Multi-starrers allow more than one character to gain importance in the movie. They greatly expand the director's choice of stories and pave the way for more character-driven movies. Not to mention the excitement for us viewers in seeing two or more popular heroes compete on screen. But true multi-starrers have been few and far between in Tamil cinema as all our heroes, after just a few movies, refuse the share the screen with other actors, blaming everything from the directors not allotting equal roles for the actors to their fans' insistence to see only their idol on screen. And when there happens to be a story that features more than one interesting character, our actors will simply end up playing all those roles!
Suyamvaram, the guinness record-setting film was touted to be a multi-starrer but it didn't have any of the really popular actors(Rajni and Kamal only appeared in the opening credits that was filmed during the film's launch and actors like Vijayakanth, Vijay and Ajith did not appear in the film). Though they had only two popular actors, films like Pithaamagan and Pattiyal are probably better examples of multi-starrers in the true sense of the word. And even if the actors involved had varying levels of popularity, films like Kurudhippunal, Thalapathy, Vaanathai Pola and Kandukonden Kandukonden could be called multi-starrers too.
The Tamil cinema fan that I am, the Twenty 20 poster had me dreaming about a similar poster with Rajni and Kamal in the middle, flanked by Vijay and Ajith on one side and Vikram and Surya on the other. When any movie starring just one of these actors triggers so much excitement, can we even start to imagine the excitement and hype a film starring all of them would generate? But then I read about Mammootty and Mohanlal fans clashing about the placement of their heroes on the poster as Mohanlal fans were unhappy about their hero not appearing in the center of the poster, on par with Mammootty. If this is the case in Kerala, which is supposed to have a high percentage of literate moviegoers and whose movie stars have fans and not fanatics, then what chance do we stand?! I'm guessing not a single poster will be left untouched and not a single movie screen will be left unharmed. And every single slight, imagined or true, on any of the heroes as they appear in the film will result in clashes between their fans. I'm not sure any director would dare direct such a film for fear that the fans' ire will be directed at him if he is viewed as not being fair to their hero.
So, while actors in Hindi and Malayalam film industries put aside their egos to appear together, I guess we have to be satisfied with hero-centric films where everyone surrounding the omnipotent hero is turned into a cardboard figure present solely to sing praises about him. Sigh...