When I was browsing through websites I saw this headline on an entertainment portal- “Rajinikanth upsets his fans!" I couldn"t have ignored it.
How can a popular star like him upset fans? What did he do? I clicked on the title and found the contents rather amusing. The report talked about how at the recent music launch of Enthiran, Rajinikanth"s latest Tamil film, in Malaysia the Super Star applauded the director, music director, co-star and producer of the movie as the real stars of the film and credited them for making a brilliant movie.
Fans were supposedly upset with this as to them he is the Super Star – biggest attraction than all the four people the Star mentioned put together. Hence they are miffed that he is so understated. Amusing indeed!
What is not amusing however is the amount of money that rides on the Star. It seems to be growing significantly with each film.
Enthiran, a science fiction is pegged at Rs 150 crore, more than double the price of Rajinikanth"s previous movie Sivaji. He is reported to have received a remuneration of Rs 45 crore for this film. It will also have the largest worldwide opening for an Indian release when it is released in Sep 2010 along with dubbed versions in Hindi and Telugu.
The project has had its fair share of issues too. The major one being the original producers Ayan International"s inability to continue to back the film due to recession. Sun Pictures bought the rights from them and now has negotiated a deal with HBO to release the movie with English sub titles in the West. So the expectation is the release will be big bang – probably bigger than Sivaji.
One did get a sense of the mammoth size of the project during the launch of the movie audio in Malaysia. The fact that the launch was planned outside India is also a way of drumming up hype in International markets – particularly those countries where large Tamil population lives.
All these brings one back to the fundamental question, what makes Rajinikanth tick? This is the first time in India any actor is carrying a project worth Rs 150 crore solely on his popularity and star appeal. He has no stunner looks and no glamour when compared with many successful stars both within South India and pan India.
What appeals to masses are that his movies are generally laced with a social message and you can almost mistake him to be the guy next door. There is not much difference between his off screen and on screen image.
Recently Rajinikanth is believed to have said that he will no longer be acting in 'youth roles' after Endhiran and will begin to act in roles which will be closer to his real age. Not sure what these roles are and how the fans will welcome it.
His efforts to live his real life of spirituality in the movie Baba bombed at the box-office. Probably the first time many of his non-Hindu fans felt that he was propagating Hinduism while in fact the movie was talking of spirituality.
Many of his fans failed to understand religion and spirituality are not one and the same. I got the taste of it when my driver who is an ardent Rajinikanth fan and a non-Hindu watched the movie on the first day and lashed out that the actor has lost it!
His fans expectations are huge and any movie that does live up to that will be thrashed almost immediately. Both Baba and Kuselan are recent examples of this. One hopes he continues to entertain his fans with 'new" type of roles he dons in the future and the fans continue to lap them up. For it will be difficult to imagine Indian cinema without Rajinikanth and his blockbusters.
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