Rajinikanth is an Indian phenomenon
Movie buff that I am, I was intrigued to hear that there was a frenzied rush to buy tickets for Rajinikanth’s Sivaji in Chennai. The rush has been unprecedented. Fans have been standing in line from 3 a.m. to buy tickets. Others are buying tickets are a premium, and rates are soaring through the roof. One TV channel reported that tickets are being sold at Rs 1000/- ($25) each. Even in multiplexes the prices of tickets do not go above Rs 200/- Rs 250/- and in single screen cinemas they are below Rs 100/-
The movie Sivaji is to release on the 15th in India, thats tomorrow, but already the theatre owners are raking in the moolah! All the cinema halls in Chennai have been booked for a month in advance! Some news reports say two weeks. Whatever the actual number of days, the tickets are all sold out and the cinema owners are actually breathing a sigh of relief to see the hordes recede!
Here is the trailer of Sivaji:
Sivaji trailer (Full & original)
Like Bollywood, Tamil movies deliver to the ordinary Indian exactly what he wants: pure fantasy. They take him into a different world, the world of a superhero in human form. Everyone (whether young or old) can identify with this guy who wants to go out there and save the world.
Now I would love to see Sivaji, even though I am not a fan of Rajinikanth. I am simply curious as to why this guy is so famous. But unfortunately, I can understand neither Tamil nor Telugu. It doesn’t seem fair that the movie has not been dubbed in Hindi or English even though as many as 600 hundred prints (400 Tamil and 300 Telugu prints) of the film have been made for distribution in India and abroad, and the film is to be shown in 2500 theatres across the world. The film will release in Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia as well as India.
The film Sivaji has cost a bomb to make – Rs.500 million (12.3 million USD). Its directed by Shankar and the music is by A.R. Rahman.
I have seen Rajini in only one movie – Chaalbaaz. He was good, great comic timing and certainly loads better than the other hero of the movie – Sunny Deol.
Rajini by the way is the highest paid actor in India. Yep, he gets paid more than the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan and has more fan clubs as well, but the world (and national) media seems to only write about these two. Well, until now. Rajini being the highest paid actor has made national headlines.
Whats even more amazing is that Rajini gets paid almost double of what these guys get paid (Rs 16 crore for Sivaji – 3.9 million USD) and his films are not even released nationally. People tell me that he is revered in south India, thought of as a demi-god. He towers over all the actors in the southern film industry.
Bollywood underwent a similar phenomena when Amitabh Bachchan ruled the Hindi film industry more than a decade ago and for years before that. He too appealed to the common man and reached out to a mass audience with his masala movies. He was a superhero who lifted the ordinary Indian out of his humdrum (at times hopeless) existence by weaving together pure fantasy complete with palaces and princesses and finally…good triumphing over evil. Today Bollywood does produce these kind of masala movies but it is not just one actor who dominates. There are the three Khans as well as other ‘heroes’ like Hrithik Roshan who share almost equal space with each other. I feel that after Rajinikanth this is what will happen to Southern cinema too.
Interestingly, Rajini is popular in Japan, amongst the Japanese! Here he is known as the Dancing Maharaja, after the release of his film Muthu in Japan.
Rajini happens to be a Maharashtrian, his mother tongue being Marathi. Ofcourse he was born in Karnakata, and has never acted in any Marathi film. He rose from a poor bus-conductor in Karnataka to become the most famous actor in South India and the highest paid actor in India. He has done a Bollywood film called Andhaa Kanoon (which was a hit) but he didn’t stick to Bollywood…he was too big a name in the South…so he continued to make Tamil films.
He doesn’t give interviews…the guy is a recluse and family man. And ofcourse, an Indian movie phenomenon.
(The first photo is from IBN and the second from surfindia)