arjun and Yash promoting their films in Bollywood or even Russia, it begs the question: Isn’t it about time that these celebrities harnessed their stardom as well for the sake of producers and cinema? There can be no straightforward answer because all said and done, at the end of the day, it’s not just about commerce but also a sort of inner satisfaction and inner voice these actors respond to which is paramount of all.